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Title: English Literature, Considered as an Interpreter of English History - Designed as a Manual of Instruction
Author: Coppee, Henry
Language: English
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English Literature, Considered as an Interpreter of English History.

Designed as a _Manual of Instruction_.


Henry Coppée, LL.D.,

President of the Lehigh University.

   The Roman Epic abounds in moral and poetical defects; nevertheless it
   remains the most complete picture of the national mind at its highest
   elevation, the most precious document of national history, if the
   history of an age is revealed in its ideas, no less than in its events
   and incidents.--Rev. C. Merivale.

   _History of the Romans under the Empire_, c. xli.

Second Edition.
Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by Claxton,
Remsen & Haffelfinger, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at

Stereotyped by J. Fagan & Son, Philadelphia.

To The Right Reverend William Bacon Stevens, D.D., LL.D., Bishop Of

My Dear Bishop:

I desire to connect your name with whatever may be useful and valuable in
this work, to show my high appreciation of your fervent piety, varied
learning, and elegant literary accomplishments; and, also, far more than
this, to record the personal acknowledgment that no man ever had a more
constant, judicious, generous and affectionate brother, than you have been
to me, for forty years of intimate and unbroken association.

Most affectionately and faithfully yours,

Henry Coppée.


It is not the purpose of the author to add another to the many volumes
containing a chronological list of English authors, with brief comments
upon each. Such a statement of works, arranged according to periods, or
reigns of English monarchs, is valuable only as an abridged dictionary of
names and dates. Nor is there any logical pertinence in clustering
contemporary names about a principal author, however illustrious he may
be. The object of this work is to present prominently the historic
connections and teachings of English literature; to place great authors in
immediate relations with great events in history; and thus to propose an
important principle to students in all their reading. Thus it is that
Literature and History are reciprocal: they combine to make eras.

Merely to establish this historic principle, it would have been sufficient
to consider the greatest authors, such as Chaucer, Spenser, Shakspeare,
Milton, Dryden, and Pope; but it occurred to me, while keeping this
principle before me, to give also a connected view of the course of
English literature, which might, in an academic curriculum, show students
how and what to read for themselves. Any attempt beyond this in so
condensed a work must prove a failure, and so it may well happen that some
readers will fail to find a full notice, or even a mention, of some
favorite author.

English literature can only be studied in the writings of the authors here
only mentioned; but I hope that the work will be found to contain
suggestions for making such extended reading profitable; and that teachers
will find it valuable as a syllabus for fuller courses of lectures.

To those who would like to find information as to the best editions of the
authors mentioned, I can only say that I at first intended and began to
note editions: I soon saw that I could not do this with any degree of
uniformity, and therefore determined to refer all who desire this
bibliographic assistance, to _The Dictionary of Authors_, by my friend S.
Austin Allibone, LL.D., in which bibliography is a strong feature. I am
not called upon to eulogize that noble work, but I cannot help saying that
I have found it invaluable, and that whether mentioned or not, no writer
can treat of English authors without constant recurrence to its accurate
columns: it is a literary marvel of our age.

It will be observed that the remoter periods of the literature are those
in which the historic teachings are the most distinctly visible; we see
them from a vantage ground, in their full scope, and in the interrelations
of their parts. Although in the more modern periods the number of writers
is greatly increased, we are too near to discern the entire period, and
are in danger of becoming partisans, by reason of our limited view.
Especially is this true of the age in which we live. Contemporary history
is but party-chronicle: the true philosophic history can only be written
when distance and elevation give due scope to our vision.

The principle I have laid down is best illustrated by the great literary
masters. Those of less degree have been treated at less length, and many
of them will be found in the smaller print, to save space. Those who study
the book should study the small print as carefully as the other.

After a somewhat elaborate exposition of English literature, I could not
induce myself to tack on an inadequate chapter on American literature;
and, besides, I think that to treat the two subjects in one volume would
be as incongruous as to write a joint biography of Marlborough and
Washington. American literature is too great and noble, and has had too
marvelous a development to be made an appendix to English literature.

If time shall serve, I hope to prepare a separate volume, exhibiting the
stages of our literature in the Colonial period, the Revolutionary epoch,
the time of Constitutional establishment, and the present period. It will
be found to illustrate these historical divisions in a remarkable manner.

H. C.

The Lehigh University, _October_, 1872.




   Literature and Science--English Literature--General Principle--Celts
   and Cymry--Roman Conquest--Coming of the Saxons--Danish Invasions--The
   Norman Conquest--Changes in Language



   The Uses of Literature--Italy, France, England--Purpose of the
   Work--Celtic Literary Remains--Druids and Druidism--Roman
   Writers--Psalter of Cashel--Welsh Triads and Mabinogion--Gildas and St.



   The Lineage of the Anglo-Saxon--Earliest Saxon Poem--Metrical
   Arrangement--Periphrasis and Alliteration--Beowulf--Caedmon--Other
   Saxon Fragments--The Appearance of Bede



   Biography--Ecclesiastical History--The Recorded Miracles--Bede's
   Latin--Other Writers--The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: its Value--Alfred the
   Great--Effect of the Danish Invasions



   Norman Rule--Its Oppression--Its Benefits--William of
   Malmesbury--Geoffrey of Monmouth--Other Latin Chronicles--Anglo-Norman
   Poets--Richard Wace--Other Poets



   Semi-Saxon Literature--Layamon--The Ormulum--Robert of
   Gloucester--Langland. Piers Plowman--Piers Plowman's Creed--Sir Jean
   Froissart--Sir John Mandevil



   A New Era: Chaucer--Italian Influence--Chaucer as a Founder--Earlier
   Poems--The Canterbury Tales--Characters--Satire--Presentations of
   Woman--The Plan Proposed



   Historical Facts--Reform in Religion--The Clergy, Regular and
   Secular--The Friar and the Sompnour--The Pardonere--The Poure
   Persone--John Wiclif--The Translation of the Bible--The Ashes of Wiclif



   Social Life--Government--Chaucer's English--His Death--Historical
   Facts--John Gower--Chaucer and Gower--Gower's Language--Other Writers



   Greek Literature--Invention of Printing. Caxton--Contemporary
   History--Skelton--Wyatt--Surrey--Sir Thomas Moore--Utopia, and other
   Works--Other Writers



   The Great Change--Edward VI. and Mary--Sidney--The Arcadia--Defence of
   Poesy--Astrophel and Stella--Gabriel Harvey--Edmund Spenser: Shepherd's
   Calendar--His Great Work



   The Faerie Queene--The Plan Proposed--Illustrations of the History--The
   Knight and the Lady--The Wood of Error and the Hermitage--The
   Crusades--Britomartis and Sir Artegal--Elizabeth--Mary Queen of
   Scots--Other Works--Spenser's Fate--Other Writers



   Origin of the Drama--Miracle Plays--Moralities--First Comedy--Early
   Tragedies--Christopher Marlowe--Other Dramatists--Playwrights and



   The Power of Shakspeare--Meagre Early History--Doubts of his
   Identity--What is known--Marries and goes to London--"Venus" and
   "Lucrece"--Retirement and Death--Literary Habitudes--Variety of the
   Plays--Table of Dates and Sources



   The Grounds of his Fame--Creation of Character--Imagination and
   Fancy--Power of Expression--His Faults--Influence of
   Elizabeth--Sonnets--Ireland and Collier--Concordance--Other Writers



   Birth and Early Life--Treatment of Essex--His Appointments--His
   Fall--Writes Philosophy--Magna Instauratio--His Defects--His Fame--His



   Early Versions--The Septuagint--The Vulgate--Wiclif;
   Tyndale--Coverdale; Cranmer--Geneva; Bishop's Bible--King James's
   Bible--Language of the Bible--Revision



   Historical Facts--Charles I.--Religious Extremes--Cromwell--Birth and
   Early Works--Views of Marriage--Other Prose Works--Effects of the
   Restoration--Estimate of his Prose



   The Blind Poet--Paradise Lost--Milton and Dante--His
   Faults--Characteristics of the Age--Paradise Regained--His
   Scholarship--His Sonnets--His Death and Fame



   Cowley and Milton--Cowley's Life and Works--His Fame--Butler's
   Career--Hudibras--His Poverty and Death--Izaak Walton--The Angler; and
   Lives--Other Writers



   The Court of Charles II.--Dryden's Early Life--The Death of
   Cromwell--The Restoration--Dryden's Tribute--Annus Mirabilis--Absalom
   and Achitophel--The Death of Charles--Dryden's Conversion--Dryden's
   Fall--His Odes 207



   The English Divines--Hall--Chillingsworth--Taylor--Fuller--Sir T.
   Browne--Baxter--Fox--Bunyan--South--Other Writers 221



   The License of the Age--Dryden--Wycherley--Congreve--Vanbrugh--
   Farquhar--Etherege--Tragedy--Otway--Rowe--Lee--Southern 233



   Contemporary History--Birth and Early Life--Essay, on Criticism--Rape
   of the Lock--The Messiah--The Iliad--Value of the Translation--The
   Odyssey--Essay on Man--The Artificial School--Estimate of Pope--Other
   Writers 241



   The Character of the Age--Queen Anne--Whigs and Tories--George
   I.--Addison: The Campaign--Sir Roger de Coverley--The Club--Addison's
   Hymns--Person and Literary Character 254



   Sir Richard Steele--Periodicals--The Crisis--His Last Days--Jonathan
   Swift: Poems--The Tale of a Tub--Battle of the Books--Pamphlets--M. B.
   Drapier--Gulliver's Travels--Stella and Vanessa--His Character and
   Death 264



   The New Age--Daniel Defoe--Robinson Crusoe--Richardson--Pamela, and
   Other Novels--Fielding--Joseph Andrews--Tom Jones--Its
   Moral--Smollett--Roderick Random--Peregrine Pickle 280



   The Subjective School--Sterne: Sermons--Tristram Shandy--Sentimental
   Journey--Oliver Goldsmith--Poems: The Vicar--Histories, and Other
   Works--Mackenzie--The Man of Feeling 296



   The Sceptical Age--David Hume--History of England--Metaphysics--Essay
   on Miracles--Robertson--Histories--Gibbon--The Decline and Fall 309



   Early Life and Career--London--Rambler and Idler--The Dictionary--Other
   Works--Lives of the Poets--Person and Character--Style--Junius 324



   The Eighteenth Century--James Macpherson--Ossian--Thomas
   Chatterton--His Poems--The Verdict--Suicide--The Cause 334



   The Transition Period--James Thomson--The Seasons--The Castle of
   Indolence--Mark Akenside--Pleasures of the Imagination--Thomas
   Gray--The Elegy. The Bard--William Cowper--The Task--Translation of
   Homer--Other Writers 347



   The Progress of the Drama--Garrick--Foote--Cumberland--Sheridan--George
   Colman--George Colman, the Younger--Other Dramatists and
   Humorists--Other Writers on Various Subjects 360



   Walter Scott--Translations and Minstrelsy--The Lay of the Last
   Minstrel--Other Poems--The Waverley Novels--Particular
   Mention--Pecuniary Troubles--His Manly Purpose--Powers
   Overtasked--Fruitless Journey--Return and Death--His Fame 371



   Early Life of Byron--Childe Harold and Eastern Tales--Unhappy
   Marriage--Philhellenism and Death--Estimate of his Poetry--Thomas
   Moore--Anacreon--Later Fortunes--Lalla Rookh--His Diary--His Rank as
   Poet 384



   Robert Burns--His Poems--His Career--George Crabbe--Thomas
   Campbell--Samuel Rogers--P. B. Shelley--John Keats--Other Writers 397



   The New School--William Wordsworth--Poetical Canons--The Excursion and
   Sonnets--An Estimate--Robert Southey--His Writings--Historical
   Value--S. T. Coleridge--Early Life--His Helplessness--Hartley and H. N.
   Coleridge 414



   Alfred Tennyson--Early Works--The Princess--Idyls of the
   King--Elizabeth B. Browning--Aurora Leigh--Her Faults--Robert
   Browning--Other Poets 428



   New Materials--George Grote--History of Greece--Lord Macaulay--History
   of England--Its Faults--Thomas Carlyle--Life of Frederick II.--Other
   Historians 439



   Bulwer--Changes in Writers--Dickens's Novels--American Notes--His
   Varied Powers--Second Visit to America--Thackeray--Vanity Fair--Henry
   Esmond--The Newcomes--The Georges--Estimate of his Powers 450



   Charles Lamb--Thomas Hood--Thomas de Quincey--Other Novelists--Writers
   on Science and Philosophy 466



   Roman News Letters--The Gazette--The Civil War--Later Divisions--The
   Reviews--The Monthlies--The Dailies--The London Times--Other Newspapers

Alphabetical Index of Authors



   Literature and Science. English Literature. General Principle. Celts
   and Cymry. Roman Conquest. Coming of the Saxons. Danish Invasions. The
   Norman Conquest. Changes in Language.


There are two words in the English language which are now used to express
the two great divisions of mental production--_Science_ and _Literature_;
and yet, from their etymology, they have so much in common, that it has
been necessary to attach to each a technical meaning, in order that we may
employ them without confusion.

_Science_, from the participle _sciens_, of _scio, scire_, to know, would
seem to comprise all that can be known--what the Latins called the _omne
scibile_, or all-knowable.

_Literature_ is from _litera_, a letter, and probably at one remove from
_lino, litum_, to anoint or besmear, because in the earlier times a tablet
was smeared with wax, and letters were traced upon it with a graver.
Literature, in its first meaning, would, therefore, comprise all that can
be conveyed by the use of letters.

But language is impatient of retaining two words which convey the same
meaning; and although science had at first to do with the fact of knowing
and the conditions of knowledge in the abstract, while literature meant
the written record of such knowledge, a far more distinct sphere has been
given to each in later times, and special functions assigned them.

In general terms, Science now means any branch of knowledge in which men
search for principles reaching back to the ultimate, or for facts which
establish these principles, or are classified by them in a logical order.
Thus we speak of the mathematical, physical, metaphysical, and moral

Literature, which is of later development as at present used, comprises
those subjects which have a relation to human life and human nature
through the power of the imagination and the fancy. Technically,
literature includes _history, poetry, oratory, the drama_, and _works of
fiction_, and critical productions upon any of these as themes.

Such, at least, will be a sufficiently exact division for our purpose,
although the student will find them overlapping each other's domain
occasionally, interchanging functions, and reciprocally serving for each
other's advantage. Thus it is no confusion of terms to speak of the poetry
of science and of the science of poetry; and thus the great functions of
the human mind, although scientifically distinct, co-operate in harmonious
and reciprocal relations in their diverse and manifold productions.

ENGLISH LITERATURE.--English Literature may then be considered as
comprising the progressive productions of the English mind in the paths of
imagination and taste, and is to be studied in the works of the poets,
historians, dramatists, essayists, and romancers--a long line of brilliant
names from the origin of the language to the present day.

To the general reader all that is profitable in this study dates from the
appearance of Chaucer, who has been justly styled the Father of English
Poetry; and Chaucer even requires a glossary, as a considerable portion
of his vocabulary has become obsolete and much of it has been modified;
but for the student of English literature, who wishes to understand its
philosophy and its historic relations, it becomes necessary to ascend to a
more remote period, in order to find the origin of the language in which
Chaucer wrote, and the effect produced upon him by any antecedent literary
works, in the root-languages from which the English has sprung.

GENERAL PRINCIPLE.--It may be stated, as a general principle, that to
understand a nation's literature, we must study the history of the people
and of their language; the geography of the countries from which they
came, as well as that in which they live; the concurrent historic causes
which have conspired to form and influence the literature. We shall find,
as we advance in this study, that the life and literature of a people are
reciprocally reflective.

I. CELTS AND CYMRY.--Thus, in undertaking the study of English literature,
we must begin with the history of the Celts and Cymry, the first
inhabitants of the British Islands of whom we have any record, who had
come from Asia in the first great wave of western migration; a rude,
aboriginal people, whose languages, at the beginning of the Christian era,
were included in one family, the _Celtic_, comprising the _British_ or
_Cambrian_, and the _Gadhelic_ classes. In process of time these were
subdivided thus:

    The British into
      _Welsh_, at present spoken in Wales.
      _Cornish_, extinct only within a century.
      _Armorican_, Bas Breton, spoken in French Brittany.
    The Gadhelic into
      _Gaelic_, still spoken in the Scottish Highlands.
      _Irish_, or _Erse_, spoken in Ireland.
      _Manx_, spoken in the Isle of Man.

Such are the first people and dialects to be considered as the antecedent
occupants of the country in which English literature was to have its

II. ROMAN CONQUEST.--But these Celtic peoples were conquered by the Romans
under Cæsar and his successors, and kept in a state of servile thraldom
for four hundred and fifty years. There was but little amalgamation
between them and their military masters. Britain was a most valuable
northern outpost of the Roman Empire, and was occupied by large garrisons,
which employed the people in hard labors, and used them for Roman
aggrandizement, but despised them too much to attempt to elevate their
condition. Elsewhere the Romans depopulated, where they met with barbarian
resistance; they made a solitude and called it peace--for which they gave
a triumph and a cognomen to the conqueror; but in Britain, although
harassed and endangered by the insurrections of the natives, they bore
with them; they built fine cities like London and York, originally
military outposts, and transformed much of the country between the Channel
and the Tweed from pathless forest into a civilized residence.

III. COMING OF THE SAXONS.--Compelled by the increasing dangers and
troubles immediately around the city of Rome to abandon their distant
dependencies, the Roman legions evacuated Britain, and left the people,
who had become enervated, spiritless, and unaccustomed to the use of arms,
a prey to their fierce neighbors, both from Scotland and from the

The Saxons had already made frequent incursions into Britain, while rival
Roman chieftains were contesting for pre-eminence, and, as early as the
third century, had become so troublesome that the Roman emperors were
obliged to appoint a general to defend the eastern coast, known as _comes
litoris Saxonici_, or count of the Saxon shore.[1]

These Saxons, who had already tested the goodliness of the land, came when
the Romans departed, under the specious guise of protectors of the Britons
against the inroads of the Picts and Scots; but in reality to possess
themselves of the country. This was a true conquest of race--Teutons
overrunning Celts. They came first in reconnoitring bands; then in large
numbers, not simply to garrison, as the Romans had done, but to occupy
permanently. From the less attractive seats of Friesland and the basin of
the Weser, they came to establish themselves in a charming country,
already reclaimed from barbarism, to enslave or destroy the inhabitants,
and to introduce their language, religion, and social institutions. They
came as a confederated people of German race--Saxons, Angles, Jutes, and
Frisians;[2] but, as far as the results of their conquest are concerned,
there was entire unity among them.

The Celts, for a brief period protected by them from their fierce northern
neighbors, were soon enslaved and oppressed: those who resisted were
driven slowly to the Welsh mountains, or into Cornwall, or across the
Channel into French Brittany. Great numbers were destroyed. They left few
traces of their institutions and their language. Thus the Saxon was
established in its strength, and has since remained the strongest element
of English ethnography.

IV. DANISH INVASIONS.--But Saxon Britain was also to suffer from
continental incursions. The Scandinavians--inhabitants of Norway, Sweden,
and Denmark--impelled by the same spirit of piratical adventure which had
actuated the Saxons, began to leave their homes for foreign conquest.
"Impatient of a bleak climate and narrow limits, they started from the
banquet, grasped their arms, sounded their horn, ascended their ships, and
explored every coast that promised either spoil or settlement."[3] To
England they came as Danes; to France, as Northmen or Normans. They took
advantage of the Saxon wars with the British, of Saxon national feuds, and
of that enervation which luxurious living had induced in the Saxon kings
of the octarchy, and succeeded in occupying a large portion of the north
and east of England; and they have exerted in language, in physical type,
and in manners a far greater influence than has been usually conceded.
Indeed, the Danish chapter in English history has not yet been fairly
written. They were men of a singularly bold and adventurous spirit, as is
evinced by their voyages to Iceland, Greenland, and thence to the Atlantic
coast of North America, as early as the tenth and eleventh centuries. It
is more directly to our purpose to observe their character as it is
displayed in their conquest of the Frankish kingdom of Neustria, in their
facile reception and ready assimilation of the Roman language and arts
which they found in Gaul, and in their forcible occupancy, under William
the Conqueror, of Saxon England, in 1066.

V. THE NORMAN CONQUEST.--The vigor of the Normans had been trained, but
not weakened by their culture in Normandy. They maintained their supremacy
in arms against the efforts of the kings of France. They had long
cultivated intimate relations with England, and their dukes had long
hankered for its possession. William, the natural son of Duke
Robert--known to history and musical romance as Robert le Diable--was a
man of strong mind, tenacious purpose, and powerful hand. He had obtained,
by promise of Edward the Confessor, the reversion of the crown upon the
death of that monarch; and when the issue came, he availed himself of
that reversion and the Pope's sanction, and also of the disputed
succession between Harold, the son of Godwin, and the true Saxon heir,
Edgar Atheling, to make good his claim by force of arms.

Under him the Normans were united, while divisions existed in the Saxon
ranks. Tostig, the brother of Harold, and Harald Hardrada, the King of
Norway, combined against Harold, and, just before the landing of Duke
William at Pevensey, on the coast of Sussex, Harold was obliged to march
rapidly northward to Stanford bridge, to defeat Tostig and the Norwegians,
and then to return with a tired army of uncertain _morale_, to encounter
the invading Normans. Thus it appears that William conquered the land,
which would have been invincible had the leaders and the people been
united in its defence.

As the Saxons, Danes, and Normans were of the same great Teutonic family,
however modified by the different circumstances of movement and residence,
there was no new ethnic element introduced; and, paradoxical as it may
seem, the fusion of these peoples was of great benefit, in the end, to
England. Though the Saxons at first suffered from Norman oppression, the
kingdom was brought into large inter-European relations, and a far better
literary culture was introduced, more varied in subject, more developed in
point of language, and more artistic.

Thus much, in a brief historical summary, is necessary as an introduction
to our subject. From all these contests and conquests there were wrought
in the language of the country important changes, which are to be studied
in the standard works of its literature.

CHANGES IN LANGUAGE.--The changes and transformations of language may be
thus briefly stated:--In the Celtic period, before the arrival of the
Romans, the people spoke different dialects of the Celtic and Gadhelic
languages, all cognate and radically similar.

These were not much affected by the occupancy of the Romans for about four
hundred and fifty years, although, doubtless, Latin words, expressive of
things and notions of which the British had no previous knowledge, were
adopted by them, and many of the Celtic inhabitants who submitted to these
conquerors learned and used the Latin language.

When the Romans departed, and the Saxons came in numbers, in the fifth and
sixth centuries, the Saxon language, which is the foundation of English,
became the current speech of the realm; adopting few Celtic words, but
retaining a considerable number of the Celtic names of places, as it also
did of Latin terminations in names.

Before the coming of the Normans, their language, called the _Langue
d'oil_, or Norman French, had been very much favored by educated
Englishmen; and when William conquered England, he tried to supplant the
Saxon entirely. In this he was not successful; but the two languages were
interfused and amalgamated, so that in the middle of the twelfth century,
there had been thus created the _English language_, formed but still
formative. The Anglo-Saxon was the foundation, or basis; while the Norman
French is observed to be the principal modifying element.

Since the Norman conquest, numerous other elements have entered, most of
them quietly, without the concomitant of political revolution or foreign

Thus the Latin, being used by the Church, and being the language of
literary and scientific comity throughout the world, was constantly adding
words and modes of expression to the English. The introduction of Greek
into Western Europe, at the fall of Constantinople, supplied Greek words,
and induced a habit of coining English words from the Greek. The
establishment of the Hanoverian succession, after the fall of the Stuarts,
brought in the practice and study of German, and somewhat of its
phraseology; and English conquests in the East have not failed to
introduce Indian words, and, what is far better, to open the way for a
fuller study of comparative philology and linguistics.

In a later chapter we shall reconsider the periods referred to, in an
examination of the literary works which they contain, works produced by
historical causes, and illustrative of historical events.



   The Uses of Literature. Italy, France, England. Purpose of the Work.
   Celtic Literary Remains. Druids and Druidism. Roman Writers. Psalter of
   Cashel. Welsh Triads and Mabinogion. Gildas and St. Colm.


Before examining these periods in order to find the literature produced in
them, it will be well to consider briefly what are the practical uses of
literature, and to set forth, as a theme, that particular utility which it
is the object of these pages to inculcate and apply.

The uses of literature are manifold. Its study gives wholesome food to the
mind, making it strong and systematic. It cultivates and delights the
imagination and the taste of men. It refines society by elevating the
thoughts and aspirations above what is sensual and sordid, and by checking
the grosser passions; it makes up, in part, that "multiplication of
agreeable consciousness" which Dr. Johnson calls happiness. Its
adaptations in religion, in statesmanship, in legislative and judicial
inquiry, are productive of noble and beneficent results. History shows us,
that while it has given to the individual man, in all ages, contemplative
habits, and high moral tone, it has thus also been a powerful instrument
in producing the brilliant civilization of mighty empires.

A TEACHER OF HISTORY.--But apart from these its subjective benefits, it
has its highest and most practical utility as a TEACHER OF HISTORY.
Ballads, more powerful than laws, shouted forth from a nation's heart,
have been in part the achievers, and afterward the victorious hymns, of
its new-born freedom, and have been also used in after ages to reinspire
the people with the spirit of their ancestors. Immortal epics not only
present magnificent displays of heroism for imitation, but, like the Iliad
and Odyssey, still teach the theogony, national policy, and social history
of a people, after the Bema has long been silent, the temples in ruin, and
the groves prostrate under the axe of repeated conquests.

Satires have at once exhibited and scourged social faults and national
follies, and remained to after times as most essential materials for

Indeed, it was a quaint but just assertion of Hare, in his "Guesses at
Truth," that in Greek history there is nothing truer than Herodotus except

ITALY AND FRANCE.--Passing by the classic periods, which afford abundant
illustration of the position, it would be easy to exhibit the clear and
direct historic teachings in purely literary works, by a reference to the
literature of Italy and France. The history of the age of the Guelphs and
Ghibellines is clearly revealed in the vision of Dante: the times of Louis
XIV. are amply illustrated by the pulpit of Massillon, Bourdaloue, and
Bridaine, and by the drama of Corneille, Racine, and Molière.

illustration of the position that literature is eminently a teacher and
interpreter of history, we are fortunate in finding none more striking
than that presented by English literature itself. All the great events of
English history find complete correspondent delineation in English
literature, so that, were the purely historical record lost, we should
have in the works of poetry, fiction, and the drama, correct portraitures
of the character, habits, manners and customs, political sentiments, and
modes and forms of religious belief among the English people; in a word,
the philosophy of English history.

In the works of Chaucer, Spenser, Shakspeare, Dryden, and Addison, are to
be found the men and women, kings, nobles, and commons, descriptions of
English nature, hints of the progress of science and advancement in art;
the conduct of government, the force of prevailing fashions--in a word,
the moving life of the time, and not its dry historic record.

"Authors," says the elder D'Israeli, "are the creators or creatures of
opinion: the great form the epoch; the many reflect the age."
Chameleon-like, most of them take the political, social, and religious
hues of the period in which they live, while a few illustrate it perhaps
quite as forcibly by violent opposition and invective.

We shall see that in Chaucer's _Canterbury Tales_ and in Gower's _Vox
Clamantis_ are portrayed the political ferments and theological
controversies of the reigns of Edward III. and Richard II. Spenser decks
the history of his age in gilded mantle and flowing plumes, in his tribute
to Gloriana, The Faery Queen, who is none other than Elizabeth herself.
Literature partakes of the fierce polemic and religious enthusiasm which
mark the troublous times of the Civil War; it becomes tawdry, tinselled,
and licentious at the Restoration, and develops into numerous classes and
more serious instruction, under the constitutional reigns of the house of
Hanover, in which the kings were bad, but the nation prosperous because
the rights of the people were guaranteed.

Many of the finest works of English literature are _purely and directly
historical_; what has been said is intended to refer more particularly to
those that are not--the unconscious, undesigned teachers of history, such
as fiction, poetry, and the drama.

PURPOSE OF THE WORK.--Such, then, is the purpose of this volume--to
indicate the teachings of history in the principal productions of English
literature. Only the standard authors will be considered, and the student
will not be overburdened with statistics, which it must be a part of his
task to collect for himself. And now let us return to the early literature
embodied in those languages which have preceded the English on British
soil; or which, by their combination, have formed the English language.
For, the English language may be properly compared to a stream, which,
rising in a feeble source, receives in its seaward flow many tributaries,
large and small, until it becomes a lordly river. The works of English
literature may be considered as the ships and boats which it bears upon
its bosom: near its source the craft are small and frail; as it becomes
more navigable, statelier vessels are launched upon it, until, in its
majestic and lakelike extensions, rich navies ride, freighted with wealth
and power--the heavy ordnance of defence and attack, the products of
Eastern looms, the precious metals and jewels from distant mines--the best
exponents of the strength and prosperity of the nation through which flows
the river of speech, bearing the treasures of mind.

CELTIC LITERARY REMAINS. THE DRUIDS.--Let us take up the consideration of
literature in Britain in the order of the conquests mentioned in the first

We recur to Britain while inhabited by the Celts, both before and after
the Roman occupation. The extent of influence exercised by the Latin
language upon the Celtic dialects cannot be determined; it seems to have
been slight, and, on the other hand, it may be safely assumed that the
Celtic did not contribute much to the world-absorbing Latin.

The chief feature, and a very powerful one, of the Celtic polity, was
_Druidism_. At its head was a priesthood, not in the present meaning of
the word, but in the more extended acceptation which it received in the
middle ages, when it embraced the whole class of men of letters. Although
we have very few literary remains, the system, wisdom, and works of the
Druids form one of the strong foundation-stones of English literature and
of English national customs, and should be studied on that account. The
_Druid_ proper was governor, judge, philosopher, expounder, and
executioner. The _ovaidd_, or _ovates_, were the priests, chiefly
concerned in the study of theology and the practice of religion. The
_bards_ were heroic poets of rare lyric power; they kept the national
traditions in trust, and claimed the second sight and the power of
prophecy. Much has been said of their human sacrifices in colossal images
of wicker-work--the "_immani magnitudine simulacra_" of Cæsar--which were
filled with human victims, and which crackled and disappeared in towering
flame and columns of smoke, amid the loud chantings of the bards. The most
that can be said in palliation of this custom is, that almost always such
a scene presented the judicial execution of criminals, invested with the
solemnities of religion.

In their theology, _Esus_, the God Force--the Eternal Father--has for his
agents the personification of spiritual light, of immortality, of nature,
and of heroism; _Camul_ was the war-god; _Tarann_ the thunder-god; _Heol_,
the king of the sun, who inflames the soldier's heart, and gives vitality
to the corn and the grape.[4]

But Druidism, which left its monuments like Stonehenge, and its strong
traces in English life, now especially found in Wales and other
mountainous parts of the kingdom, has not left any written record.

ROMAN WRITERS.--Of the Roman occupancy we have Roman and Greek accounts,
many of them by those who took part in the doings of the time. Among the
principal writers are _Julius Cæsar_, _Tacitus_, _Diodorus Siculus_,
_Strabo_, and _Suetonius_.

PSALTER OF CASHEL.--Of the later Celtic efforts, almost all are in Latin:
the oldest Irish work extant is called the _Psalter of Cashel_, which is a
compilation of the songs of the early bards, and of metrical legends, made
in the ninth century by _Cormac Mac Culinan_, who claimed to be King of
Munster and Bishop of Cashel.

THE WELSH TRIADS.--The next of the important Celtic remains is called _The
Welsh Triads_, an early but progressive work of the Cymbric Celts. Some of
the triads are of very early date, and others of a much later period. The
work is said to have been compiled in its present form by _Caradoc of
Nantgarvan_ and _Jevan Brecha_, in the thirteenth century. It contains a
record of "remarkable men and things which have been in the island of
Britain, and of the events which befell the race of the Cymri from the age
of ages," i.e. from the beginning. It has also numerous moral proverbs. It
is arranged in _triads_, or sets of three.

As an example, we have one triad giving "The three of the race of the
island of Britain: _Hu Gadarn_, (who first brought the race into Britain;)
_Prydain_, (who first established regal government,) and _Dynwal Moelmud_,
(who made a system of laws.)" Another triad presents "The three benevolent
tribes of Britain: the _Cymri_, (who came with Hu Gadarn from
Constantinople;) the _Lolegrwys_, (who came from the Loire,) and the

Then are mentioned the tribes that came with consent and under protection,
viz., the _Caledonians_, the _Gwyddelian race_, and the men of _Galedin_,
who came from the continent "when their country was drowned;" the last
inhabited the Isle of Wight. Another mentions the three usurping tribes;
the _Coranied_, the _Gwydel-Fichti_, (from Denmark,) and the _Saxons_.
Although the _compilation_ is so modern, most of the triads date from the
sixth century.

THE MABINOGION.--Next in order of importance of the Celtic remains must be
mentioned the Mabinogion, or _Tales for Youth_, a series of romantic
tales, illustrative of early British life, some of which have been
translated from the Celtic into English. Among these the most elaborate is
the _Tale of Peredur_, a regular Romance of Arthur, entirely Welsh in
costume and character.

BRITISH BARDS.--A controversy has been fiercely carried on respecting the
authenticity of poems ascribed to _Aneurin_, _Taliesin_, _Llywarch Hen_,
and _Merdhin_, or _Merlin_, four famous British bards of the fifth and
sixth centuries, who give us the original stories respecting Arthur,
representing him not as a "miraculous character," as the later histories
do, but as a courageous warrior worthy of respect but not of wonder. The
burden of the evidence, carefully collected and sifted by Sharon
Turner,[5] seems to be in favor of the authenticity of these poems.

These works are fragmentary and legendary: they have given few elements to
the English language, but they show us the condition and culture of the
British mind in that period, and the nature of the people upon whom the
Saxons imposed their yoke. "The general spirit [of the early British
poetry] is much more Druidical than Christian,"[6] and in its mysterious
and legendary nature, while it has been not without value as a historical
representation of that early period, it has offered rare material for
romantic poetry from that day to the present time. It is on this account
especially that these works should be studied.

GILDAS.--Among the writers who must be considered as belonging to the
Celtic race, although they wrote in Latin, the most prominent is _Gildas_.
He was the son of Caw, (Alcluyd, a British king,) who was also the father
of the famous bard Aneurin. Many have supposed Gildas and Aneurin to be
the same person, so vague are the accounts of both. If not, they were
brothers. Gildas was a British bard, who, when converted to Christianity,
became a Christian priest, and a missionary among his own people. He was
born at Dumbarton in the middle of the sixth century, and was surnamed
_the Wise_. His great work, the History of the Britons, is directly
historical: his account extends from the first invasion of Britain down to
his own time.

A true Celt, he is a violent enemy of the Roman conquerors first, and then
of the Saxon invaders. He speaks of the latter as "the nefarious Saxons,
of detestable name, hated alike by God and man; ... a band of devils
breaking forth from the den of the barbarian lioness."

The history of Gildas, although not of much statistical value, sounds a
clear Celtic note against all invaders, and displays in many parts
characteristic outlines of the British people.

ST. COLUMBANUS.--St. Colm, or Columbanus, who was born in 521, was the
founder and abbot of a monastery in Iona, one of the Hebrides, which is
also called Icolmkill--the Isle of Colm's Cell. The Socrates of that
retreat, he found his Plato in the person of a successor, St. Adamnan,
whose "Vita Sancti Columbae" is an early work of curious historical
importance. St. Adamnan became abbot in 679.

A backward glance at the sparse and fragmentary annals of the Celtic
people, will satisfy us that they have but slight claims to an original
share in English literature. Some were in the Celtic dialects, others in
Latin. They have given themes, indeed, to later scholars, but have left
little trace in form and language. The common Celtic words retained in
English are exceedingly few, although their number has not been decided.
They form, in some sense, a portion of the foundation on which the
structure of our literature has been erected, without being in any manner
a part of the building itself.



   The Lineage of the Anglo-Saxon. Earliest Saxon Poem. Metrical
   Arrangement. Periphrasis and Alliteration. Beowulf. Caedmon. Other
   Saxon Fragments. The Appearance of Bede.


The true origin of English literature is Saxon. Anglo-Saxon is the mother
tongue of the English language, or, to state its genealogy more
distinctly, and to show its family relations at a glance, take the
following divisions and subdivisions of the

                          TEUTONIC CLASS.
           |                    |                   |
   High German branch.  Low German branch.  Scandinavian branch.
                        Dead    |  Languages.
      |          |              |             |            |
   Gothic.   Old Dutch.    Anglo-Saxon.  Old Frisian.  Old Saxon.

Without attempting an analysis of English to find the exact proportion of
Saxon words, it must be observed that Saxon is the root-language of
English; it might with propriety be called the oldest English; it has been
manipulated, modified, and developed in its contact with other
languages--remaining, however, _radically_ the same--to become our present
spoken language.

At this period of our inquiry, we have to do with the Saxon itself,
premising, however, that it has many elements from the Dutch, and that its
Scandinavian relations are found in many Danish words. The progress and
modifications of the language in that formative process which made it the
English, will be mentioned as we proceed in our inquiries.

In speaking of the Anglo-Saxon literature, we include a consideration also
of those works written in Latin which are products of the times, and bear
a part in the progress of the people and their literature. They are
exponents of the Saxon mind, frequently of more value than the vernacular

EARLIEST SAXON POEM.--The earliest literary monument in the Saxon language
is the poem called Beowulf, the author and antiquity of which are alike
unknown. It is at once a romantic legend and an instructive portraiture of
the earliest Saxon period--"an Anglo-Saxon poetical romance," says Sharon
Turner, "true in costume and manners, but with an invented story." Before
proceeding to a consideration of this poem, let us look for a moment at
some of the characteristics of Saxon poetry. As to its subject-matter, it
is not much of a love-song, that sentiment not being one of its chief
inspirations. The Saxon imagination was inflamed chiefly by the religious
and the heroic in war. As to its handling, it abounded in metaphor and
periphrasis, suggestive images, and parables instead of direct narrative.

METRICAL ARRANGEMENT.--As to metrical arrangement, Saxon poetry differed
from our modern English as well as from the classical models, in that
their poets followed no laws of metre, but arranged their vernacular
verses without any distinct rules, but simply to please the ear. "To such
a selection and arrangement of words as produced this effect, they added
the habit of frequently omitting the usual particles, and of conveying
their meaning in short and contracted phrases. The only artifices they
used were those of inversion and transition."[7] It is difficult to give
examples to those unacquainted with the language, but the following
extract may serve to indicate our meaning: it is taken from Beowulf:

    Crist waer a cennijd
    Cýninga wuldor
    On midne winter:
    Mære theoden!
    Ece almihtig!
    On thij eahteothan daeg
    Hael end gehaten
    Heofon ricet theard.

    Christ was born
    King of glory
    In mid-winter:
    Illustrious King!
    Eternal, Almighty!
    On the eighth day
    Saviour was called,
    Of Heaven's kingdom ruler.

PERIPHRASIS.--Their periphrasis, or finding figurative names for persons
and things, is common to the Norse poetry. Thus Caedmon, in speaking of
the ark, calls it the _sea-house, the palace of the ocean, the wooden
fortress_, and by many other periphrastic names.

ALLITERATION.--The Saxons were fond of alliteration, both in prose and
verse. They used it without special rules, but simply to satisfy their
taste for harmony in having many words beginning with the same letter; and
thus sometimes making an arbitrary connection between the sentences or
clauses in a discourse, e.g.:

    Firum foldan;
    Frea almihtig;

    The ground for men
    Almighty ruler.

The nearest approach to a rule was that three words in close connection
should begin with the same letter. The habit of ellipsis and transposition
is illustrated by the following sentence in Alfred's prose: "So doth the
moon with his pale light, that the bright stars he obscures in the
heavens;" which he thus renders in poetry:

    With pale light
    Bright stars
    Moon lesseneth.

With this brief explanation, which is only intended to be suggestive to
the student, we return to Beowulf.

THE PLOT OF BEOWULF.--The poem contains six thousand lines, in which are
told the wonderful adventures of the valiant viking Beowulf, who is
supposed to have fallen in Jutland in the year 340. The Danish king
Hrothgar, in whose great hall banquet, song, and dance are ever going on,
is subjected to the stated visits of a giant, Grendel, a descendant of
Cain, who destroys the Danish knights and people, and against whom no
protection can be found.

Beowulf, the hero of the epic, appears. He is a great chieftain, the
_heorth-geneat_ (hearth-companion, or vassal) of a king named Higelac. He
assembles his companions, goes over the road of the swans (the sea) to
Denmark, or Norway, states his purpose to Hrothgar, and advances to meet
Grendel. After an indecisive battle with the giant, and a fierce struggle
with the giant's mother, who attacks him in the guise of a sea-wolf, he
kills her, and then destroys Grendel. Upon the death of Hrothgar he
receives his reward in being made King of the Danes.

With this occurrence the original poem ends: it is the oldest epic poem in
any modern language. At a later day, new cantos were added, which,
following the fortunes of the hero, record at length that he was killed by
a dragon. A digest and running commentary of the poem may be found in
Turner's Anglo-Saxons; and no one can read it without discerning the
history shining clearly out of the mists of fable. The primitive manners,
modes of life, forms of expression, are all historically delineated. In it
the intimate relations between the _king_ and his people are portrayed.
The Saxon _cyning_ is compounded of _cyn_, people, and _ing_, a son or
descendant; and this etymology gives the true conditions of their rule:
they were popular leaders--_elected_ in the witenagemot on the death of
their predecessors.[8] We observe, too, the spirit of adventure--a rude
knight-errantry--which characterized these northern sea-kings

    that with such profit and for deceitful glory
    labor on the wide sea explore its bays
    amid the contests of the ocean in the deep waters
    there they for riches till they sleep with their elders.

We may also notice the childish wonder of a rude, primitive, but brave
people, who magnified a neighboring monarch of great skill and strength,
or perhaps a malarious fen, into a giant, and who were pleased with a poem
which caters to that heroic mythus which no civilization can root out of
the human breast, and which gives at once charm and popularity to every

CAEDMON.--Next in order, we find the paraphrase of Scripture by _Caedmon_,
a monk of Whitby, who died about the year 680. The period in which he
lived is especially marked by the spread of Christianity in Britain, and
by a religious zeal mingled with the popular superstitions. The belief was
universal that holy men had the power to work miracles. The Bible in its
entire canon was known to few even among the ecclesiastics: treasure-house
as it was to the more studious clerics, it was almost a sealed book to the
common people. It would naturally be expected, then, that among the
earliest literary efforts would be found translations and paraphrases of
the most interesting portions of the Scripture narrative. It was in
accordance with the spirit of the age that these productions should be
attended with something of the marvellous, to give greater effect to the
doctrine, and be couched in poetic language, the especial delight of
people in the earlier ages of their history. Thus the writings of Caedmon
are explained: he was a poor serving-brother in the monastery of Whitby,
who was, or feigned to be, unable to improvise Scripture stories and
legends of the saints as his brethren did, and had recourse to a vision
before he exhibited his fluency.

In a dream, in a stall of oxen of which he was the appointed night-guard,
an angelic stranger asked him to sing. "I cannot sing," said Caedmon.
"Sing the creation," said the mysterious visitant. Feeling himself thus
miraculously aided, Caedmon paraphrased in his dream the Bible story of
the creation, and not only remembered the verses when he awoke, but found
himself possessed of the gift of song for all his days.

Sharon Turner has observed that the paraphrase of Caedmon "exhibits much
of a Miltonic spirit; and if it were clear that Milton had been familiar
with Saxon, we should be induced to think that he owed something to
Caedmon." And the elder D'Israeli has collated and compared similar
passages in the two authors, in his "Amenities of Literature."

Another remarkable Anglo-Saxon fragment is called _Judith_, and gives the
story of Judith and Holofernes, rendered from the Apocrypha, but with
circumstances, descriptions, and speeches invented by the unknown author.
It should be observed, as of historical importance, that the manners and
characters of that Anglo-Saxon period are applied to the time of Judith,
and so we have really an Anglo-Saxon romance, marking the progress and
improvement in their poetic art.

Among the other remains of this time are the death of _Byrhtnoth_, _The
Fight of Finsborough_, and the _Chronicle of King Lear and his Daughters_,
the last of which is the foundation of an old play, upon which
Shakspeare's tragedy of Lear is based.

It should here be noticed that Saxon literature was greatly influenced by
the conversion of the realm at the close of the sixth century from the
pagan religion of Woden to Christianity. It displayed no longer the fierce
genius of the Scalds, inculcating revenge and promising the rewards of
Walhalla; in spirit it was changed by the doctrine of love, and in form it
was softened and in some degree--but only for a time--injured by the
influence of the Latin, the language of the Church. At this time, also,
there was a large adoption of Latin words into the Saxon, especially in
theology and ecclesiastical matters.

THE ADVENT OF BEDE.--The greatest literary character of the Anglo-Saxon
period, and the one who is of most value in teaching us the history of the
times, both directly and indirectly, is the man who has been honored by
his age as the _venerable Bede_ or _Beda_. He was born at Yarrow, in the
year 673; and died, after a retired but active, pious, and useful life, in
735. He wrote an Ecclesiastical history of the English, and dedicated it
to the most glorious King Ceowulph of Northumberland, one of the monarchs
of the Saxon Heptarchy. It is in matter and spirit a Saxon work in a Latin
dress; and, although his work was written in Latin, he is placed among the
Anglo-Saxon authors because it is as an Englishman that he appears to us
in his subject, in the honest pride of race and country which he
constantly manifests, and in the historical information which he has
conveyed to us concerning the Saxons in England: of a part of the history
which he relates he was an _eye-witness_; and besides, his work soon
called forth several translations into Anglo-Saxon, among which that of
Alfred the Great is the most noted, and would be taken for an original
Saxon production.

It is worthy of remark, that after the decline of the Saxon literature,
Bede remained for centuries, both in the original Latin and in the Saxon
translations, a sealed and buried book; but in the later days, students of
English literature and history began to look back with eager pleasure to
that formative period prior to the Norman conquest, when English polity
and institutions were simple and few, and when their Saxon progenitors
were masters in the land.



   Biography. Ecclesiastical History. The Recorded Miracles. Bede's Latin.
   Other Writers. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: its Value. Alfred the Great.
   Effect of the Danish Invasions.


Bede was a precocious youth, whose excellent parts commended him to Bishop
Benedict. He made rapid progress in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew; was a deacon
at the unusual age of nineteen, and a priest at thirty. It seems probable
that he always remained in his monastery, engaged in literary labor and
offices of devotion until his death, which happened while he was dictating
to his boy amanuensis, "Dear master," said the boy, "there is yet one
sentence not written." He answered, "Write quickly." Soon after, the boy
said, "The sentence is now written." He replied. "It is well; you have
said the truth. Receive my head into your hands, for it is a great
satisfaction to me to sit facing my holy place where I was wont to pray,
that I may also sitting, call upon my Father." "And thus, on the pavement
of his little cell, singing 'Glory be unto the Father, and unto the Son,
and unto the Holy Ghost,' when he had named the Holy Ghost he breathed his
last, and so departed to the heavenly kingdom."

HIS ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY.--His ecclesiastical history opens with a
description of Britain, including what was known of Scotland and Ireland.
With a short preface concerning the Church in the earliest times, he
dwells particularly upon the period, from the arrival of St. Augustine, in
597, to the year 731, a space of one hundred and thirty-four years, during
nearly one-half of which the author lived. The principal written works
from which he drew were the natural history of Pliny, the Hormesta of the
Spanish priest _Paulus Orosius_, and the history of Gildas. His account of
the coming of the Anglo-Saxons, "being the traditions of the Kentish
people concerning Hengist and Horsa," has since proved to be fabulous, as
the Saxons are now known to have been for a long period, during the Roman
occupancy, making predatory incursions into Britain before the time of
their reputed settlement.[9]

For the materials of the principal portions of his history, Bede was
indebted to correspondence with those parts of England which he did not
visit, and to the lives of saints and contemporary documents, which
recorded the numerous miracles and wonders with which his pages are

BEDE'S RECORDED MIRACLES.--The subject of these miracles has been
considered at some length by Dr. Arnold,[10] in a very liberal spirit; but
few readers will agree with him in concluding that with regard to some
miracles, "there is no strong _a priori_ improbability in their
occurrence, but rather the contrary." One of the most striking of the
historical lessons contained in this work, is the credulity and
superstition which mark the age; and we reason justly and conclusively
from the denial of the most palpable and absurd, to the repudiation of
the lesser demands on our credulity. It is sufficient for us that both
were eagerly believed in his day, and thus complete a picture of the age
which such a view would only serve to impair, if not destroy. The theology
of the age is set forth with wonderful clearness, in the numerous
questions propounded by Augustine to Gregory I., the Bishop of Rome, and
in the judicious answers of that prelate; in which may also be found the
true relation which the Church of Rome bore to her English mission.

We have also the statement of the establishment of the archbishoprics of
Canterbury and York, the bishopric of London, and others.

The last chapter but one, the twenty-third, gives an important account "of
the present state of the English nation, or of all Britain;" and the
twenty-fourth contains a chronological recapitulation, from the beginning
of the year 731, and a list of the author's works. Bede produced, besides
his history, translations of many books in the Bible, several histories of
abbots and saints, books of hymns and epigrams, a treatise on orthography,
and one on poetry.

To point the student to Bede's works, and to indicate their historic
teachings, is all that can be here accomplished. A careful study of his
Latin History, as the great literary monument of the Anglo-Saxon period,
will disclose many important truths which lie beneath the surface, and
thus escape the cursory reader. Wars and politics, of which the
Anglo-Saxon chronicle is full, find comparatively little place in his
pages. The Church was then peaceful, and not polemic; the monasteries were
sanctuaries in which quiet, devotion, and order reigned. Another phase of
the literature shows us how the Gentiles raged and the people were
imagining a vain thing; but Bede, from his undisturbed cell, scarcely
heard the howlings of the storm, as he wrote of that kingdom which
promised peace and good-will.

BEDE'S LATIN.--To the classical student, the language of Bede offers an
interesting study. The Latin had already been corrupted, and a nice
discrimination will show the causes of this corruption--the effects of the
other living languages, the ignorance of the clergy, and the new subjects
and ideas to which it was applied.

Bede was in the main more correct than his age, and his vocabulary has few
words of barbarian origin. He arose like a luminary, and when the light of
his learning disappeared, but one other star appeared to irradiate the
gloom which followed his setting; and that was in the person and the reign
of Alfred.

OTHER WRITERS OF THIS AGE.--Among names which must pass with the mere
mention, the following are, after Bede, the most illustrious in this time.
_Aldhelm_, Abbot of Malmesbury, who died in the year 709, is noted for his
scientific computations, and for his poetry: he is said to have translated
the Psalms into Anglo-Saxon poetry.

_Alcuin_, the pride of two countries, England and France, was born in the
year of Bede's death: renowned as an Englishman for his great learning, he
was invited by Charlemagne to his court, and aided that distinguished
sovereign in the scholastic and literary efforts which render his reign so
illustrious. Alcuin died in 804.

The works of Alcuin are chiefly theological treatises, but he wrote a life
of Charlemagne, which has unfortunately been lost, and which would have
been invaluable to history in the dearth of memorials of that emperor and
his age.

_Alfric_, surnamed Grammaticus, (died 1006,) was an Archbishop of
Canterbury, in the tenth century, who wrote eighty homilies, and was, in
his opposition to Romish doctrine, one of the earliest English reformers.

_John Scotus Erigena_, who flourished at the beginning of the ninth
century, in the brightest age of Irish learning, settled in France, and is
known as a subtle and learned scholastic philosopher. His principal work
is a treatise "On the Division of Nature," Both names, _Scotus_ and
_Erigena_, indicate his Irish origin; the original _Scoti_ being
inhabitants of the North of Ireland.

_Dunstan_, (925-988,) commonly called Saint Dunstan, was a powerful and
dictatorial Archbishop of Canterbury, who used the superstitions of
monarch and people to enable him to exercise a marvellous supremacy in the
realm. He wrote commentaries on the Benedictine rule.

These writers had but a remote and indirect bearing upon the progress of
literature in England, and are mentioned rather as contemporary, than as
distinct subjects of our study.

THE ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE.--We now reach the valuable and purely
historical compilation known as the _Anglo-Saxon Chronicle_, which is a
chronological arrangement of events in English history, from the birth of
Christ to the year 1154, in the reign of Henry the Second. It is the most
valuable epitome of English history during that long period.

It is written in Anglo-Saxon, and was begun soon after the time of Alfred,
at least as a distinct work. In it we may trace the changes in the
language from year to year, and from century to century, as it passed from
unmixed Saxon until, as the last records are by contemporary hands, it
almost melted into modern English, which would hardly trouble an
Englishman of the present day to read.

The first part of the Chronicle is a table of events, many of them
fabulous, which had been originally jotted down by Saxon monks, abbots,
and bishops. To these partial records, King Alfred furnished additional
information, as did also, in all probability, Alfric and Dunstan. These
were collected into permanent form by Plegmund, Archbishop of Canterbury,
who brought the annals up to the year 891; from that date they were
continued in the monasteries. Of the Saxon Chronicle there are no less
than seven accredited ancient copies, of which the shortest extends to the
year 977, and the longest to 1154; the others extend to intermediate

ITS VALUE.--The value of the Chronicle as a statistic record of English
history cannot be over-estimated; it moves before the student of English
literature like a diorama, picturing the events in succession, not without
glimpses of their attendant philosophy. We learn much of the nation's
thoughts, troubles, mental, moral, and physical conditions, social laws,
and manners. As illustrations we may refer to the romantic adventures of
King Alfred; and to the conquest of Saxon England by William of
Normandy--"all as God granted them," says the pious chronicler, "for the
people's sins." And he afterward adds, "Bishop Odo and William the Earl
built castles wide throughout the nation, and poor people distressed; and
ever after it greatly grew in evil: may the end be good when God will."
Although for the most part written in prose, the annals of several years
are given in the alliterative Saxon verse.

A good English translation of Bede's history, and one of the Chronicle,
edited by Dr. Giles, have been issued together by Bohn in one volume of
his Antiquarian library. To the student of English history and of English
literature, the careful perusal of both, in conjunction, is an imperative

ALFRED THE GREAT.--Among the best specimens of Saxon prose are the
translations and paraphrases of King _Alfred_, justly called the Great and
the Truth-teller, the noblest monarch of the Saxon period. The kingdoms of
the heptarchy, or octarchy, had been united under the dominion of Egbert,
the King of Wessex, in the year 827, and thus formed the kingdom of
England. But this union of the kingdoms was in many respects nominal
rather than really complete; as Alfred frequently subscribes himself _King
of the West Saxons_. It was a confederation to gain strength against their
enemies. On the one hand, the inhabitants of North, South, and West Wales
were constantly rising against Wessex and Mercia; and on the other, until
the accession of Alfred upon the death of his brother Ethelred, in 871,
every year of the Chronicle is marked by fierce battles with the troops
and fleets of the Danes on the eastern and southern coasts.

It redounds greatly to the fame of Alfred that he could find time and
inclination in his troubled and busy reign, so harassed with wars by land
and sea, for the establishment of wise laws, the building or rebuilding of
large cities, the pursuit of letters, and the interest of education. To
give his subjects, grown-up nobles as well as children, the benefits of
historical examples, he translated the work of Orosius, a compendious
history of the world, a work of great repute; and to enlighten the
ecclesiastics, he made versions of parts of Bede; of the Pastorale of
Gregory the First; of the Soliloquies of St. Augustine, and of the work of
Boethius, _De Consolatione Philosophiæ_. Beside these principal works are
other minor efforts. In all his writings, he says he "sometimes interprets
word for word, and sometimes meaning for meaning." With Alfred went down
the last gleams of Saxon literature. Troubles were to accumulate steadily
and irresistibly upon the soil of England, and the sword took the place of
the pen.

THE DANES.--The Danes thronged into the realm in new incursions, until
850,000 of them were settled in the North and East of England. The
Danegelt or tribute, displaying at once the power of the invaders and the
cowardice and effeminacy of the Saxon monarchs, rose to a large sum, and
two millions[11] of Saxons were powerless to drive the invaders away. In
the year 1016, after the weak and wicked reign of the besotted _Ethelred_,
justly surnamed the _Unready_, who to his cowardice in paying tribute
added the cruelty of a wholesale massacre on St. Brice's Eve--since called
the Danish St. Bartholomew--the heroic Edmund Ironsides could not stay the
storm, but was content to divide the kingdom with _Knud_ (Canute) the
Great. Literary efforts were at an end. For twenty-two years the Danish
kings sat upon the throne of all England; and when the Saxon line was
restored in the person of Edward the Confessor, a monarch not calculated
to restore order and impart strength, in addition to the internal sources
of disaster, a new element of evil had sprung up in the power and cupidity
of the Normans.

Upon the death of Edward the Confessor, the claimants to the throne were
_Harold_, the son of Godwin, and _William of Normandy_, both ignoring the
claims of the Saxon heir apparent, Edgar Atheling. Harold, as has been
already said, fell a victim to the dissensions in his own ranks, as well
as to the courage and strength of William, and thus Saxon England fell
under Norman rule.

THE LITERARY PHILOSOPHY.--The literary philosophy of this period does not
lie far beneath the surface of the historic record. Saxon literature was
expiring by limitation. During the twelfth century, the Saxon language was
completely transformed into English. The intercourse of many previous
years had introduced a host of Norman French words; inflections had been
lost; new ideas, facts, and objects had sprung up, requiring new names.
The dying Saxon literature was overshadowed by the strength and growth of
the Norman, and it had no royal patron and protector since Alfred. The
superior art-culture and literary attainments of the South, had long been
silently making their impression in England; and it had been the custom to
send many of the English youth of noble families to France to be educated.

Saxon chivalry[12] was rude and unattractive in comparison with the
splendid armor, the gay tournaments, and the witching minstrelsy which
signalized French chivalry; and thus the peaceful elements of conquest
were as seductive as the force of arms was potent. A dynasty which had
ruled for more than six hundred years was overthrown; a great chapter in
English history was closed. A new order was established, and a new chapter
in England's annals was begun.



   Norman Rule. Its Oppression. Its Benefits. William of Malmesbury.
   Geoffrey of Monmouth. Other Latin Chronicles. Anglo-Norman Poets.
   Richard Wace. Other Poets.


With the conquest of England, and as one of the strongest elements of its
permanency, the feudal system was brought into England; the territory was
surveyed and apportioned to be held by military tenure; to guard against
popular insurrections, the curfew rigorously housed the Saxons at night; a
new legislature, called a parliament, or talking-ground, took the place of
the witenagemot, or assembly of the wise: it was a conquest not only in
name but in truth; everything was changed by the conqueror's right, and
the Saxons were entirely subjected.

ITS OPPRESSION.--In short, the Norman conquest, from the day of the battle
of Hastings, brought the Saxon people under a galling yoke. The Norman was
everywhere an oppressor. Besides his right as a conqueror, he felt a
contempt for the rudeness of the Saxon. He was far more able to govern and
to teach. He founded rich abbeys; schools like those of Oxford and
Cambridge he expanded into universities like that of Paris. He filled all
offices of profit and trust, and created many which the Saxons had not. In
place of the Saxon English, which, however vigorous, was greatly wanting
in what may be called the vocabulary of progress, the Norman French,
drawing constantly upon the Latin, enriched by the enactments of
Charlemagne and the tributes of Italy, even in its infancy a language of
social comity in Western Europe, was spoken at court, introduced into the
courts of law, taught in the schools, and threatened to submerge and drown
out the vernacular.[13] All inducements to composition in English were
wanting; delicious songs of Norman Trouvères chanted in the _Langue
d'oil_, and stirring tales of Troubadours in the _Langue d'oc_, carried
the taste captive away from the Saxon, as a regal banquet lures from the
plain fare of the cottage board, more wholesome but less attractive.

ITS BENEFITS.--Had this progress continued, had this grasp of power
remained without hinderance or relaxation, the result would have been the
destruction or amalgamation of the vigorous English, so as to form a
romance language similar to the French, and only different in the amount
of Northern and local words. But the Norman power, without losing its
title, was to find a limit to its encroachments. This limit was fixed,
_first_, by the innate hardihood and firmness of the Saxon character,
which, though cast down and oppressed, retained its elasticity; which
cherished its language in spite of Norman threats and sneers, and which
never lost heart while waiting for better times; _secondly_, by the
insular position of Great Britain, fortified by the winds and waves, which
enabled her to assimilate and mould anew whatever came into her borders,
to the discomfiture of further continental encroachments; constituting
her, in the words of Shakspeare,

    "... that pale, that white-faced shore,
    Whose foot spurns back the ocean's roaring tides,
    And coops from other lands her islanders;"

and, _thirdly_, to the Crusades, which, attracting the nobles to
adventures in Palestine, lifted the heel of Norman oppression off the
Saxon neck, and gave that opportunity, which alone was needed, to make
England in reality, if not in name--in thews, sinews, and mental strength,
if not in regal state and aristocratic privilege--Saxon-England in all its
future history. Other elements are still found, but the Saxon greatly

The historian of that day might well bemoan the fate of the realm, as in
the Saxon Chronicle already quoted. To the philosopher of to-day, this
Norman conquest and its results were of incalculable value to England, by
bringing her into relations with the continent, by enduing her with a
weight and influence in the affairs of Europe which she could never
otherwise have attained, and by giving a new birth to a noble literature
which has had no superior in any period of the world's history.

As our subject does not require, and our space will not warrant the
consideration of the rise and progress of French literature, before its
introduction with the Normans into England, we shall begin with the first
fruits after its transplantation into British soil. But before doing so,
it becomes necessary to mention certain Latin chronicles which furnished
food for these Anglo-Norman poets and legendists.

WILLIAM OF MALMESBURY.--_William of Malmesbury_, the first Latin historian
of distinction, who is contemporary with the Norman conquest, wrote a work
called the "Heroic Deeds of the English Kings," (_Gesta Regum Anglorum_,)
which extends from the arrival of the Saxons to the year 1120; another,
"The New History," (_Historia Novella_,) brings the history down to 1142.
Notwithstanding the credulity of the age, and his own earnest recital of
numerous miracles, these works are in the main truthful, and of real value
to the historical student. In the contest between Matilda and Stephen for
the succession of the English crown, William of Malmesbury is a strong
partisan of the former, and his work thus stands side by side, for those
who would have all the arguments, with the _Gesta Stephani_, by an unknown
contemporary, which is written in the interest of Stephen.

GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH.--More famous than the monk of Malmesbury, but by no
means so truthful, stands _Geoffrey of Monmouth_, Archdeacon of Monmouth
and Bishop of St. Asaph's, a writer to whom the rhyming chronicles and
Anglo-Norman poets have owed so much. Walter, a Deacon of Oxford, it is
said, had procured from Brittany a Welsh chronicle containing a history of
the Britons from the time of one Brutus, a great-grandson of Æneas, down
to the seventh century of our era. From this, partly in translation and
partly in original creation, Geoffrey wrote his "History of the Britons."
Catering to the popular prejudice, he revived, and in part created, the
deeds of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table--fabulous heroes who
have figured in the best English poetry from that day to the present,
their best presentation having been made in the Idyls of the King,
(Arthur,) by Tennyson.

The popular philosophy of Geoffrey's work is found in the fact, that while
in Bede and in the Saxon Chronicle the Britons had not been portrayed in
such a manner as to flatter the national vanity, which seeks for remote
antecedents of greatness; under the guise of the Chronicle of Brittany,
Geoffrey undertook to do this. Polydore Virgil distinctly condemns him for
relating "many fictitious things of King Arthur and the ancient Britons,
invented by himself, and pretended to be translated by him into Latin,
which he palms on the world with the sacred name of true history;" and
this view is substantiated by the fact that the earlier writers speak of
Arthur as a prince and a warrior, of no colossal fame--"well known, but
not idolized.... That he was a courageous warrior is unquestionable; but
that he was the miraculous Mars of the British history, from whom kings
and nations shrunk in panic, is completely disproved by the temperate
encomiums of his contemporary bards."[14]

It is of great historical importance to observe the firm hold taken by
this fabulous character upon the English people, as evinced by the fact
that he has been a popular hero of the English epic ever since. Spenser
adopted him as the presiding genius of his "Fairy Queen," and Milton
projected a great epic on his times, before he decided to write the
Paradise Lost.


Ingulphus, Abbot of Croyland, 1075-1109: History of Croyland. Authenticity

William of Poictiers, 1070: Deeds of William the Conqueror, (Gesta
Gullielmi Ducis Normannorum et Regis Anglorum.)

Ordericus Vitalis, born about 1075: general ecclesiastical history.

William of Jumièges: History of the Dukes of Normandy.

Florence of Worcester, died 1118: (Chronicon ex Chronicis,) Chronicle from
the Chronicles, from the Creation to 1118, (with two valuable additions to
1141, and to 1295.)

Matthew of Westminster, end of thirteenth century (probably a fictitious
name): Flowers of the Histories, (Flores Historiarum.)

Eadmer, died about 1124: history of his own time, (Historia Novorum, sive
sui seculi.)

Giraldus Cambrensis, born 1146, known as Girald Barry: numerous histories,
including Topographia Hiberniæ, and the Norman conquest of Ireland; also
several theological works.

Henry of Huntingdon, first half of the twelfth century: History of

Alured of Rievaux, 1109-66: The Battle of the Standard.

Roger de Hoveden, end of twelfth century: Annales, from the end of Bede's
history to 1202.

Matthew Paris, monk of St. Alban's, died 1259: Historia Major, from the
Norman conquest to 1259, continued by William Rishanger to 1322.

Ralph Higden, fourteenth century: Polychronicon, or Chronicle of Many
Things; translated in the fifteenth century, by John de Trevisa; printed
by Caxton in 1482, and by Wynken de Worde in 1485.

THE ANGLO-NORMAN POETS AND CHRONICLERS.--Norman literature had already
made itself a name before William conquered England. Short jingling tales
in verse, in ballad style, were popular under the name of _fabliaux_, and
fuller epics, tender, fanciful, and spirited, called Romans, or Romaunts,
were sung to the lute, in courts and camps. Of these latter, Alexander the
Great, Charlemagne, and Roland were the principal heroes.

Strange as it may seem, this _langue d'oil_, in which they were composed,
made more rapid progress in its poetical literature, in the period
immediately after the conquest, in England than at home: it flourished by
the transplantation. Its advent was with an act of heroism. Taillefer, the
standard-bearer of William at Seulac, marched in advance of the army,
struck the first blow, and met his death while chanting the song of

    Of Charlemagne and Roland,
    Of Oliver and his vassals,
    Who died at Roncesvalles.

    De Karlemaine e de Reliant,
    Et d'Olivier et des vassals,
    Ki moururent en Renchevals.

Each stanza ended with the war-shout _Aoi_! and was responded to by the
cry of the Normans, _Diex aide, God to aid_. And this battle-song was the
bold manifesto of Norman poetry invading England. It found an echo
wherever William triumphed on English soil, and played an important part
in the formation of the English language and English literature. New
scenes and new victories created new inspiration in the poets; monarchs
like Henry I., called from his scholarship _Beauclerc_, practised and
cherished the poetic art, and thus it happened that the Norman poets in
England produced works of sweeter minstrelsy and greater historical value
than the _fabliaux_, _Romans_, and _Chansons de gestes_ of their brethren
on the continent. The conquest itself became a grand theme for their

RICHARD WACE.--First among the Anglo-Norman poets stands Richard Wace,
called Maistre Wace, reading clerk, (clerc lisant,) born in the island of
Jersey, about 1112, died in 1184. His works are especially to be noted for
the direct and indirect history they contain. His first work, which
appeared about 1138, is entitled _Le Brut d'Angleterre_--The English
Brutus--and is in part a paraphrase of the Latin history of Geoffrey of
Monmouth, who had presented Brutus of Troy as the first in the line of
British kings. Wace has preserved the fiction of Geoffrey, and has catered
to that characteristic of the English people which, not content with
homespun myths, sought for genealogies from the remote classic times.
Wace's _Brut_ is chiefly in octo-syllabic verse, and extends to fifteen
thousand lines.

But Wace was a courtier, as well as a poet. Not content with pleasing the
fancy of the English people with a fabulous royal lineage, he proceeded to
gratify the pride of their Norman masters by writing, in 1171, his "Roman
de Rou, et des Ducs de Normandie," an epic poem on Rollo, the first Duke
of Normandy--Rollo, called the Marcher, because he was so mighty of
stature that no horse could bear his weight. This Rollo compromised with
Charles the Simple of France by marrying his daughter, and accepting that
tract of Neustria to which he gave the name of Normandy. He was the
ancestor, at six removes, of William the Conqueror, and his mighty deeds
were a pleasant and popular subject for the poet of that day, when a
great-grandson of William, Henry II., was upon the throne of England. The
Roman de Rou contains also the history of Rollo's successors: it is in two
parts; the first extending to the beginning of the reign of the third
duke, Richard the Fearless, and the second, containing the story of the
conquest, comes down to the time of Henry II. himself. The second part he
wrote rapidly, for fear that he would be forestalled by the king's poet
_Benoit_. The first part was written in Alexandrines, but for the second
he adopted the easier measure of the octo-syllabic verse, of which this
part contains seventeen thousand lines. In this poem are discerned the
craving of the popular mind, the power of the subject chosen, and the
reflection of language and manners, which are displayed on every page.

So popular, indeed, was the subject of the Brut, indigenous as it was
considered to British soil, that Wace's poem, already taken from Geoffrey
of Monmouth, as Geoffrey had taken it, or pretended to take it from the
older chronicle, was soon again, as we shall see, to be versionized into


_Philip de Than_, about 1130, one of the Trouvères: _Li livre de
créatures_ is a poetical study of chronology, and his _Bestiarie_ is a
sort of natural history of animals and minerals.

_Benoit_: Chroniques des Ducs de Normandie, 1160, written in thirty
thousand octo-syllabic verses, only worthy of a passing notice, because of
the appointment of the poet by the king, (Henry II.,) in order to
forestall the second part of Wace's Roman de Rou.

Geoffrey, died 1146: A miracle play of St. Catherine.

Geoffrey Gaimar, about 1150: Estorie des Engles, (History of the English.)

Luc de la Barre, blinded for his bold satires by the king (Henry I.).

Mestre Thomas, latter part of twelfth century: Roman du Roi Horn. Probably
the original of the "Geste of Kyng Horn."

Richard I., (Cœur de Lion,) died 1199, King of England: _Sirventes_ and
songs. His antiphonal song with the minstrel Blondel is said to have given
information of the place of his imprisonment, and procured his release;
but this is probably only a romantic fiction.



   Semi-Saxon Literature. Layamon. The Ormulum. Robert of Gloucester.
   Langland. Piers Plowman. Piers Plowman's Creed. Sir Jean Froissart. Sir
   John Mandevil.


Moore, in his beautiful poem, "The Light of the Harem," speaks of that
luminous pulsation which precedes the real, progressive morning:

             ... that earlier dawn
    Whose glimpses are again withdrawn,
    As if the morn had waked, and then
    Shut close her lids of light again.

The simile is not inapt, as applied to the first efforts of the early
English, or Semi-Saxon literature, during the latter part of the twelfth
and the whole of the thirteenth century. That deceptive dawn, or first
glimpse of the coming day, is to be found in the work of _Layamon_. The
old Saxon had revived, but had been modified and altered by contact with
the Latin chronicles and the Anglo-Norman poetry, so as to become a
distinct language--that of the people; and in this language men of genius
and poetic taste were now to speak to the English nation.

LAYAMON.--Layamon[15] was an English priest of Worcestershire, who made a
version of Wace's _Brut_, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, so
peculiar, however, in its language, as to puzzle the philologist to fix
its exact date with even tolerable accuracy. But, notwithstanding the
resemblance, according to Mr. Ellis, to the "simple and unmixed, though
very barbarous Saxon," the character of the alphabet and the nature of the
rhythm place it at the close of the twelfth century, and present it as
perhaps the best type of the Semi-Saxon. The poem consists partly of the
Saxon alliterative lines, and partly of verses which seem to have thrown
off this trammel; so that a different decision as to its date would be
reached according as we consider these diverse parts of its structure. It
is not improbable that, like English poets of a later time, Layamon
affected a certain archaism in language, as giving greater beauty and
interest to his style. The subject of the _Brut_ was presented to him as
already treated by three authors: first, the original Celtic poem, which
has been lost; second, the Latin chronicle of Geoffrey; and, third, the
French poem of Wace. Although Layamon's work is, in the main, a
translation of that of Wace, he has modified it, and added much of his
own. His poem contains more than thirty thousand lines.

THE ORMULUM.--Next in value to the Brut of Layamon, is the Ormulum, a
series of metrical homilies, in part paraphrases of the gospels for the
day, with verbal additions and annotations. This was the work of a monk
named _Orm_ or _Ormin_, who lived in the beginning of the thirteenth
century, during the reign of King John and Henry III., and it resembles
our present English much more nearly than the poem of Layamon. In his
dedication of the work to his brother Walter, Orm says--and we give his
words as an illustration of the language in which he wrote:

    Ice hafe don swa summ thu bad
    Annd forthedd te thin wille
    Ice hafe wennd uintill Ennglissh
    Goddspelless hallghe lare
    Affterr thatt little witt tatt me
    Min Drihhten hafethth lenedd

    I have done so as thou bade,
    And performed thee thine will;
    I have turned into English
    Gospel's holy lore,
    After that little wit that me
    My lord hath lent.

The poem is written in Alexandrine verses, which may be divided into
octosyllabic lines, alternating with those of six syllables, as in the
extract given above. He is critical with regard to his orthography, as is
evinced in the following instructions which he gives to his future readers
and transcriber:

    And whase willen shall this booke
    Eft other sithe writen,
    Him bidde ice that he't write right
    Swa sum this booke him teacheth

    And whoso shall wish this book
    After other time to write,
    Him bid I that he it write right,
    So as this book him teacheth.

The critics have observed that, whereas the language of Layamon shows that
it was written in the southwest of England, that of Orm manifests an
eastern or northeastern origin. To the historical student, Orm discloses
the religious condition and needs of the people, and the teachings of the
Church. His poem is also manifestly a landmark in the history of the
English language.

ROBERT OF GLOUCESTER.--Among the rhyming chroniclers of this period,
Robert, a monk of Gloucester Abbey, is noted for his reproduction of the
history of Geoffrey of Monmouth, already presented by Wace in French, and
by Layamon in Saxon-English. But he is chiefly valuable in that he carries
the chronicle forward to the end of the reign of Henry III. Written in
West-country English, it not only contains a strong infusion of French,
but distinctly states the prevailing influence of that language in his own

    Vor bote a man couthe French, me tolth of him well lute
    Ac lowe men holdeth to Englyss, and to her kunde speche zute.

    For unless a man know French, one talketh of him little;
    But _low_ men hold to English, and to their natural speech yet.

The chronicle of Robert is written in Alexandrines, and, except for the
French words incongruously interspersed, is almost as "barbarous" Saxon as
the Brut of Layamon.

LANGLAND--PIERS PLOWMAN.--The greatest of the immediate heralds of
Chaucer, whether we regard it as a work of literary art, or as an historic
reflector of the age, is "The Vision of Piers Plowman," by Robert
Langland, which appeared between 1360 and 1370. It stands between the
Semi-Saxon and the old English, in point of language, retaining the
alliterative feature of the former; and, as a teacher of history, it
displays very clearly the newly awakened spirit of religious inquiry, and
the desire for religious reform among the English people: it certainly was
among the means which aided in establishing a freedom of religious thought
in England, while as yet the continent was bound in the fetters of a
rigorous and oppressive authority.

Peter, the ploughboy, intended as a representative of the common people,
drops asleep on Malvern Hills, between Wales and England, and sees in his
dream an array of virtues and vices pass before him--such as Mercy, Truth,
Religion, Covetousness, Avarice, etc. The allegory is not unlike that of
Bunyan. By using these as the personages, in the manner of the early
dramas called the Moralities, he is enabled to attack and severely scourge
the evil lives and practices of the clergy, and the abuses which had
sprung up in the Church, and to foretell the punishment, which afterward
fell upon the monasteries in the time of Henry VIII., one hundred and
fifty years later:

    And then shall the Abbot of Abingdon, and all his issue forever,
    _Have a knock of a king, and incurable the wound_.

His attack is not against the Church itself, but against the clergy. It
is to be remarked, in studying history through the medium of literature,
that the works of a certain period, themselves the result of history,
often illustrate the coming age, by being prophetic, or rather, as
antecedents by suggesting consequents. Thus, this Vision of Piers Plowman
indicates the existence of a popular spirit which had been slowly but
steadily increasing--which sympathized with Henry II. and the
priest-trammelling "Constitutions of Clarendon," even while it was ready
to go on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Thomas à Becket, the illustrious
victim of the quarrel between Henry and his clergy. And it points with no
uncertain finger to a future of greater light and popular development, for
this bold spirit of reform was strongly allied to political rights. The
clergy claimed both spiritualities and temporalities from the Pope, and,
being governed by ecclesiastical laws, were not like other English
subjects amenable to the civil code. The king's power was thus endangered;
a proud and encroaching spirit was fostered, and the clergy became
dissolute in their lives. In the words of Piers Plowman:

    I found these freres, | For profit of hem selve;
    All the four orders,  | Closed the gospel,
    Preaching the people  | As hem good liked.

And again:

    Ac now is Religion       | And a loud buyer,
    A rider, a roamer about, | A pricker on a palfrey,
    A leader of love days    | From manor to manor.

PIERS PLOWMAN'S CREED.--The name of Piers Plowman and the conceit of his
Vision became at once very popular. He stood as a representative of the
peasant class rising in importance and in assertion of religious rights.

An unknown follower of Wiclif wrote a poem called "Piers Plowman's Creed,"
which conveys religious truth in a formula of belief. The language and the
alliterative feature are similar to those of the Vision; and the
invective is against the clergy, and especially against the monks and

FROISSART.--Sire Jean Froissart was born about 1337. He is placed here for
the observance of chronological order: he was not an English writer, but
must receive special mention because his "Chronicles," although written in
French, treat of the English wars in France, and present splendid pictures
of English chivalry and heroism. He lived, too, for some time in England,
where he figured at court as the secretary of Philippa, queen of Edward
III. Although not always to be relied on as an historian, his work is
unique and charming, and is very truthful in its delineation of the men
and manners of that age: it was written for courtly characters, and not
for the common people. The title of his work may be translated "Chronicles
of France, England, Scotland, Spain, Brittany, Gascony, Flanders, and
surrounding places."

SIR JOHN MANDEVIL, (1300-1371.)--We also place in this general catalogue a
work which has, ever since its appearance, been considered one of the
curiosities of English literature. It is a narrative of the travels of
Mandevil in the East. He was born in 1300; became a doctor of medicine,
and journeyed in those regions of the earth for thirty-four years. A
portion of the time he was in service with a Mohammedan army; at other
times he lived in Egypt, and in China, and, returning to England an old
man, he brought such a budget of wonders--true and false--stories of
immense birds like the roc, which figure in Arabian mythology and romance,
and which could carry elephants through the air--of men with tails, which
were probably orang-outangs or gorillas.

Some of his tales, which were then entirely discredited, have been
ascertained by modern travellers to be true. His work was written by him
first in Latin, and then in French--Latin for the savans, and French for
the court--and afterward, such was the power and demand of the new
English tongue, that he presented his marvels to the world in an English
version. This was first printed by Wynken de Worde, in 1499.

Other Writers of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, Who Preceded

Robert Manning, a canon of Bourne--called also Robert de Brunne:
Translated a portion of Wace's _Brut_, and also a chronicle of Piers de
Langtoft bringing the history down to the death of Edward I. (1307.) He is
also supposed to be the author of a translation of the "Manuel des Pêchés,"
(Handling of Sins,) the original of which is ascribed to Bishop Grostête
of Lincoln.

_The Ancren Riwle_, or _Anchoresses' Rule_, about 1200, by an unknown
writer, sets forth the duties of a monastic life for three ladies
(anchoresses) and their household in Dorsetshire.

Roger Bacon, (1214-1292,) a friar of Ilchester: He extended the area of
knowledge by his scientific experiments, but wrote his Opus Magus, or
_greater work_, in comparison with the Opus Minus, and numerous other
treatises in Latin. If he was not a writer in English, his name should be
mentioned as a great genius, whose scientific knowledge was far in advance
of his age, and who had prophetic glimpses of the future conquests of

Robert Grostête, Bishop of Lincoln, died 1253, was probably the author of
the _Manuel des Pêchés_, and also wrote a treatise on the sphere.

Sir Michael Scott: He lived in the latter half of the thirteenth century;
was a student of the "occult sciences," and also skilled in theology and
medicine. He is referred to by Walter Scott as the "wondrous wizard,
Michael Scott."

Thomas of Ercildoun--called the Rhymer--supposed by Sir Walter Scott, but
erroneously, as is now believed, to be the author of "Sir Tristram."

_The King of Tars_ is the work of an unknown author of this period.

In thus disposing of the authors before Chaucer, no attempt has been made
at a nice subdivision and classification of the character of the works, or
the nature of the periods, further than to trace the onward movement of
the language, in its embryo state, in its birth, and in its rude but
healthy infancy.



   A New Era--Chaucer. Italian Influence. Chaucer as a Founder. Earlier
   Poems. The Canterbury Tales. Characters. Satire. Presentations of
   Woman. The Plan Proposed.


And now it is evident, from what has been said, that we stand upon the eve
of a great movement in history and literature. Up to this time everything
had been more or less tentative, experimental, and disconnected, all
tending indeed, but with little unity of action, toward an established
order. It began to be acknowledged that though the clergy might write in
Latin, and Frenchmen in French, the English should "show their fantasyes
in such words as we learneden of our dame's tonge," and it was equally
evident that that English must be cultivated and formed into a fitting
vehicle for vigorous English thought. To do this, a master mind was
required, and such a master mind appeared in the person of Chaucer. It is
particularly fortunate for our historic theory that his works,
constituting the origin of our homogeneous English literature, furnish
forth its best and most striking demonstration.

CHAUCER'S BIRTH.--Geoffrey Chaucer was born at London about the year 1328:
as to the exact date, we waive all the discussion in which his biographers
have engaged, and consider this fixed as the most probable time. His
parentage is unknown, although Leland, the English antiquarian, declares
him to have come of a noble family, and Pitts says he was the son of a
knight. He died in the year 1400, and thus was an active and observant
contemporary of events in the most remarkable century which had thus far
rolled over Europe--the age of Edward III. and the Black Prince, of Crecy
and Poitiers, of English bills and bows, stronger than French lances; the
age of Wiclif, of reformation in religion, government, language, and
social order. Whatever his family antecedents, he was a courtier, and a
successful one; his wife was Philippa, a sister of Lady Katherine
Swinford, first the mistress and then the wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of

ITALIAN INFLUENCE.--From a literary point of view, the period of his birth
was remarkable for the strong influence of Italian letters, which first
having made its entrance into France, now, in natural course of progress,
found its way into England. Dante had produced,

      ... in the darkness prest,
    From his own soul by worldly weights, ...

the greatest poem then known to modern Europe, and the most imaginative
ever written. Thus the Italian sky was blazing with splendor, while the
West was still in the morning twilight. The Divina Commedia was written
half a century before the Canterbury Tales.

Boccaccio was then writing his _Filostrato_, which was to be Chaucer's
model in the Troilus and Creseide, and his _Decameron_, which suggested
the plan of the Canterbury Tales. His _Teseide_ is also said to be the
original of the Knight's Tale. Petrarch, "the worthy clerke" from whom
Chaucer is said to have learned a story or two in Italy for his great
work, was born in 1304, and was also a star of the first magnitude in that
Italian galaxy.

Indeed, it is here worthy of a passing remark, that from that early time
to a later period, many of the great products of English poetry have been
watered by silver rills of imaginative genius from a remote Italian
source. Chaucer's indebtedness has just been noticed. Spenser borrowed his
versification and not a little of his poetic handling in the Faery Queen
from Ariosto. Milton owes to Dante some of his conceptions of heaven and
hell in his Paradise Lost, while his Lycidas, Arcades, Allegro and
Penseroso, may be called Italian poems done into English.

In the time of Chaucer, this Italian influence marks the extended
relations of English letters; and, serving to remove the trammels of the
French, it gave to the now vigorous and growing English that opportunity
of development for which it had so long waited. Out of the serfdom and
obscurity to which it had been condemned by the Normans, it had sprung
forth in reality, as in name, the English language. Books, few at the
best, long used in Latin or French, were now demanded by English mind, and
being produced in answer to the demand.

THE FOUNDER OF THE LITERATURE.--But there was still wanted a man who could
use the elements and influences of the time--a great poet--a maker--a
creator of literature. The language needed a forming, controlling, fixing
hand. The English mind needed a leader and master, English imagination a
guide, English literature a father.

The person who answered to this call, and who was equal to all these
demands, was Chaucer. But he was something more. He claimed only to be a
poet, while he was to figure in after times as historian, philosopher, and

The scope of this work does not permit an examination of Chaucer's
writings in detail, but the position we have taken will be best
illustrated by his greatest work, the Canterbury Tales. Of the others, a
few preliminary words only need be said. Like most writers in an early
literary period, Chaucer began with translations, which were extended into
paraphrases or versions, and thus his "'prentice hand" gained the
practice and skill with which to attempt original poems.

MINOR POEMS.--His earliest attempt, doubtless, was the _Romaunt of the
Rose_, an allegorical poem in French, by William de Lorris, continued,
after his death in 1260, by Jean de Meun, who figured as a poet in the
court of Charles le Bel, of France. This poem, esteemed by the French as
the finest of their old romances, was rendered by Chaucer, with
considerable alterations and improvements, into octosyllabic verse. The
Romaunt portrays the trials which a lover meets and the obstacles he
overcomes in pursuit of his mistress, under the allegory of a rose in an
inaccessible garden. It has been variously construed--by theologians as
the yearning of man for the celestial city; by chemists as the search for
the philosopher's stone; by jurists as that for equity, and by medical men
as the attempt to produce a panacea for all human ailments.

Next in order was his _Troilus and Creseide_, a mediæval tale, already
attempted by Boccaccio in his Filostrate, but borrowed by Chaucer,
according to his own account, from _Lollius_, a mysterious name without an
owner. The story is similar to that dramatized by Shakspeare in his
tragedy of the same title. This is in decasyllabic verse, arranged in
stanzas of seven lines each.

The _House of Fame_, another of his principal poems, is a curious
description--probably his first original effort--of the Temple of Fame, an
immense cage, sixty miles long, and its inhabitants the great writers of
classic times, and is chiefly valuable as showing the estimation in which
the classic writers were held in that day. This is also in octosyllabic
verses, and is further remarkable for the opulence of its imagery and its
variety of description. The poet is carried in the claws of a great eagle
into this house, and sees its distinguished occupants standing upon
columns of different kinds of metal, according to their merits. The poem
ends with the third book, very abruptly, as Chaucer awakes from his

"The Legend of Good Women" is a record of the loves and misfortunes of
celebrated women, and is supposed to have been written to make amends for
the author's other unjust portraitures of female character.

THE CANTERBURY TALES.--In order to give system to our historic inquiries,
we shall now present an outline of the Canterbury Tales, in order that we
may show--

   I. The indications of a general desire in that period for a reformation
   in religion.

   II. The social condition of the English people.

   III. The important changes in government.

   IV. The condition and progress of the English language.

The Canterbury Tales were begun in 1386, when Chaucer was fifty-eight
years old, and in a period of comparative quiet, after the minority of
Richard II. was over, and before his troubles had begun. They form a
beautiful gallery of cabinet pictures of English society in all its
grades, except the very highest and the lowest; and, in this respect, they
supplement in exact lineaments and the freshest coloring those compendiums
of English history which only present to us, on the one hand, the persons
and deeds of kings and their nobles, and, on the other, the general laws
which so long oppressed the lower orders of the people, and the action of
which is illustrated by disorders among them. But in Chaucer we find the
true philosophy of English society, the principle of the guilds, or
fraternities, to which his pilgrims belong--the character and avocation of
the knight, squire, yeoman, franklin, bailiff, sompnour, reeve, etc.,
names, many of them, now obsolete. Who can find these in our compendiums?
they must be dug--and dry work it is--out of profounder histories, or
found, with greater pleasure, in poems like that of Chaucer.

CHARACTERS.--Let us consider, then, a few of his principal characters
which most truly represent the age and nation.

The Tabard inn at Southwark, then a suburb of "London borough without the
walls," was a great rendezvous for pilgrims who were journeying to the
shrine of St. Thomas à Becket, at Canterbury--that Saxon archbishop who
had been murdered by the minions of Henry II. Southwark was on the high
street, the old Roman highway from London to the southeast. A gathering of
pilgrims here is no uncommon occurrence; and thus numbers and variety make
a combination of penitence and pleasure. The host of the Tabard--doubtless
a true portraiture of the landlord of that day--counts noses, that he may
distribute the pewter plates. A substantial supper smokes upon the
old-fashioned Saxon-English board--so substantial that the pilgrims are
evidently about to lay in a good stock, in anticipation of poor fare, the
fatigue of travel, and perhaps a fast or two not set down in the calendar.
As soon as they attack the viands, ale and strong wines, hippocras,
pigment, and claret, are served in bright pewter and wood. There were
Saxon drinks for the commoner pilgrims; the claret was for the knight.
Every one drinks at his will, and the miller, as we shall see, takes a
little more than his head can decently carry.

First in the place of honor is the knight, accompanied by his son, the
young squire, and his trusty yeoman. Then, in order of social rank, a
prioress, a nun and three priests, a friar, a merchant, a poor scholar or
clerk of Oxford, a sergeant of the law, a frankelein, a haberdasher, a
weaver, a tapster, a dyer, a cook, a shipman, a doctor of physic, a wife
of Bath, a poor parson, a ploughman, a miller, a manciple or college
steward, a reeve or bailiff, a sompnour or summoner to the ecclesiastical
courts, a pardoner or seller of papal indulgences (one hundred and fifty
years before Luther)--an essentially English company of many social
grades, bound to the most popular shrine, that of a Saxon archbishop,
himself the son of a London citizen, murdered two hundred years before
with the connivance of an English king. No one can read this list without
thinking that if Chaucer be true and accurate in his descriptions of these
persons, and make them talk as they did talk, his delineations are of
inestimable value historically. He has been faithfully true. Like all
great masters of the epic art, he doubtless drew them from the life; each,
given in the outlines of the prologue, is a speaking portrait: even the
horses they ride are as true to nature as those in the pictures of Rosa

And besides these historic delineations which mark the age and country,
notwithstanding the loss of local and personal satire with which, to the
reader of his day, the poem must have sparkled, and which time has
destroyed for us, the features of our common humanity are so well
portrayed, that to the latest generations will be there displayed the
"forth-showing instances" of the _Idola Tribus_ of Bacon, the besetting
sins, frailties, and oddities of the human race.

SATIRE.--His touches of satire and irony are as light as the hits of an
accomplished master of the small-sword; mere hits, but significant of deep
thrusts, at the scandals, abuses, and oppressions of the age. Like
Dickens, he employed his fiction in the way of reform, and helped to
effect it.

Let us illustrate. While sitting at the table, Chaucer makes his sketches
for the Prologue. A few of these will serve here as specimens of his
powers. Take the _Doctour of Physike_ who

    Knew the cause of every maladie,
    Were it of cold or hote or wet or drie;

who also knew

      ... the old Esculapius,
    And Dioscorides and eke Rufus,
    Old Hippocras, Rasis, and Avicen,

and many other classic authorities in medicine.

    Of his diete mesurable was he,
    And it was of no superfluite;

nor was it a gross slander to say of the many,

    His studie was but litel on the Bible.

It was a suggestive satire which led him to hint that he was

          ... but esy of dispense;
    He kepte that he wan in pestilence;
    For gold in physike is a cordial;
    Therefore he loved gold in special.

Chaucer deals tenderly with the lawyers; yet, granting his sergeant of the
law discretion and wisdom, a knowledge of cases even "from the time of
King Will," and fees and perquisites quite proportional, he adds,

    Nowher so besy a man as he ther n' as,
    And yet he seemed besier than he was.

HIS PRESENTATIONS OF WOMAN.--Woman seems to find hard judgment in this
work. Madame Eglantine, the prioress, with her nasal chanting, her
English-French, "of Stratford-atte-Bow," her legion of smalle houndes, and
her affected manner, is not a flattering type of woman's character, and
yet no doubt she is a faithful portrait of many a prioress of that day.

And the wife of Bath is still more repulsive. She tells us, in the
prologue to her story, that she has buried five husbands, and, buxom
still, is looking for the sixth. She is a jolly _compagnon de voyage_, had
been thrice to Jerusalem, and is now seeking assoil for some little sins
at Canterbury. And the host's wife, as he describes her, is not by any
means a pleasant helpmeet for an honest man. The host is out of her
hearing, or he would not be so ready to tell her character:

    I have a wif, tho' that she poore be;
    But of her tongue a blabbing shrew is she,
    And yet she hath a heap of vices mo.

She is always getting into trouble with the neighbors; and when he will
not fight in her quarrel, she cries,

            ... False coward, wreak thy wif;
    By corpus domini, I will have thy knife,
    And thou shalt have my distaff and go spin.

The best names she has for him are milksop, coward, and ape; and so we
say, with him,

    Come, let us pass away from this mattère.

THE PLAN PROPOSED.--With these suggestions of the nature of the company
assembled "for to don their pilgrimage," we come to the framework of the
story. While sitting at the table, the host proposes

    That each of you, to shorten with your way,
    In this viage shall tellen tales twey.

Each pilgrim should tell two stories; one on the way to Canterbury, and
one returning. As, including Chaucer and the host, there are thirty-one in
the company, this would make sixty-two stories. The one who told the best
story should have, on the return of the company to the Tabard inn, a
supper at the expense of the rest.

The host's idea was unanimously accepted; and in the morning, as they ride
forth, they begin to put it into execution. Although lots are drawn for
the order in which the stories shall be told, it is easily arranged by the
courteous host, who recognizes the difference in station among the
pilgrims, that the knight shall inaugurate the scheme, which he does by
telling that beautiful story of _Palamon and Arcite_, the plot of which is
taken from _Le Teseide_ of Boccacio. It is received with cheers by the
company, and with great delight by the host, who cries out,

    So mote I gon--this goth aright,
    Unbockled is the mail.

The next in order is called for, but the miller, who has replenished his
midnight potations in the morning, and is now rolling upon his horse,
swears that "he can a noble tale," and, not heeding the rebuke of the

    Thou art a fool, thy wit is overcome,

he shouts out a vulgar story, in all respects in direct contrast to that
of the knight. As a literary device, this rude introduction of the miller
breaks the stiffness and monotony of a succession in the order of rank;
and, as a feature of the history, it seems to tell us something of
democratic progress. The miller's story ridicules a carpenter, and the
reeve, who is a carpenter, immediately repays him by telling a tale in
which he puts a miller in a ludicrous position.

With such a start, the pilgrims proceed to tell their tales; but not all.
There is neither record of their reaching Canterbury, nor returning. Nor
is the completion of the number at all essential: for all practical
purposes, we have all that can be asked; and had the work been completed,
it would have added little to the historical stores which it now
indirectly, and perhaps unconsciously, offers. The number of the tales
(including two in prose) is twenty-four, and great additional value is
given to them by the short prologue introducing each of them.



   Historical Facts. Reform in Religion. The Clergy, Regular and Secular.
   The Friar and the Sompnour. The Pardonere. The Poure Persone. John
   Wiclif. The Translation of the Bible. The Ashes of Wiclif.


Leaving the pilgrims' cavalcade for a more philosophical consideration of
the historical teachings of the subject, it may be clearly shown that the
work of Chaucer informs us of a wholesome reform in religion, or, in the
words of George Ellis,[16] "he was not only respected as the father of
English poetry, but revered as a champion of the Reformation."

Let us recur briefly to the history. With William the Conqueror a great
change had been introduced into England: under him and his immediate
successors--his son William Rufus, his nephew Henry I., the usurper
Stephen, and Henry II.,--the efforts of the "English kings of Norman race"
were directed to the establishment of their power on a strong foundation;
but they began, little by little, to see that the only foundation was that
of the unconquerable English people; so that popular rights soon began to
be considered, and the accession of Henry II., the first of the
Plantagenets, was specially grateful to the English, because he was the
first since the Conquest to represent the Saxon line, being the grandson
of Henry I., and son of _Matilda_, niece of Edgar Atheling. In the mean
time, as has been seen, the English language had been formed, the chief
element of which was Saxon. This was a strong instrument of political
rights, for community of language tended to an amalgamation of the Norman
and Saxon peoples. With regard to the Church in England, the insulation
from Rome had impaired the influence of the Papacy. The misdeeds and
arrogance of the clergy had arrayed both people and monarch against their
claims, as several of the satirical poems already mentioned have shown. As
a privileged class, who used their immunities to do evil and corrupt the
realm, the clergy became odious to the _nobles_, whose power they shared
and sometimes impaired, and to the _people_, who could now read their
faults and despise their comminations, and who were unwilling to pay
hard-earned wages to support them in idleness and vice. It was not the
doctrine, but the practice which they condemned. With the accession of the
house of Plantagenet, the people were made to feel that the Norman
monarchy was a curse, without alloy. Richard I. was a knight-errant and a
crusader, who cared little for the realm; John was an adulterer, traitor,
and coward, who roused the people's anger by first quarrelling with the
Pope, and then basely giving him the kingdom to receive it again as a
papal fief. The nation, headed by the warlike barons, had forced the great
charter of popular rights from John, and had caused it to be confirmed and
supplemented during the long reign of his son, the weak Henry III.

Edward I. was engaged in cruel wars, both in Wales and Scotland, which
wasted the people's money without any corresponding advantage.

Edward II. was deposed and murdered by his queen and her paramour
Mortimer; and, however great their crime, he was certainly unworthy and
unable to control a fierce and turbulent people, already clamorous for
their rights. These well-known facts are here stated to show the
unsettled condition of things during the period when the English were
being formed into a nation, the language established, and the earliest
literary efforts made. Materials for a better organization were at hand in
great abundance; only proper master-builders were needed. We have seen
that everything now betokened the coming of a new era, in State, Church,
and literature.

The monarch who came to the throne in 1327, one year before the birth of
Chaucer, was worthy to be the usher of this new era to England: a man of
might, of judgment, and of forecast; the first truly _English_ monarch in
sympathy and purpose who had occupied the throne since the Conquest:
liberal beyond all former precedent in religion, he sheltered Wiclif in
his bold invectives, and paved the way for the later encroachments upon
the papal supremacy. With the aid of his accomplished son, Edward the
Black Prince, he rendered England illustrious by his foreign wars, and
removed what remained of the animosity between Saxon and Norman.

REFORM IN RELIGION.--We are so accustomed to refer the Reformation to the
time of Luther in Germany, as the grand religious turning-point in modern
history, that we are apt to underrate, if not to forget, the religious
movement in this most important era of English history. Chaucer and Wiclif
wrote nearly half a century before John Huss was burned by Sigismond: it
was a century after that that Luther burned the Pope's decretals at
Wittenberg, and still later that Henry VIII. threw off the papal dominion
in England. But great crises in a nation's history never arrive without
premonition;--there are no moral earthquakes without premonitory throes,
and sometimes these are more decisive and destructive than that which
gives electric publicity. Such distinct signs appeared in the age of
Chaucer, and the later history of the Church in England cannot be
distinctly understood without a careful study of this period.

It is well known that Chaucer was an adherent of John of Gaunt; that he
and his great protector--perhaps with no very pious intents--favored the
doctrines of Wiclif; that in the politico-religious disturbances in 1382,
incident to the minority of Richard II., he was obliged to flee the
country. But if we wish to find the most striking religious history of the
age, we must seek it in the portraitures of religious characters and
events in his Canterbury Tales. In order to a proper intelligence of
these, let us look for a moment at the ecclesiastical condition of England
at that time. Connected with much in doctrine and ritual worthy to be
retained, and, indeed, still retained in the articles and liturgy of the
Anglican Church, there was much, the growth of ignorance and neglect, to
be reformed. The Church of England had never had a real affinity with
Rome. The gorgeous and sensual ceremonies which, in the indolent airs of
the Mediterranean, were imposing and attractive, palled upon the taste of
the more phlegmatic Englishmen. Institutions organized at Rome did not
flourish in that higher latitude, and abuses were currently discussed even
before any plan was considered for reforming them.

THE CLERGY.--The great monastic orders of St. Benedict, scattered
throughout Europe, were, in the early and turbulent days, a most important
aid and protection to Christianity. But by degrees, and as they were no
longer needed, they had become corrupt, because they had become idle. The
Cluniacs and Cistercians, branches of the Benedictines, are represented in
Chaucer's poem by the monk and prioress, as types of bodies which needed

The Grandmontines, a smaller branch, were widely known for their foppery:
the young monks painted their cheeks, and washed and covered their beards
at night. The cloisters became luxurious, and sheltered, and, what is
worse, sanctioned lewdness and debauchery.

There was a great difference indeed between the _regular_ clergy, or
those belonging to orders and monasteries, and the _secular_ clergy or
parish priests, who were far better; and there was a jealous feud between
them. There was a lamentable ignorance of the Scripture among the clergy,
and gross darkness over the people. The paraphrases of Caedmon, the
translations of Bede and Alfred, the rare manuscripts of the Latin Bible,
were all that cast a faint ray upon this gloom. The people could not read
Latin, even if they had books; and the Saxon versions were almost in a
foreign language. Thus, distrusting their religious teachers, thoughtful
men began to long for an English version of that Holy Book which contains
all the words of eternal life. And thus, while the people were becoming
more clamorous for instruction, and while Wiclif was meditating the great
boon of a translated Bible, which, like a noonday sun, should irradiate
the dark places and disclose the loathsome groups and filthy
manifestations of cell and cloister, Chaucer was administering the
wholesome medicine of satire and contempt. He displays the typical monk
given up to every luxury, the costly black dress with fine fur edgings,
the love-knot which fastens his hood, and his preference for pricking and
hunting the hare, over poring into a stupid book in a cloister.

THE FRIAR AND THE SOMPNOUR.--His satire extends also to the friar, who has
not even that semblance of virtue which is the tribute of the hypocrite to
our holy faith. He is not even the demure rascal conceived by Thomson in
his Castle of Indolence:

          ... the first amid the fry,

           *       *       *       *       *

    A little round, fat, oily man of God,
    Who had a roguish twinkle in his eye,
    When a tight maiden chanced to trippen by,

           *       *       *       *       *

    Which when observed, he shrunk into his mew,
    And straight would recollect his piety anew.

But Chaucer's friar is a wanton and merry scoundrel, taking every
license, kissing the wives and talking love-talk to the girls in his
wanderings, as he begs for his Church and his order. His hood is stuffed
with trinkets to give them; he is worthily known as the best beggar of his
house; his eyes alight with wine, he strikes his little harp, trolls out
funny songs and love-ditties. Anon, his frolic over, he preaches to the
collected crowd violent denunciations of the parish priest, within the
very limits of his parish. The very principles upon which these mendicant
orders were established seem to be elements of evil. That they might be
better than the monks, they had no cloisters and magnificent gardens, with
little to do but enjoy them. Like our Lord, they were generally without a
place to lay their heads; they had neither purse nor scrip. But instead of
sanctifying, the itinerary was their great temptation and final ruin.
Nothing can be conceived better calculated to harden the heart and to
destroy the fierce sensibilities of our nature than to be a beggar and a
wanderer. So that in our retrospective glance, we may pity while we
condemn "the friar of orders gray." With a delicate irony in Chaucer's
picture, is combined somewhat of a liking for this "worthy limitour."[17]

In the same category of contempt for the existing ecclesiastical system,
Chaucer places the sompnour, or summoner to the Church courts. Of his
fire-red face, scattered beard, and the bilious knobs on his cheeks,
"children were sore afraid." The friar, in his tale, represents him as in
league with the devil, who carries him away. He is a drinker of strong
wines, a conniver at evil for bribes: for a good sum he would teach "a

                     ... not to have none awe
    In swiche a case of the archdeacon's curse.

To him the Church system was nothing unless he could make profit of it.

THE PARDONERE.--Nor is his picture of the pardoner, or vender of
indulgences, more flattering. He sells--to the great contempt of the
poet--a piece of the Virgin's veil, a bit of the sail of St. Peter's boat,
holy pigges' bones, and with these relics he made more money in each
parish in one day than the parson himself in two months.

Thus taking advantage of his plot to ridicule these characters, and to
make them satirize each other--as in the rival stories of the sompnour and
friar--he turns with pleasure from these betrayers of religion, to show us
that there was a leaven of pure piety and devotion left.

THE POOR PARSON.--With what eager interest does he portray the lovely
character of the _poor parson_, the true shepherd of his little flock, in
the midst of false friars and luxurious monks!--poor himself, but

    Riche was he of holy thought and work,

           *       *       *       *       *

    That Cristes gospel truely wolde preche,
    His parishers devoutly wolde teche.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Wide was his parish and houses fer asonder,
    But he left nought for ne rain no thonder,
    In sickness and in mischief to visite
    The ferrest in his parish, moche and lite.
    Upon his fete, and in his hand a staf,
    This noble example to his shepe he yaf,
    That first he wrought and afterward he taught.

Chaucer's description of the poor parson, which loses much by being
curtailed, has proved to be a model for all poets who have drawn the
likeness of an earnest pastor from that day to ours, among whom are
Herbert, Cowper, Goldsmith, and Wordsworth; but no imitation has equalled
this beautiful model. When urged by the host,

    Tell us a fable anon, for cocke's bones,

he quotes St. Paul to Timothy as rebuking those who tell fables; and,
disclaiming all power in poetry, preaches them such a stirring discourse
upon penance, contrition, confession, and the seven deadly sins, with
their remedies, as must have fallen like a thunderbolt upon this careless,
motly crew; and has the additional value of giving us Chaucer's epitome of
sound doctrine in that bigoted and ignorant age: and, eminently sound and
holy as it is, it rebukes the lewdness of the other stories, and, in point
of morality, neutralizes if it does not justify the lewd teachings of the
work, or in other words, the immorality of the age. This is the parson's
own view: his story is the last which is told, and he tells us, in the
prologue to his sermon:

    To knitte up all this feste, and make an ende;
    And Jesu for his grace wit me sende
    To showen you the way in this viage
    Of thilke parfit glorious pilgrimage,
    That hight Jerusalem celestial.

In an addendum to this discourse, which brings the Canterbury Tales to an
abrupt close, and which, if genuine, as the best critics think it, was
added some time after, Chaucer takes shame to himself for his lewd
stories, repudiates all his "translations and enditinges of worldly
vanitees," and only finds pleasure in his translations of Boethius, his
homilies and legends of the saints; and, with words of penitence, he hopes
that he shall be saved "atte the laste day of dome."

JOHN WICLIF.[18]--The subject of this early reformation so clearly set
forth in the stories of Chaucer, cannot be fully illustrated without a
special notice of Chaucer's great contemporary and co-worker, John Wiclif.

What Chaucer hints, or places in the mouths of his characters, with
apparently no very serious intent, Wiclif, himself a secular priest,
proclaimed boldly and as of prime importance, first from his professor's
chair at Oxford, and then from his forced retirement at Lutterworth, where
he may well have been the model of Chaucer's poor parson.

Wiclif was born in 1324, four years before Chaucer. The same abuses which
called forth the satires of Langland and Chaucer upon monk and friar, and
which, if unchecked, promised universal corruption, aroused the
martyr-zeal of Wiclif; and similar reproofs are to be found in his work
entitled "Objections to Friars," and in numerous treatises from his pen
against many of the doctrines and practices of the Church.

Noted for his learning and boldness, he was sent by Edward III. one of an
embassy to Bruges, to negotiate with the Pope's envoys concerning
benefices held in England by foreigners. There he met John of Gaunt, the
Duke of Lancaster. This prince, whose immediate descendants were to play
so prominent a part in later history, was the fourth son of Edward III. By
the death of the Black Prince, in 1376, and of Lionel, Duke of Clarence,
in 1368, he became the oldest remaining child of the king, and the father
of the man who usurped the throne of England and reigned as Henry IV. The
influence of Lancaster was equal to his station, and he extended his
protection to Wiclif. This, combined with the support of Lord Percy, the
Marshal of England, saved the reformer from the stake when he was tried
before the Bishop, of London on a charge of heresy, in 1377. He was again
brought before a synod of the clergy at Lambeth, in 1378, but such was the
favor of the populace in his behalf, and such, too, the weakness of the
papal party, on account of a schism which had resulted in the election of
two popes, that, although his opinions were declared heretical, he was not
proceeded against.

After this, although almost sick to death, he rose from what his enemies
had hoped would be his death-bed, to "again declare the evil deeds of the
friars." In 1381, he lectured openly at Oxford against the doctrine of
transubstantiation; and for this, after a presentment by the Church--and a
partial recantation, or explaining away--even the liberal king thought
proper to command that he should retire from the university. Thus, during
his latter years, he lived in retirement at his little parish of
Lutterworth, escaping the dangers of the troublous time, and dying--struck
with paralysis at his chancel--in 1384, sixteen years before Chaucer.

TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE.--The labors of Wiclif which produced the most
important results, were not his violent lectures as a reformer, but the
translation of the Bible into English, the very language of the common
people, greatly to the wrath of the hierarchy and its political upholders.
This, too, is his chief glory: as a reformer he went too fast and too far;
he struck fiercely at the root of authority, imperilling what was good, in
his attack upon what was evil. In pulling up the tares he endangered the
wheat, and from him, as a progenitor, came the Lollards, a fanatical,
violent, and revolutionary sect.

But his English Bible, the parent of the later versions, cannot be too
highly valued. For the first time, English readers could search the whole
Scriptures, and judge for themselves of doctrine and authority: there they
could learn how far the traditions and commandments of men had encrusted
and corrupted the pure word of truth. Thus the greatest impulsion was
given to a reformation in doctrine; and thus, too, the exclusiveness and
arrogance of the clergy received the first of many sledge-hammer blows
which were to result in their confusion and discomfiture.

"If," says Froude,[19] "the Black Prince had lived, or if Richard II. had
inherited the temper of the Plantagenets, the ecclesiastical system would
have been spared the misfortune of a longer reprieve."

THE ASHES OF WICLIF.--The vengeance which Wiclif escaped during his life
was wreaked upon his bones. In 1428, the Council of Constance ordered that
if his bones could be distinguished from those of other, faithful people,
they should "be taken out of the ground and thrown far off from Christian
burial." On this errand the Bishop of Lincoln came with his officials to
Lutterworth, and, finding them, burned them, and threw the ashes into the
little stream called the Swift. Fuller, in his Church History, adds: "Thus
this brook has conveyed 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
over;" or, in the more carefully selected words of an English laureate of
modern days,[20]

                   ... this deed accurst,
    An emblem yields to friends and enemies,
    How the bold teacher's doctrine, _sanctified
    By truth_, shall spread, throughout the world dispersed.



   Social Life. Government. Chaucer's English. His Death. Historical
   Facts. John Gower. Chaucer and Gower. Gower's Language. Other Writers.


A few words must suffice to suggest to the student what may be learned, as
to the condition of society in England, from the Canterbury Tales.

All the portraits are representatives of classes. But an inquiry into the
social life of the period will be more systematic, if we look first at the
nature and condition of chivalry, as it still existed, although on the eve
of departure, in England. This is found in the portraits of certain of
Chaucer's pilgrims--the knight, the squire, and the yeoman; and in the
special prologues to the various tales. The _knight_, as the
representative of European chivalry, comes to us in name at least from the
German forests with the irrepressible Teutons. _Chivalry_ in its rude
form, however, was destined to pass through a refining and modifying
process, and to obtain its name in France. Its Norman characteristic is
found in the young _ecuyer_ or squire, of Chaucer, who aspires to equal
his father in station and renown; while the English type of the
man-at-arms (_l'homme d'armes_) is found in their attendant yeoman, the
_tiers état_ of English chivalry, whose bills and bows served Edward III.
at Cressy and Poictiers, and, a little later, made Henry V. of England
king of France in prospect, at Agincourt. Chivalry, in its palmy days,
was an institution of great merit and power; but its humanizing purpose
now accomplished, it was beginning to decline.

What a speaking picture has Chaucer drawn of the knight, brave as a lion,
prudent in counsel, but gentle as a woman. His deeds of valor had been
achieved, not at Cressy and Calais, but--what both chieftain and poet
esteemed far nobler warfare--in battle with the infidel, at Algeçiras, in
Poland, in Prussia, and Russia. Thrice had he fought with sharp lances in
the lists, and thrice had he slain his foe; yet he was

    Of his port as meke as is a mayde;
    He never yet no vilainie ne sayde
    In all his life unto ne manere wight,
    He was a very parfit gentil knight.

The entire paradox of chivalry is here presented by the poet. For, though
Chaucer's knight, just returned from the wars, is going to show his
devotion to God and the saints by his pilgrimage to the hallowed shrine at
Canterbury, when he is called upon for his story, his fancy flies to the
old romantic mythology. Mars is his god of war, and Venus his mother of
loves, and, by an anachronism quite common in that day, Palamon and Arcite
are mediæval knights trained in the school of chivalry, and aflame, in
knightly style, with the light of love and ladies' eyes. These
incongruities marked the age.

Such was the flickering brightness of chivalry in Chaucer's time, even
then growing dimmer and more fitful, and soon to "pale its ineffectual
fire" in the light of a growing civilization. Its better principles, which
were those of truth, virtue, and holiness, were to remain; but its forms,
ceremonies, and magnificence were to disappear.

It is significant of social progress, and of the levelling influence of
Christianity, that common people should do their pilgrimage with community
of interest as well as danger, and in easy, tale-telling conference with
those of higher station. The franklin, with white beard and red face, has
been lord of the sessions and knight of the shire. The merchant, with
forked beard and Flaundrish beaver hat, discourses learnedly of taxes and
ship-money, and was doubtless drawn from an existing original, the type of
a class. Several of the personages belong to the guilds which were so
famous in London, and

    Were alle yclothed in o livere
    Of a solempne and grete fraternite.

GOVERNMENT.--Closely connected with this social progress, was the progress
in constitutional government, the fruit of the charters of John and Henry
III. After the assassination of Edward II. by his queen and her paramour,
there opened upon England a new historic era, when the bold and energetic
Edward III. ascended the throne--an era reflected in the poem of Chaucer.
The king, with Wiclif's aid, checked the encroachments of the Church. He
increased the representation of the people in parliament, and--perhaps the
greatest reform of all--he divided that body into two houses, the peers
and the commons, giving great consequence to the latter in the conduct of
the government, and introducing that striking feature of English
legislation, that no ministry can withstand an opposition majority in the
lower house; and another quite as important, that no tax should be imposed
without its consent. The philosophy of these great facts is to be found in
the democratic spirit so manifest among the pilgrims; a spirit tempered
with loyalty, but ready, where their liberties were encroached upon, to
act with legislative vigor, as well as individual boldness.

Not so directly, but still forcibly, does Chaucer present the results of
Edward's wars in France, in the status of the knight, squire, and yeoman,
and of the English sailor, and in the changes introduced into the language
and customs of the English thereby.

CHAUCER'S ENGLISH.--But we are to observe, finally, that Chaucer is the
type of progress in the language, giving it himself the momentum which
carried it forward with only technical modifications to the days of
Spenser and the Virgin Queen. The _House of Fame_ and other minor poems
are written in the octosyllabic verse of the Trouvères, but the
_Canterbury Tales_ give us the first vigorous English handling of the
decasyllabic couplet, or iambic pentameter, which was to become so
polished an instrument afterward in the hands of Dryden and Pope. The
English of all the poems is simple and vernacular.

It is known that Dante had at first intended to compose the Divina
Commedia in Latin. "But when," he said to the sympathizing Frate Ilario,
"I recalled the condition of the present age, and knew that those generous
men for whom, in better days, these things were written, had abandoned
(_ahi dolore_) the liberal arts into vulgar hands, I threw aside the
delicate lyre which armed my flank, and attuned another more befitting the
ears of moderns." It seems strange that he should have thus regretted what
to us seems a noble and original opportunity of double creation--poem and
language. What Dante thus bewailed was his real warrant for immortality.
Had he written his great work in Latin, it would have been consigned, with
the Italian latinity of the middle ages, to oblivion; while his Tuscan
still delights the ear of princes and lazzaroni. Professorships of the
Divina Commedia are instituted in Italian universities, and men are
considered accomplished when they know it by heart.

What Dante had done, not without murmuring, Chaucer did more cheerfully in
England. Claimed by both universities as a collegian, perhaps without
truth, he certainly was an educated man, and must have been sorely tempted
by Latin hexameters; but he knew his mission, and felt his power. With a
master hand he moulded the language. He is reproached for having
introduced "a wagon-load of foreign words," i.e. Norman words, which,
although frowned upon by some critics, were greatly needed, were eagerly
adopted, and constituted him the "well of English undefiled," as he was
called by Spenser. It is no part of our plan to consider Chaucer's
language or diction, a special study which the reader can pursue for
himself. Occleve, in his work "_De Regimine Principium"_ calls him "the
honour of English tonge," "floure of eloquence," and "universal fadir in
science," and, above all, "the firste findere of our faire language." To
Lydgate he was the "Floure of Poetes throughout all Bretaine." Measured by
our standard, he is not always musical, "and," in the language of Dryden,
"many of his verses are lame for want of half a foot, and sometimes a
whole one;" but he must be measured by the standards of his age, by the
judgment of his contemporaries, and by a thorough intelligence of the
language as he found it and as he left it. Edward III., a practical
reformer in many things, gave additional importance to English, by
restoring it in the courts of law, and administering justice to the people
in their own tongue. When we read of the _English_ kings of this early
period, it is curious to reflect that these monarchs, up to the time of
Edward I., spoke French as their vernacular tongue, while English had only
been the mixed, corrupted language of the lower classes, which was now
brought thus by king and poet into honorable consideration.

HIS DEATH.--Chaucer died on the 25th of October, 1400, in his little
tenement in the garden of St. Mary's Chapel, Westminster, and left his
works and his fame to an evil and unappreciative age. His monument was not
erected until one hundred and fifty-six years afterward, by Nicholas
Brigham. It stands in the "poets' corner" of Westminster Abbey, and has
been the nucleus of that gathering-place of the sacred dust which once
enclosed the great minds of England. The inscription, which justly styles
him "Anglorum vates ter maximus," is not to be entirely depended upon as
to the "annus Domini," or "tempora vitae," because of the turbulent and
destructive reigns that had intervened--evil times for literary effort,
and yet making material for literature and history, and producing that
wonderful magician, the printing-press, and paper, by means of which the
former things might be disseminated, and Chaucer brought nearer to us than
to them.

HISTORICAL FACTS.--The year before Chaucer died, Richard II. was starved
in his dungeon. Henry, the son of John of Gaunt, represented the
usurpation of Lancaster, and the realm was convulsed with the revolts of
rival aristocracy; and, although Prince Hal, or Henry V., warred with
entire success in France, and got the throne of that kingdom away from
Charles VI., (the Insane,) he died leaving to his infant son, Henry VI.,
an inheritance which could not be secured. The rival claimant of York,
Edward IV., had a strong party in the kingdom: then came the wars of the
Roses; the murders and treason of Richard III.; the sordid valor of Henry
VII.; the conjugal affection of Henry VIII.; the great religious
earthquake all over Europe, known as the Reformation; constituting all
together an epoch too stirring and unsettled to permit literature to
flourish; an epoch which gave birth to no great poet or mighty master, but
which contained only the seeds of things which were to germinate and
flourish in a kindlier age.

In closing this notice of Chaucer, it should be remarked that no English
poet has been more successful in the varied delineation of character, or
in fresh and charming pictures of Nature. Witty and humorous, sententious
and didactic, solemn and pathetic, he not only pleases the fancy, but
touches the heart.

JOHN GOWER.--Before entering upon the barren period from Chaucer to
Spenser, however, there is one contemporary of Chaucer whom we must not
omit to mention; for his works, although of little literary value, are
historical signs of the times: this is _John Gower_, styled variously Sir
John and Judge Gower, as he was very probably both a knight and a justice.
He seems to owe most of his celebrity to his connection, however slight,
with Chaucer; although there is no doubt of his having been held in good
repute by the literary patrons and critics of his own age. His fame rests
upon three works, or rather three parts of one scheme--_Speculum
Meditantis_, _Vox Clamantis_, and _Confessio Amantis_. The first of these,
_the mirror of one who meditates_, was in French verse, and was, in the
main, a treatise upon virtue and repentance, with inculcations to conjugal
fidelity much disregarded at that time. This work has been lost. The _Vox
Clamantis_, or _voice of one crying in the wilderness_, is directly
historical, being a chronicle, in Latin elegiacs, of the popular revolts
of Wat Tyler in the time of Richard II., and a sermon on fatalism, which,
while it calls for a reformation in the clergy, takes ground against
Wiclif, his doctrines, and adherents. In the later books he discusses the
military and the lawyers; and thus he is the voice of one crying, like the
Baptist in the wilderness, against existing abuses and for the advent of a
better order. The _Confessio Amantis_, now principally known because it
contains a eulogium of Chaucer, which in his later editions he left out,
is in English verse, and was composed at the instance of Richard II. The
general argument of this Lover's Confession is a dialogue between the
lover and a priest of Venus, who, in the guise of a confessor, applies the
breviary of the Church to the confessions of love.[21] The poem is
interspersed with introductory or recapitulatory Latin verses.

CHAUCER AND GOWER.--That there was for a time a mutual admiration between
Chaucer and Gower, is shown by their allusion to each other. In the
penultimate stanza of the Troilus and Creseide, Chaucer calls him "O
Morall Gower," an epithet repeated by Dunbar, Hawes, and other writers;
while in the _Confessio Amantis_, Gower speaks of Chaucer as his disciple
and poet, and alludes to his poems with great praise. That they were at
any time alienated from each other has been asserted, but the best
commentators agree in thinking without sufficient grounds.

The historical teachings of Gower are easy to find. He states truths
without parable. His moral satires are aimed at the Church corruptions of
the day, and yet are conservative; and are taken, says Berthelet, in his
dedication of the Confessio to Henry VIII., not only out of "poets,
orators, historic writers, and philosophers, but out of the Holy
Scripture"--the same Scripture so eloquently expounded by Chaucer, and
translated by Wiclif. Again, Gower, with an eye to the present rather than
to future fame, wrote in three languages--a tribute to the Church in his
Latin, to the court in his French, and to the progressive spirit of the
age in his English. The latter alone is now read, and is the basis of his
fame. Besides three poems, he left, among his manuscripts, fifty French
sonnets, (cinquantes balades,) which were afterward printed by his
descendant, Lord Gower, Duke of Sutherland.

GOWER'S LANGUAGE.--Like Chaucer, Gower was a reformer in language, and was
accused by the "severer etymologists of having corrupted the purity of the
English by affecting to introduce so many foreign words and phrases;" but
he has the tribute of Sir Philip Sidney (no mean praise) that Chaucer and
himself were the leaders of a movement, which others have followed, "to
beautifie our mother tongue," and thus the _Confessio Amantis_ ranks as
one of the formers of our language, in a day when it required much moral
courage to break away from the trammels of Latin and French, and at the
same time to compel them to surrender their choicest treasures to the

Gower was born in 1325 or 1326, and outlived Chaucer. It has been
generally believed that Chaucer was his poetical pupil. The only evidence
is found in the following vague expression of Gower in the Confessio

    And greet well Chaucer when ye meet
    As _my disciple_ and my poete.
    For in the flower of his youth,
    In sondry wise as he well couth,
    Of ditties and of songes glade
    The which he for my sake made.

It may have been but a patronizing phrase, warranted by Gower's superior
rank and station; for to the modern critic the one is the uprising sun,
and the other the pale star scarcely discerned in the sky. Gower died in
1408, eight years after his more illustrious colleague.


John Barbour, Archdeacon of Aberdeen, a Scottish poet, born about 1320:
wrote a poem concerning the deeds of King Robert I. in achieving the
independence of Scotland. It is called _Broite_ or _Brute_, and in it, in
imitation of the English, he traces the Scottish royal lineage to Brutus.
Although by no means equal to Chaucer, he is far superior to any other
English poet of the time, and his language is more intelligible at the
present day than that of Chaucer or Gower. Sir Walter Scott has borrowed
from Barbour's poem in his "Lord of the Isles."

Blind Harry--name unknown: wrote the adventures of Sir William Wallace,
about 1460.

James I. of Scotland, assassinated at Perth, in 1437. He wrote "The Kings
Quhair," (Quire or Book,) describing the progress of his attachment to the
daughter of the Earl of Somerset, while a prisoner in England, during the
reign of Henry IV.

Thomas Occleve, flourished about 1420. His principal work is in Latin; De
Regimine Principum, (concerning the government of princes.)

John Lydgate, flourished about 1430: wrote _Masks_ and _Mummeries_, and
nine books of tragedies translated from Boccaccio.

Robert Henryson, flourished about 1430: Robin and Makyne, a pastoral; and
a continuation of Chaucer's Troilus and Creseide, entitled "The Testament
of Fair Creseide."

William Dunbar, died about 1520: the greatest of Scottish poets, called
"The Chaucer of Scotland." He wrote "The Thistle and the Rose," "The
Dance," and "The Golden Targe."



   Greek Literature. Invention of Printing. Caxton. Contemporary History.
   Skelton. Wyatt. Surrey. Sir Thomas More. Utopia, and other Works. Other


Having thus mentioned the writers whom we regard as belonging to the
period of Chaucer, although some of them, like Henryson and Dunbar,
flourished at the close of the fifteenth century, we reach those of that
literary epoch which may be regarded as the transition state between
Chaucer and the age of Elizabeth: an epoch which, while it produced no
great literary work, and is irradiated by no great name, was, however, a
time of preparation for the splendid advent of Spenser and Shakspeare.

Incident to the dangers which had so long beset the Eastern or Byzantine
Empire, which culminated in the fall of Constantinople--and to the gradual
but steady progress of Western Europe in arts and letters, which made it a
welcome refuge for the imperilled learning of the East--Greek letters came
like a fertilizing flood across the Continent into England. The philosophy
of Plato, the power of the Athenian drama, and the learning of the
Stagyrite, were a new impulse to literature. Before the close of the
fifteenth century, Greek was taught at Oxford, and men marvelled as they
read that "musical and prolific language, that gives a soul to the objects
of sense, and a body to the abstractions of philosophy," a knowledge of
which had been before entirely lost in the West. Thus was perfected what
is known as the revival of letters, when classical learning came to enrich
and modify the national literatures, if it did temporarily retard the
vernacular progress. The Humanists carried the day against the
Obscurantists; and, as scholarship had before consisted in a thorough
knowledge of Latin, it now also included a knowledge of Greek, which
presented noble works of poetry, eloquence, and philosophy, and gave us a
new idiom for the terminologies of science.

INVENTION OF PRINTING.--Nor was this all. This great wealth of learning
would have still remained a dead letter to the multitude, and, in the
main, a useless treasure even to scholars, had it not been for a simple
yet marvellous invention of the same period. In Germany, some obscure
mechanics, at Harlem, at Mayence, and at Strasbourg, were at work upon a
machine which, if perfected, should at once extend letters a hundred-fold,
and by that process revolutionize literature. The writers before, few as
they were, had been almost as numerous as the readers; hereafter the
readers were to increase in a geometrical proportion, and each great
writer should address millions. Movable types, first of wood and then of
metal, were made, the latter as early as 1441. Schœffer, Guttenberg, and
Faust brought them to such perfection that books were soon printed and
issued in large numbers. But so slowly did the art travel, partly on
account of want of communication, and partly because it was believed to
partake of necromancy, and partly, too, from the phlegmatic character of
the English people, that thirty years elapsed before it was brought into
England. The art of printing came in response to the demand of an age of
progress: it was needed before; it was called for by the increasing number
of readers, and when it came it multiplied that number largely.

WILLIAM CAXTON.--That it did at last come to England was due to William
Caxton, a native of Kent, and by vocation a mercer, who imported costly
continental fabrics into England, and with them some of the new books now
being printed in Holland. That he was a man of some eminence is shown by
his having been engaged by Edward IV. on a mission to the Duke of
Burgundy, with power to negotiate a treaty of commerce; that he was a
person of skill and courtesy is evinced by his being retained in the
service of Margaret, Duchess of York, when she married Charles, Duke of
Burgundy. While in her train, he studied printing on the Continent, and is
said to have printed some books there. At length, when he was more than
sixty years old, he returned to England; and, in 1474, he printed what is
supposed to be the first book printed in England, "The Game and Playe of
the Chesse." Thus it was a century after Chaucer wrote the Canterbury
Tales that printing was introduced into England. Caxton died in 1491, but
his workmen continued to print, and among them Wynken de Worde stands
conspicuous. Among the earlier works printed by Caxton were the Canterbury
Tales, the Book of Fame, and the Troilus and Creseide of Chaucer.

CONTEMPORARY HISTORY.--It will be remembered that this was the stormy
period of the Wars of the Roses. The long and troubled reign of Henry VI.
closed in sorrow in 1471. The titular crown of France had been easily
taken from him by Charles VII. and Joan of Arc; and although Richard of
York, the great-grandson of Edward III., had failed in his attempts upon
the English throne, yet _his_ son Edward, afterward the Fourth, was
successful. Then came the patricide of Clarence, the accession and
cruelties of Richard III., the battle of Bosworth, and, at length, the
union of the two houses in the persons of Henry VII. (Henry Tudor of
Lancaster) and Elizabeth of York. Thus the strife of the succession was
settled, and the realm had rest to reorganize and start anew in its
historic career.

The weakening of the aristocracy by war and by execution gave to the
crown a power before unknown, and made it a fearful coigne of vantage for
Henry VIII., whose accession was in 1509. People and parliament were alike
subservient, and gave their consent to the unjust edicts and arbitrary
cruelties of this terrible tyrant.

In his reign the old English quarrel between Church and State--which
during the civil war had lain dormant--again rose, and was brought to a
final issue. It is not unusual to hear that the English Reformation grew
out of the ambition of a libidinous monarch. This is a coincidence rather
than a cause. His lust and his marriages would have occurred had there
been no question of Pope or Church; conversely, had there been a continent
king upon the throne, the great political and religious events would have
happened in almost the same order and manner. That "knock of a king" and
"incurable wound" prophesied by Piers Plowman were to come. Henry only
seized the opportunity afforded by his ungodly passions as the best
pretext, where there were many, for setting the Pope at defiance; and the
spirit of reformation so early displayed, and awhile dormant from
circumstances, and now strengthened by the voice of Luther, burst forth in
England. There was little demur to the suppression of the monasteries; the
tomb of St. Thomas à Becket was desecrated amidst the insulting mummeries
of the multitude; and if Henry still burned Lutherans--because he could
not forget that he had in earlier days denounced Luther--if he still
maintained the six bloody articles[22]--his reforming spirit is shown in
the execution of Fisher and More, by the anathema which he drew upon
himself from the Pope, and by Henry's retaliation upon the friends and
kinsmen of Cardinal Pole, the papal legate.

Having thus briefly glanced at the history, we return to the literary
products, all of which reflect more or less of the historic age, and by
their paucity and poverty indicate the existence of the causes so
unfavorable to literary effort. This statement will be partially
understood when we mention, as the principal names of this period,
Skelton, Wyatt, Surrey, and Sir Thomas More, men whose works are scarcely
known to the ordinary reader, and which are yet the best of the time.

SKELTON.--John Skelton, poet, priest, and buffoon, was born about the year
1460, and educated at what he calls "Alma parens, O Cantabrigensis." Tutor
to Prince Henry, afterward Henry VIII., he could boast, "The honour of
England I lernyd to spelle." That he was highly esteemed in his day we
gather from the eulogium of Erasmus, then for a short time professor of
Greek at Oxford: "Unum Brittanicarum literarum lumen et decus." By another
contemporary he is called the "inventive Skelton." As a priest he was not
very holy; for, in a day when the marriage of the clergy was worse than
their incontinence, he contracted a secret marriage. He enjoyed for a time
the patronage of Wolsey, but afterward joined his enemies and attacked him
violently. He was _laureated_: this does not mean, as at present, that he
was poet laureate of England, but that he received a degree of which that
was the title.

His works are direct delineations of the age. Among these are "monodies"
upon _Kynge Edwarde the forthe_, and the _Earle of Northumberlande_. He
corrects for Caxton "The boke of the Eneydos composed by Vyrgyle." He
enters heartily into numerous literary quarrels; is a reformer to the
extent of exposing ecclesiastical abuses in his _Colin Clout_; and
scourges the friars and bishops alike; and in this work, and his "Why come
ye not to Courte?" he makes a special target of Wolsey, and the pomp and
luxury of his household. He calls him "Mad Amelek, like to Mamelek"
(Mameluke), and speaks

    Of his wretched original
    And his greasy genealogy.
    He came from the sank (blood) royal
    That was cast out of a butcher's stall.

This was the sorest point upon which he could touch the great cardinal and
prime minister of Henry VIII.

Historically considered, one work of Skelton is especially valuable, for
it places him among the first of English dramatists. The first effort of
the modern drama was the _miracle play_; then came the _morality_; after
that the _interlude_, which was soon merged into regular tragedy and
comedy. Skelton's "Magnyfycence," which he calls "a goodly interlude and a
merie," is, in reality, a morality play as well as an interlude, and marks
the opening of the modern drama in England.

The peculiar verse of Skelton, styled _skeltonical_, is a sort of English
anacreontic. One example has been given; take, as another, the following
lampoon of Philip of Spain and the armada:

    A skeltonicall salutation
    Or condigne gratulation
    And just vexation
    Of the Spanish nation,
    That in bravado
    Spent many a crusado
    In setting forth an armado
    England to invado.

    Who but Philippus,
    That seeketh to nip us,
    To rob us and strip us,
    And then for to whip us,
    Would ever have meant
    Or had intent
    Or hither sent
    Such strips of charge, etc., etc.

It varies from five to six syllables, with several consecutive rhymes.

His "Merie Tales" are a series of short and generally broad stories,
suited to the vulgar taste: no one can read them without being struck with
the truly historic character of the subjects and the handling, and without
moralizing upon the age which they describe. Skelton, a contemporary of
the French Rabelais, seems to us a weak English portrait of that great
author; like him a priest, a buffoon, a satirist, and a lampooner, but
unlike him in that he has given us no English _Gargantua_ and _Pantagruel_
to illustrate his age.

WYATT.--The next writer who claims our attention is Sir Thomas Wyatt, the
son of Sir Henry Wyatt. He was born in 1503, and educated at Cambridge.
Early a courtier, he was imperilled by his attachment to Anne Boleyn,
conceded, if not quite Platonic, yet to have never led him to criminality.
Several of his poems were inspired by her charms. The one best known

    What word is that that changeth not,
    Though it be turned and made in twain?
    It is mine ANNA, God it wot, etc.

That unfortunate queen--to possess whose charms Henry VIII. had repudiated
Catherine of Arragon, and who was soon to be brought to the block after
trial on the gravest charges--which we do not think substantiated--was,
however, frivolous and imprudent, and liked such impassioned
attentions--indeed, may be said to have suffered for them.

Wyatt was styled by Camden "splendide doctus," but his learning, however
honorable to him, was not of much benefit to the world; for his works are
few, and most of them amatory--"songs and sonnets"--full of love and
lovers: as a makeweight, in _foro conscientiæ_, he paraphrased the
penitential Psalms. An excellent comment this on the age of Henry VIII.,
when the monarch possessed with lust attempted the reformation of the
Church. That Wyatt looked with favor upon the Reformation is indicated by
one of his remarks to the king: "Heavens! that a man cannot repent him of
his sins without the Pope's leave!" Imprisoned several times during the
reign of Henry, after that monarch's death he favored the accession of
Lady Jane Grey, and, with other of her adherents, was executed for high
treason on the 11th of April, 1554. We have spoken of the spirit of the
age. Its criticism was no better than its literature; for Wyatt, whom few
read but the literary historian, was then considered

    A hand that taught what might be said in rhyme,
    That reft Chaucer the glory of his wit.

The glory of Chaucer's wit remains, while Wyatt is chiefly known because
he was executed.

SURREY.--A twin star, but with a brighter lustre, was Henry Howard, Earl
of Surrey, a writer whose works are remarkable for purity of thought and
refinement of language. Surrey was a gay and wild young
fellow--distinguished in the tournament which celebrated Henry's marriage
with Anne of Cleves; now in prison for eating meat in Lent, and breaking
windows at night; again we find him the English marshal when Henry invaded
France in 1544. He led a restless life, was imperious and hot-tempered to
the king, and at length quartered the king's arms with his own, thus
assuming royal rights and imperilling the king's dignity. On this charge,
which was, however, only a pretext, he was arrested and executed for high
treason in 1547, before he was thirty years old.

Surrey is the greatest poetical name of Henry the Eighth's reign, not so
much for the substance of his poems as for their peculiar handling. He is
claimed as the introducer of blank verse--the iambic pentameter without
rhyme, occasionally broken for musical effect by a change in the place of
the cæsural pause. His translation of the Fourth Book of the Æneid,
imitated perhaps from the Italian version of the Cardinal de Medici, is
said to be the first specimen of blank verse in English. How slow its
progress was is proved by Johnson's remarks upon the versification of
Milton.[23] Thus in his blank verse Surrey was the forerunner of Milton,
and in his rhymed pentameter couplet one of the heralds of Dryden and

SIR THOMAS MORE.--In a bird's-eye view of literature, the division into
poetry and prose is really a distinction without a difference. They are
the same body in different clothing, at labor and at festivity--in the
working suit and in the court costume. With this remark we usher upon the
literary scene Thomas More, in many respects one of the most remarkable
men of his age--scholar, jurist, statesman, gentleman, and Christian; and,
withal, a martyr to his principles of justice and faith. In a better age,
he would have retained the highest honors: it is not to his discredit that
in that reign he was brought to the block.

He was born in 1480. A very precocious youth, a distinguished career was
predicted for him. He was greatly favored by Henry VIII., who constantly
visited him at Chelsea, hanging upon his neck, and professing an intensity
of friendship which, it is said, More always distrusted. He was the friend
and companion of Erasmus during the residence of that distinguished man in
England. More was gifted as an orator, and rose to the distinction of
speaker of the House of Commons; was presented with the great seal upon
the dismissal of Wolsey, and by his learning, his affability, and his
kindness, became the most popular, as he seemed to be the most prosperous
man in England. But, the test of Henry's friendship and of More's
principles came when the king desired his concurrence in the divorce of
Catherine of Arragon. He resigned the great seal rather than sign the
marriage articles of Anne Boleyn, and would not take the oath as to the
lawfulness of that marriage. Henry's kindness turned to fury, and More was
a doomed man. A devout Romanist, he would not violate his conscience by
submitting to the act of supremacy which made Henry the head of the
Church, and so he was tried for high treason, and executed on the 6th of
July, 1535. There are few scenes more pathetic than his last interview
with his daughter Margaret, in the Tower, and no death more calmly and
beautifully grand than his. He kissed the executioner and forgave him.
"Thou art," said he, "to do me the greatest benefit that I can receive:
pluck up thy spirit man, and be not afraid to do thine office."

UTOPIA.--His great work, and that which best illustrates the history of
the age, is his Utopia, (ου τοπος, not a place.) Upon an island discovered
by a companion of Vespuccius, he established an imaginary commonwealth, in
which everybody was good and everybody happy. Purely fanciful as is his
Utopia, and impossible of realization as he knew it to be while men are
what they are, and not what they ought to be, it is manifestly a satire on
that age, for his republic shunned English errors, and practised social
virtues which were not the rule in England.

Although More wrote against Luther, and opposed Henry's Church
innovations, we are struck with his Utopian claim for great freedom of
inquiry on all subjects, even religion; and the bold assertion that no man
should be punished for his religion, because "a man cannot make himself
believe anything he pleases," as Henry's six bloody articles so fearfully
asserted he must. The Utopia was written in Latin, but soon translated
into English. We use the adjective _utopian_ as meaning wildly fanciful
and impossible: its true meaning is of high excellence, to be striven
for--in a word, human perfection.

OTHER WORKS.--More also wrote, in most excellent English prose, a history
of the princes, Edward V. and his brother Richard of York, who were
murdered in the Tower; and a history of their murderer and uncle, Richard
III. This Richard--and we need not doubt his accuracy of statement, for he
was born five years before Richard fell at Bosworth--is the short,
deformed youth, with his left shoulder higher than the right; crafty,
stony-hearted, and cruel, so strikingly presented by Shakspeare, who takes
More as his authority. "Not letting (sparing) to kiss whom he thought to
kill ... friend and foe was indifferent where his advantage grew; he
spared no man's death whose life withstood his purpose. He slew, with his
own hands, King Henry VI., being a prisoner in the Tower."

With the honorable name of More we leave this unproductive period, in
which there was no great growth of any kind, but which was the
planting-time, when seeds were sown that were soon to germinate and bloom
and astonish the world. The times remind us of the dark saying in the
Bible, "Out of the eater came forth meat; out of the strong came

The art of printing had so increased the number of books, that public
libraries began to be collected, and, what is better, to be used. The
universities enlarged their borders, new colleges were added to Cambridge
and Oxford; new foundations laid. The note of preparation betokened a
great advent; the scene was fully prepared, and the actors would not be

Upon the death of Henry VIII., in 1547, Edward VI., his son by Jane
Seymour, ascended the throne, and during his minority a protector was
appointed in the person of his mother's brother, the Earl of Hertford,
afterward Duke of Somerset. Edward was a sickly youth of ten years old,
but his reign is noted for the progress of reform in the Church, and
especially for the issue of the _Book of Common Prayer_, which must be
considered of literary importance, as, although with decided
modifications, and an interruption in its use during the brief reign of
Mary, it has been the ritual of worship in the Anglican Church ever since.
It superseded the Latin services--of which it was mainly a translation
rearranged and modified--finally and completely, and containing, as it
does, the whole body of doctrine, it was the first clear manifesto of the
creeds and usages of that Church, and a strong bond of union among its


_Thomas Tusser_, 1527-1580: published, in 1557, "A Hundreth Good Points of
Husbandrie," afterward enlarged and called, "Five Hundred Points of Good
Husbandrie, united to as many of Good Huswiferie;" especially valuable as
a picture of rural life and labor in that age.

Alexander Barklay, died 1552: translated into English poetry the _Ship of
Fools_, by Sebastian Brandt, of Basle.

Reginald Pecock, Bishop of St. Asaph and of Chichester: published, in
1449, "The Repressor of Overmuch Blaming of the Clergy." He attacked the
Lollards, but was suspected of heresy himself, and deprived of his

John Fisher, 1459-1535: was made Bishop of Rochester in 1504; opposed the
Reformation, and refused to approve of Henry's divorce from Catherine of
Arragon; was executed by the king. The Pope sent him a cardinal's hat
while he was lying under sentence. Henry said he would not leave him a
head to put it on. Wrote principally sermons and theological treatises.

Hugh Latimer, 1472-1555: was made Bishop of Worcester in 1535. An ardent
supporter of the Reformation, who, by a rude, homely eloquence, influenced
many people. He was burned at the stake at the age of eighty-three, in
company with Ridley, Bishop of London, by Queen Mary. His memorable words
to his fellow-martyr are: "We shall this day light a candle in England
which, I trust, shall never be put out."

John Leland, or Laylonde, died 1552: an eminent antiquary, who, by order
of Henry VIII., examined, _con amore_, the records of libraries,
cathedrals, priories, abbeys, colleges, etc., and has left a vast amount
of curious antiquarian learning behind him. He became insane by reason of
the pressure of his labors.

George Cavendish, died 1557: wrote "The Negotiations of Woolsey, the Great
Cardinal of England," etc., which was republished as the "Life and Death
of Thomas Woolsey." From this, it is said, Shakspeare drew in writing his
"Henry VIII."

Roger Ascham, 1515-1568: specially famous as the successful instructor of
Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey, whom he was able to imbue with a taste for
classical learning. He wrote a treatise on the use of the bow, called
_Toxophilus_, and _The Schoolmaster_, which contains many excellent and
judicious suggestions, worthy to be carried out in modern education. It
was highly praised by Dr. Johnson. It was written for the use of the
children of Sackville, Lord Buckhurst.



   The Great Change. Edward VI. and Mary. Sidney. The Arcadia. Defence of
   Poesy. Astrophel and Stella. Gabriel Harvey. Edmund Spenser--Shepherd's
   Calendar. His Great Work.


With what joy does the traveller in the desert, after a day of scorching
glow and a night of breathless heat, descry the distant trees which mark
the longed-for well-spring in the emerald oasis, which seems to beckon
with its branching palms to the converging caravans, to come and slake
their fever-thirst, and escape from the threatening sirocco!

The pilgrim arrives at the caravansery: not the long, low stone house,
unfurnished and bare, which former experience had led him to expect; but a
splendid palace. He dismounts; maidens purer and more beautiful than
fabled houris, accompanied by slaves bearing rare dishes and goblets of
crusted gold, offer him refreshments: perfumed baths, couches of down,
soft and soothing music are about him in delicious combination. Surely he
is dreaming; or if this be real, were not the burning sun and the sand of
the desert, the panting camel and the dying horse of an hour ago but a

Such is not an overwrought illustration of English literature in the long,
barren reach from Chaucer to Spenser, as compared with the freshness,
beauty, and grandeur of the geniuses which adorned Elizabeth's court, and
tended to make her reign as illustrious in history as the age of Pericles,
of Augustus, or of Louis XIV. Chief among these were Spenser and
Shakspeare. As the latter has been truly characterized as not for an age,
but for all time, the former may be more justly considered as the highest
exponent and representative of that period. The Faerie Queene, considered
only as a grand heroic poem, is unrivalled in its pictures of beautiful
women, brave men, daring deeds, and Oriental splendor; but in its
allegorical character, it is far more instructive, since it enumerates and
illustrates the cardinal virtues which should make up the moral character
of a gentleman: add to this, that it is teeming with history, and in its
manifold completeness we have, if not an oasis in the desert, more truly
the rich verge of the fertile country which bounds that desert, and which
opens a more beautiful road to the literary traveller as he comes down the
great highway: wearied and worn with the factions and barrenness of the
fifteenth century, he fairly revels with delight in the fertility and
variety of the Elizabethan age.

EDWARD AND MARY.--In pursuance of our plan, a few preliminary words will
present the historic features of that age. In the year 1547, Henry VIII.,
the royal Bluebeard, sank, full of crimes and beset with deathbed horrors,
into a dishonorable grave.[24] A poor, weak youth, his son, Edward VI.,
seemed sent by special providence on a short mission of six years, to
foster the reformed faith, and to give the land a brief rest after the
disorders and crimes of his father's reign.

After Edward came Queen Mary, in 1553--the bloody Mary, who violently
overturned the Protestant system, and avenged her mother against her
father by restoring the Papal sway and making heresy the unpardonable
sin. It may seem strange, in one breath to denounce Henry and to defend
his daughter Mary; but severe justice, untempered with sympathy, has been
meted out to her. We acknowledge all her recorded actions, but let it be
remembered that she was the child of a basely repudiated mother, Catherine
of Arragon, who, as the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, was a
Catholic of the Catholics. Mary had been declared illegitimate; she was
laboring under an incurable disease, affecting her mind as well as her
body; she was the wife of Philip II. of Spain, a monster of iniquity,
whose sole virtue--if we may so speak--was his devotion to his Church. She
inherited her bigotry from her mother, and strengthened it by her
marriage; and she thought that in persecuting heretics she was doing God
service, which would only be a perfect service when she should have burned
out the bay-tree growth of heresy and restored the ancient faith.

Such were her character and condition as displayed to the English world;
but we know, in addition, that she bore her sufferings with great
fortitude; that, an unloved wife, she was a pattern of conjugal affection
and fidelity; that she was a dupe in the hands of designing men and a
fierce propaganda; and we may infer that, under different circumstances
and with better guidance, the real elements of her character would have
made her a good monarch and presented a far more pleasing historical

Justice demands that we should say thus much, for even with these
qualifications, the picture of her reign is very dark and painful. After a
sad and bloody rule of five years--a reign of worse than Roman
proscription, or later French terrors--she died without leaving a child.
There was but one voice as to her successor. Delirious shouts of joy were
heard throughout the land: "God save Queen Elizabeth!" "No more burnings
at Smithfield, nor beheadings on Tower green! No more of Spanish Philip
and his pernicious bigots! Toleration, freedom, light!" The people of
England were ready for a golden age, and the golden age had come.

ELIZABETH.--And who was Elizabeth? The daughter of the dishonored Anne
Boleyn, who had been declared illegitimate, and set out of the succession;
who had been kept in ward; often and long in peril of her life; destined,
in all human foresight, to a life of sorrow, humiliation, and obscurity;
her head had been long lying "'twixt axe and crown," with more probability
of the former than the latter.

Wonderful was the change. With her began a reign the like of which the
world had never seen; a great and brilliant crisis in English history, in
which the old order passed away and the new was inaugurated. It was like a
new historic fulfilment of the prophecy of Virgil:

    Magnus ... sæclorum nascitur ordo;
    Jam redit et _Virgo_, redeunt Saturnia regna.

Her accession and its consequences were like the scenes in some fairy
tale. She was indeed a Faerie Queene, as she was designated in Spenser's
magnificent allegory. Around her clustered a new chivalry, whose gentle
deeds were wrought not only with the sword, but with the pen. Stout heart,
stalwart arm, and soaring imagination, all wore her colors and were amply
rewarded by her smiles; and whatever her personal faults--and they were
many--as a monarch, she was not unworthy of their allegiance.

SIDNEY.--Before proceeding to a consideration of Spenser's great poem, it
is necessary to mention two names intimately associated with him and with
his fame, and of special interest in the literary catalogue of Queen
Elizabeth's court, brilliant and numerous as that catalogue was.

Among the most striking characters of this period was Sir Philip Sidney,
whose brief history is full of romance and attraction; not so much for
what he did as for what he personally was, and gave promise of being.
Whenever we seek for an historical illustration of the _gentleman_, the
figure of Sidney rises in company with that of Bayard, and claims
distinction. He was born at Pennshurst in Kent, on the 29th of November,
1554. He was the nephew of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the chief
favorite of the queen. Precocious in grace, dignity, and learning, Sidney
was educated both at Oxford and Cambridge, and in his earliest manhood he
was a _prud' homme_, handsome, elegant, learned, and chivalrous; a
statesman, a diplomatist, a soldier, and a poet; "not only of excellent
wit, but extremely beautiful of face. Delicately chiselled Anglo-Norman
features, smooth, fair cheek, a faint moustache, blue eyes, and a mass of
amber-colored hair," distinguished him among the handsome men of a court
where handsome men were in great request.

He spent some time at the court of Charles IX. of France--which, however,
he left suddenly, shocked and disgusted by the massacre of St.
Bartholomew's Eve--and extended his travels into Germany. The queen held
him in the highest esteem--although he was disliked by the Cecils, the
constant rivals of the Dudleys; and when he was elected to the crown of
Poland, the queen refused him permission to accept, because she would not
lose "the brightest jewel of her crown--her Philip," as she called him to
distinguish him from her sister Mary's Philip, Philip II. of Spain. A few
words will finish his personal story. He went, by the queen's permission,
with his uncle Leicester to the Low Countries, then struggling, with
Elizabeth's assistance, against Philip of Spain. There he was made
governor of Flushing--the key to the navigation of the North Seas--with
the rank of general of horse. In a skirmish near Zutphen (South Fen) he
served as a volunteer; and, as he was going into action fully armed,
seeing his old friend Sir William Pelham without cuishes upon his thighs,
prompted by mistaken but chivalrous generosity, he took off his own, and
had his thigh broken by a musket-ball. This was on the 2d of October,
1586, N.S. He lingered for twenty days, and then died at Arnheim, mourned
by all. The story of his passing the untasted water to the wounded
soldier, will never become trite: "This man's necessity is greater than
mine," was an immortal speech which men like to quote.[25]

SIDNEY'S WORKS.--But it is as a literary character that we must consider
Sidney; and it is worthy of special notice that his works could not have
been produced in any other age. The principal one is the _Arcadia_. The
name, which was adopted from Sannazzaro, would indicate a pastoral--and
this was eminently the age of English pastoral--but it is in reality not
such. It presents indeed sylvan scenes, but they are in the life of a
knight. It is written in prose, interspersed with short poems, and was
inspired by and dedicated to his literary sister Mary, the Countess of
Pembroke. It was called indeed the _Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia_. There
are many scenes of great beauty and vigor; there is much which represents
the manners, of the age, but few persons can now peruse it with pleasure,
because of the peculiar affectations of style, and its overload of
ornament. There grew naturally in the atmosphere of the court of a regnant
queen, an affected, flattering, and inflated language, known to us as
_Euphuism_. Of this John Lilly has been called the father, but we really
only owe to him the name, which is taken from his two works, _Euphues,
Anatomy of Wit_, and _Euphues and his England_. The speech of the Euphuist
is hardly caricatured in Sir Walter Scott's delineation of Sir Piercie
Shafton in "The Monastery." The gallant men of that day affected this form
of address to fair ladies, and fair ladies liked to be greeted in such
language. Sidney's works have a relish of this diction, and are imbued
with the spirit which produced it.

DEFENCE OF POESIE.--The second work to be mentioned is his "Defence of
Poesie." Amid the gayety and splendor of that reign, there was a sombre
element. The Puritans took gloomy views of life: they accounted
amusements, dress, and splendor as things of the world; and would even
sweep away poetry as idle, and even wicked. Sir Philip came to its defence
with the spirit of a courtier and a poet, and the work in which he upholds
it is his best, far better in style and sense than his Arcadia. It is one
of the curiosities of literature, in itself, and in its representation of
such a social condition as could require a defence of poetry. His
_Astrophel and Stella_ is a collection of amatory poems, disclosing his
passion for Lady Rich, the sister of the Earl of Essex. Although something
must be allowed to the license of the age, in language at least, yet still
the _Astrophel and Stella_ cannot be commended for its morality. The
sentiments are far from Platonic, and have been severely censured by the
best critics. Among the young gallants of Euphuistic habitudes, Sidney was
known as _Astrophel_; and Spenser wrote a poem mourning the death of
Astrophel: _Stella_, of course, was the star of his worship.

GABRIEL HARVEY.--Among the friends of both Sidney and Spenser, was one who
had the pleasure of making them acquainted--Gabriel Harvey. He was born,
it is believed, in 1545, and lived until 1630. Much may be gathered of the
literary character and tendencies of the age by a perusal of the "three
proper and wittie familiar letters" which passed between Spenser and
himself, and the "four letters and certain sonnets," containing valuable
notices of contemporary poets. He also prefixed a poem entitled
_Hobbinol_, to the Faery Queene. But Harvey most deserves our notice
because he was the champion of the hexameter verse in English, and imbued
even Spenser with an enthusiasm for it.

Each language has its own poetic and rhythmic capacities. Actual
experiment and public taste have declared their verdict against hexameter
verse in English. The genius of the Northern languages refuses this old
heroic measure, which the Latins borrowed from the Greeks, and all the
scholarship and finish of Longfellow has not been able to establish it in
English. Harvey was a pedant so thoroughly tinctured with classical
learning, that he would trammel his own language by ancient rules, instead
of letting it grow into the assertion of its own rules.

EDMUND SPENSER--THE SHEPHERD'S CALENDAR.--Having noticed these lesser
lights of the age of Spenser, we return to a brief consideration of that
poet, who, of all others, is the highest exponent and representative of
literature in the age of Queen Elizabeth, and whose works are full of
contemporary history.

Spenser was born in the year of the accession of Queen Mary, 1553, at
London, and of what he calls "a house of ancient fame." He was educated at
Cambridge, where he early displayed poetic taste and power, and he went,
after leaving college, to reside as a tutor in the North of England. A
love affair with "a skittish female," who jilted him, was the cause of his
writing the _Shepherd's Calendar_; which he soon after took with him in
manuscript to London, as the first fruits of a genius that promised far
nobler things.

Harvey introduced him to Sidney, and a tender friendship sprang up between
them: he spent much of his time with Sidney at Pennshurst, and dedicated
to him the _Shepherd's Calendar_. He calls it "an olde name for a newe
worke." The plan of it is as follows: There are twelve parts,
corresponding to twelve months: these he calls _aeglogues_, or
goat-herde's songs, (not _eclogues_ or εκλογαι--well-chosen words.) It is
a rambling work in varied melody, interspersed and relieved by songs and

HIS ARCHAISMS.--In view of its historical character, there are several
points to be observed. It is of philological importance to notice that in
the preliminary epistle, he explains and defends his use of archaisms--for
the language of none of his poems is the current English of the day, but
always that of a former period--saying that he uses old English words
"restored as to their rightful heritage;" and it is also evident that he
makes new ones, in accordance with just principles of philology. This fact
is pointed out, lest the cursory reader should look for the current
English of the age of Elizabeth in Spenser's poems.

How much, or rather how little he thought of the poets of the day, may be
gathered from his saying that he "scorns and spews the rakebelly rout of
ragged rymers." It further displays the boldness of his English, that he
is obliged to add "a Glosse or Scholion," for the use of the reader.

Another historical point worthy of observation is his early adulation of
Elizabeth, evincing at once his own courtiership and her popularity. In
"February" (Story of the Oak and Briar) he speaks of "colours meete to
clothe a mayden queene." The whole of "April" is in her honor:

    Of fair Eliza be your silver song,
      That blessed wight,
    The floure of virgins, may she flourish long,
      In princely plight.

In "September" "he discourseth at large upon the loose living of Popish
prelates," an historical trait of the new but cautious reformation of the
Marian Church, under Elizabeth. Whether a courtier like Spenser could
expect the world to believe in the motto with which he concludes the
epilogue, "Merce non mercede," is doubtful, but the words are significant;
and it is not to his discredit that he strove for both.

HIS GREATEST WORK.--We now approach _The Faerie Queene_, the greatest of
Spenser's works, the most remarkable poem of that age, and one of the
greatest landmarks in English literature and English history. It was not
published in full until nearly all the great events of Elizabeth's reign
had transpired, and it is replete with the history of nearly half a
century in the most wonderful period of English history. To courtly
readers of that day the history was only pleasantly illustrative--to the
present age it is invaluable for itself: the poem illustrates the history.

He received, through the friendship of Sidney, the patronage of his uncle,
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester--a powerful nobleman, because, besides
his family name, and the removal of the late attainder, which had been in
itself a distinction, he was known to be the lover of the queen; for
whatever may be thought of her conduct, we know that in recommending him
as a husband to the widowed Queen of Scots, she said she would have
married him herself had she designed to marry at all; or, it may be said,
she would have married him had she dared, for that act would have ruined

Spenser was a loyal and enthusiastic subject, a poet, and a scholar. From
these characteristics sprang the Faerie Queene. After submitting the first
book to the criticism of his friend and his patron, he dedicated the work
to "The most high, mighty, and magnificent empress, renowned for piety,
virtue, and all gracious government, Elizabeth, by the grace of God Queen
of England, France, and Ireland, and of Virginia."[26]



   The Faerie Queene. The Plan Proposed. Illustrations of the History. The
   Knight and the Lady. The Wood of Error and the Hermitage. The Crusades.
   Britomartis and Sir Artegal. Elizabeth. Mary Queen of Scots. Other
   Works. Spenser's Fate. Other Writers.


The Faerie Queene is an allegory, in many parts capable of more than one
interpretation. Some of the characters stand for two, and several of them
even for three distinct historical personages.

The general plan and scope of the poem may be found in the poet's letter
to his friend, Sir Walter Raleigh. It is designed to enumerate and
illustrate the moral virtues which should characterize a noble or gentle
person--to present "the image of a brave knight perfected in the twelve
private morall vertues, as Aristotle hath devised." It appears that the
author designed twelve books, but he did not accomplish his purpose. The
poem, which he left unfinished, contains but six books or legends, each of
which relates the adventures of a knight who is the patron and
representative of a special virtue.

   _Book_ I. gives the adventures of St. George, the Red-Cross Knight, by
   whom is intended the virtue of Holiness.

   _Book_ II., those of Sir Guyon, or Temperance.

   _Book_ III., Britomartis, a lady-knight, or Chastity.

   _Book_ IV., Cambel and Triamond, or Friendship.

   _Book_ V., Sir Artegal, or Justice.

   _Book_ VI., Sir Calydore, or Courtesy.

The perfect hero of the entire poem is King Arthur, chosen "as most fitte,
for the excellency of his person, being made famous by many men's former
workes, and also furthest from the daunger of envy and suspition of
present time."

It was manifestly thus, too, that the poet solved a difficult and delicate
problem: he pleased the queen by adopting this mythic hero, for who else
was worthy of her august hand?

And in the person of the faerie queene herself Spenser informs us: "I mean
_glory_ in my general intention, but in my particular, I conceive the most
excellent and glorious person of our sovereign, the _Queene_."

Did we depend upon the poem for an explanation of Spenser's design, we
should be left in the dark, for he intended to leave the origin and
connection of the adventures for the twelfth book, which was never
written; but he has given us his plan in the same preliminary letter to

THE PLAN PROPOSED.--"The beginning of my history," he says, "should be in
the twelfth booke, which is the last; where I devise that the Faerie
Queene kept her Annual Feaste XII days; uppon which XII severall days the
occasions of the XII severall adventures hapned, which being undertaken by
XII severall knights, are in these XII books handled and discoursed."

First, a tall, clownish youth falls before the queen and desires a boon,
which she might not refuse, viz. the achievement of any adventure which
might present itself. Then appears a fair lady, habited in mourning, and
riding on an ass, while behind her comes a dwarf, leading a caparisoned
war-horse, upon which was the complete armor of a knight. The lady falls
before the queen and complains that her father and mother, an ancient king
and queen, had, for many years, been shut up by a dragon in a brazen
castle, and begs that one of the knights may be allowed to deliver them.

The young clown entreats that he may take this adventure, and
notwithstanding the wonder and misgiving of all, the armor is found to fit
him well, and when he had put it on, "he seemed the goodliest man in all
the company, and was well liked by the lady, and eftsoones taking on him
knighthood, and mounting on that strounge courser, he went forth with her
on that adventure; where beginneth the First Booke."

In a similar manner, other petitions are urged, and other adventures

ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE HISTORY.--The history in this poem lies directly upon
the surface. Elizabeth was the Faery Queen herself--faery in her real
person, springing Cinderella-like from durance and danger to the most
powerful throne in Europe. Hers was a reign of faery character, popular
and august at home, after centuries of misrule and civil war; abroad
English influence and power were exerted in a magical manner. It is she
who holds a court such as no Englishman had ever seen; who had the power
to transform common men into valiant warriors, elegant courtiers, and
great statesmen; to send forth her knights upon glorious
adventures--Sidney to die at Zutphen, Raleigh to North and South America,
Frobisher--with a wave of her hand as he passes down the Thames--to try
the northwest passage to India; Effingham, Drake, and Hawkins to drive off
to the tender mercy of northern storms the Invincible Armada, and then to
point out to the coming generations the distant fields of English

"Chivalry was dying; the abbey and the castle were soon together to
crumble into ruins; and all the forms, desires, beliefs, convictions of
the old world were passing away, never to return;"[27] but this virgin
queen was the founder of a new chivalry, whose deeds were not less
valiant, and far more useful to civilization.

It is not our purpose, for it would be impossible, to interpret all the
history contained in this wonderful poem: a few of the more striking
presentations will be indicated, and thus suggest to the student how he
may continue the investigation for himself.

THE KNIGHT AND THE LADY.--In the First Book we are at once struck with the
fine portraiture of the Red Crosse Knight, the Patron of Holinesse, which
we find in the opening lines:

    A gentle knight was pricking on the plain,
    Ycladd in mighty arms and silver shield.

As we read we discover, without effort, that he is the St. George of
England, or the impersonation of England herself, whose red-cross banner
distinguishes her among the nations of the earth. It is a description of
Christian England with which the poet thus opens his work:

    And on his brest a bloodie cross he bore,
      The dear remembrance of his dying Lord,
    For whose sweet sake that glorious badge he wore,
      And dead, as living ever, Him adored.
    Upon his shield the like was also scored,
    For sovereign hope which in his help he had.

Then follows his adventure--that of St. George and the Dragon. By slaying
this monster, he will give comfort and aid to a peerless lady, the
daughter of a glorious king; this fair lady, _Una_, who has come a long
distance, and to whom, as a champion, the Faery Queene has presented the
red-cross knight. Thus is presented the historic truth that the reformed
and suffering Church looked to Queen Elizabeth for succor and support, for
the Lady Una is one of several portraitures of the Church in this poem.

As we proceed in the poem, the history becomes more apparent. The Lady
Una, riding upon a lowly ass, shrouded by a veil, covered with a black
stole, "as one that inly mourned," and leading "a milk-white lamb," is the
Church. The ass is the symbol of her Master's lowliness, who made even his
triumphant entry into Jerusalem upon "a colt the foal of an ass;" the
lamb, the emblem of the innocence and of the helplessness of the "little
flock;" the black stole is meant to represent the Church's trials and
sorrows in her former history as well as in that naughty age. The dragon
is the old serpent, her constant and bitter foe, who, often discomfited,
returns again and again to the attack in hope of her overthrow.

THE WOOD OF ERROR.--The adventures of the knight and the lady take them
first into the Wood of Error, a noble and alluring grove, within which,
however, lurks a loathsome serpent. The knight rushes upon this female
monster with great boldness, but

    ... Wrapping up her wreathed body round,
      She leaped upon his shield and her huge train
    All suddenly about his body wound,
      That hand and foot he strove to stir in vain.
      God help the man so wrapt in Error's endless chain.

The Lady Una cries out:

    ... Now, now, sir knight, shew what ye bee,
      _Add faith unto thy force_, and be not faint.
    Strangle her, else she sure will strangle thee.

He follows her advice, makes one desperate effort, Error is slain, and the
pilgrimage resumed.

Thus it is taught that the Church has waged successful battle with Error
in all its forms--paganism, Arianism, Socinianism, infidelity; and in all
ages of her history, whether crouching in the lofty groves of the Druids,
or in the more insidious forms of later Christian heresy.

THE HERMITAGE.--On leaving the Wood of Error, the knight and Lady Una
encounter a venerable hermit, and are led into his hermitage. This is
_Archimago_, a vile magician thus disguised, and in his retreat foul
spirits personate both knight and lady, and present these false doubles to
each. Each sees what seems to be the other's fall from virtue, and,
horrified by the sight, the real persons leave the hermitage by separate
ways, and wander, in inextricable mazes lost, until fortune and faery
bring them together again and disclose the truth.

Here Spenser, who was a zealous Protestant, designs to present the
monastic system, the disfavor into which the monasteries had fallen, and
the black arts secretly studied among better arts in the cloisters,
especially in the period just succeeding the Norman conquest.

THE CRUSADES.--As another specimen of the historic interpretation, we may
trace the adventures of England in the Crusades, as presented in the
encounter of St. George with _Sansfoy_, (without faith,) or the Infidel.

From the hermitage of Archimago,

    The true St. George had wandered far away,
      Still flying from his thoughts and jealous fear,
    Will was his guide, and grief led him astray;
    At last him chanced to meet upon the way
      A faithless Saracen all armed to point,
    In whose great shield was writ with letters gay
      SANSFOY: full large of limb, and every joint
      He was, and cared not for God or man a point.

Well might the poet speak of Mohammedanism as large of limb, for it had
stretched itself like a Colossus to India, and through Northern Africa
into Spain, where it threatened Christendom, beyond the Pyrenees. It was
then that the unity of the Church, the concurrence of Europe in one form
of Christianity, made available the enthusiasm which succeeded in stemming
the torrent of Islam, and setting bounds to its conquests.

It is not our purpose to pursue the adventures of the Church, but to
indicate the meaning of the allegory and the general interpretation; it
will give greater zest to the student to make the investigation for
himself, with the all-sufficient aids of modern criticism.

Assailed in turn by error in doctrine, superstition, hypocrisy,
enchantments, lawlessness, pride, and despair, the red-cross knight
overcomes them all, and is led at last by the Lady Una into the House of
Holiness, a happy and glorious house. There, anew equipped with the shield
of Faith, the helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, he goes
forth to greater conquests; the dragon is slain, the Lady Una triumphant,
the Church delivered, and Holiness to the Lord established as the law of
his all-subduing kingdom on earth.

BRITOMARTIS.--In the third book the further adventures of the red-cross
knight are related, but a heroine divides our attention with him.
_Britomartis_, or Chastity, finds him attacked by six lawless knights, who
try to compel him to give up his lady and serve another. Here Britomartis
represents Elizabeth, and the historic fact is the conflict of English
Protestantism carried on upon land and sea, in the Netherlands, in France,
and against the Invincible Armada of Philip. The new mistress offered him
in the place of Una is the Papal Church, and the six knights are the
nations fighting for the claims of Rome.

The valiant deeds of Britomartis represent also the power of chastity, to
which Scott alludes when he says,

    She charmed at once and tamed the heart,
    Incomparable Britomarte.[28]

And here the poet pays his most acceptable tribute to the Virgin Queen.
She is in love with Sir Artegal--abstract justice. She has encountered him
in fierce battle, and he has conquered her. It was the fond boast of
Elizabeth that she lived for her people, and for their sake refused to
marry. The following portraiture will be at once recognized:

    And round about her face her yellow hair
      Having, thro' stirring, loosed its wonted band,
    Like to a golden border did appear,
      Framed in goldsmith's forge with cunning hand;
      Yet goldsmith's cunning could not understand
    To frame such subtle wire, so shiny clear,
      For it did glisten like the glowing sand,
    The which Pactolus with his waters sheer,
    Throws forth upon the rivage, round about him near.

This encomium upon Elizabeth's hair recalls the description of another
courtier, that it was like the last rays of the declining sun. Ill-natured
persons called it red.

SIR ARTEGAL, OR JUSTICE.--As has been already said, Artegal, or Justice,
makes conquest of Britomartis or Elizabeth. It is no earthly love that
follows, but the declaration of the queen that in her continued maidenhood
justice to her people shall be her only spouse. Such, whatever the honest
historian may think, was the poet's conceit of what would best please his
royal mistress.

It has been already stated that by Gloriana, the Faerie Queene, the poet
intended the person of Elizabeth in her regnant grandeur: Britomartis
represents her chastity. Not content with these impersonations, Spenser
introduces a third: it is Belphœbe, the abstraction of virginity; a
character for which, however, he designs a dual interpretation. Belphœbe
is also another representation of the Church; in describing her he rises
to great splendor of language:

    ... her birth was of the morning dew,
    And her conception of the glorious prime.

We recur, as we read, to the grandeur of the Psalmist's words, as he
speaks of the coming of her Lord: "In the day of thy power shall the
people offer thee free-will offerings with a holy worship; the dew of thy
birth is of the womb of the morning."

ELIZABETH.--In the fifth book a great number of the statistics of
contemporary history are found. A cruel sultan, urged on by an abandoned
sultana, is Philip with the Spanish Church. Mercilla, a queen pursued by
the sultan and his wife, is another name for Elizabeth, for he tells us
she was

    ... a maiden queen of high renown;
    For her great bounty knowen over all.

Artegal, assuming the armor of a pagan knight, represents justice in the
person of Solyman the Magnificent, making war against Philip of Spain. In
the ninth canto of the sixth book, the court of Elizabeth is portrayed; in
the tenth and eleventh, the war in Flanders--so brilliantly described in
Mr. Motley's history. The Lady Belge is the United Netherlands; Gerioneo,
the oppressor, is the Duke of Alva; the Inquisition appears as a horrid
but nameless monster, and minor personages occur to complete the historic

The adventure of Sir Artegal in succor of the Lady Irena, (Erin,)
represents the proceedings of Elizabeth in Ireland, in enforcing the
Reformation, abrogating the establishments of her sister Mary, and thus
inducing Tyrone's rebellion, with the consequent humiliation of Essex.

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.--With one more interpretation we close. In the fifth
book, Spenser is the apologist of Elizabeth for her conduct to her cousin,
Mary Queen of Scots, and he has been very delicate in his distinctions. It
is not her high abstraction of justice, Sir Artegal, who does the
murderous deed, but his man _Talus_, retributive justice, who, like a
limehound, finds her hidden under a heap of gold, and drags her forth by
her fair locks, in such rueful plight that even Artegal pities her:

    Yet for no pity would he change the course
      Of justice which in Talus hand did lie,
    Who rudely haled her forth without remorse,
      Still holding up her suppliant hands on high,
      And kneeling at his feet submissively;
    But he her suppliant hands, those _hands of gold_,
      And eke her feet, those feet of _silver try_,
    Which sought unrighteousness and justice sold,
    Chopped off and nailed on high that all might them behold.

She was a royal lady, a regnant queen: her hands held a golden sceptre,
and her feet pressed a silver footstool. She was thrown down the castle
wall, and drowned "in the dirty mud."

"But the stream washed away her guilty blood." Did it wash away
Elizabeth's bloody guilt? No. For this act she stands in history like Lady
Macbeth, ever rubbing her hands, but "the damned spot" will not out at her
bidding. Granted all that is charged against Mary, never was woman so
meanly, basely, cruelly treated as she.

What has been said is only in partial illustration of the plan and manner
of Spenser's great poem: the student is invited and encouraged to make an
analysis of the other portions himself. To the careless reader the poem is
harmonious, the pictures beautiful, and the imagery gorgeous; to the
careful student it is equally charming, and also discloses historic
pictures of great value.

It is so attractive that the critic lingers unconsciously upon it.
Spenser's tributes to the character of woman are original, beautiful, and
just, and the fame of his great work, originally popular and designed for
a contemporary purpose only, has steadily increased. Next to Milton, he is
the most learned of the British poets. Warton calls him the _serious
Spenser_. Thomson says he formed himself upon Spenser. He took the ottava
rima, or eight-lined stanza of the Italian poets, and by adding an
Alexandrine line, formed it into what has since been called the Spenserian
stanza, which has been imitated by many great poets since, and by Byron,
the greatest of them, in his Childe Harold. Of his language it has already
been said that he designedly uses the archaic, or that of Chaucer; or, as
Pope has said,

   Spenser himself affects the obsolete.

The plan of the poem, neglecting the unities of an epic, is like that of a
general history, rambling and desultory, or like the transformations of a
fairy tale, as it is: his descriptions are gorgeous, his verse exceedingly
melodious, and his management of it very graceful. The Gerusalemme
Liberata of Tasso appeared while he was writing the Faery Queene, and he
imitated portions of that great epic in his own, but his imitations are
finer than the original.

HIS OTHER WORKS.--His other works need not detain us: Hymns in honor of
Love and Beauty, Prothalamion, and Epithalamion, Mother Hubbard's Tale,
Amoretti or Sonnets, The Tears of the Muses or Brittain's Ida, are little
read at the present day. His Astrophel is a tender "pastoral elegie" upon
the death of the most noble and valorous knight, Sir Philip Sidney; and is
better known for its subject than for itself. This was a favorite theme of
the friendly and sensitive poet; he has also written several elegies and
æglogues in honor of Sidney.

SPENSER'S FATE.--The fate of Spenser is a commentary upon courtiership,
even in the reign of Elizabeth, the Faery Queene. Her requital of his
adoration was an annual pension of fifty pounds, and the ruined castle and
unprofitable estate of Kilcolman in Ireland, among a half-savage
population, in a period of insurrections and massacres, with the
requirement that he should reside upon his grant. An occasional visit from
Raleigh, then a captain in the army, a rambler along the banks of the
picturesque Mulla, and the composition and arrangement of the great poem
with the suggestions of his friend, were at once his labors and his only
recreations. He sighed after the court, and considered himself as hardly
used by the queen.

At length an insurrection broke out, and his home was set on fire: he fled
from his flaming castle, and in the confusion his infant child was left
behind and burned to death. A few months after, he died in London, on
January 16, 1598-9, broken-hearted and poor, at an humble tavern, in King
Street. Buried at the expense of the Earl of Essex, Ann Countess of Dorset
bore the expense of his monument in Westminster Abbey, in gratitude for
his noble championship of woman. Upon that are inscribed these words:
_Anglorum poetarum nostri seculi facile princeps_--truer words, great as
is the praise, than are usually found in monumental inscriptions.

Whatever our estimate of Spenser, he must be regarded as the truest
literary exponent and representative of the age of Elizabeth, almost as
much her biographer as Miss Strickland, and her historian as Hume: indeed,
neither biographer nor historian could venture to draw the lineaments of
her character without having recourse to Spenser and his literary


_Richard Hooker_, 1553-1598: educated at Oxford, he became Master of the
Temple in London, a post which he left with pleasure to take a country
parish. He wrote a famous work, entitled "A Treatise on the Laws of
Ecclesiastical Polity," which is remarkable for its profound learning,
powerful logic, and eloquence of style. In it he defends the position of
the Church of England, against Popery on the one hand and Calvinism on the

_Robert Burton_, 1576-1639: author of "The Anatomy of Melancholie," an
amusing and instructive medley of quotations and classical anecdotes,
showing a profound erudition. In this all the causes and effects of
melancholy are set forth with varied illustrations. His _nom de plume_ was
Democritus, Jr., and he is an advocate of the laughing philosophy.

_Thomas Hobbes_, 1588-1679: tutor to Charles II., when Prince of Wales,
and author of the _Leviathan_. This is a philosophical treatise, in which
he advocates monarchical government, as based upon the fact that all men
are selfish, and that human nature, being essentially corrupt, requires an
iron control: he also wrote upon _Liberty and Necessity_, and on _Human

John Stow, 1525-1605: tailor and antiquary. Principally valuable for his
"Annales," "Summary of English Chronicles," and "A Survey of London." The
latter is the foundation of later topographical descriptions of the
English metropolis.

Raphael Hollinshed, or Holinshed, died about 1580: his _Chronicles of
Englande, Scotlande, and Irelande_, were a treasure-house to Shakspeare,
from which he drew materials for King Lear, Cymbeline, Macbeth, and other

Richard Hakluyt, died 1616: being greatly interested in voyages and
travels, he wrote works upon the adventures of others. Among these are,
"Divers Voyages Touching the Discoverie of America," and "Four Voyages
unto Florida," which have been very useful in the compilation of early
American history.

Samuel Purchas, 1577-1628: like Hakluyt, he was exceedingly industrious in
collecting material, and wrote "Hakluyt's Posthumus, or Purchas, his
Pilgrimes," a history of the world "in Sea Voyages and Land Travels."

Sir Walter Raleigh, 1552-1618: a man famous for his personal strength and
comeliness, vigor of mind, valor, adventures, and sufferings. A prominent
actor in the stirring scenes of Elizabeth's reign, he was high in the
favor of the queen. Accused of high treason on the accession of James I.,
and imprisoned under sentence of death, an unsuccessful expedition to
South America in search of El Dorado, which caused complaints from the
Spanish king, led to his execution under the pending sentence. He wrote,
chiefly in prison, a History of the World, in which he was aided by his
literary friends, and which is highly commended. It extends to the end of
the second Macedonian war. Raleigh was also a poet, and wrote several
special treatises.

William Camden, 1551-1623: author of Britannia, or a chorographic
description of the most flourishing kingdoms of England, Scotland,
Ireland, and the adjacent islands, from the earliest antiquity. This work,
written in Latin, has been translated into English. He also wrote a sketch
of the reign of Elizabeth.

_George Buchanan_, 1506-1581: celebrated as a Latin writer, an historian,
a poet, and an ecclesiastical polemic. He wrote a _History of Scotland_, a
Latin version of the Psalms, and a satire called _Chamæleon_. He was a
man of profound learning and indomitable courage; and when told, just
before his death, that the king was incensed at his treatise _De Jure
Regni_, he answered that he was not concerned at that, for he was "going
to a place where there were few kings."

Thomas Sackville, Earl Dorset, Lord Buckhurst, 1536-1608: author, or
rather originator of "The Mirror for Magistrates," showing by illustrious,
unfortunate examples, the vanity and transitory character of human
success. Of Sackville and his portion of the Mirror for Magistrates, Craik
says they "must be considered as forming the connecting link between the
Canterbury Tales and the Fairy Queen."

_Samuel Daniel_, 1562-1619: an historian and a poet. His chief work is
"The Historie of the Civile Warres between the Houses of York and
Lancaster," "a production," says Drake, "which reflects great credit on
the age in which it was written." This work is in poetical form; and,
besides it, he wrote many poems and plays, and numerous sonnets.

Michael Drayton, 1563-1631: a versatile writer, most favorably known
through his _Polyolbion_, a poem in thirty books, containing a detailed
description of the topography of England, in Alexandrine verses. His
_Barons' Wars_ describe the civil commotions during the reign of Edward

Sir John Davies, 1570-1626: author of _Nosce Teipsum_ and _The Orchestra_.
The former is commended by Hallam; and another critic calls it "the best
poem, except Spenser's Faery Queen, in Queen Elizabeth's, or even, in
James VI.'s time."

John Donne, 1573-1631: a famous preacher, Dean of St. Paul's: considered
at the head of the metaphysical school of poets: author of
_Pseudo-Martyr_, _Polydoron_, and numerous sermons. He wrote seven
_satires_, which are valuable, but his style is harsh, and his ideas

Joseph Hall, 1574-1656: an eminent divine, author of six books of
_satires_, of which he called the first three _toothless_, and the others
_biting_ satires. These are valuable as presenting truthful pictures of
the manners and morals of the age and of the defects in contemporary

Sir Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, 1554-1628: he wrote the Life of Sidney,
and requested to have placed upon his tomb, "The friend of Sir Philip
Sidney." He was also the author of numerous treatises: "Monarchy," "Humane
Learning," "Wars," etc., and of two tragedies.

George Chapman, 1557-1634: author of a translation of Homer, in verses of
fourteen syllables. It retains much of the spirit of the original, and is
still considered one of the best among the numerous versions of the
ancient poet. He also wrote _Cæsar and Pompey, Byron's Tragedy_, and other



   Origin of the Drama. Miracle Plays. Moralities. First Comedy. Early
   Tragedies. Christopher Marlowe. Other Dramatists. Playwrights and


To the Elizabethan period also belongs the glory of having produced and
fostered the English drama, itself so marked a teacher of history, not
only in plays professedly historical, but also in the delineations of
national character, the indications of national taste, and the satirical
scourgings of the follies of the day. A few observations are necessary as
to its feeble beginnings. The old Greek drama indeed existed as a model,
especially in the tragedies of Euripides and the comedies of Aristophanes;
but until the fall of Constantinople, these were a dead letter to Western
Europe, and when the study of Greek was begun in England, they were only
open to men of the highest education and culture; whereas the drama
designed for the people was to cater in its earlier forms to the rude
tastes and love of the marvellous which are characteristic of an
unlettered people. And, besides, the Roman drama of Plautus and of Terence
was not suited to the comprehension of the multitude, in its form and its
preservation of the unities. To gratify the taste for shows and
excitement, the people already had the high ritual of the Church, but they
demanded something more: the Church itself acceded to this demand, and
dramatized Scripture at once for their amusement and instruction. Thus the
_mysteria_ or _miracle play_ originated, and served a double purpose.

"As in ancient Greece, generations before the rise of the great dramas of
Athens, itinerant companies wandered from village to village, carrying
their stage furniture in their little carts, and acted in their booths and
tents the grand stories of the mythology--so in England the mystery
players haunted the wakes and fairs, and in barns or taverns, taprooms, or
in the farm-house kitchen, played at saints and angels, and transacted on
their petty stage the drama of the Christian faith."[29]

THE MYSTERY, OR MIRACLE PLAY.--The subjects of these dramas were taken
from such Old Testament narratives as the creation, the lives of the
patriarchs, the deluge; or from the crucifixion, and from legends of the
saints: the plays were long, sometimes occupying portions of several days
consecutively, during seasons of religious festival. They were enacted in
monasteries, cathedrals, churches, and church-yards. The _mise en scène_
was on two stages or platforms, on the upper of which were represented the
Persons of the Trinity, and on the lower the personages of earth; while a
yawning cellar, with smoke arising from an unseen fire, represented the
infernal regions. This device is similar in character to the plan of
Dante's poem--Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.

The earliest of these mysteries was performed somewhere about the year
1300, and they held sway until 1600, being, however, slowly supplanted by
the _moralities_, which we shall presently consider. Many of these
_mysteries_ still remain in English, and notices of them may be found in
_Collier's History of Dramatic Poetry_.

A miracle play was performed to celebrate the birth of Philip II. of
Spain. They are still performed in Andalusia, and one written within a few
years for such representation, was enacted at Seville, with great pomp of
scenic effect, in the Holy Week of 1870. Similar scenes are also
witnessed by curious foreigners at the present day in the Ober-Ammergau of
Bavaria. These enable the traveller of to-day to realize the former

To introduce a comic element, the devil was made to appear with horns,
hoof, and tail, to figure with grotesque malignity throughout the play,
and to be reconsigned at the close to his dark abode by the divine power.

MORALITIES.--As the people became enlightened, and especially as religious
knowledge made progress, such childish shows were no longer able to
satisfy them. The drama undertook a higher task of instruction in the form
of what was called a _morality_, or _moral play_. Instead of old stories
reproduced to please the childish fancy of the ignorant, genius invented
scenes and incidents taken indeed from common life, but the characters
were impersonal; they were the ideal virtues, _morality, hope, mercy,
frugality_, and their correlative vices. The _mystery_ had endeavored to
present similitudes; the _moralities_ were of the nature of allegory, and
evinced a decided progress in popular intelligence.

These for a time divided the interest with the mysteries, but eventually
superseded them. The impersonality of the characters enabled the author to
make hits at political circumstances and existent follies with impunity,
as the multitude received advice and reproof addressed to them abstractly,
without feeling a personal sting, and the government would not condescend
to notice such abstractions. The moralities were enacted in court-yards or
palaces, the characters generally being personated by students, or
merchants from the guilds. A great improvement was also made in the length
of the play, which was usually only an hour in performance. The public
taste was so wedded to the devil of the mysteries, that he could not be
given up in the moral plays: he kept his place; but a rival buffoon
appeared in the person of _the vice_, who tried conclusions with the
archfiend in serio-comic style until the close of the performance, when
Satan always carried the vice away in triumph, as he should do.

The moralities retained their place as legitimate drama throughout the
sixteenth century, and indeed after the modern drama appeared. It is
recorded that Queen Elizabeth, in 1601, then an old woman, witnessed one
of these plays, entitled "The Contention between Liberality and
Prodigality." This was written by Lodge and Greene, two of the regular
dramatists, after Ben Jonson had written "Every Man in his Humour," and
while Shakspeare was writing Hamlet. Thus the various progressive forms of
the drama overlapped each other, the older retaining its place until the
younger gained strength to assert its rights and supersede its rival.

THE INTERLUDE.--While the moralities were slowly dying out, another form
of the drama had appeared as a connecting link between them and the
legitimate drama of Shakspeare. This was the _interlude_, a short play, in
which the _dramatis personæ_ were no longer allegorical characters, but
persons in real life, usually, however, not all bearing names even
assumed, but presented as a friar, a curate, a tapster, etc. The chief
characteristic of the interlude was, however, its satire; it was a more
outspoken reformer than the morality, scourged the evils of the age with
greater boldness, and plunged into religious controversy with the zeal of
opposing ecclesiastics. The first and principal writer of these interludes
was John Heywood, a Roman Catholic, who wrote during the reign of Henry
VIII., and, while a professed jester, was a great champion of his Church.

As in all cases of progress, literary and scientific, the lines of
demarcation cannot be very distinctly drawn, but as the morality had
superseded the mystery, and the interlude the morality, so now they were
all to give way before the regular drama. The people were becoming more
educated; the greater spread of classical knowledge had caused the
dramatists to study and assimilate the excellences of Latin and Greek
models; the power of the drama to instruct and refine, as well as to
amuse, was acknowledged, and thus its capability of improvement became
manifest. The forms it then assumed were more permanent, and indeed have
remained almost unchanged down to our own day.

What is called the _first_ comedy in the language cannot be expected to
show a very decided improvement over the last interludes or moralities,
but it bears those distinctive marks which establish its right to the

THE FIRST COMEDY.--This was _Ralph Roister Doister_, which appeared in the
middle of the sixteenth century: (a printed copy of 1551 was discovered in
1818.) Its author was Nicholas Udall, the master of Eton, a clergyman, but
very severe as a pedagogue; an ultra Protestant, who is also accused of
having stolen church plate, which may perhaps mean that he took away from
the altar what he regarded as popish vessels and ornaments. He calls the
play "a comedy and interlude," but claims that it is imitated from the
Roman drama. It is regularly divided into acts and scenes, in the form of
our modern plays. The plot is simple: Ralph, a gay Lothario, courts as gay
a widow, and the by-play includes a designing servant and an intriguing
lady's-maid: these are the stock elements of a hundred comedies since.

Contemporary with this was _Gammer Gurton's Needle_, supposed to be
written, but not conclusively, by John Still, Bishop of Bath and Wells,
about 1560. The story turns upon the loss of a steel needle--a rare
instrument in that day, as it was only introduced into England from Spain
during the age of Elizabeth. This play is a coarser piece than Ralph
Roister Doister; the buffoon raises the devil to aid him in finding the
lost needle, which is at length found, by very palpable proof, to be
sticking in the seat of Goodman Hodge's breeches.

THE FIRST TRAGEDY.--Hand in hand with these first comedies came the
earliest tragedy, _Gorboduc_, by Sackville and Norton, known under another
name as _Ferrex and Porrex_; and it is curious to observe that this came
in while the moralities still occupied the stage, and before the
interludes had disappeared, as it was played before the queen at White
Hall, in 1562. It is also to be noted that it introduced a chorus like
that of the old Greek drama. Ferrex and Porrex are the sons of King
Gorboduc: the former is killed by the latter, who in turn is slain by his
own mother. Of Gorboduc, Lamb says, "The style of this old play is stiff
and cumbersome, like the dresses of the times. There may be flesh and
blood underneath, but we cannot get at it."

With the awakened interest of the people, the drama now made steady
progress. In 1568 the tragedy of _Tancred and Gismunda_, based upon one of
the stories of Boccaccio, was enacted before Elizabeth.

A license for establishing a regular theatre was got out by Burbage in
1574. Peele and Greene wrote plays in the new manner: Marlowe, the
greatest name in the English drama, except those of Shakspeare and Ben
Jonson, gave to the world his _Tragical History of the Life and Death of
Doctor Faustus_, which many do not hesitate to compare favorably with
Goethe's great drama, and his _Rich Jew of Malta_, which contains the
portraiture of Barabas, second only to the Shylock of Shakspeare. Of
Marlowe a more special mention will be made.

PLAYWRIGHTS AND MORALS.--It was to the great advantage of the English
regular drama, that the men who wrote were almost in every case highly
educated in the classics, and thus able to avail themselves of the best
models. It is equally true that, owing to the religious condition of the
times, when Puritanism launched forth its diatribes against all
amusements, they were men in the opposition, and in most cases of
irregular lives. Men of the world, they took their characters from among
the persons with whom they associated; and so we find in their plays
traces of the history of the age, in the appropriation of classical forms,
in the references to religious and political parties, and in their
delineation of the morals, manners, and follies of the period: if the
drama of the present day owes to them its origin and nurture, it also
retains as an inheritance many of the faults and deformities from which in
a more refined period it is seeking to purge itself. It is worthy of
notice, that as the drama owes everything to popular patronage, its moral
tone reflects of necessity the moral character of the people who frequent
it, and of the age which sustains it.

CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE.--Among those who may be regarded as the immediate
forerunners and ushers of Shakspeare, and who, although they prepared the
way for his advent, have been obscured by his greater brilliance, the one
most deserving of special mention is Marlowe.

Christopher Marlowe was born at Canterbury, about the year 1564. He was a
wild, irregular genius, of bad morals and loose life, but of fine
imagination and excellent powers of expression. He wrote only tragedies.

His _Tamburlaine the Great_ is based upon the history of that _Timour
Leuk_, or _Timour the Lame_, the great Oriental conqueror of the
fourteenth century:

    So large of limb, his joints so strongly knit,
    Such breadth of shoulders as might mainly bear
    Old Atlas' burthen.

The descriptions are overdrawn, and the style inflated, but the subject
partakes of the heroic, and was popular still, though nearly two
centuries had passed since the exploits of the historic hero.

_The Rich Jew of Malta_ is of value, as presenting to us Barabas the Jew
as he appeared to Christian suspicion and hatred in the fifteenth century.
As he sits in his country-house with heaps of gold before him, and
receives the visits of merchants who inform him of the safe arrival of his
ships, it is manifest that he gave Shakspeare the first ideal of his
Shylock, upon which the greater dramatist greatly improved.

_The Tragicall Life and Death of Doctor John Faustus_ certainly helped
Goethe in the conception and preparation of his modern drama, and contains
many passages of rare power. Charles Lamb says: "The growing horrors of
Faustus are awfully marked by the hours and half-hours which expire and
bring him nearer and nearer to the enactment of his dire compact. It is
indeed an agony and bloody sweat."

_Edward II._ presents in the assassination scene wonderful power and
pathos, and is regarded by Hazlitt as his best play.

Marlowe is the author of the pleasant madrigal, called by Izaak Walton
"that smooth song":

    Come live with me and be my love.

The playwright, who had led a wild life, came to his end in a tavern
brawl: he had endeavored to use his dagger upon one of the waiters, who
turned it upon him, and gave him a wound in the head of which he died, in

His talents were of a higher order than those of his contemporaries; he
was next to Shakspeare in power, and was called by Phillips "a second


Thomas Lodge, 1556-1625: educated at Oxford. Wrote _The Wounds of
Civil-War_, and other tragedies. Rosalynd, a novel, from which Shakspeare
drew in his _As You Like It_. He translated _Josephus_ and _Seneca_.

Thomas Kyd, died about 1600: _The Spanish Tragedy, or, Hieronymo is Mad
Again_. This contains a few highly wrought scenes, which have been
variously attributed to Ben Jonson and to Webster.

Robert Tailor: wrote _The Hog hath Lost his Pearl_, a comedy, published in
1614. This partakes of the character of the _morality_.

John Marston: wrote _Antonio and Mellida_, 1602; _Antonio's Revenge_,
1602; _Sophonisba, a Wonder of Women_, 1606; _The Insatiate Countess_,
1603, and many other plays. Marston ranks high among the immediate
predecessors of Shakspeare, for the number, variety, and vigorous handling
of his plays.

George Peele, born about 1553: educated at Oxford. Many of his pieces are
broadly comic. The principal plays are: _The Arraignment of Paris_,
_Edward I._ and _David and Bethsabe_. The latter is overwrought and full
of sickish sentiment.

Thomas Nash, 1558-1601: a satirist and polemic, who is best known for his
controversy with Gabriel Harvey. Most of his plays were written in
conjunction with others. He was imprisoned for writing _The Isle of Dogs_,
which was played, but not published. He is very licentious in his

John Lyly, born about 1553: wrote numerous smaller plays, but is chiefly
known as the author of _Euphues, Anatomy of Wit_, and _Euphues and his

Robert Greene, died 1592: educated at Cambridge. Wrote _Alphonsus, King of
Arragon_, _James IV._, _George-a-Greene_, _Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay_,
and other plays. After leading a profligate life, he left behind him a
pamphlet entitled, "A Groat's-worth of Wit, bought with a Million of
Repentance:" this is full of contrition, and of advice to his
fellow-actors and fellow-sinners. It is mainly remarkable for its abuse of
Shakspeare, "an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers;" "Tygre's
heart wrapt in a player's hide;" "an absolute Johannes factotum, in his
own conceyt the onely _shakescene_ in the country."

Most of these dramatists wrote in copartnership with others, and many of
the plays which bear their names singly, have parts composed by
colleagues. Such was the custom of the age, and it is now very difficult
to declare the distinct authorship of many of the plays.



   The Power of Shakspeare. Meagre Early History. Doubts of his Identity.
   What is known. Marries, and goes to London. "Venus" and "Lucrece."
   Retirement and Death. Literary Habitudes. Variety of the Plays. Table
   of Dates and Sources.


We have now reached, in our search for the historic teachings in English
literature, and in our consideration of the English drama, the greatest
name of all, the writer whose works illustrate our position most strongly,
and yet who, eminent type as he is of British culture in the age of
Elizabeth, was truly and pithily declared by his friend and contemporary,
Ben Jonson, to be "not for an age, but for all time." It is also
singularly true that, even in such a work as this, Shakspeare really
requires only brief notice at our hands, because he is so universally
known and read: his characters are among our familiar acquaintance; his
simple but thoughtful words are incorporated in our common conversation;
he is our every-day companion. To eulogize him to the reading public is

    To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
    To lend a perfume to the violet ...

The Bible and Shakspeare have been long conjoined as the two most
necessary books in a family library; and Mrs. Cowden Clarke, the author of
the Concordance to Shakspeare, has pointedly and truthfully said: "A poor
lad, possessing no other book, might on this single one make himself a
gentleman and a scholar: a poor girl, studying no other volume, might
become a lady in heart and soul."

MEAGRE EARLY HISTORY.--It is passing strange, considering the great value
of his writings, and his present fame, that of his personal history so
little is known. In the words of Steevens, one of his most successful
commentators: "All that is known, with any degree of certainty, concerning
Shakspeare, is--that he was born at Stratford upon Avon--married and had
children there--went to London, where he commenced actor, and wrote poems
and plays--returned to Stratford, made his will, died, and was buried."

This want of knowledge is in part due to his obscure youth, during which
no one could predict what he would afterward achieve, and therefore no one
took notes of his life: to his own apparent ignorance and carelessness of
his own merits, and to the low repute in which plays, and especially
playwrights, were then held; although they were in reality making their
age illustrious in history. The pilgrim to Stratford sees the little low
house in which he is said to have been born, purchased by the nation, and
now restored into a smart cottage: within are a few meagre relics of the
poet's time; not far distant is the foundation--recently uncovered--of his
more ambitious residence in New Place, and a mulberry-tree, which probably
grew from a slip of that which he had planted with his own hand. Opposite
is the old Falcon Inn, where he made his daily potations. Very near rises,
above elms and lime-trees, the spire of the beautiful church on the bank
of the Avon, beneath the chancel of which his remains repose, with those
of his wife and daughter, overlooked by his bust, of which no one knows
the maker or the history, except that it dates from his own time. His bust
is of life-size, and was originally painted to imitate nature--eyes of
hazel, hair and beard auburn, doublet scarlet, and sleeveless gown of
black. Covered by a false taste with white paint to imitate marble, while
it destroyed identity and age: it has since been recolored from
traditional knowledge, but it is too rude to give us the expression of his

The only other probable likeness is that from an old picture, an engraving
of which, by Droeshout, is found in the first folio edition of his plays,
published in 1623, seven years after his death: it was said by Ben Jonson
to be a good likeness. We are very fortunate in having these,
unsatisfactory as they are, for it is simple truth that beyond these
places and things, there is little, if anything, to illustrate the
personal history of Shakspeare. All that we can know of the man is found
in his works.

DOUBTS OF HIS IDENTITY.--This ignorance concerning him has given rise to
numerous doubts as to his literary identity, and many efforts have been
made to find other authors for his dramas. Among the most industrious in
this deposing scheme, have been Miss Delia Bacon and Mr. Nathaniel Holmes,
who concur in attributing his best plays to Francis Bacon. That Bacon did
not acknowledge his own work, they say, is because he rated the dramatic
art too far beneath his dignity to confess any complicity with it. In
short, he and other great men of that day wrote immortal works which they
were ashamed of, and were willing to father upon the common actor and
stage-manager, one William Shakspeare!

While it is not within the scope of this volume to enter into the
controversy, it is a duty to state its existence, and to express the
judgment that these efforts have been entirely unsuccessful, but have not
been without value in that they have added a little to the meagre history
by their researches, and have established the claims of Shakspeare on a
firmer foundation than before.

WHAT IS KNOWN.--William Shakspeare (spelt _Shackspeare_ in the body of his
will, but signed _Shakspeare_) was the third of eight children, and the
eldest son of John Shakspeare and Mary Arden: he was born at the beautiful
rural town of Stratford, on the little river Avon, on the 23d of April,
1564. His father, who was of yeoman rank, was probably a dealer in wool
and leather. Aubrey, a gossiping chronicler of the next generation, says
he was a butcher, and some biographers assert that he was a glover. He may
have exercised all these crafts together, but it is more to our purpose to
know that in his best estate he was a property holder and chief burgess of
the town. Shakspeare's mother seems to have been of an older family.
Neither of them could write. Shakspeare received his education at the free
grammar-school, still a well-endowed institution in the town, where he
learned the "small Latin and less Greek" accorded to him by Ben Jonson at
a later day.

There are guesses, rather than traditions, that he was, after the age of
fifteen, a student in a law-office, that he was for a time at one of the
universities, and also that he was a teacher in the grammar-school. These
are weak inventions to account for the varied learning displayed in his
dramas. His love of Nature and his power to delineate her charms were
certainly fostered by the beautiful rural surroundings of Stratford;
beyond this it is idle to seek to penetrate the obscure processes of his

MARRIES, AND GOES TO LONDON.--Finding himself one of a numerous and poor
family, to the support of which his father's business was inadequate, he
determined, to shift for himself, and to push his fortunes in the best way
he could.

Whether he regarded matrimony as one element of success we do not know,
but the preliminary bond of marriage between himself and Anne Hathaway,
was signed on the 28th of November, 1582, when he was eighteen years old.
The woman was seven years older than himself; and it is a sad commentary
on the morality of both, that his first child, Susanna, was baptized on
the 25th of May, 1583.

Strolling bands of players, in passing through England, were in the habit
of stopping at Stratford, and setting upon wheels their rude stage with
weather-stained curtains; and these, it should be observed, were the best
dramatic companies of the time, such as the queen's company, and those in
the service of noblemen like Leicester, Warwick, and others. If he did not
see he must have heard of the great pageant in 1575, when Leicester
entertained Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth, which is so charmingly
described by Sir Walter Scott. Young Shakspeare became stage-struck, and
probably joined one of these companies, with other idle young men of the

Various legends, without sufficient foundation of truth, are related of
him at this time, which indicate that he was of a frolicsome and
mischievous turn: among these is a statement that he was arraigned for
deer-poaching in the park of Sir Thomas Lucy, of Charlecote. A satirical
reference to Sir Thomas in one of his plays,[30] leads us to think that
there is some truth in the story, although certain of his biographers have
denied it.

In February, 1584-5, he became the father of twins, Hamnet and Judith, and
in 1586, leaving his wife and children at Stratford, he went up with a
theatrical company to London, where for three years he led a hard and
obscure life. He was at first a menial at the theatre; some say he held
gentlemen's horses at the door, others that he was call-boy, prompter,
scene-shifter, minor actor. At length he began to find his true vocation
in altering and adapting plays for the stage. This earlier practice, in
every capacity, was of great value to him when he began to write plays of
his own. As an actor he never rose above mediocrity. It is said that he
played such parts as the Ghost in Hamlet, and Adam in As You Like It; but
off the stage he became known for a ready wit and convivial humor.

His ready hand for any work caused him to prosper steadily, and so in
1589 we find his name the twelfth on the list of sixteen shareholders in
the Blackfriars Theatre, one of the first play-houses built in London.
That he was steadily growing in public favor, as well as in private
fortune, might be inferred from Spenser's mention of him in the "Tears of
the Muses," published in 1591, if we were sure he was the person referred
to. If he was, this is the first great commendation he had received:

    The man whom nature's self had made,
      To mock herself and truth to imitate,
    With kindly counter under mimic shade,
      Our pleasant Willie.

There is, however, a doubt whether the reference is to him, as he had
written very little as early as 1591.

VENUS AND ADONIS.--In 1593 appeared his _Venus and Adonis_, which he now
had the social position and interest to dedicate to the Earl of
Southampton. It is a harmonious and beautiful poem, but the display of
libidinous passion in the goddess, however in keeping with her character
and with the broad taste of the age, is disgusting to the refined reader,
even while he acknowledges the great power of the poet. In the same year
was built the Globe Theatre, a hexagonal wooden structure, unroofed over
the pit, but thatched over the stage and the galleries. In this, too,
Shakspeare was a shareholder.

THE RAPE OF LUCRECE.--The _Rape of Lucrece_ was published in 1594, and was
dedicated to the same nobleman, who, after the custom of the period,
became Shakspeare's patron, and showed the value of his patronage by the
gift to the poet of a thousand pounds.

Thus in making poetical versions of classical stories, which formed the
imaginative pabulum of the age, and in readapting older plays, the poet
was gaining that skill and power which were to produce his later immortal

These, as we shall see, he began to write as early as 1589, and continued
to produce until 1612.

RETIREMENT AND DEATH.--A few words will complete his personal history: His
fortune steadily increased; in 1602 he was the principal owner of the
Globe; then, actuated by his home feeling, which had been kept alive by
annual visits to Stratford, he determined, as soon as he could, to give up
the stage, and to take up his residence there. He had purchased, in 1597,
the New Place at Stratford, but he did not fully carry out his plan until
1612, when he finally retired with ample means and in the enjoyment of an
honorable reputation. There he exercised a generous hospitality, and led a
quiet rural life. He planted a mulberry-tree, which became a pilgrim's
shrine to numerous travellers; but a ruthless successor in the ownership
of New Place, the Reverend Francis Gastrell, annoyed by the concourse of
visitors, was Vandal enough to cut it down. Such was the anger of the
people that he was obliged to leave the place, which he did after razing
the mansion to the ground. His name is held in great detestation at
Stratford now, as every traveller is told his story.

Shakspeare's death occurred on his fifty-second birthday, April 23d, 1616.
He had been ill of a fever, from which he was slowly recovering, and his
end is said to have been the result of an over-conviviality in
entertaining Drayton and Ben Jonson, who had paid him a visit at

His son Hamnet had died in 1596, at the age of twelve. In 1607, his
daughter Susannah had married Dr. Hall; and in 1614 died Judith, who had
married Thomas Quiney. Shakspeare's wife survived him, and died in 1623.

LITERARY HABITUDES.--Such, in brief, is the personal history of
Shakspeare: of his literary habitudes we know nothing. The exact dates of
the appearance of his plays are, in most cases, doubtful. Many of these
had been printed singly during his life, but the first complete edition
was published in folio, in 1623. It contains _thirty-six_ plays, and is
the basis of the later editions, which contain thirty-_seven_. Many
questions arise which cannot be fully answered: Did he write all the plays
contained in the volume? Are the First Part of Henry VI., Titus
Andronicus,[31] and Pericles his work? Did he not write others not found
among these? Had he, as was not uncommon then and later, collaboration in
those which bear his name? Was he a Beaumont to some Fletcher, or a
Sackville to some Norton? Upon these questions generations of Shakspearean
scholars have expended a great amount of learned inquiry ever since his
day, and not without results: it is known that many of his dramas are
founded upon old plays, as to plots; and that he availed himself of the
labor of others in casting his plays.

But the real value of his plays, the insight into human nature, the
profound philosophy, "the myriad-soul" which they display, are
Shakspeare's only. By applying just rules of evidence, we conclude that he
did write thirty-five of the plays attributed to him, and that he did not
write, or was not the chief writer of others. It is certainly very strong
testimony on these points, that seven years after his death, and _three
years before that of Bacon_, a large folio should have been published by
his professional friends Heminge and Condell, prefaced with ardent
eulogies, claiming thirty-six plays as his, and that it did not meet with
the instant and indignant cry that his claims were false. The players of
that day were an envious and carping set, and the controversy would have
been fierce from the very first, had there been just grounds for it.

VARIETY OF PLAYS.--No attempt will be made to analyze any of the plays of
Shakspeare: that is left for the private study and enjoyment of the
student, by the use of the very numerous aids furnished by commentators
and critics. It will be found often that in their great ardor, the
dramatist has been treated like the Grecian poet:

    [Shakspeare's] critics bring to view
    Things which [Shakspeare] never knew.

Many of the plays are based upon well-known legends and fictional tales,
some of them already adopted in old plays: thus the story of King Lear and
his daughters is found in Holinshed's Chronicle, and had been for years
represented; from this Shakspeare has borrowed the story, but has used
only a single passage. The play is intended to represent the ancient
Celtic times in Britain, eight hundred years before Christ; and such is
its power and pathos, that we care little for its glaring anachronisms and
curious errors. In Holinshed are also found the stories of Cymbeline and
Macbeth, the former supposed to have occurred during the Roman occupancy
of Britain, and the latter during the Saxon period.

With these before us, let us observe that names, chronology, geography,
costumes, and customs are as nothing in his eyes. His aim is human
philosophy: he places his living creations before us, dressing them, as it
were, in any garments most conveniently at hand. These lose their
grotesqueness as his characters speak and act. Paternal love and weakness,
met by filial ingratitude; these are the lessons and the fearful pictures
of Lear: sad as they are, the world needed them, and they have saved many
a later Lear from expulsion and storm and death, and shamed many a Goneril
and Regan, while they have strengthened the hearts of many a Cordelia
since. Chastity and constancy shine like twin stars from the forest of
Cymbeline. And what have we in Macbeth? Mad ambition parleying with the
devil, in the guise of a woman lost to all virtue save a desire to
aggrandize her husband and herself. These have a pretence of history; but
Hamlet, with hardly that pretence, stands alone supreme in varied
excellence. Ambition, murder, resistless fate, filial love, the love of
woman, revenge, the power of conscience, paternal solicitude, infinite
jest: what a volume is this!

TABLE OF DATES AND SOURCES.--The following table, which presents the plays
in chronological order,[32] the times when they were written, as nearly as
can be known, and the sources whence they were derived, will be of more
service to the student than any discursive remarks upon the several plays.

Plays.                       Dates.                Sources.

 1. Henry VI., first part     1589   Denied to Shakspeare; attributed to
                                       Marlowe or Kyd.
 2. Pericles                  1590   From the "Gesta Romanorum."
 3. Henry VI., second part    1591     "  an older play.
 4. Henry VI., third part     1591     "  "    "    "
 5. Two Gentlemen of Verona   1591     "  an old tale.
 6. Comedy of Errors          1592     "  a comedy of Plautus.
 7. Love's Labor Lost         1592     "  an Italian play.
 8. Richard II.               1593     "  Holinshed and other
 9. Richard III.              1593   From an old play and Sir Thomas
                                       More's History.
10. Midsummer Night's Dream   1594   Suggested by Palamon and Arcite,
                                       The Knight's Tale, of Chaucer.
11. Taming of the Shrew       1596   From an older play.
12. Romeo and Juliet          1596     "  " old tale. Boccaccio.
13. Merchant of Venice        1597     " Gesta Romanorum, with suggestions
                                         from Marlowe's Jew of Malta.
14. Henry IV., part 1         1597   From an old play.
15. Henry IV., part 2         1598    "   "  "   "
16. King John                 1598    "   "  "   "
17. All's Well that Ends Well 1598    "  Boccaccio.
18. Henry V.                  1599  From an older play.
19. As You Like It            1600  Suggested in part by Lodge's novel,
20. Much Ado About Nothing    1600  Source unknown.
21. Hamlet                    1601  From the Latin History of Scandinavia,
                                      by Saxo, called Grammaticus.
22. Merry Wives of Windsor    1601  Said to have been suggested by
23. Twelfth Night             1601  From an old tale.
24. Troilus and Cressida      1602  Of classical origin, through Chaucer.
25. Henry VIII.               1603  From the chronicles of the day.
26. Measure for Measure       1603   "  an old tale.
27. Othello                   1604   "  "   "   "
28. King Lear                 1605   "  Holinshed.
29. Macbeth                   1606   "      "
30. Julius Cæsar              1607   "  Plutarch's Parallel Lives.
31. Antony and Cleopatra      1608   "      "         "       "
32. Cymbeline                 1609   "  Holinshed.
33. Coriolanus                1610   "  Plutarch.
34. Timon of Athens           1610   "     "      and other sources.
35. Winter's Tale             1611   "  a novel by Greene.
36. Tempest                   1612   "  Italian Tale.
37. Titus Andronicus          1593  Denied to Shakspeare; probably by
                                      Marlowe or Kyd.



   The Grounds of his Fame. Creation of Character. Imagination and Fancy.
   Power of Expression. His Faults. Influence of Elizabeth. Sonnets.
   Ireland and Collier. Concordance. Other Writers.


From what has been said, it is manifest that as to his plots and
historical reproductions, Shakspeare has little merit but taste in
selection; and indeed in most cases, had he invented the stories, his
merit would not have been great: what then is the true secret of his power
and of his fame? This question is not difficult to answer.

First, these are due to his wonderful insight into human nature, and the
philosophy of human life: he dissects the human mind in all its
conditions, and by this vivisection he displays its workings as it lives
and throbs; he divines the secret impulses of all ages and
characters--childhood, boyhood, manhood, girlhood, and womanhood; men of
peace, and men of war; clowns, nobles, and kings. His large heart was
sympathetic with all, and even most so with the lowly and suffering; he
shows us to ourselves, and enables us to use that knowledge for our
profit. All the virtues are held up to our imitation and praise, and all
the vices are scourged and rendered odious in our sight. To read
Shakspeare aright is of the nature of honest self-examination, that most
difficult and most necessary of duties.

CREATION OF CHARACTER.--Second: He stands supreme in the creation of
character, which may be considered the distinguishing mark of the highest
literary genius. The men and women whom he has made are not stage-puppets
moved by hidden strings; they are real. We know them as intimately as the
friends and acquaintances who visit us, or the people whom we accost in
our daily walks.

And again, in this varied delineation of character, Shakspeare less than
any other author either obtrudes or repeats himself. Unlike Byron, he is
nowhere his own hero: unlike most modern novelists, he fashions men who,
while they have the generic human resemblance, differ from each other like
those of flesh and blood around us: he has presented a hundred phases of
love, passion, ambition, jealousy, revenge, treachery, and cruelty, and
each distinct from the others of its kind; but lest any character should
degenerate into an allegorical representation of a single virtue or vice,
he has provided it with the other lineaments necessary to produce in it a
rare human identity.

The stock company of most writers is limited, and does arduous duty in
each new play or romance; so that we detect in the comic actor, who is now
convulsing the pit with laughter, the same person who a little while ago
died heroically to slow music in the tragedy. Each character in Shakspeare
plays but one part, and plays it skilfully and well. And who has portrayed
the character of woman like Shakspeare?--the grand sorrow of the
repudiated Catharine, the incorruptible chastity of Isabella, the
cleverness of Portia, the loves of Jessica and of Juliet, the innocent
curiosity of Miranda, the broken heart and crazed brain of the fair

In this connection also should be noticed his powers of grouping and
composition; which, in the words of one of his biographers, "present to us
pictures from the realms of spirits and from fairyland, which in deep
reflection and in useful maxims, yield nothing to the pages of the
philosophers, and which glow with all the poetic beauty that an
exhaustless fancy could shower upon them."

IMAGINATION AND FANCY.--And this brings us to notice, in the third place,
his rare gifts of imagination and of fancy; those instruments of the
representative faculty by which objects of sense and of mind are held up
to view in new, varied, and vivid lights. Many of his tragedies abound in
imaginative pictures, while there are not in the realm of Fancy's fairy
frostwork more exquisite representations than those found in the _Tempest_
and the _Midsummer Night's Dream_.

POWER OF EXPRESSION.--Fourth, Shakspeare is remarkable for the power and
felicity of his expression. He adapts his language to the persons who use
it, and thus we pass from the pompous grandiloquence of king and herald to
the common English and coarse conceits of clown and nurse and
grave-digger; from the bombastic speech of Glendower and the rhapsodies of
Hotspur to the slang and jests of Falstaff.

But something more is meant by felicity of expression than this. It
applies to the apt words which present pithy bits of household philosophy,
and to the beautiful words which convey the higher sentiments and flights
of fancy; to the simple words couching grand thoughts with such exquisite
aptness that they seem made for each other, so that no other words would
do as well, and to the dainty songs, like those of birds, which fill his
forests and gardens with melody. Thus it is that orators and essayists
give dignity and point to their own periods by quoting Shakspeare.

Such are a few of Shakspeare's high merits, which constitute him the
greatest poet who has ever used the English tongue--poet, moralist, and
philosopher in one.

HIS FAULTS.--If it be necessary to point out his faults, it should be
observed that most of them are those of the age and of his profession. To
both may be charged the vulgarity and lewdness of some of his
representations; which, however, err in this respect far less than the
writings of his contemporaries.

Again: in the short time allowed for the presentation of a play, before a
restless audience, as soon as the plot was fairly shadowed, the hearers
were anxious for the _dénouement_. And so Shakspeare, careless of future
fame, frequently displays a singular disparity between the parts. He has
so much of detail in the first two acts, that in order to preserve the
symmetry, five or six more would be necessary. Thus conclusions are
hurried, when, as works of art, they should be the most elaborated.

He has sometimes been accused of obscurity in expression, which renders
some of his passages difficult to be understood by commentators; but this,
in most cases, is the fault of his editors. The cases are exceptional and
unimportant. His anachronisms and historical inaccuracies have already
been referred to. His greatest admirers will allow that his wit and humor
are very often forced and frequently out of place; but here, too, he
should be leniently judged. These sallies of wit were meant rather to
"tickle the ears of the groundlings" than as just subjects for criticism
by later scholars. We know that old jokes, bad puns, and innuendoes are
needed on the stage at the present day. Shakspeare used them for the same
ephemeral purpose then; and had he sent down corrected versions to
posterity, they would have been purged of these.

INFLUENCE OF ELIZABETH.--Enough has been said to show in what manner
Shakspeare represents his age, and indeed many former periods of English
history. There are numerous passages which display the influence of
Elizabeth. It was at her request that he wrote the _Merry Wives of
Windsor_, in which Falstaff is depicted as a lover: the play of Henry
VIII., criticizing the queen's father, was not produced until after her
death. His pure women, like those of Spenser, are drawn after a queenly
model. It is known that Elizabeth was very susceptible to admiration, but
did not wish to be considered so; and Shakspeare paid the most delicate
and courtly tribute to her vanity, in those exquisite lines from the
_Midsummer Night's Dream_, showing how powerless Cupid was to touch her

            A certain aim he took
    At a fair vestal, throned by the west;
    And loos'd his love-shaft smartly from his bow,
    As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts:
    But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft
    Quench'd in the chaste beams of the wat'ry moon;
    And _the imperial votaress passed on_,
    In maiden meditation, fancy free.

SHAKSPEARE'S SONNETS.--Before his time, the sonnet had been but little
used in England, the principal writers being Surrey, Sir Walter Raleigh,
Sidney, Daniel, and Drayton. Shakspeare left one hundred and fifty-four,
which exhibit rare poetical power, and which are most of them addressed to
a person unknown, perhaps an ideal personage, whose initials are W. H.
Although chiefly addressed to a man, they are of an amatory nature, and
dwell strongly upon human frailty, infidelity, and treachery, from which
he seems to have suffered: the mystery of these poems has never been
penetrated. They were printed in 1609. "Our language," says one of his
editors, "can boast no sonnets altogether worthy of being placed by the
side of Shakspeare's, except the few which Milton poured forth--so severe
and so majestic."

It need hardly be said that Shakspeare has been translated into all modern
languages, in whole or in part. In French, by Victor Hugo and Guizot, Leon
de Wailly and Alfred de Vigny; in German, by Wieland, A. W. Schlegel, and
Bürger; in Italian, by Leoni and Carcano, and in Portuguese by La Silva.
Goethe's Apprenticeship of Wilhelm Meister is a long and profound critique
of Hamlet; and to the Germans he is quite as familiar and intelligible as
to the English.

IRELAND: COLLIER.--The most celebrated forgery of Shakspeare was that by
Samuel Ireland, the son of a Shakspearean scholar, who was an engraver and
dealer in curiosities. He wrote two plays, called _Vortigern_ and _Henry
the Second_, which he said he had discovered; and he forged a deed with
Shakspeare's autograph. By these he imposed upon his father and many
others, but eventually confessed the forgery.

One word should be said concerning the Collier controversy. John Payne
Collier was a lawyer, born in 1789, and is known as the author of an
excellent history of _English Dramatic Poetry to the Time of Shakspeare_
and _Annals of the Stage to the Restoration_. In the year 1849, he came
into possession of a copy of the folio edition of Shakspeare, published in
1632, _full of emendations_, by an early owner of the volume. In 1852 he
published these, and at once great enthusiasm was excited, for and against
the emendations: many thought them of great value, while others even went
so far as to accuse Mr. Collier of having made some of them himself. The
chief value of the work was that it led to new investigations, and has
thus thrown additional light upon the works of Shakspeare.

CONCORDANCE.--The student is referred to a very complete concordance of
Shakspeare, by Mrs. Mary Cowden Clarke, the labor of many years, by which
every line of Shakspeare may be found, and which is thus of incalculable
utility to the Shakspearean scholar.


Ben Jonson, 1573-1637: this great dramatist, who deserves a larger space,
was born in London; his father became a Puritan preacher, but after his
death, his mother's second husband put the boy at brick-making. His spirit
revolted at this, and he ran away, and served as a soldier in the Low
Countries. On his return he killed Gabriel Spencer, a fellow-actor, in a
duel, and was for some time imprisoned. His first play was a comedy
entitled _Every Man in his Humour_, acted in 1598. This was succeeded,
the next year, by _Every Man out of his Humour_. He wrote a great number
of both tragedies and comedies, among which the principal are _Cynthia's
Revels_, _Sejanus_, _Volpone_, _Catiline's Conspiracy_, and _The
Alchemist_. In 1616, he received a pension from the crown of one hundred
marks, which was increased by Charles I., in 1630, to one hundred pounds.
He was the friend of Shakspeare, and had many wit-encounters with him. In
these, Fuller compares Jonson to a great Spanish galleon, "built far
higher in learning, solid and slow in performance," and Shakspeare to an
"English man-of-war, lesser in bulk, but lighter in sailing, could turn
with all tides, tack about and take advantage of all winds, by the
quickness of his wit and invention."

Massinger, 1548-1640: born at Salisbury. Is said to have written
thirty-eight plays, of which only eighteen remain. The chief of these is
the _Virgin Martyr_, in which he was assisted by Dekker. The best of the
others are _The City Madam_ and _A New Way to Pay Old Debts_, _The Fatal
Dowry_, _The Unnatural Combat_, and _The Duke of Milan_. _A New Way to Pay
Old Debts_ keeps its place upon the modern stage.

John Ford, born 1586: author of _The Lover's Melancholy_, _Love's
Sacrifice_, _Perkin Warbeck_, and _The Broken Heart_. He was a pathetic
delineator of love, especially of unhappy love. Some of his plots are
unnatural, and abhorrent to a refined taste.

Webster (dates unknown): this author is remarkable for his handling of
gloomy and terrible subjects. His best plays are _The Devil's Law Case_,
_Appius and Virginia_, _The Duchess of Malfy_, and _The White Devil_.
Hazlitt says "his _White Devil_ and _Duchess of Malfy_ come the nearest to
Shakspeare of anything we have upon record."

Francis Beaumont, 1586-1615, and John Fletcher, 1576-1625: joint authors
of plays, numbering fifty-two. A prolific union, in which it is difficult
to determine the exact authorship of each. Among the best plays are _The
Maid's Tragedy_, _Philaster_, and _Cupid's Revenge_. Many of the plots are
licentious, but in monologues they frequently rise to eloquence, and in
descriptions are picturesque and graphic.

Shirley, 1594-1666: delineates fashionable life with success. His best
plays are _The Maid's Revenge_, _The Politician_, and _The Lady of
Pleasure_. The last suggested to Van Brugh his character of Lady Townly,
in _The Provoked Husband_. Lamb says Shirley "was the last of a great
race, all of whom spoke the same language, and had a set of moral feelings
and notions in common. A new language and quite a new turn of tragic and
comic interest came in at the Restoration."

Thomas Dekker, died about 1638: wrote, besides numerous tracts,
twenty-eight plays. The principal are _Old Fortunatus_, _The Honest
Whore_, and _Satiro-Mastix, or, The Humorous Poet Untrussed_. In the last,
he satirized Ben Jonson, with whom he had quarrelled, and who had
ridiculed him in _The Poetaster_. In the Honest Whore are found those
beautiful lines so often quoted:

                            ... the best of men
    That e'er wore earth about him was a sufferer;
    A soft, meek, patient, humble, tranquil spirit;
    The first true gentleman that ever breathed.

Extracts from the plays mentioned may be found in Charles Lamb's
"Specimens of English Dramatic Poets who lived about the time of



   Birth and Early Life. Treatment of Essex. His Appointments. His Fall.
   Writes Philosophy. Magna Instauratio. His Defects. His Fame. His


Contemporary with Shakspeare, and almost equal to him in English fame at
least, is Francis Bacon, the founder of the system of experimental
philosophy in the Elizabethan age. The investigations of the one in the
philosophy of human life, were emulated by those of the other in the realm
of general nature, in order to find laws to govern further progress, and
to evolve order and harmony out of chaos.

Bacon was born in London, on the 22d of January, 1560-61, to an enviable
social lot. His father, Sir Nicholas Bacon, was for twenty years lord
keeper of the great seal, and was eulogized by George Buchanan as "Diu
Britannici regni secundum columen." His mother was Anne Cook, a person of
remarkable acquirements in language and theology. Francis Bacon was a
delicate, attractive, and precocious child, noticed by the great, and
kindly called by the queen "her little lord keeper." Ben Jonson refers to
this when he writes, at a later day:

    England's high chancellor, the destined heir
    In his soft cradle to his father's chair.

Thus, in his early childhood, he became accustomed to the forms and
grandeur of political power, and the modes by which it was to be striven

In his thirteenth year he was entered at Trinity College, Cambridge, then,
as now, the more mathematical and scientific of the two universities. But,
like Gibbon at Oxford, he thought little of his alma mater, under whose
care he remained only three years. It is said that at an early age he
disliked the Logic of Aristotle, and began to excogitate his system of
Induction: not content with the formal recorded knowledge, he viewed the
universe as a great storehouse of facts to be educed, investigated, and
philosophically classified.

After leaving the university, he went in the suite of Sir Amyas Paulet,
the English ambassador, to France; and recorded the observations made
during his travels in a treatise _On the State of Europe_, which is
thoughtful beyond his years. The sudden death of his father, in February,
1579-80, recalled him to England, and his desire to study led him to apply
to the government for a sinecure, which would permit him to do so without
concern as to his support. It is not strange--considering his youth and
the entire ignorance of the government as to his abilities--that this was
refused. He then applied himself to the study of the law; and whatever his
real ability, the jealousy of the Cecils no doubt prompted the opinion of
the queen, that he was not very profound in the branch he had chosen, an
opinion which was fully shared by the blunt and outspoken Lord Coke, who
was his rival in love, law, and preferment. Prompted no doubt by the
coldness of Burleigh, he joined the opposition headed by the Earl of
Essex, and he found in that nobleman a powerful friend and generous
patron, who used his utmost endeavors to have Bacon appointed
attorney-general, but without success. To compensate Bacon for his
failure, Essex presented him with a beautiful villa at Twickenham on the
Thames, which was worth £2,000.

TREATMENT OF ESSEX.--Essex was of a bold, eccentric, and violent temper.
It is not to the credit of Bacon that when Essex, through his rashness and
eccentricities, found himself arraigned for treason, Bacon deserted him,
and did not simply stand aloof, but was the chief agent in his
prosecution. Nor is this all: after making a vehement and effective speech
against him, as counsel for the prosecution--a speech which led to his
conviction and execution--Bacon wrote an uncalled-for and malignant paper,
entitled "A Declaration of the Treasons of Robert, Earl of Essex."

A high-minded man would have aided his friend; a cautious man would have
remained neutral; but Bacon was extravagant, fond of show, eager for
money, and in debt: he sought only to push his own fortunes, without
regard to justice or gratitude, and he saw that he had everything to gain
from his servility to the queen, and nothing from standing by his friend.
Even those who thought Essex justly punished, regarded Bacon with aversion
and contempt, and impartial history has not reversed their opinion.

HIS APPOINTMENTS.--He strove for place, and he obtained it. In 1590 he was
appointed counsel extraordinary to the queen: such was his first reward
for this conduct, and such his first lesson in the school where thrift
followed fawning. In 1593 he was brought into parliament for Middlesex,
and there he charmed all hearers by his eloquence, which has received the
special eulogy of Ben Jonson. In his parliamentary career is found a
second instance of his truckling to power: in a speech touching the rights
of the crown, he offended the queen and her ministers; and as soon as he
found they resented it, he made a servile and unqualified apology.

At this time he began to write his _Essays_, which will be referred to
hereafter, and published two treatises, one on _The Common Law_, and one
on _The Alienation Office_.

In 1603 he was, by his own seeking, among the crowd of gentlemen knighted
by James I. on his accession; and in 1604 he added fortune to his new
dignity by marrying Alice Barnham, "a handsome maiden," the daughter of a
London alderman. He had before addressed the dowager Lady Hatton, who had
refused him and bestowed her hand upon his rival, Coke.

In 1613 he attained to the long-desired dignity of attorney-general, a
post which he filled with power and energy, but which he disgraced by the
torture of Peacham, an old clergyman, who was charged with having written
treason in a sermon which he never preached nor published. As nothing
could be extorted from him by the rack, Bacon informed the king that
Peacham "had a dumb devil." It should be some palliation of this deed,
however, that the government was quick and sharp in ferretting out
treason, and that torture was still authorized.

In 1616 he was sworn of the privy council, and in the next year inherited
his father's honors, being made lord keeper of the seal, principally
through the favor of the favorite Buckingham. His course was still upward:
in 1618 he was made lord high chancellor, and Baron Verulam, and the next
year he was created Viscount St. Albans. Such rapid and high promotion
marked his great powers, but it belonged to the period of despotism. James
had been ruling without a parliament. At length the necessities of the
government caused the king to summon a parliament, and the struggle began
which was to have a fatal issue twenty-five years later. Parliament met,
began to assert popular rights, and to examine into the conduct of
ministers and high officials; and among those who could ill bear such
scrutiny, Bacon was prominent.

HIS FALL.--The charges against him were varied and numerous, and easy of
proof. He had received bribes; he had given false judgments for money; he
had perverted justice to secure the smiles of Buckingham, the favorite;
and when a commission was appointed to examine these charges he was
convicted. With abject humility, he acknowledged his guilt, and implored
the pity of his judges. The annals of biography present no sorrier picture
than this. "Upon advised consideration of the charges," he wrote,
"descending into my own conscience, and calling my memory to account so
far as I am able, I do plainly and ingenuously confess that I am guilty of
corruption, and do renounce all defence. O my lords, spare a broken reed!"

It is useless for his defenders, among whom the chief are Mr. Basil
Montagu and Mr. Hepworth Dixon, to inform us that judges in that day were
ill paid, and that it was the custom to receive gifts. If Bacon had a
defence to make and did not make it, he was a coward or a sycophant: if
what he said is true, he was a dishonest man, an unjust judge. He was
sentenced to pay a fine of £40,000, and to be imprisoned in the Tower at
the king's pleasure; the fine was remitted, and the imprisonment lasted
but two days, a result, no doubt foreseen, of his wretched confession.
This was the end of his public career. In retirement, with a pension of
£1,200, making, with his other means, an annual income of £2,500, this
"meanest of mankind" set himself busily to work to prove to the world that
he could also be the "wisest and brightest;"[33] a duality of fame
approached by others, but never equalled. He was, in fact, two men in one:
a dishonest, truckling politician, and a large-minded and truth-seeking

BEGINS HIS PHILOSOPHY.--Retired in disgrace from his places at court, the
rest of his life was spent in developing his _Instauratio Magna_, that
revolution in the very principles and institutes of science--that
philosophy which, in the words of Macaulay, "began in observations, and
ended in arts." A few words will suffice to close his personal history.
While riding in his coach, he was struck with the idea that snow would
arrest animal putrefaction. He alighted, bought a fowl, and stuffed it
with snow, with his own hands. He caught cold, stopped at the Earl of
Arundel's mansion, and slept in damp sheets; fever intervened, and on
Easter Day, 1626, he died, leaving his great work unfinished, but in such
condition that the plan has been sketched for the use of the philosophers
who came after him.

He is said to have made the first sketch of the _Instauratio_ when he was
twenty-six years old, but it was much modified in later years. He fondly
called it also _Temporis Partus Maximus_, the greatest birth of Time.
After that he wrote his _Advancement of Learning in 1605_, which was to
appear in his developed scheme, under the title _De Augmentis
Scientiarum_, written in 1623. His work advanced with and was modified by
his investigations.

In 1620 he wrote the _Novum Organum_, which, when it first appeared,
called forth from James I. the profane _bon mot_ that it was like the
peace of God, "because it passeth all understanding." Thus he was
preparing the component parts, and fitting them into his system, which has
at length become quite intelligible. A clear notion of what he proposed to
himself and what he accomplished, may be found in the subjoined meagre
sketch, only designed to indicate the outline of that system, which it
will require long and patient study to master thoroughly.

THE GREAT RESTORATION, (MAGNA INSTAURATIO.)--He divided it into six parts,
bearing a logical relation to each other, and arranged in the proper order
of study.

I. Survey and extension of the sciences, (_De Augmentis Scientiarum_.)
"Gives the substance or general description of the knowledge which mankind
_at present possesses_." That is, let it be observed, not according to the
received system and divisions, but according to his own. It is a new
presentation of the existent state of knowledge, comprehending "not only
the things already invented and known, but also those omitted and wanted,"
for he says the intellectual globe, as well as the terrestrial, has its
broils and deceits.

In the branch "_De Partitione Scientiarum_," he divides all human learning
into _History_, which uses the memory; _Poetry_, which employs the
imagination; and _Philosophy_, which requires the reason: divisions too
vague and too few, and so overlapping each other as to be of little
present use. Later classifications into numerous divisions have been
necessary to the progress of scientific research.

II. Precepts for the interpretation of nature, (_Novum Organum_.) This
sets forth "the doctrine of a more perfect use of the reason, and the true
helps of the intellectual faculties, so as to raise and enlarge the powers
of the mind." "A kind of logic, by us called," he says, "the art of
interpreting nature: differing from the common logic ... in three things,
the end, the order of demonstrating, and the grounds of inquiry."

Here he discusses induction; opposes the syllogism; shows the value and
the faults of the senses--as they fail us, or deceive us--and presents in
his _idola_ the various modes and forms of deception. These _idola_, which
he calls the deepest fallacies of the human mind, are divided into four
classes: Idola Tribus, Idola Specus, Idola Fori, Idola Theatri. The first
are the errors belonging to the whole human race, or _tribe_; the
second--_of the den_--are the peculiarities of individuals; the third--_of
the market-place_--are social and conventional errors; and the
fourth--_those of the theatre_--include Partisanship, Fashion, and

III. Phenomena of the Universe, or Natural and Experimental History, on
which to found Philosophy, (_Sylva Sylvarum_.) "Our natural history is
not designed," he says, "so much to please by vanity, or benefit by
gainful experiments, as to afford light to the discovery of causes, and
hold out the breasts of philosophy." This includes his patient search for
facts--nature _free_, as in the history of plants, minerals, animals,
etc.--nature _put to the torture_, as in the productions of art and human

IV. Ladder of the Understanding, (_Scala Intellectûs_.) "Not illustrations
of rules and precepts, but perfect models, which will exemplify the second
part of this work, and represent to the eye the whole progress of the
mind, and the continued structure and order of invention, in the most
chosen subjects, after the same manner as globes and machines facilitate
the more abstruse and subtle demonstrations in mathematics."

V. Precursors or anticipations of the second philosophy, (_Prodromi sive
anticipationes philosophiæ secundæ_.) "These will consist of such things
as we have invented, experienced, or added by the same common use of the
understanding that others employ"--a sort of scaffolding, only of use till
the rest are finished--a set of suggestive helps to the attainment of this
second philosophy, which is the goal and completion of his system.

VI. Second Philosophy, or Active Science, (_Philosophia Secunda_.) "To
this all the rest are subservient--_to lay down that philosophy_ which
shall flow from the just, pure, and strict inquiry hitherto proposed." "To
perfect this is beyond both our abilities and our hopes; yet we shall lay
the foundations of it, and recommend the superstructure to posterity."

An examination of this scheme will show a logical procession from the
existing knowledge, and from existing defects, by right rules of reason,
and the avoidance of deceptions, with a just scale of perfected models, to
the _second philosophy_, or science in useful practical action, diffusing
light and comfort throughout the world.

In a philosophic instead of a literary work, these heads would require
great expansion in order adequately to illustrate the scheme in its six
parts. This, however, would be entirely out of our province, which is to
present a brief outline of the works of a man who occupies a prominent
place in the intellectual realm of England, as a profound philosopher, and
as a writer of English prose; only as one might introduce a great man in a
crowd: those who wish to know the extent and character of his greatness
must study his works.

They were most of them written in Latin, but they have been ably
translated and annotated, and are within the ready reach and comprehension
of students. The best edition in English, is that by Spedding, Ellis, and
Heath, which has been republished in America.

BACON'S DEFECTS.--Further than this tabular outline, neither our space nor
the scope of our work will warrant us in going; but it is important to
consider briefly the elements of Bacon's remarkable fame. His system and
his knowledge are superseded entirely. Those who have studied physics and
chemistry at the present day, know a thousand-fold more than Bacon could;
for such knowledge did not exist in his day. But he was one of those--and
the chief one--who, in that age of what is called the childhood of
experimental philosophy, helped to clear away the mists of error, and
prepare for the present sunshine of truth. "I have been laboring," says
some writer, (quoted by Bishop Whately, Pref. to Essay XIV.,) "to render
myself useless." Such was Bacon's task, and such the task of the greatest
inventors, discoverers, and benefactors of the human race.

Nor did Bacon rank high even as a natural philosopher or physicist in his
own age: he seems to have refused credence to the discoveries of
Copernicus and Galileo, which had stirred the scientific world into great
activity before his day; and his investigations in botany and vegetable
physiology are crude and full of errors.

His mind, eminently philosophic, searched for facts only to establish
principles and discover laws; and he was often impatient or obstinate in
this search, feeling that it trammelled him in his haste to reach

In the consideration of the reason, he unduly despised the _Organon_ of
Aristotle, which, after much indignity and misapprehension, still remains
to elucidate the universal principle of reasoning, and published his new
organon--_Novum Organum_--as a sort of substitute for it: Induction
unjustly opposed to the Syllogism. In what, then, consists that wonderful
excellence, that master-power which has made his name illustrious?

HIS FAME.--I. He labored earnestly to introduce, in the place of fanciful
and conjectural systems--careful, patient investigation: the principle of
the procurement of well-known facts, in order that, by severe induction,
philosophy might attain to general laws, and to a classification of the
sciences. The fault of the ages before him had been hasty, careless, often
neglected observation, inaccurate analysis, the want of patient successive
experiment. His great motto was experiment, and again and again
experiment; and the excellent maxims which he laid down for the proper
conduct of experimental philosophy have outlived his own facts and system
and peculiar beliefs. Thus he has fitly been compared to Moses. He led
men, marshalled in strong array, to the vantage ground from which he
showed them the land of promise, and the way to enter it; while he
himself, after all his labors, was not permitted to enjoy it. Such men
deserve the highest fame; and thus the most practical philosophers of
to-day revere the memory of him who showed them from the mountain-top,
albeit in dim vision, the land which they now occupy.

II. Again, Bacon is the most notable example among natural philosophers of
a man who worked for science and truth alone, with a singleness of purpose
and entire unconcern as to immediate and selfish rewards. Bacon the
philosopher was in the strongest contrast to Bacon the politician. He
left, he said, his labors to posterity; his name and memory to foreign
nations, and "to (his) own country, after some time is past over." His own
time could neither appreciate nor reward them. Here is an element of
greatness worthy of all imitation: he who works for popular applause, may
have his reward, but it is fleeting and unsatisfying; he who works for
truth alone, has a grand inner consequence while he works, and his name
will be honored, if for nothing else, for this loyalty to truth. After
what has been said of his servility and dishonesty, it is pleasing to
contemplate this unsullied side of his escutcheon, and to give a better
significance to the motto on his monument--_Sic sedebat_.

HIS ESSAYS.--Bacon's _Essays_, or _Counsels Civil and Moral_, are as
intelligible to the common mind as his philosophy is dry and difficult.
They are short, pithy, sententious, telling us plain truths in simple
language: he had been writing them through several years. He dedicated
them, under the title of _Essays_, to Henry, Prince of Wales, the eldest
son of King James I., a prince of rare gifts, and worthy such a
dedication, who unfortunately died in 1612. They show him to be the
greatest master of English prose in his day, and to have had a deep
insight into human nature.

Bacon is said to have been the first person who applied the word _essay_
in English to such writings: it meant, as the French word shows, a little
trial-sketch, a suggestion, a few loose thoughts--a brief of something to
be filled in by the reader. Now it means something far more--a long
composition, dissertation, disquisition. The subjects of the essays, which
number sixty-eight, are such as are of universal interest--fame, studies,
atheism, beauty, ambition, death, empire, sedition, honor, adversity, and

The Essays have been ably edited and annotated by Archbishop Whately, and
his work has been republished in America.



   Early Versions. The Septuagint. The Vulgate. Wiclif; Tyndale.
   Coverdale; Cranmer. Geneva; Bishop's Bible. King James's Bible.
   Language of the Bible. Revision.


When we consider the very extended circulation of the English Bible in the
version made by direction of James I., we are warranted in saying that no
work in the language, viewed simply as a literary production, has had a
more powerful historic influence over the world of English-speaking

Properly to understand its value as a version of the inspired writings, it
is necessary to go back to the original history, and discover through what
precedent forms they have come into English.

All the canonical books of the Old Testament were written in Hebrew. The
apocryphal books were produced either in a corrupted dialect, or in Greek.

THE SEPTUAGINT.--Limiting our inquiry to the canonical books, and
rejecting all fanciful traditions, it is known that about 286 or 285 B.C.,
Ptolemy Philadelphus, King of Egypt, probably at the instance of his
librarian, Demetrius Phalereus, caused seventy-two Jews, equally learned
in Hebrew and in Greek, to be brought to Alexandria, to prepare a Greek
version of the Hebrew Scriptures. This was for the use of the Alexandrian
Jews. The version was called the Septuagint, or translation of the
seventy. The various portions of the translation are of unequal merit,
the rendering of the Pentateuch being the best; but the completed work was
of great value, not only to the Jews dispersed in the countries where
Greek had been adopted as the national language, but it opened the way for
the coming of Christianity: the study of its prophecies prepared the minds
of men for the great Advent, and the version was used by the earlier
Christians as the historic ground of their faith.

The books of the New Testament were written in Greek, with the probable
exception of St. Matthew's Gospel, which, if written in Hebrew, or
Aramæan, was immediately translated into Greek.

Contemporary with the origin of Christianity, and the vast extension of
the Roman Empire, the Latin had become the all-absorbing tongue; and, as
might be expected, numerous versions of the whole and of parts of the
Scriptures were made in that language, and one of these complete versions,
which grew in favor, almost superseding all others, was called the _Vetus

THE VULGATE.--St. Jerome, a doctor of the Latin Church in the latter part
of the fourth century, undertook, with the sanction of Damasus, the Bishop
of Rome, a new Latin version upon the basis of the _Vetus Itala_, bringing
it nearer to the Septuagint in the Old Testament, and to the original
Greek of the New.

This version of Jerome, corrected from time to time, was approved by
Gregory I., (the Great,) and, since the seventh century, has been used by
the Western Church, under the name of the _Vulgate_, (from _vulgatus_--for
general or common use.) The Council of Trent, in the sixteenth century,
declared it alone to be authentic.

Throughout Western Europe this was used, and made the basis of further
translations into the national languages. It was from the Vulgate that
Aldhelm made his Anglo-Saxon version of the Psalter in 706; Bede, his
entire Saxon Bible in the same period; Alfred, his portion of the Psalms;
and other writers, fragmentary translations.

As soon as the newly formed English language was strong enough, partial
versions were attempted in it: one by an unknown hand, as early as 1290;
and one by John de Trevisa, about one hundred years later.

WICLIF: TYNDALE.--Wiclif's Bible was translated from the Latin Vulgate,
and issued about 1378. If it be asked why he did not go to the original
sources, and thus avoid the errors of successive renderings, the answer is
plain: he was not sufficiently acquainted with Hebrew and Greek to
translate from them. Wiclif's translation was eagerly sought, and was
multiplied by the hands of skilful scribes. Its popularity was very great,
as is attested by the fact that when, in the House of Lords, in the year
1390, a bill was offered to suppress it, the measure signally failed. The
first copy of Wiclif's Bible was not printed until the year 1731.

About a century after Wiclif, the Greek language and the study of Greek
literature came into England, and were of great effect in making the
forthcoming translations more accurate.

First among these new translators was William Tyndale, who was born about
the year 1477. He was educated at Oxford and Cambridge, and left England
for fear of persecution. He translated the Scriptures from the Greek, and
printed the volume at Antwerp--the first printed translation of the
Scriptures in English--in the year 1526. This work was largely circulated
in England. It was very good for a first translation, and the language is
very nearly that of King James's Bible. It met the fury of the Church, all
the copies which could be found being burned by Tonstall, Bishop of
London, at St. Paul's Cross. When Sir Thomas More asked how Tyndale
subsisted abroad, he was pithily answered that Tyndale was supported by
the Bishop of London, who sent over money to buy up his books. To the
fame of being a translator of the Scriptures, Tyndale adds that of
martyrdom. He was seized, at the instance of Henry VIII., in Antwerp, and
condemned to death by the Emperor of Germany. He was strangled in the year
1536, at Villefort, near Brussels, praying, just before his death, that
the Lord would open the King of England's eyes.

The Old Testament portion of Tyndale's Bible is principally from the
Septuagint, and has many corruptions and errors, which have been corrected
by more modern translators.

MILES COVERDALE: CRANMER'S BIBLE.--In 1535, Miles Coverdale, a co-laborer
of Tyndale, published "Biblia; The Bible, that is, the Holy Scriptures of
the Olde and New Testament, faithfully and truly translated out of the
Douche and Latyn into Englishe: Zurich." In the next year, 1536, Coverdale
issued another edition, which was dedicated to Henry VIII., who ordered a
copy to be placed in every parish church in England. This translation is
in part that of Tyndale, and is based upon it. Another edition of this
appeared in 1537, and was called Matthew's Bible, probably a pseudonym of
Coverdale. Of this, from the beginning to the end of Chronicles is
Tyndale's version. The rest of the Old Testament is Coverdale's
translation. The entire New Testament is Tyndale's. This was published by
royal license. Strange mutation! The same king who had caused Tyndale to
be strangled for publishing the English Scriptures at Antwerp, was now
spreading Tyndale's work throughout the parishes of England. Coverdale
published many editions, among which the most noted was Cranmer's Bible,
issued in 1539, so called because Cranmer wrote a preface to it. Coverdale
led an eventful life, being sometimes in exile and prisoner, and at others
in high favor. He was Bishop of Exeter, from which see he was ejected by
Mary, in 1553. He died in 1568, at the age of eighty-one.

THE GENEVAN: BISHOPS' BIBLE.--In the year 1557 he had aided those who were
driven away by Mary, in publishing a version of the Bible at Geneva. It
was much read in England, and is known as the Genevan Bible. The Great
Bible was an edition of Coverdale issued in 1562. The Bishops' Bible was
so called because, at the instance of Archbishop Parker, it was translated
by a royal commission, of whom eight were bishops. And in 1571, a canon
was passed at Canterbury, requiring a large copy of this work to be in
every parish church, and in the possession of every bishop and dignitary
among the clergy. Thus far every new edition and issue had been an
improvement on what had gone before, and all tended to the production of a
still more perfect and permanent translation. It should be mentioned that
Luther, in Germany, after ten years of labor, from 1522 to 1532, had
produced, unaided, his wonderful German version. This had helped the cause
of translations everywhere.

KING JAMES'S BIBLE.--At length, in 1603, just after the accession of James
I., a conference was held at Hampton Court, which, among other tasks,
undertook to consider what objections could be made to the Bishops' Bible.
The result was that the king ordered a new version which should supersede
all others. The number of eminent and learned divines appointed to make
the translation was fifty-four; seven of these were prevented by
disability of one kind or another. The remaining forty-seven were divided
into six classes, and the labor was thus apportioned: ten, who sat at
Westminster, translated from Genesis through Kings; eight, at Cambridge,
undertook the other historical books and the Hagiographa, including the
Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Ruth, Esther, and a few
other books; seven at Oxford, the four greater Prophets, the Lamentations
of Jeremiah, and the twelve minor Prophets; eight, also at Oxford, the
four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Revelation of St. John;
seven more at Westminster, the Epistles of St. Paul, and the remaining
canonical books; and five more at Cambridge, the Apocryphal books. The
following was the mode of translation: Each individual in one of the
classes translated himself every book confided to that class; each class
then met and compared these translations, and thus completed their task.
The work thus done was sent by each class to all the other classes; after
this, all the classes met together, and while one read the others
criticized. The translation was commenced in the year 1607, and was
finished in three years. The first public issue was in 1611, when the book
was dedicated to King James, and has since been known as King James's
Bible. It was adopted not only in the English Church, but by all the
English people, so that the other versions have fallen into entire disuse,
with the exception of the Psalms, which, according to the translation of
Cranmer's Bible, were placed in the Book of Common Prayer, where they have
since remained, constituting the Psalter. It should be observed that the
Psalter, which is taken principally from the Vulgate, is not so near the
original as the Psalms in King James's version: the language is, however,
more musical and better suited to chanting in the church service.

THE LANGUAGE OF THE BIBLE.--There have been numerous criticisms, favorable
and adverse, to the language of King James's Bible. It is said to have
been written in older English than that of its day, and Selden remarks
that "it is rather translated into English words than into English
phrase." The Hebraisms are kept, and the phraseology of that language is
retained. This leads to the opinion of Bishop Horsley, that the adherence
to the Hebrew idiom is supposed to have at once enriched and adorned our
language. Bishop Middleton says "the style is simple, it is harmonious, it
is energetic, and, which is of no small importance, use has made it
familiar, and time has rendered it sacred." That it has lasted two
hundred and fifty years without a rival, is the strongest testimony in
favor of its accuracy and the beauty of its diction. Philologically
considered, it has been of inestimable value as a strong rallying-point
for the language, keeping it from wild progress in any and every
direction. Many of our best words, which would otherwise have been lost,
have been kept in current use because they are in the Bible. The peculiar
language of the Bible expresses our most serious sentiments and our
deepest emotions. It is associated with our holiest thoughts, and gives
phraseology to our prayers. It is the language of heavenly things, but not
only so: it is interwreathed in our daily discourse, kept fresh by our
constant Christian services, and thus we are bound by ties of the same
speech to the devout men of King James's day.

REVISION.--There are some inaccuracies and flaws in the translation which
have been discerned by the superior excellence of modern learning. In the
question now mooted of a revision of the English Bible, the correction of
these should be the chief object. A version in the language of the present
day, in the course of time would be as archaic as the existing version is
now; and the private attempts which have been made, have shown us the
great danger of conflicting sectarian views.

In any event, it is to be hoped that those who authorize a new translation
will emulate the good sense and judgment of King James, by placing it in
the hands of the highest learning, most liberal scholarship, and most
devoted piety.



   Historical Facts. Charles I. Religious Extremes. Cromwell. Birth and
   Early Works. Views of Marriage. Other Prose Works. Effects of the
   Restoration. Estimate of his Prose.


It is Charles Lamb who says "Milton almost requires a solemn service to be
played before you enter upon him." Of Milton, the poet of _Paradise Lost_,
this is true; but for Milton the statesman the politician, and polemic,
this is neither necessary nor appropriate. John Milton and the
Commonwealth! Until the present age, Milton has been regarded almost
solely as a poet, and as the greatest imaginative poet England has
produced; but the translation and publication of his prose works have
identified him with the political history of England, and the discovery in
1823, of his _Treatise on Christian Doctrine_, has established him as one
of the greatest religious polemics in an age when every theological sect
was closely allied to a political party, and thus rendered the strife of
contending factions more bitter and relentless. Thus it is that the name
of John Milton, as an author, is fitly coupled with the commonwealth, as a
political condition.

It remains for us to show that in all his works he was the strongest
literary type of history in the age in which he lived. Great as he would
have been in any age, his greatness is mainly English and historical. In
his literary works may be traced every cardinal event in the history of
that period: he aided in the establishment of the Commonwealth, and of
that Commonwealth he was one of the principal characters. His pen was as
sharp and effective as the sabres of Cromwell's Ironsides.

A few words of preliminary history must introduce him to our reader. Upon
the death of Queen Elizabeth, in 1603, James I. ascended the throne with
the highest notions of kingly prerogative and of a church establishment;
but the progress of the English people in education and intelligence, the
advance in arts and letters which had been made, were vastly injurious to
the autocratic and aristocratic system which James had received from his
predecessor. His foolish arrogance and contempt for popular rights
incensed the people thus enlightened as to their own position and
importance. They soon began to feel that he was not only unjust, but
ungrateful: he had come from a rustic throne in Scotland, where he had
received £5,000 per annum, with occasional presents of fruits, grain, and
poultry, to the greatest throne in Europe; and, besides, the Stuart
family, according to Thackeray, "as regards mere lineage, were no better
than a dozen English and Scottish houses that could be named."

They resisted his illegal taxes and forced loans; they clamored against
the unconstitutional Court of High Commission; they despised his arrogant
favorites; and what they might have patiently borne from a gallant,
energetic, and handsome monarch, they found it hard to bear from a
pedantic, timid, uncouth, and rickety man, who gave them neither glory nor
comfort. His eldest son, Prince Henry, the universal favorite of the
nation, had died in 1612, before he was eighteen.

CHARLES I.--When, after a series of struggles with the parliament, which
he had reluctantly convened, James died in 1625, Charles I. came to an
inheritance of error and misfortune. Imbued with the principles of his
father, he, too, insisted upon "governing the people of England in the
seventeenth century as they had been governed in the sixteenth," while in
reality they had made a century of progress. The cloud increased in
blackness and portent; he dissolved the parliament, and ruled without one;
he imposed and collected illegal and doubtful taxes; he made forced loans,
as his father had done; he was artful, capricious, winding and doubling in
his policy; he made promises without intending to perform them; and found
himself, finally, at direct issue with his parliament and his people.
First at war with the political principles of the court, the nation soon
found itself in antagonism with the religion and morals of the court.
Before the final rupture, the two parties were well defined, as Cavaliers
and Roundheads: each party went to extremes, through the spite and fury of
mutual opposition. The Cavaliers affected a recklessness and dissoluteness
greater than they really felt to be right, in order to differ most widely
from those purists who, urged by analogous motives, decried all amusements
as evil. Each party repelled the other to the extreme of opposition.

RELIGIOUS EXTREMES.--Loyalty was opposed by radicalism, and the invectives
of both were bitter in the extreme. The system and ceremonial of a
gorgeous worship restored by Laud, and accused by its opposers of
formalism and idolatry, were attacked by a spirit of excess, which, to
religionize daily life, took the words of Scripture, and especially those
of the Old Testament, as the language of common intercourse, which issued
them from a gloomy countenance, with a nasal twang, and often with a false

As opposed to the genuflections of Laud and the pomp of his ritual, the
land swarmed with unauthorized preachers; then came out from among the
Presbyterians the Independents; the fifth-monarchy men, shouting for King
Jesus; the Seekers, the Antinomians, who, like Trusty Tomkins, were elect
by the fore-knowledge of God, who were not under the law but under grace,
and who might therefore gratify every lust, and give the rein to every
passion, because they were sealed to a certain salvation. Even in the army
sprang up the Levellers, who wished to abolish monarchy and aristocracy,
and to level all ranks to one. To each religious party, there was a
political character, ranging from High Church and the divine right of
kings, to absolute levellers in Church and State. This disintegrating
process threatened not only civil war, with well-defined parties, but
entire anarchy in the realm of England. It was long resisted by the
conservative men of all opinions. At length the issue came: the king was a
prisoner, without a shadow of power.

The parliament was still firm, and would have treated with the king by a
considerable majority; but Colonel Pride surrounded it with two regiments,
excluded more than two hundred of the Presbyterians and moderate men; and
the parliament, thus _purged_, appointed the High Court of Justice to try
the king for treason.

Charles I. fell before the storm. His was a losing cause from the day he
erected his standard at Nottingham, in 1642, to that on which, after his
noble bearing on the scaffold, the masked executioner held up his head and
cried out, "This is the head of a traitor."

With a fearful consistency the Commons voted soon after to abolish
monarchy and the upper house, and on their new seal inscribed, "On the
first year of freedom by God's blessing restored, 1648." The dispassionate
historian of the present day must condemn both parties; and yet, out of
this fierce travail of the nation, English constitutional liberty was

CROMWELL.--The power which the parliament, under the dictation of the
army, had so furiously wielded, passed into the hands of Cromwell, a
mighty man, warrior, statesman, and fanatic, who mastered the crew, seized
the helm, and guided the ship of State as she drove furiously before the
wind. He became lord protector, a king in everything but the name. We
need not enter into an analysis of these parties: the history is better
known than any other part of the English annals, and almost every reader
becomes a partisan. Cromwell, the greatest man of his age, was still a
creature of the age, and was led by the violence of circumstances to do
many things questionable and even wicked, but with little premeditation:
like Rienzi and Napoleon, his sudden elevation fostered an ambition which
robbed him of the stern purpose and pure motives of his earlier career.

The establishment of the commonwealth seemed at first to assure the
people's liberty; but it was only in seeming, and as the sequel shows,
they liked the rule of the lord protector less than that of the
unfortunate king; for, ten years after the beheading of Charles I., they
restored the monarchy in the person of his son, Charles.

Such, very briefly and in mere outline, was the political situation. And
now to return to Milton: It is claimed that of all the elements of these
troublous times, he was the literary type, and this may be demonstrated--

   I. By observing his personal characteristics and political

   II. By the study of his prose works; and

   III. By analyzing his poems.

BIRTH AND EARLY WORKS.--John Milton was born on the 9th of December, 1608,
in London. His grandfather, John Mylton, was a Papist, who disinherited
his son, the poet's father, for becoming a Church-of-England man. His
mother was a gentlewoman. Milton was born just in time to grow up with the
civil troubles. When the outburst came in 1642, he was thirty-four years
old, a solemn, cold, studious, thoughtful, and dogmatic Puritan. In 1624
he entered Christ College, Cambridge, where, from his delicate and
beautiful face and shy airs, he was called the "Lady of the College." It
is said that he left the university on account of peculiar views in
theology and politics; but eight years after, in 1632, he took his degree
as master of arts. Meanwhile, in December, 1629, he had celebrated his
twenty-first birthday, when the Star of Bethlehem was coming into the
ascendant, with that pealing, organ-like hymn, "On the Eve of Christ's
Nativity"--the worthiest poetic tribute ever laid by man, along with the
gold, frankincense, and myrrh of the Eastern sages, at the feet of the
Infant God:

    See how from far upon the Eastern road,
      The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet;
    O run, prevent them with thy humble ode,
      And lay it lowly at his blessed feet;
      Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet,
    And join thy voice unto the angel choir,
    From out his secret altar touched with hallowed fire.

Some years of travel on the Continent matured his mind, and gave full
scope to his poetic genius. At Paris he became acquainted with Grotius,
the illustrious writer upon public law; and in Rome, Genoa, Florence, and
other Italian cities, he became intimate with the leading minds of the
age. He returned to England on account of the political troubles.

MILTON'S VIEWS OF MARRIAGE.--In the consideration of Milton's personality,
we do not find in him much to arouse our heart-sympathy. His opinions
concerning marriage and divorce, as set forth in several of his prose
writings, would, if generally adopted, destroy the sacred character of
divinely appointed wedlock. His views may be found in his essay on _The
Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce;_ in his _Tetrachordon, or the four
chief places in Scripture, which treat of Marriage, or Nullities in
Marriage_; in his _Colasterion_, and in his translation of Martin Bucer's
_Judgment Concerning Divorce_, addressed to the Parliament of England.
Where women were concerned he was a hard man and a stern master.

In 1643 he married Mary Powell, the daughter of a Cavalier; and, taking
her from the gay life of her father's house, he brought her into a gloom
and seclusion almost insupportable. He loved his books better than he did
his wife. He fed and sheltered her, indeed, but he gave her no tender
sympathy. Then was enacted in his household the drama of the rebellion in
miniature; and no doubt his domestic troubles had led to his extended
discussion of the question of divorce. He speaks, too, almost entirely in
the interest of husbands. With him woman is not complementary to man, but
his inferior, to be cherished if obedient, to minister to her husband's
welfare, but to have her resolute spirit broken after the manner of
Petruchio, the shrew-tamer. In all this, however, Milton was eminently a
type of the times. It was the canon law of the established Church of
England at which he aimed, and he endeavored to lead the parliament to
legislation upon the most sacred ties and relations of human life.
Happily, English morals were too strong, even in that turbulent period, to
yield to this unholy attempt. It was a day when authority was questioned,
a day for "extending the area of freedom," but he went too far even for
emancipated England; and the mysterious power of the marriage tie has
always been reverenced as one of the main bulwarks of that righteousness
which exalteth a nation.

His apology for Smectymnuus is one of his pamphlets against Episcopacy,
and receives its title from the initial letters of the names of five
Puritan ministers, who also engaged in controversy: they were Stephen
Marshall, Edward Calamy, Thomas Young, Matthew Newcome, William Spenston.
The Church of England never had a more intelligent and relentless enemy
than John Milton.

OTHER PROSE WORKS.--Milton's prose works are almost all of them of an
historical character. Appointed Latin Secretary to the Council, he wrote
foreign dispatches and treatises upon the persons and events of the day.
In 1644 he published his _Areopagitica_, a noble paper in favor of
_Unlicensed Printing_, and boldly directed against the Presbyterian party,
then in power, which had continued and even increased the restraints upon
the press. No stouter appeal for the freedom of the press was ever heard,
even in America. But in the main, his prose pen was employed against the
crown and the Church, while they still existed; against the king's memory,
after the unfortunate monarch had fallen, and in favor of the parliament
and all its acts. Milton was no trimmer; he gave forth no uncertain sound;
he was partisan to the extreme, and left himself no loop-hole of retreat
in the change that was to come.

A famous book appeared in 1649, not long after Charles's execution,
proclaimed to have been written by King Charles while in prison, and
entitled _Eikon Basilike_, or _The Kingly Image_, being the portraiture of
his majesty in his solitude and suffering. It was supposed that it might
influence the people in favor of royalty, and so Milton was employed to
answer it in a bitter invective, an unnecessary and heartless attack upon
the dead king, entitled _Eikonoklastes_, or _The Image-breaker_. The Eikon
was probably in part written by the king, and in part by Bishop Gauden,
who indeed claimed its authorship after the Restoration.

Salmasius having defended Charles in a work of dignified and moderate
tone, Milton answered in his first _Defensio pro Populo Anglicano_; in
which he traverses the whole ground of popular rights and kingly
prerogative, in a masterly and eloquent manner. This was followed by a
second _Defensio_. For the two he received £1,000, and by his own account
accelerated the disease of the eyes which ended in complete blindness.

No pen in England worked more powerfully than his in behalf of the
parliament and the protectorate, or to stay the flood tide of loyalty,
which bore upon its sweeping heart the restoration of the second Charles.
He wrote the last foreign despatches of Richard Cromwell, the weak
successor of the powerful Oliver; but nothing could now avail to check the
return of monarchy. The people were tired of turmoil and sick of blood;
they wanted rest, at any cost. The powerful hand of Cromwell was removed,
and astute Monk used his army to secure his reward. The army, concurring
with the popular sentiment, restored the Stuarts. The conduct of the
English people in bringing Charles back stamped Cromwell as a usurper, and
they have steadily ignored in their list of governors--called
monarchs--the man through whose efforts much of their liberty had been
achieved; but history asserts itself, and the benefits of the "Great
Rebellion" are gratefully acknowledged by the people, whether the
protectorate appears in the court list or not.

THE EFFECT OF THE RESTORATION.--Charles II. came back to such an
overwhelming reception, that he said, in his witty way, it must have been
his own fault to stay away so long from a people who were so glad to see
him when he did come. This restoration forced Milton into concealment: his
public day was over, and yet his remaining history is particularly
interesting. Inheriting weak eyes from his mother, he had overtasked their
powers, especially in writing the _Defensiones_, and had become entirely
blind. Although his person was included in the general amnesty, his
polemical works were burned by the hangman; and the pen that had so
powerfully battled for a party, now returned to the service of its first
love, poetry. His loss of power and place was the world's gain. In his
forced seclusion, he produced the greatest of English poems--religious,
romantic, and heroic.

ESTIMATE OF HIS PROSE.--Before considering his poems, we may briefly state
some estimate of his prose works. They comprise much that is excellent,
are full of learning, and contain passages of rarest rhetoric. He said
himself, that in prose he had only "the use of his left hand;" but it was
the left hand of a Milton. To the English scholar they are chiefly of
historical value: many of them are written in Latin, and lose much of
their terseness in a translation which retains classical peculiarities of
form and phrase.

His _History of England from the Earliest Times_ is not profound, nor
philosophical; he followed standard chronicle authorities, but made few,
if any, original investigations, and gives us little philosophy. His
tractate on _Education_ contains peculiar views of a curriculum of study,
but is charmingly written. He also wrote a treatise on _Logic_. Little
known to the great world outside of his poems, there is one prose work,
discovered only in 1823, which has been less read, but which contains the
articles of his Christian belief. It is a tractate on Christian doctrine:
no one now doubts its genuineness; and it proves him to have been a
Unitarian, or High Arian, by his own confession. This was somewhat
startling to the great orthodox world, who had taken many of their
conceptions of supernatural things from Milton's _Paradise Lost_; and yet
a careful study of that poem will disclose similar tendencies in the
poet's mind. He was a Puritan whose theology was progressive until it
issued in complete isolation: he left the Presbyterian ranks for the
Independents, and then, startled by the rise and number of sects, he
retired within himself and stood almost alone, too proud to be instructed,
and dissatisfied with the doctrines and excesses of his earlier

In 1653 he lost his wife, Mary Powell, who left him three daughters. He
supplied her place in 1656, by marrying Catherine Woodstock, to whom he
was greatly attached, and who also died fifteen months after. Eight years
afterward he married his third wife, Elizabeth Minshull, who survived him.



   The Blind Poet. Paradise Lost. Milton and Dante. His Faults.
   Characteristics of the Age. Paradise Regained. His Scholarship. His
   Sonnets. His Death and Fame.


Milton's blindness, his loneliness, and his loss of power, threw him upon
himself. His imagination, concentrated by these disasters and troubles,
was to see higher things in a clear, celestial light: there was nothing to
distract his attention, and he began that achievement which he had long
before contemplated--a great religious epic, in which the heroes should be
celestial beings and our sinless first parents, and the scenes Heaven,
Hell, and the Paradise of a yet untainted Earth. His first idea was to
write an epic on King Arthur and his knights: it is well for the world
that he changed his intention, and took as a grander subject the loss of
Paradise, full as it is of individual interest to mankind.

In a consideration of his poetry, we must now first recur to those pieces
which he had written at an earlier day. Before settling in London, he had,
as we have seen, travelled fifteen months on the Continent, and had been
particularly interested by his residence in Italy, where he visited the
blind Galileo. The poems which most clearly show the still powerful
influence of Italy in all European literature, and upon him especially,
are the _Arcades, Comus, L'Allegro, Il Penseroso_, and _Lycidas_, each
beautiful and finished, and although Italian in their taste, yet full of
true philosophy couched in charming verse.

The _Arcades_, (Arcadians,) composed in 1684, is a pastoral masque,
enacted before the Countess Dowager of Derby at Harefield, by some noble
persons of her family. The _Allegro_ is the song of Mirth, the nymph who
brings with her

    Jest and youthful jollity,
    Quips and cranks, and wanton wiles,
    Nods and becks and wreathèd smiles,

           *       *       *       *       *

    Sport that wrinkled Care derides,
    And Laughter holding both his sides.

The poem is like the nymph whom he addresses,

    Buxom, blithe, and debonaire.

The _Penseroso_ is a tribute to tender melancholy, and is designed as a
pendant to the _Allegro_:

    Pensive nun devout and pure,
    Sober, steadfast, and demure,
    All in a robe of darkest grain,
    Flowing with majestic train.

We fall in love with each goddess in turn, and find comfort for our
varying moods from "grave to gay."

Burke said he was certain Milton composed the _Penseroso_ in the aisle of
a cloister, or in an ivy-grown abbey.

_Comus_ is a noble poem, philosophic and tender, but neither pastoral nor
dramatic, except in form; it presents the power of chastity in disarming
_Circe, Comus_, and all the libidinous sirens. _L'Allegro_ and _Il
Penseroso_ were written at Horton, about 1633.

_Lycidas_, written in 1637, is a tender monody on the loss of a friend
named King, in the Irish Channel, in that year, and is a classical
pastoral, tricked off in Italian garb. What it loses in adherence to
classic models and Italian taste, is more than made up by exquisite lines
and felicitous phrases. In it he calls fame "that last infirmity of noble
mind." Perhaps he has nowhere written finer lines than these:

    So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed.
    And yet anon repairs his drooping head,
    And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled ore
    _Flames in the forehead of the morning sky_.

Besides these, Milton wrote Latin poems with great vigor, if not with
remarkable grace; and several Italian sonnets and poems, which have been
much admired even by Italian critics. The sonnet, if not of Italian
origin, had been naturalized there when its birth was forgotten; and this
practice in the Italian gave him that power to produce them in English
which he afterward used with such effect.

PARADISE LOST.--Having thus summarily disposed of his minor poems, each of
which would have immortalized any other man, we come to that upon which
his highest fame rests; which is familiarly known by men who have never
read the others, and who are ignorant of his prose works; which is used as
a parsing exercise in many schools, and which, as we have before hinted,
has furnished Protestant pulpits with pictorial theology from that day to
this. It occupied him several years in the composition; from 1658, when
Cromwell died, through the years of retirement and obscurity until 1667.
It came forth in an evil day, for the merry monarch was on the throne, and
an irreligious court gave tone to public opinion.

The hardiest critic must approach the _Paradise Lost_ with wonder and
reverence. What an imagination, and what a compass of imagination! Now
with the lost peers in Hell, his glowing fancy projects an empire almost
as grand and glorious as that of God himself. Now with undazzled,
presumptuous gaze he stands face to face with the Almighty, and records
the words falling from His lips; words which he has dared to place in the
mouth of the Most High--words at the utterance of which

               ... ambrosial fragrance filled
    All heaven, and in the blessed spirits elect
    Sense of new joy ineffable diffused.

Little wonder that in his further flight he does not shrink from colloquy
with the Eternal Son--in his theology not the equal of His Father--or that
he does not fear to describe the fearful battle between Christ with his
angelic hosts against the kingdom of darkness:

              ... At his right hand victory
    Sat eagle-winged: beside him hung his bow
    And quiver with three-bolted thunder stored.

           *       *       *       *       *

         ... Them unexpected joy surprised,
    When the great ensign of Messiah blazed,
    Aloft by angels borne his sign in heaven.

How heart-rending his story of the fall, and of the bitter sorrow of our
first parents, whose fatal act

    Brought death into the world and all our woe,
    With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
    Restore us, and regain the blissful seat.

How marvellous is the combat at Hell-gate, between Satan and Death; how
terrible the power at which "Hell itself grew darker"! How we strive to
shade our mind's eye as we enter again with him into the courts of Heaven.
How refreshingly beautiful the perennial bloom of Eden:

    Picta velut primo Vere coruscat humus.

What a wonderful story of the teeming creation related to our first
parents by the lips of Raphael:

    When from the Earth appeared
    The tawny lion, pawing to get free
    His hinder parts, then springs as broke from bonds,
    And rampant shakes his brinded mane.

And withal, how compact the poem, how perfect the drama. It is Paradise,
perfect in beauty and holiness; attacked with devilish art; in danger;
betrayed; lost!

    Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked and ate;
    Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat,
    Sighing through all her works gave signs of woe
    That all was lost!

Unit-like, complete, brilliant, sublime, awful, the poem dazzles
criticism, and belittles the critic. It is the grandest poem ever written.
It almost sets up a competition with Scripture. Milton's Adam and Eve walk
before us instead of the Adam and Eve of Genesis. Milton's Satan usurps
the place of that grotesque, malignant spirit of the Bible, which, instead
of claiming our admiration, excites only our horror, as he goes about like
a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. He it is who can declare

    The mind is its own place, and in itself
    Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.
    What matter where, if I be still the same,
    And what I should be?

MILTON AND DANTE.--It has been usual for the literary critic to compare
Milton and Dante; and it is certain that in the conception, at least, of
his great themes, Milton took Dante for his guide. Without an odious
comparison, and conceding the great value, principally historical, of the
_Divina Commedia_, it must be said that the palm remains with the English
poet. Take, for a single illustration, the fall of the arch-fiend. Dante's
Lucifer falls with such force that he makes a conical hole in the earth to
its centre, and forces out a hill on the other side--a physical
prediction, as the antipodes had not yet been established. The cavity is
the seat of Hell; and the mountain, that of Purgatory. So mathematical is
his fancy, that in vignette illustrations we have right-lined drawings of
these surfaces and their different circles. Science had indeed progressed
in Milton's time, but his imagination scorns its aid; everything is with
him grandly ideal, as well as rhetorically harmonious:

                  ... Him the Almighty power,
    Hurled headlong flaming from th' ethereal sky,
    With hideous ruin and combustion down
    To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
    In adamantine chains and penal power,
    Who durst defy th' Omnipotent in arms.

And when a lesser spirit falls, what a sad Æolian melody describes the
downward flight:

                       ... How he fell
    From Heaven they fabled thrown by angry Jove,
    Sheer o'er the crystal battlements: from morn
    To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve
    A summer's day; and with the setting sun,
    Dropt from the zenith like a falling star.

The heavenly colloquies to which we have alluded between the Father and
the Son, involve questions of theology, and present peculiar views--such
as the subordination of the Son, and the relative unimportance of the
third Person of the Blessed Trinity. They establish Milton's Arianism
almost as completely as his Treatise on Christian Doctrine.

HIS FAULTS.--Grand, far above all human efforts, his poems fail in these
representations. God is a spirit; he is here presented as a body, and that
by an uninspired pen. The poet has not been able to carry us up to those
infinite heights, and so his attempt only ends in a humanitarian
philosophy: he has been obliged to lower the whole heavenly hierarchy to
bring it within the scope of our objective comprehension. He blinds our
poor eyes by the dazzling effulgence of that light which is

    ... of the Eternal co-eternal beam.

And it must be asserted that in this attempt Milton has done injury to the
cause of religion, however much he has vindicated the power of the human
intellect and the compass of the human imagination. He has made sensuous
that which was entirely spiritual, and has attempted with finite powers to
realize the Infinite.

The fault is not so great when he delineates created intelligences,
ranging from the highest seraph to him who was only "less than archangel
ruined." We gaze, unreproved by conscience, at the rapid rise of
Pandemonium; we watch with eager interest the hellish crew as they "open
into the hill a spacious wound, and dig out ribs of gold." We admire the
fabric which springs

       ... like an exhalation, with the sound
    Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet.

Nothing can be grander or more articulately realized than that arched
roof, from which,

    Pendent by subtle magic, many a row
    Of starry lamps and blazing cressets, fed
    With naphtha and asphaltus, yields the light
    As from a sky.

It is an illustrative criticism that while the painter's art has seized
these scenes, not one has dared to attempt his heavenly descriptions with
the pencil. Art is less bold or more reverent than poetry, and rebukes the

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE AGE.--And here it is particularly to our purpose to
observe, that in this very boldness of entrance into the holy of
holies--in this attempted grasp with finite hands of infinite things,
Milton was but a sublimated type of his age, and of the Commonwealth, when
man, struggling for political freedom, went, as in the later age of the
French Illuminati, too far in the regions of spirit and of faith. As
Dante, with a powerful satire, filled his poem with the personages of the
day, assigning his enemies to the _girone_ of the Inferno, so Milton vents
his gentler spleen by placing cowls and hood and habits in the limbo of
vanity and paradise of fools:

             ... all these upwhirled aloft
    Fly o'er the backside of the world far off,
    Into a limbo large and broad, since called
    The paradise of fools.

It was a setting forth of that spirit which, when the Cavaliers were many
of them formalists, and the Puritans many of them fanatics, led to the
rise of many sects, and caused rude soldiers to bellow their own riotous
fancies from the pulpit. In the suddenness of change, when the earthly
throne had been destroyed, men misconceived what was due to the heavenly;
the fancy which had been before curbed by an awe for authority, and was
too ignorant to move without it, now revelled unrebuked among the
mysteries which are not revealed to angelic vision, and thus "fools rushed
in where angels fear to tread."

The book could not fail to bring him immense fame, but personally he
received very little for it in money--less than £20.

PARADISE REGAINED.--It was Thomas Ellwood, Milton's Quaker friend, who,
after reading the _Paradise Lost_, suggested the _Paradise Regained_. This
poem will bear no comparison with its great companion. It may, without
irreverence, be called "The gospel according to John Milton." Beauties it
does contain; but the very foundation of it is false. Milton makes man
regain Paradise by the success of Christ in withstanding the Devil's
temptations in the wilderness; a new presentation of his Arian theology,
which is quite transcendental; whereas, in our opinion, the gate of
Paradise was opened only "by His precious death and burial; His glorious
resurrection and ascension; and by the coming of the Holy Ghost." But if
it is immeasurably inferior in its conception and treatment, it is quite
equal to the _Paradise Lost_ in its execution.

A few words as to Milton's vocabulary and style must close our notice of
this greatest of English poets. With regard to the first, the Latin
element, which is so manifest in his prose works, largely predominates in
his poems, but accords better with the poetic license. In a list of
authors which Mr. Marsh has prepared, down to Milton's time, which
includes an analysis of the sixth book of the _Paradise Lost_, he is found
to employ only eighty per cent. of Anglo-Saxon words--less than any up to
that day. But his words are chosen with a delicacy of taste and ear which
astonishes and delights; his works are full of an adaptive harmony, the
suiting of sound to sense. His rhythm is perfect. We have not space for
extended illustrations, but the reader will notice this in the lady's song
in Comus--the address to

    Sweet Echo, sweeter nymph that liv'st unseen
          Within thy airy shell,
    By slow Meander's margent green!

           *       *       *       *       *

    Sweet queen of parley, daughter of the sphere,
    So may'st thou be translated to the skies,
    And give resounding grace to all heaven's harmonies.

And again, the description of Chastity, in the same poem, is inimitable in
the language:

    So dear to Heaven is saintly Chastity,
    That when a soul is found sincerely so,
    A thousand liveried angels lackey her.

HIS SCHOLARSHIP.--It is unnecessary to state the well-known fact, attested
by all his works, of his elegant and versatile scholarship. He was the
most learned man in England in his day. If, like J. C. Scaliger, he did
not commit Homer to memory in twenty-one days, and the whole of the Greek
poets in three months, he had all classical learning literally at his
fingers' ends, and his works are absolutely glistening with drops which
show that every one has been dipped in that Castalian fountain which, it
was fabled, changed the earthly flowers of the mind into immortal jewels.

Nor need we refer to what every one concedes, that a vein of pure but
austere morals runs through all his works; but Puritan as he was, his
myriad fancy led him into places which Puritanism abjured: the cloisters,
with their dim religious light, in _Il Penseroso_--and anon with mirth he

    Come and trip it as you go,
    On the light fantastic toe.

SONNETS.--His sonnets have been variously estimated: they are not as
polished as his other poems, but are crystal-like and sententious, abrupt
bursts of opinion and feeling in fourteen lines. Their masculine power it
was which caused Wordsworth, himself a prince of sonneteers, to say:

                        In his hand,
    The thing became a trumpet, whence he blew
    Soul-animating strains....

That to his dead wife, whom he saw in a vision; that to Cyriac Skinner on
his blindness, and that to the persecuted Waldenses, are the most known
and appreciated. That to Skinner is a noble assertion of heart and hope:

    Cyriac, this three-years-day these eyes, though clear
      To outward view, of blemish and of spot,
      Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot:
    Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear
    Of sun, or moon, or star, throughout the year,
      Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not
      Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot
    Of heart or hope; but still bear up and steer
      Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask?
    The conscience friend to have lost them over-plied
      In liberty's defence, my noble task,
    Of which all Europe talks from side to side,
      This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask
    Content, though blind, had I no better guide.

Milton died in 1674, of gout, which had long afflicted him; and he left
his name and works to posterity. Posterity has done large but mistaken
justice to his fame. Men have not discriminated between his real merits
and his faults: all parties have conceded the former, and conspired to
conceal the latter. A just statement of both will still establish his
great fame on the immutable foundations of truth--a fame, the honest
pursuit of which caused him, throughout his long life,

    To scorn delights, and live laborious days.

No writer has ever been the subject of more uncritical, ignorant, and
senseless panegyric: like Bacon, he is lauded by men who never read his
works, and are entirely ignorant of the true foundation of his fame. Nay,
more; partisanship becomes very warlike, and we are reminded in this
controversy of the Italian gentleman, who fought three duels in
maintaining that Ariosto was a better poet than Tasso: in the third he was
mortally wounded, and he confessed before dying that he had never read a
line of either. A similar logomachy has marked the course of Milton's
champions; words like sharp swords have been wielded by ignorance, and
have injured the poet's true fame.

He now stands before the world, not only as the greatest English poet,
except Shakspeare, but also as the most remarkable example and
illustration of the theory we have adopted, that literature is a very
vivid and permanent interpreter of contemporary history. To those who ask
for a philosophic summary of the age of Charles I. and Cromwell, the
answer may be justly given: "Study the works of John Milton, and you will
find it."



   Cowley and Milton. Cowley's Life and Works. His Fame. Butler's Career.
   Hudibras. His Poverty and Death. Izaak Walton. The Angler; and Lives.
   Other Writers.


In contrast with Milton, in his own age, both in political tenets and in
the character of his poetry, stood Cowley, the poetical champion of the
party of king and cavaliers during the civil war. Historically he belongs
to two periods--antecedent and consequent--that of the rebellion itself,
and that of the Restoration: the latter was a reaction from the former, in
which the masses changed their opinions, in which the Puritan leaders were
silenced, and in which the constant and consistent Cavaliers had their day
of triumph. Both parties, however, modified their views somewhat after the
whirlwind of excitement had swept by, and both deprecated the extreme
violence of their former actions. This is cleverly set forth in a charming
paper of Lord Macaulay, entitled _Cowley and Milton_. It purports to be
the report of a pleasant colloquy between the two in the spring of 1665,
"set down by a gentleman of the Middle Temple." Their principles are
courteously expressed, in a retrospective view of the great rebellion.

COWLEY'S LIFE AND WORKS.--Abraham Cowley, the posthumous son of a grocer,
was born in London, in the year 1618. He is said to have been so
precocious that he read Spenser with pleasure when he was twelve years
old; and he published a volume of poems, entitled "Poetical Blossoms,"
before he was fifteen. After a preliminary education at Westminster
school, he was entered at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1636, and while
there he published, in 1638, two comedies, one in English, entitled
_Love's Riddle_, and one in Latin, _Naufragium Joculare, or, The Merry

When the troubles which culminated in the civil war began to convulse
England, Cowley, who was a strong adherent of the king, was compelled to
leave Cambridge; and we find him, when the war had fairly opened, at
Oxford, where he was well received by the Royal party, in 1643. He
vindicated the justice of this reception by publishing in that year a
satire called _Puritan and Papist_. Upon the retirement of the queen to
Paris, he was one of her suite, and as secretary to Viscount St. Albans he
conducted the correspondence in cipher between the queen and her
unfortunate husband.

He remained abroad during the civil war and the protectorate, returning
with Charles II. in 1660. "The Blessed Restoration" he celebrated in an
ode with that title, and would seem to have thus established a claim to
the king's gratitude and bounty. But he was mistaken. Perhaps this led him
to write a comedy, entitled _The Cutter of Coleman Street_, in which he
severely censured the license and debaucheries of the court: this made the
arch-debauchee, the king himself, cold toward the poet, who at once issued
_A Complaint_; but neither satire nor complaint helped him to the desired
preferment. He quitted London a disappointed man, and retired to the
country, where he died on the 28th of July, 1667.

His poems bear the impress of the age in a remarkable degree. His
_Mistress, or, Love Verses_, and his other Anacreontics or paraphrases of
Anacreon's odes, were eminently to the taste of the luxurious and immoral
court of Charles II. His _Davideis_ is an heroic poem on the troubles of
King David.

His _Poem on the Late Civil War_, which was not published until 1679,
twelve years after his death, is written in the interests of the monarchy.

His varied learning gave a wide range to his pen. In 1661 appeared his
_Proposition for the Advancement of Experimental Philosophy_, which was
followed in the next year by _Two Books of Plants_, which he increased to
six books afterward--devoting two to herbs, two to flowers, and two to
trees. If he does not appear in them to be profound in botanical
researches, it was justly said by Dr. Johnson that in his mind "botany
turned into poetry."

His prose pen was as ready, versatile, and charming as his poetic pencil.
He produced discourses or essays on commonplace topics of general
interest, such as _myself; the shortness of life; the uncertainty of
riches; the danger of procrastination_, etc. These are well written, in
easy-flowing language, evincing his poetic nature, and many of them are
more truly poetic than his metrical pieces.

HIS FAME.--Cowley had all his good things in his lifetime; he was the most
popular poet in England, and is the best illustration of the literary
taste of his age. His poetry is like water rippling in the sunlight,
brilliant but dazzling and painful: it bewilders with far-fetched and
witty conceits: varied but full of art, there is little of nature or real
passion to be found even in his amatory verses. He suited the taste of a
court which preferred an epigram to a proverb, and a repartee to an
apothegm; and, as a consequence, with the growth of a better culture and a
better taste, he has steadily declined in favor, so that at the present
day he is scarcely read at all. Two authoritative opinions mark the
history of this decline: Milton, in his own day, placed him with Spenser
and Shakspeare as one of the three greatest English poets; while Pope, not
much more than half a century later, asks:

    Who now reads Cowley? If he pleases yet,
    His moral pleases, not his pointed wit.

Still later, Dr. Johnson gives him the credit of having been the first to
master the Pindaric ode in English; while Cowper expresses, in his Task,
regret that his "splendid wit" should have been

    Entangled in the cobwebs of the schools.

But if he is neglected in the present day as a household poet, he stands
prominently forth to the literary student as an historic personage of no
mean rank, a type and representative of his age, country, and social


BUTLER'S CAREER.--The author of Hudibras, a satirical poem which may as
justly be called a comic history of England as any of those written in
prose in more modern times, was born in Worcestershire, on the 8th of
February, 1612. The son of poor parents, he received his education at a
grammar school. Some, who have desired to magnify his learning, have said
that he was for a time a student at Cambridge; but the chronicler Aubrey,
who knew him well, denies this. He was learned, but this was due to the
ardor with which he pursued his studies, when he was clerk to Mr.
Jeffreys, an eminent justice of the peace, and as an inmate of the mansion
of the Countess of Kent, in whose fine library he was associated with the
accomplished Selden.

We next find him domiciled with Sir Samuel Luke, a Presbyterian and a
parliamentary soldier, in whose household he saw and noted those
characteristics of the Puritans which he afterward ridiculed so severely
in his great poem, a poem which he was quietly engaged in writing during
the protectorate of Cromwell, in hope of the coming of a day when it could
be issued to the world.

This hope was fulfilled by the Restoration. In the new order he was
appointed secretary to the Earl of Carbery, and steward of Ludlow Castle;
and he also increased his frugal fortunes by marrying a widow, Mrs.
Herbert, whose means, however, were soon lost by bad investments.

HUDIBRAS.--The only work of merit which Butler produced was _Hudibras_.
This was published in three parts: the first appeared in 1663, the second
in 1664, and the third not until 1678. Even then it was left unfinished;
but as the interest in the third part seems to flag, it is probable that
the author did not intend to complete it. His death, two years later,
however, settled the question.

The general idea of the poem is taken from Don Quixote. As in that
immortal work, there are two heroes. Sir Hudibras, corresponding to the
Don, is a Presbyterian justice of the peace, whose features are said to
have been copied from those of the poet's former employer, Sir Samuel
Luke. For this, Butler has been accused of ingratitude, but the nature of
their connection does not seem to have been such as to warrant the charge.
Ralph the squire, the humble Sancho of the poem, is a cross-grained
dogmatic Independent.

These two the poet sends forth, as a knight-errant with a squire, to
correct existing abuses of all kinds--political, religious, and
scientific. The plot is rambling and disconnected, but the author
contrives to go over the whole ground of English history in his inimitable
burlesque. Unlike Cervantes, who makes his reader always sympathize with
his foolish heroes, Butler brings his knight and squire into supreme
contempt; he lashes the two hundred religious sects of the day, and
attacks with matchless ridicule all the Puritan positions. The poem is
directly historical in its statement of events, tenets, and factions, and
in its protracted religious discussions: it is indirectly historical in
that it shows how this ridicule of the Puritans, only four years after the
death of Cromwell, delighted the merry monarch and his vicious court, and
was greatly acceptable to the large majority of the English people. This
fact marks the suddenness of the historic change from the influence of
Puritanism to that of the restored Stuarts.

Hudibras is written in octosyllabic verse, frequently not rising above
doggerel: it is full of verbal "quips and cranks and wanton wiles:" in
parts it is eminently epigrammatic, and many of its happiest couplets seem
to have been dashed off without effort. Walpole calls Butler "the Hogarth
of poetry;" and we know that Hogarth illustrated Hudibras. The comparison
is not inapt, but the pictorial element in Hudibras is not its best claim
to our praise. This is found in its string of proverbs and maxims
elucidating human nature, and set forth in such terse language that we are
inclined to use them thus in preference to any other form of expression.

Hudibras is the very prince of _burlesques_; it stands alone of its kind,
and still retains its popularity. Although there is much that belongs to
the age, and much that is of only local interest, it is still read to find
apt quotations, of which not a few have become hackneyed by constant use.
With these, pages might be filled; all readers will recognize the

He speaks of the knight thus:

    On either side he would dispute,
    Confute, change hands, and still confute:

           *       *       *       *       *

    For rhetoric, he could not ope
    His mouth but out there flew a trope.

Again: he refers, in speaking of religious characters, to

    Such as do build their faith upon
    The holy text of pike and gun,
    And prove their doctrine orthodox,
    By apostolic blows and knocks;
    Compound for sins they are inclined to
    By damning those they have no mind to.

Few persons of the present generation have patience to read Hudibras
through. Allibone says "it is a work to be studied once and gleaned
occasionally." Most are content to glean frequently, and not to study at

HIS POVERTY AND DEATH.--Butler lived in great poverty, being neglected by
a monarch and a court for whose amusement he had done so much. They
laughed at the jester, and let him starve. Indeed, he seems to have had
few friends; and this is accounted for quaintly by Aubrey, who says:
"Satirical wits disoblige whom they converse with, and consequently make
to themselves many enemies, and few friends; and this was his manner and

The best known of his works, after Hudibras, is the _Elephant in the
Moon_, a satire on the Royal Society.

It is significant of the popularity of Hudibras, that numerous imitations
of it have been written from his day to ours.

Butler died on the 25th of September, 1680. Sixty years after, the hand of
private friendship erected a monument to him in Westminster Abbey. The
friend was John Barber, Lord Mayor of London, whose object is thus stated:
"That he who was destitute of all things when alive, might not want a
monument when he was dead." Upon the occasion of erecting this, Samuel
Wesley wrote:

    While Butler, needy wretch, was yet alive,
    No generous patron would a dinner give;
    See him, when starved to death and turned to dust,
    Presented with a monumental bust.
    The poet's fate is here in emblem shown,
    He asked for bread, and he received a stone.

To his own age he was the prince of jesters; to English literature he has
given its best illustration of the burlesque in rhetoric. To the reader of
the present day he presents rare historical pictures of his day, of far
greater value than his wit or his burlesque.


If men are to be measured by their permanent popularity, Walton deserves
an enthusiastic mention in literary annals, not for the greatness of his
achievements, but for his having touched a chord in the human heart which
still vibrates without hint of cessation wherever English is spoken.

Izaak Walton was born at Stafford, on the 9th of August, 1593. In his
earlier life he was a linen-draper, but he had made enough for his frugal
wants by his shop to enable him to retire from business in 1643, and then
he quietly assumed a position as _pontifex piscatorum_. His fishing-rod
was a sceptre which he swayed unrivalled for forty years. He gathered
about him in his house and on the borders of fishing streams an admiring
and congenial circle, principally of the clergy, who felt it a privilege
to honor the retired linen-draper. There must have been a peculiar charm,
a personal magnetism about him, which has also imbued his works. His first
wife was Rachel Floud, a descendant of the ill-fated Cranmer; and his
second was Anne Ken, the half-sister of the saintly Bishop Ken. Whatever
may have been his deficiencies of early education, he was so constant and
varied a reader that he made amends for these.

THE COMPLETE ANGLER.--His first and most popular work was _The Complete
Angler, or, The Contemplative Man's Recreation_. It has been the delight
of all sorts of people since, and has gone through more than forty
respectable editions in England, besides many in America. Many of these
editions are splendidly illustrated and sumptuous. The dialogues are
pleasant and natural, and his enthusiasm for the art of angling is quite

HIS LIVES.--Nor is Walton less esteemed by a smaller but more appreciative
circle for his beautiful and finished biographies or _Lives_ of Dr.
Donne, Wotton, Richard Hooker, George Herbert, and Bishop Robert

Here Walton has bestowed and received fame: the simple but exquisite
portraitures of these holy and worthy men have made them familiar to
posterity; and they, in turn, by the virtues which Walton's pen has made
manifest, have given distinction to the hand which portrayed them.
Walton's good life was lengthened out to fourscore and ten. He died at the
residence of his son-in-law, the Reverend William Hawkins, prebendary of
Winchester Cathedral, in 1683. Bishop Jebb has judiciously said of his
_Lives_: "They not only do ample justice to individual piety and learning,
but throw a mild and cheerful light upon the manners of an interesting
age, as well as upon the venerable features of our mother Church." Less,
however, than any of his contemporaries can Walton be appreciated by a
sketch of the man: his works must be read, and their spirit imbibed, in
order to know his worth.


George Wither, born in Hampshire, June 11, 1588, died May 2, 1667: he was
a voluminous and versatile writer. His chief work is _The Shepherd's
Hunting_, which, with beautiful descriptions of rural life, abounds in
those strained efforts at wit and curious conceits, which were acceptable
to the age, but which have lost their charm in a more sensible and
philosophic age. Wither was a Parliament man, and was imprisoned and
ill-treated after the Restoration. He, and most of those who follow, were
classed by Dr. Johnson as _metaphysical poets_.

Francis Quarles, 1592-1644: he was a Royalist, but belongs to the literary
school of Withers. He is best known by his collection of moral and
religious poems, called _Divine Emblems_, which were accompanied with
quaint engraved illustrations. These allegories are full of unnatural
conceits, and are many of them borrowed from an older source. He was
immensely popular as a poet in his own day, and there was truth in the
statement of Horace Walpole, that "Milton was forced to wait till the
world had done admiring Quarles."

George Herbert, 1593-1632: a man of birth and station, Herbert entered the
Church, and as the incumbent of the living at Bemerton, he illustrated in
his own piety and devotion "the beauty of holiness." Conscientious and
self-denying in his parish work, he found time to give forth those devout
breathings which in harmony of expression, fervor of piety, and simplicity
of thought, have been a goodly heritage to the Church ever since, while
they still retain some of those "poetical surprises" which mark the
literary taste of the age. His principal work is _The Temple, or, Sacred
Poems and Private Ejaculations_. The short lyrics which form the stones of
this temple are upon the rites and ceremonies of the Church and other
sacred subjects: many of them are still in great favor, and will always
be. In his portraiture of the _Good Parson_, he paints himself. He
magnifies the office, and he fulfilled all the requirements he has laid

Robert Herrick, 1591-1674: like Herbert, Herrick was a clergyman, but,
unlike Herbert, he was not a holy man. He wrote Anacreontic poems, full of
wine and love, and appears to us like a reveller masking in a surplice.
Being a cavalier in sentiment, he was ejected from his vicarage in 1648,
and went to London, where he assumed the lay habit. In 1647 he published
_Hesperides_, a collection of small poems of great lyric beauty,
Anacreontic, pastoral, and amatory, but containing much that is coarse and
indelicate. In 1648 he in part atoned for these by publishing his _Noble
Numbers_, a collection of pious pieces, in the beginning of which he asks
God's forgiveness for his "unbaptized rhymes," "writ in my wild,
unhallowed times." The best comment upon his works may be found in the
words of a reviewer: "Herrick trifled in this way solely in compliment to
the age; whenever he wrote to please himself, he wrote from the heart to
the heart." His _Litanie_ is a noble and beautiful penitential petition.

Sir John Suckling, 1609-1641: a writer of love songs. That by which he is
most favorably known is his exquisite _Ballad upon a Wedding_. He was a
man of versatile talents; an officer in the army of Gustavus Adolphus, and
a captain of horse in the army of Charles I. He wrote several plays, of
which the best are _Aglaura_ and _The Discontented Colonel_. While
evidently tinctured by the spirit of the age, he exceeded his
contemporaries in the purity of his style and manliness of his expression.
His wit is not so forced as theirs.

Edmund Waller, 1605-1687: he was a cousin of John Hampden. By great care
and adroitness he seems to have trimmed between the two parties in the
civil war, but was suspected by both. His poetry was like himself,
artificial and designed to please, but has little depth of sentiment. Like
other poets, he praised Cromwell in 1654 in _A Panegyric_, and welcomed
Charles II. in 1660, upon _His Majesty's Happy Return_. His greatest
benefaction to English poetry was in refining its language and harmonizing
its versification. He has all the conceits and strained wit of the
metaphysical school.

Sir William Davenant, 1605-1668: he was the son of a vintner, but
sometimes claimed to be the natural son of Shakspeare, who was intimate
with his father and mother. An ardent Loyalist, he was imprisoned at the
beginning of the civil war, but escaped to France. He is best known by his
heroic poem _Gondibert_, founded upon the reign of King Aribert of
Lombardy, in the seventh century. The French taste which he brought back
from his exile, is shown in his own dramas, and in his efforts to restore
the theatre at the Restoration. His best plays are the _Cruel Brother_ and
_The Law against Lovers_. He was knighted by Charles I., and succeeded Ben
Jonson as poet laureate. On his monument in Westminster Abbey are these
words: "O rare Sir William Davenant."

Charles Cotton, 1630-1687: he was a wit and a poet, and is best known as
the friend of Izaak Walton. He made an addition to _Walton's Complete
Angler_, which is found in all the later editions. The companion of Walton
in his fishing excursions on the river Dove, Cotton addressed many of his
poems to his "Adopted Father." He made travesties upon Virgil and Lucian,
which are characterized by great licentiousness; and wrote a gossiping and
humorous _Voyage to Ireland_.

Henry Vaughan, 1614-1695: he was called the _Silurist_, from his residence
in Wales, the country of the Silures. He is favorably known by the _Silex
Scintillans, or, Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations_. With a rigid
religious tone, he has all the attempt at rhetorical effect which mark the
metaphysical school, but his language is harsher and more rugged. He has
more heart than most of his colleagues, and extracts of great terseness
and beauty are still made from his poems. He reproves the corruptions of
the age, and while acknowledging an indebtedness, he gives us a clue to
his inspiration: "The first, that with any effectual success attempted a
diversion of this foul and overflowing stream, was that blessed man, Mr.
George Herbert, whose holy life and verse gained many pious converts, of
whom I am the least."

The Earl of Clarendon, 1608-1674: Edward Hyde, afterward the Earl of
Clarendon, played a conspicuous part in the history of England during his
life, and also wrote a history of that period, which, although in the
interests of the king's party, is an invaluable key to a knowledge of
English life during the rebellion and just after the Restoration. A
member of parliament in 1640, he rose rapidly in favor with the king, and
was knighted in 1643. He left England in charge of the Prince of Wales in
1646, and at once began his History of the Great Rebellion, which was to
occupy him for many years before its completion. After the death of
Charles I., he was the companion of his son's exile, and often without
means for himself and his royal master, he was chancellor of the
exchequer. At the Restoration in 1660, Sir Edward Hyde was created Earl of
Clarendon, and entered upon the real duties of his office. He retained his
place for seven years, but became disagreeable to Charles as a troublesome
monitor, and at the same time incurred the hatred of the people. In 1667
he was accused of high treason, and made his escape to France. Neglected
by his master, ignored by the French monarch, he wandered about in France,
from time to time petitioning his king to permit him to return and die in
England, but without success. Seven years of exile, which he reminded the
king "was a time prescribed and limited by God himself for the expiation
of some of his greatest judgments," passed by, and the ex-chancellor died
at Rouen. He had begun his history in exile as the faithful servant of a
dethroned prince; he ended it in exile, as the cast-off servant of an
ungrateful monarch. As a writer of contemporary history, Clarendon has
given us the form and color of the time. The book is in title and handling
a Royalist history. Its faults are manifest: first those of partisanship;
and secondly, those which spring from his absence, so that much of the
work was written without an observant knowledge. His delineation of
character is wonderful: the men of the times are more pictorially
displayed than in the portraits of Van Dyk. The style is somewhat too
pompous, being more that of the orator than of the historian, and
containing long and parenthetic periods. Sir Walter Scott says: "His
characters may match those of the ancient historians, and one thinks he
would know the very men if he were to meet them in society." Macaulay
concedes to him a strong sense of moral and religious obligation, a
sincere reverence for the laws of his country, and a conscientious regard
for the honor and interests of the crown; but adds that "his temper was
sour, arrogant, and impatient of opposition." No one can rightly
understand the great rebellion without reading Clarendon's history of it.



   The Court of Charles II. Dryden's Early Life. The Death of Cromwell.
   The Restoration. Dryden's Tribute. Annus Mirabilis. Absalom and
   Achitophel. The Death of Charles. Dryden's Conversion. Dryden's Fall.
   His Odes.


The antithetic literature which takes its coloring from the great
rebellion, was now to give place to new forms not immediately connected
with it, but incident to the Restoration. Puritanism was now to be
oppressed, and the country was to be governed, under a show of
constitutional right, more arbitrarily than ever before. The moral
rebound, too, was tremendous; the debaucheries of the cavaliers of Charles
I. were as nothing in comparison with the lewdness and filth of the court
of Charles II. To say that he brought in French fashions and customs, is
to do injustice to the French: there never was a viler court in Europe
than his own. It is but in accordance with our historical theory that the
literature should partake of and represent the new condition of things;
and the most remarkable illustrations of this are to be found in the works
of Dryden.

It may indeed with truth be said that we have now reached the most
absolute of the literary types of English history. There was no great
event, political or social, which is not mirrored in his poems; no
sentiment or caprice of the age which does not there find expression; no
kingly whim which he did not prostitute his great powers to gratify; no
change of creed, political or religious, of which he was not the
recorder--few indeed, where royal favor was concerned, to which he was not
the convert. To review the life of Dryden himself, is therefore to enter
into the chronicle and philosophy of the times in which he lived. With
this view, we shall dwell at some length upon his character and works.

EARLY LIFE.--Dryden was born on the 10th of August, 1631, and died on the
1st of May, 1700. He lived, therefore, during the reign of Charles I., the
interregnum of Parliament, the protectorate of Cromwell, the restoration
and reign of Charles II., and the reign of James II.; he saw and suffered
from the accession of William and Mary--a wonderful and varied volume in
English history. And of all these Dryden was, more than any other man, the
literary type. He was of a good family, and was educated at Westminster
and Cambridge, where he gave early proofs of his literary talents.

His father, a zealous Presbyterian, had reared his children in his own
tenets; we are not therefore astonished to find that his earliest poetical
efforts are in accordance with the political conditions of the day. He
settled in London, under the protection of his kinsman, Sir Gilbert
Pickering, who was afterward one of the king's judges in 1649, and one of
the council of eight who controlled the kingdom after Charles lost his
head. As secretary to Sir Gilbert, young Dryden learned to scan the
political horizon, and to aspire to preferment.

CROMWELL'S DEATH, AND DRYDEN'S MONODY.--But those who had depended upon
Cromwell, forgot that he was not England, and that his breath was in his
nostrils. The time of his departure was at hand. He had been offered the
crown (April 9, 1656,) by a subservient parliament, and wanted it; but his
friends and family opposed his taking it; and the officers of the army,
influenced by Pride, sent such a petition against it, that he felt obliged
to refuse it. After months of mental anxiety and nervous torture--fearing
assassination, keeping arms under his pillow, never sleeping above three
nights together in the same chamber, disappointed that even after all his
achievements, and with all his cunning efforts, he had been unable to put
on the crown, and to be numbered among the English sovereigns--Cromwell
died in 1658, leaving his title as Lord Protector to his son Richard, a
weak and indolent man, who, after seven months' rule, fled the kingdom at
the Restoration, to return after a generation had passed away, a very old
man, to die in his native land. The people of Hertfordshire knew Richard
Cromwell as the excellent and benevolent Mr. Clarke.

Very soon after the death of Oliver Cromwell, Dryden, not yet foreseeing
the Restoration, presented his tribute to the Commonwealth, in the shape
of "Heroic Stanzas on the Death of Oliver Cromwell; written after his
funeral." A few stanzas will show his political principles, and are in
strange contrast with what was soon to follow:

    How shall I then begin, or where conclude,
      To draw a fame so truly circular?
    For, in a round, what order can be showed,
      Where all the parts so equal perfect are?

    He made us freemen of the continent,
      Whom nature did like captives treat before;
    To nobler preys the English lion sent,
      And taught him first in Belgian walks to roar.

    His ashes in a peaceful urn shall rest;
      His name a great example stands, to show
    How strangely high endeavors may be blest,
      Where piety and valor jointly go.

THE RESTORATION.--Cromwell died in September: early in the next year these
stanzas were written. One year later was the witness of a great event,
which stirred England to its very depths, because it gave vent to
sentiments for some time past cherished but concealed. The Long Parliament
was dissolved on the 10th of March, 1660. The new parliament meets April
25th; it is almost entirely of Royalist opinions; it receives Sir John
Granville, the king's messenger, with loud acclamations; the old lords
come forth once more in velvet, ermine, and lawn. It is proclaimed that
General Monk, the representative of the army, soon to be Duke of
Albemarle, has gone from St. Albans to Dover,

    To welcome home again discarded faith.

The strong are as tow, and the maker as a spark. From the house of every
citizen, lately vocal with the praises of the Protector, issues a subject
ready to welcome his king with the most enthusiastic loyalty.

Royal proclamations follow each other in rapid succession: at length the
eventful day has come--the 29th of May, 1660. All the bells of London are
ringing their merriest chimes; the streets are thronged with citizens in
holiday attire; the guilds of work and trade are out in their uniforms;
the army, late the organ of Cromwell, is drawn up on Black Heath, and is
cracking its myriad throat with cheers. In the words of Master Roger
Wildrake, "There were bonfires flaming, music playing, rumps roasting,
healths drinking; London in a blaze of light from the Strand to
Rotherhithe." At length the sound of herald trumpets is heard; the king is
coming; a cry bursts forth which the London echoes have almost forgotten:
"God save the king! The king enjoys his own again!"

It seems to the dispassionate reader almost incredible that the English
people, who shed his father's blood, who rallied round the Parliament, and
were fulsome in their praises of the Protector, should thus suddenly
change; but, allowing for "the madness of the people," we look for
strength and consistency to the men of learning and letters. We feel sure
that he who sang his eulogy of Cromwell dead, can have now no lyric burst
for the returning Stuart. We are disappointed.

DRYDEN'S TRIBUTE.--The first poetic garland thrown at the feet of the
restored king was Dryden's _Astræa Redux_, a poem on _The happy
restoration of his sacred majesty Charles II._ To give it classic force,
he quotes from the Pollio as a text.

    Jam redit et virgo, redeunt saturnia regna;

thus hailing the saturnian times of James I. and Charles I. A few lines of
the poem complete the curious contrast:

    While our cross stars deny us Charles his bed,
    Whom our first flames and virgin love did wed,
    For his long absence church and state did groan;
    Madness the pulpit, faction seized the throne.

           *       *       *       *       *

    How great were then our Charles his woes, who thus
    Was forced to suffer for himself and us.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Oh happy prince whom Heaven hath taught the way,
    By paying vows to have more vows to pay:
    Oh happy age! oh, times like those alone
    By Fate reserved for great Augustus' throne,
    When the joint growth of arts and arms foreshow
    The world a monarch, and that monarch you!

The contrast assumes a clearer significance, if we remember that the real
time which elapsed between the publications of these two poems was less
than two years.

This is greatly to Dryden's shame, as it is to Waller's, who did the same
thing; but it must be clearly pointed out that in this the poets were
really a type of all England, for whose suffrages they wrote thus. From
this time the career of Dryden was intimately associated with that of the
restored king. He wrote an ode for the coronation in 1661, and a poetical
tribute to Clarendon, the Lord High Chancellor, the king's better self.

To Dryden, as a writer of plays, we shall recur in a later chapter, when
the other dramatists of the age will be considered.

A concurrence of unusual events in 1665, brought forth the next year the
"Annus Mirabilis," or _Wonderful Year_, in which these events are recorded
with the minuteness of a chronicle. This is indeed its chief value; for,
praised as it was at the time, it does not so well bear the analysis of
modern criticism.

ANNUS MIRABILIS.--It describes the great naval battle with the Dutch; the
fire of London; and the ravages of the plague. The detail with which these
are described, and the frequent felicity of expression, are the chief
charm of the poem. In the refreshingly simple diary of Pepy's, we find
this jotting under date of 3d February, 1666-7: "_Annus Mirabilis_. I am
very well pleased this night with reading a poem I brought home with me
last night from Westminster Hall, of Dryden's, upon the present war: a
very good poem."

Dryden's subserviency, aided by the power of his pen, gained its reward.
In 1668, on the death of Sir William Davenant, he was appointed Laureate,
and historiographer to the king, with an annual salary of £200. He soon
became the most famous literary man in England. Milton, the Puritan, was
producing his wonderful visions in darkened retirement, while at court, or
in the seat of honor on the stage, or in his sacred chair at Will's
Coffee-house in Covent Garden (near the fire-place in winter, and carried
into the balcony in summer), "Glorious John" was the observed of all
observers. Of Will's Coffee-house, Congreve says, in _Love for Love_, "Oh,
confound that Will's Coffee-house; it has ruined more young men than the
Royal Oak Lottery:" this speaks at once of the fashion and social license
of the time.

Charles II. was happy to have so fluent a pen, to lampoon or satirize his
enemies, or to make indecent comedies for his amusement; while Dryden's
aim seems to have been scarcely higher than preferment at court and
honored contemporary notoriety for his genius. But if the great majority
lauded and flattered him, he was not without his share in those quarrels
of authors, which were carried on at that day not only with goose-quills,
but with swords and bludgeons. It is recorded that he was once waylaid by
the hired ruffians of the Earl of Rochester, and beaten almost to death:
these broils generally had a political as well as a social significance.
In his quarrels with the literary men, he used the shafts of satire. His
contest with Thomas Shadwell has been preserved in his satire called
McFlecknoe. Flecknoe was an Irish priest who wrote dull plays; and in this
poem Dryden proposes Shadwell as his successor on the throne of dulness.
It was the model or suggester of Pope's _Dunciad_; but the model is by no
means equal to the copy.

ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL.--Nothing which he had yet written is so true an
index to the political history as his "Absalom and Achitophel," which he
published in 1681. The history may be given in few words. Charles II. had
a natural son by an obscure woman named Lucy Walters. This boy had been
created Duke of Monmouth. He was put forward by the designing Earl of
Shaftesbury as the head of a faction, and as a rival to the Duke of York.
To ruin the Duke was their first object; and this they attempted by
inflaming the people against his religion, which was Roman Catholic. If
they could thus have him and his heirs put out of the succession to the
throne, Monmouth might be named heir apparent; and Shaftesbury hoped to be
the power behind the throne.

Monmouth was weak, handsome, and vain, and was in truth a puppet in wicked
hands; he was engaged in the Rye-house plot, and schemed not only against
his uncle, but against the person of his father himself. To satirize and
expose these plots and plotters, Dryden (at the instance of the king, it
is said,) wrote _Absalom and Achitophel_, in which are introduced, under
Scripture names, many of the principal political characters of the day,
from the king down to Titus Oates. The number of the names is 61. Charles
is, of course, David, and Monmouth, the wayward son, is Absalom.
Shaftesbury is Achitophel, and Dr. Oates figures as Corah. The Ethnic plot
is the popish plot, and Gath is that land of exile where Charles so long
resided. Strong in his praise of David, the poet is discreet and delicate
in his handling of Absalom; his instinct is as acute as that of Falstaff:
"Beware! instinct, the lion will not touch a true prince," or touch him so
gently that the lion at least will not suffer. Thus, Monmouth is
represented as

    Half loath, and half consenting to the ill,
    For royal blood within him struggled still;
    He thus replied: "And what pretence have I
    To take up arms for public liberty?
    My father governs with unquestioned right,
    The faith's defender and mankind's delight;
    Good, gracious, just, observant of the laws,
    And heaven by wonders has espoused his cause."

But he may, and does, roundly rate Achitophel, who tempts with satanic
seductions, and proves to the youth, from the Bible, his right to the
succession, peaceably or forcibly obtained. Among those who conspired with
Monmouth were honest hearts seeking for the welfare of the realm. Chief of
these were Lord Russel and Sidney, of whom the latter was in favor of a
commonwealth; and the former, only sought the exclusion of the Roman
Catholic Duke of York, and the redress of grievances, but not the
assassination or deposition of the king. Both fell on the scaffold; but
they have both been considered martyrs in the cause of civil liberty.

And here we must pause to say that in the literary structure, language,
and rhythm of the poem, Dryden had made a great step toward that mastery
of the rhymed pentameter couplet, which is one of his greatest claims to

DEATH OF CHARLES.--At length, in 1685, Charles II., after a sudden and
short illness, was gathered to his fathers. His life had been such that
England could not mourn: he had prostituted female honor, and almost
destroyed political virtue; sold English territory and influence to France
for beautiful strumpets; and at the last had been received, on his
death-bed, into, the Roman Catholic Church, while nominally the supreme
head of the Anglican communion. England cannot mourn, but Dryden tortures
language into crocodile tears in his _Threnodia Augustalis, sacred to the
happy memory of King Charles II_. A few lines will exhibit at once the
false statements and the absolute want of a spark of sorrow--dead,
inanimate words, words, words!

    Thus long my grief has kept me drunk:
    Sure there 's a lethargy in mighty woe;
    Tears stand congealed, and cannot flow.
    Tears for a stroke foreseen, afford relief;
      But unprovided for a sudden blow,
      Like Niobe, we marble grow,
    And petrify with grief!

DRYDEN'S CONVERSION.--The Duke of York succeeded as James II.: he was an
open and bigoted Roman Catholic, who at once blazoned forth the death-bed
conversion of his brother; and who from the first only limited his hopes
to the complete restoration of the realm to popery. Dryden's course was at
once taken; but his instinct was at fault, as but three short years were
to show. He gave in his adhesion to the new king's creed; he who had been
Puritan with the commonwealth, and churchman with the Restoration, became
Roman Catholic with the accession of a popish king. He had written the
_Religio Laici_ to defend the tenets of the Church of England against the
attacks of papists and dissenters; and he now, to leave the world in no
doubt as to his reasons and his honesty, published a poem entitled the
_Hind and Panther_, which might in his earlier phraseology have been
justly styled "The Christian experience of pious John Dryden." It seems a
shameless act, but it is one exponent of the loyalty of that day. There
are some critics who believe him to have been sincere, and who insist that
such a man "is not to be sullied by suspicion that rests on what after all
might prove a fortuitous coincidence." But such frequent changes with the
government--with a reward for each change--tax too far even that charity
which "thinketh no evil." Dryden's pen was eagerly welcomed by the Roman
Catholics. He began to write at once in their interest, and thus to
further his own. Dr. Johnson says: "That conversion will always be
suspected which apparently concerns with interest. He that never finds his
error till it hinders his progress toward wealth or honor, will not be
thought to love truth only for herself."

In this long poem of 2,000 lines, we have the arguments which conducted
the poet to this change. The different beasts represent the different
churches and sects. The Church of Rome is thus represented:

    A milk-white hind, immortal and unchanged,
    Fed on the lawns, and in the forest ranged;
    Without unspotted, innocent within,
    She feared no danger, for she knew no sin.

The other beasts were united to destroy her; but she could "venture to
drink with them at the common watering-place under the protection of her
friend the kingly lion."

The Panther is the Church of England:

    The Panther, sure the noblest, next the hind,
    And fairest creature of the spotted kind;
    Oh, could her inborn stains be washed away,
    She were too good to be a beast of prey!

Then he Introduces.--

   The _Bloody Bear_, an _Independent_ beast; the _Quaking Hare_, for the
   _Quakers_; the _Bristled Baptist Boar_.

In this fable, quite in the style of Æsop, we find the Dame, _i.e._, the
Hind, entering into the subtle points of theology, and trying to prove her
position. The poem, as might be supposed; was well received, and perhaps
converted a few to the monarch's faith; for who were able yet to foresee
that the monarch would so abuse his power, as to be driven away from his
throne amid the execrations of his subjects.

The harmony of Dryden and the power of James could control progressive
England no longer. Like one man, the nation rose and uttered a mighty cry
to William of Orange. James, trembling, flies hither and thither, and at
length, fearing the fate of his father, he deserts his throne; the commons
call this desertion abdication, and they give the throne to his nephew
William and his daughter Mary. Such was the end of the restored Stuarts;
and we can have no regret that it is: whatever sympathy we may have had
with the sufferings of Charles I.,--and the English nation shared it, as
is proved by the restoration of his son,--we can have none with his
successors: they threw away their chances; they dissipated the most
enthusiastic loyalty; they squandered opportunities; and had no enemies,
even the bitterest, who were more fatal than themselves. And now it was
manifest that Dryden's day was over. Nor does he shrink from his fate. He
neither sings a Godspeeding ode to the runaway king, nor a salutatory to
the new comers.

DRYDEN'S FALL.--Stripped of his laureate-wreath and all his emoluments, he
does not sit down to fold his hands and repine. Sixty years of age, he
girds up his loins to work manfully for his living. He translates from the
classics; he renders Chaucer into modern English: in 1690 he produced a
play entitled Don Sebastian, which has been considered his dramatic
master-piece, and, as if to inform the world that age had not dimmed the
fire of his genius, he takes as his caption,--

    ... nec tarda senectus
    Debilitat vires animi, mutat que vigorem.

This latter part of his life claims a true sympathy, because he is every
inch a man.

It must not be forgotten that Dryden presented Chaucer to England anew,
after centuries of neglect, almost oblivion; for which the world owes him
a debt of gratitude. This he did by modernizing several of the Canterbury
Tales, and thus leading English scholars to seek the beauties and
instructions of the original. The versions themselves are by no means well
executed, it must be said. He has lost the musical words and fresh diction
of the original, as a single comparison between the two will clearly show.
Perhaps there is no finer description of morning than is contained in
these lines of Chaucer:

    The besy lark, the messager of day,
    Saleweth in hir song the morwe gray;
    And firy Phebus riseth up so bright
    That all the orient laugheth of the sight.

How expressive the words: the _busy_ lark; the sun rising like a strong
man; _all the orient_ laughing. The following version by Dryden, loses at
once the freshness of idea and the felicity of phrase:

    The morning lark, the messenger of day,
    Saluted in her song the morning gray;
    And soon the sun arose with beams so bright
    That all the horizon laughed to see the joyous sight.

The student will find this only one of many illustrations of the manner
in which Dryden has belittled Chaucer in his versions.

ODES.--Dryden has been regarded as the first who used the heroic couplet
with entire mastery. In his hands it is bold and sometimes rugged, but
always powerful and handled with great ease: he fashioned it for Pope to
polish. Of this, his larger poems are full of proof. But there is another
verse, of irregular rhythm, in which he was even more successful,--lyric
poetry as found in the irregular ode, varying from the short line to the
"Alexandrine dragging its slow length along;" the staccato of a harp
ending in a lengthened flow of melody.

    Thus long ago,
    Ere heaving billows learned to blow,
    While organs yet were mute;
    Timotheus to his breathing flute
    And sounding lyre
    Could swell the soul to rage, or kindle soft desire.

When he became a Roman Catholic, St. Cecilia, "inventress of the vocal
frame," became his chief devotion; and the _Song on St. Cecilia's Day_ and
_An Ode to St. Cecilia_, are the principal illustrations of this new

Gray, who was remarkable for his own lyric power, told Dr. Beattie that if
there were any excellence in his own numbers, he had learned it wholly
from Dryden.

The _Ode on St. Cecilia's Day_, also entitled "_Alexander's Feast_," in
which he portrays the power of music in inspiring that famous monarch to
love, pity, and war, has to the scholar the perfect excellence of the best
Greek lyric. It ends with a tribute to St. Cecilia.

    At last divine Cecilia came,
    Inventress of the vocal frame:
    Now let Timotheus yield the prize,
    Or both divide the crown.
    He raised a mortal to the skies;
    She drew an angel down,

Dryden's prose, principally in the form of prefaces and dedications, has
been admired by all critics; and one of the greatest has said, that if he
had turned his attention entirely in that direction, he would have been
_facile princeps_ among the prose writers of his day. He has, in general
terms, the merit of being the greatest refiner of the English language,
and of having given system and strength to English poetry above any writer
up to his day; but more than all, his works are a transcript of English
history--political, religious, and social--as valuable as those of any
professed historian. Dryden married Lady Elizabeth Howard, the daughter of
an earl, who, it is said, was not a congenial companion, and who
afterwards became insane. He died from a gangrene in the foot. He declared
that he died in the profession of the Roman Catholic faith; which raises a
new doubt as to his sincerity in the change. Near the monument of old
father Chaucer, in Westminster, is one erected, by the Duke of Buckingham,
to Dryden. It merely bears name and date, as his life and works were
supposed to need no eulogy.



   The English Divines. Hall. Chillingworth. Taylor. Fuller. Sir T.
   Browne. Baxter. Fox. Bunyan. South. Other Writers.


Having come down, in the course of English Literature, to the reign of
William and Mary, we must look back for a brief space to consider the
religious polemics which grew out of the national troubles and
vicissitudes. We shall endeavor to classify the principal authors under
this head from the days of Milton to the time when the Protestant
succession was established on the English throne.

The Established Church had its learned doctors before the civil war, many
of whom contributed to the literature; but when the contest between king
and parliament became imminent, and during the progress of the quarrel,
these became controversialists,--most of them on the side of the
unfortunate but misguided monarch,--and suffered with his declining

To go over the whole range of theological literature in this extended
period, would be to study the history of the times from a theological
point of view. Our space will only permit a brief notice of the principal

HALL.--First among these was Joseph Hall, who was born in 1574. He was
educated at Cambridge, and was appointed to the See of Exeter in 1624,
and transferred to that of Norwich in 1641, the year before Charles I.
ascended the throne. The scope of his writings was quite extensive. As a
theological writer, he is known by his numerous sermons, his _Episcopacy
by Divine Right Asserted_, his _Christian Meditations_, and
various commentaries and _Contemplations_ upon the Scriptures.
He was also a poet and a satirist, and excelled in this field. His
_Satires--Virgidemiarium_--were published at the early age of
twenty-three; but they are highly praised by the critics, who rank him
also, for eloquence and learning, with Jeremy Taylor. He suffered for his
attachment to the king's cause, was driven from his see, and spent the
last portion of his life in retirement and poverty. He died in 1656.

CHILLINGWORTH.--The next in chronological order is William Chillingworth,
who was born in 1602, and is principally known as the champion of
Protestantism against Rome and Roman innovations. While a student at
Oxford, he had been won over to the Roman Catholic Church by John Perse, a
famous Jesuit; and he went at once to pursue his studies in the Jesuit
college at Douay. He was so notable for his acuteness and industry, that
every effort was made to bring him back. Archbishop Laud, his god-father,
was able to convince him of his errors, and in two months he returned to
England. A short time after this he left the Roman Catholics, and became
tenfold more a Protestant than before. He entered into controversies with
his former friends the Jesuits, and in answer to one of their treatises
entitled, _Mercy and Truth, or Charity maintained by the Roman Catholics_,
he wrote his most famous work, _The Religion of Protestants a Safe Way to
Salvation_. Chillingworth was a warm adherent of Charles I.; and was
captured by the parliamentary forces in 1643. He died the next year. His
double change of faith gave him the full range of the controversial field;
and, in addition to this knowledge, the clearness of his language and the
perspicuity of his logic gave great effect to his writings. Tillotson
calls him "the glory of this age and nation."

TAYLOR.--One of the greatest names in the annals of the English Church and
of English literature is that of Jeremy Taylor. He was the son of a
barber, and was born at Cambridge in 1613. A remarkably clever youth, he
was educated at Cambridge, and soon owed his preferment to his talents,
eloquence, and learning. An adherent of the king, he was appointed
chaplain in the royal army, and was several times imprisoned. When the
king's cause went down, and during the protectorate of Cromwell, he
retired to Wales, where he kept a school, and was also chaplain to the
Earl of Carberry. The vicissitudes of fortune compelled him to leave for a
while this retreat, and he became a teacher in Ireland. The restoration of
Charles II. gave him rest and preferment: he was made Bishop of Down and
Connor. Taylor is now principally known for his learned, quaint, and
eloquent discourses, which are still read. A man of liberal feelings and
opinions, he wrote on "The liberty of prophesying, showing the
unreasonableness of prescribing to other men's faith, and the iniquity of
persecuting different opinions:" the title itself being a very liberal
discourse. He upholds the Ritual in _An Apology for fixed and set Forms of
Worship_. In this he considers the divine precepts to be contained within
narrow limits, and that beyond this everything is a matter of dispute, so
that we cannot unconditionally condemn the opinions of others.

His _Great Exemplar of Sanctity and Holy Life_, his _Rule and Exercises of
Holy Living and of Holy Dying_, and his _Golden Grove_, are devotional
works, well known to modern Christians of all denominations. He has been
praised alike by Roman Catholic divines and many Protestant Christians not
of the Anglican Church. There is in all his writings a splendor of
imagery, combined with harmony of style, and wonderful variety,
readiness, and accuracy of scholarship. His quotations from the whole
range of classic authors would furnish the Greek and Latin armory of any
modern writer. What Shakspeare is in the Drama, Spenser in the Allegory,
and Milton in the religious Epic, Taylor may claim to be in the field of
purely religious literature. He died at Lisburn, in 1667.

FULLER.--More quaint and eccentric than the writers just mentioned, but a
rare representative of his age, stands Thomas Fuller. He was born in 1608;
at the early age of twelve, he entered Cambridge, and, after completing
his education, took orders. In 1631, he was appointed prebendary of
Salisbury. Thence he removed to London in 1641, when the civil war was
about to open. When the king left London, in 1642, Fuller preached a
sermon in his favor, to the great indignation of the opposite party. Soon
after, he was appointed to a chaplaincy in the royal army, and not only
preached to the soldiers, but urged them forward in battle. In 1646 he
returned to London, where he was permitted to preach, under
_surveillance_, however. He seems to have succeeded in keeping out of
trouble until the Restoration, when he was restored to his prebend. He did
not enjoy it long, as he died in the next year, 1661. His writings are
very numerous, and some of them are still read. Among these are _Good
Thoughts in Bad Times, Good Thoughts in Worse Times_, and _Mixt
Contemplations in Better Times_. The _bad_ and _worse_ times mark the
progress of the civil war: the _better_ times he finds in the Restoration.

One of his most valuable works is _The Church History of Britain, from the
birth of Christ to 1648_, in 11 books. Criticized as it has been for its
puns and quibbles and its occasional caricatures, it contains rare
descriptions and very vivid stories of the important ecclesiastical eras
in England.

Another book containing important information is his _History of the
Worthies of England_, a posthumous work, published by his son the year
after his death. It contains accounts of eminent Englishmen in different
countries; and while there are many errors which he would perhaps have
corrected, it is full of odd and interesting information not to be found
collated in any other book.

Representing and chronicling the age as he does, he has perhaps more
individuality than any writer of his time, and this gives a special
interest to his works.

SIR THOMAS BROWNE.--Classed among theological writers, but not a
clergyman, Sir Thomas Browne is noted for the peculiarity of his subjects,
and his diction. He was born in 1605, and was educated at Oxford. He
studied medicine, and became a practising physician. He travelled on the
continent, and returning to England in 1633, he began to write his most
important work, _Religio Medici_, at once a transcript of his own life and
a manifesto of what the religion of a physician should be. It was kept in
manuscript for some time, but was published without his knowledge in 1642.
He then revised the work, and published several editions himself. No
description of the treatise can give the reader a just idea of it; it
requires perusal. The criticism of Dr. Johnson is terse and just: it is
remarkable, he says, for "the novelty of paradoxes, the dignity of
sentiment, the quick succession of images, the multitude of abstruse
allusions, the subtilty of disquisition, and the strength of language." As
the portraiture of an inner life, it is admirable; and the accusation of
heterodoxy brought against him on account of a few careless passages is

Among his other works are _Essays on Vulgar Errors_ (_Pseudoxia
Epidemica_), and _Hydriotaphica_ or _Urne burial_; the latter suggested by
the exhumation of some sepulchral remains in Norfolk, which led him to
treat with great learning of the funeral rites of all nations. To this he
afterwards added _The Garden of Cyrus, or The Quincunxial Lozenge_, in
which, in the language of Coleridge, he finds quincunxes "in heaven above,
in the earth below, in the mind of man, in tones, optic nerves, in the
roots of trees, in leaves, in everything." He died in 1682.

Numerous sects, all finding doctrine and forms in the Bible, were the
issue of the religious and political controversies of the day. Without
entering into a consideration or even an enumeration of these, we now
mention a few of the principal names among them.

RICHARD BAXTER.--Among the most devout, independent, and popular of the
religious writers of the day, Richard Baxter occupies a high rank. He was
born in 1615, and was ordained a clergyman in 1638. In the civil troubles
he desired to remain neutral, and he opposed Cromwell when he was made
Protector. In 1662 he left the Church, and was soon the subject of
persecution: he was always the champion of toleration. In prison, poor,
hunted about from place to place, he was a martyr in spirit. During his
great earthly troubles he was solaced by a vision, which he embodied in
his popular work, _The Saints' Everlasting Rest_; and he wrote with great
fervor _A Call to the Unconverted_. He was a very voluminous writer; the
brutal Judge Jeffries, before whom he appeared for trial, called him "an
old knave, who had written books enough to load a cart." He wrote a
paraphrase of the New Testament, and numerous discourses. Dr. Johnson
advised Boswell, when speaking of Baxter's works: "Read any of them; they
are all good." He continued preaching until the close of his life, and
died peacefully in 1691.

GEORGE FOX.--The founder of the Society of Friends was born in 1624, in an
humble condition of life, and at an early age was apprenticed to a
shoemaker and grazier. Uneducated and unknown, he considered himself as
the subject of special religious providence, and at length as
supernaturally called of God. Suddenly abandoning his servile occupation,
he came out in 1647, at the age of twenty-three, as the founder of a new
sect; an itinerant preacher, he rebuked the multitudes which he assembled
by his fervent words. Much of his success was due to his earnestness and
self-abnegation. He preached in all parts of England, and visited the
American colonies. The name Quaker is said to have been applied to this
sect in 1650, when Fox, arraigned before Judge Bennet, told him to
"tremble at the word of the Lord." The establishment of this sect by such
a man is one of the strongest illustrations of the eager religious inquiry
of the age.

The works of Fox are a very valuable _Journal of his Life and Travels_;
_Letters and Testimonies_; _Gospel Truth Demonstrated_,--all of which form
the best statement of the origin and tenets of his sect. Fox was a solemn,
reverent, absorbed man; a great reader and fluent expounder of the
Scriptures, but fanatical and superstitious; a believer in witchcraft, and
in his power to detect witches. The sect which he founded, and which has
played so respectable a part in later history, is far more important than
the founder himself. He died in London in 1690.

WILLIAM PENN.--The fame of Fox in America has been eclipsed by that of his
chief convert William Penn. In an historical or biographical work, the
life of Penn would demand extended mention; but his name is introduced
here only as one of the theological writers of the day. He was born in
1644, and while a student at Oxford was converted to the Friends' doctrine
by the preaching of Thomas Loe, a colleague of George Fox. The son of
Admiral Sir William Penn, he was the ward of James II., and afterwards
Lord Proprietary and founder of Pennsylvania. Persecuted for his tenets,
he was frequently imprisoned for his preaching and writings. In 1668 he
wrote _Truth Exalted_ and _The Sandy Foundation_, and when imprisoned for
these, he wrote in jail his most famous work, _No Cross, no Crown_.

After the expulsion of James II., Penn was repeatedly tried and acquitted
for alleged attempts to aid the king in recovering his throne. The
malignity of Lord Macaulay has reproduced the charges, but reversed, most
unjustly, the acquittals. His record occupies a large space in American
history, and he is reverenced for having established a great colony on the
basis of brotherly love. Poor and infirm, he died in 1718.

ROBERT BARCLAY, who was born in 1648, is only mentioned in this connection
on account of his Latin apology for the Quakers, written in 1676, and
translated since into English.

JOHN BUNYAN.--Among the curious religious outcroppings of the civil war,
none is more striking and singular than John Bunyan. He produced a work of
a decidedly polemical character, setting forth his peculiar doctrines,
and--a remarkable feature in the course of English literature--a story so
interesting and vivid that it has met with universal perusal and
admiration. It is at the same time an allegory which has not its equal in
the language. Rhetoricians must always mention the Pilgrim's Progress as
the most splendid example of the allegory.

Bunyan was born in Elston, Bedfordshire, in 1628. The son of a tinker, his
childhood and early manhood were idle and vicious. A sudden and sharp
rebuke from a woman not much better than himself, for his blasphemy, set
him to thinking, and he soon became a changed man. In 1653 he joined the
Baptists, and soon, without preparation, began to preach. For this he was
thrown into jail, where he remained for more than twelve years. It was
during this period that, with no other books than the Bible and Fox's Book
of Martyrs, he excogitated his allegory. In 1672 he was released through
the influence of Barlow, Bishop of Lincoln. He immediately began to
preach, and continued to do so until 1688, when he died from a fever
brought on by exposure.

In his first work, _Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners_, he gives us
his own experience,--fearful dreams of early childhood, his sins and
warnings in the parliamentary army, with divers temptations, falls, and

Of his great work, _The Pilgrim's Progress_, it is hardly necessary to
speak at length. The story of the Pilgrim, Christian, is known to all
English readers, large and little; how he left the City of Destruction,
and journeyed towards the Celestial City; of his thrilling adventures; of
the men and things that retarded his progress, and of those who helped him
forward. No one has ever discoursed with such vivid description and
touching pathos of the Land of Beulah, the Delectable Mountains, the
Christian's inward rapture at the glimpse of the Celestial City, and his
faith-sustaining descent into the Valley of the Shadow of Death! As a work
of art, it is inimitable; as a book of religious instruction, it is more
to be admired for sentiment than for logic; its influence upon children is
rather that of a high-wrought romance than of godly precept. It is a
curious reproduction, with a slight difference in cast, of the morality
play of an earlier time. Mercy, Piety, Christian, Hopeful, Greatheart,
Faithful, are representatives of Christian graces; and, as in the
morality, the Prince of Darkness figures as Apollyon.

Bunyan also wrote _The Holy War_, an allegory, which describes the contest
between Immanuel and Diabolus for the conquest of the city of Mansoul.
This does not by any means share the popularity of _The Pilgrim's
Progress_. The language of all his works is common and idiomatic, but
precise and strong: it is the vigorous English of an unpretending man,
without the graces of the schools, but expressing his meaning with
remarkable clearness. Like Milton's Paradise Lost, Bunyan's allegory has
been improperly placed by many persons on a par with the Bible as a body
of Christian doctrine, and for instruction in righteousness.

ROBERT SOUTH.--This eccentric clergyman was born in 1633. While king's
scholar at Dr. Busby's school in London, he led the devotions on the day
of King Charles' execution, and prayed for his majesty by name. At first a
Puritan, he became a churchman, and took orders. He was learned and
eloquent; but his sermons, which were greatly admired at the time, contain
many oddities, forced conceits, and singular anti-climaxes, which gained
for him the appellation of the witty churchman.

He is accused of having been too subservient to Charles II.; and he also
is considered as displaying not a little vindictiveness in his attacks on
his former colleagues the Puritans. He is only known to this age by his
sermons, which are still published and read.


_Isaac Barrow_, 1630-1677: a man of varied learning, a traveller in the
East, and an oriental scholar. He was appointed Professor of Greek at
Cambridge, and also lectured on Mathematics. He was a profound thinker and
a weighty writer, principally known by his courses of sermons on the
Decalogue, the Creed, and the Sacraments.

_Edward Stillingfleet_, 1635-1699: a clergyman of the Church of England,
he was appointed Bishop of Worcester. Many of his sermons have been
published. Among his treatises is one entitled, _Irenicum, a Weapon-Salve
for the Churches Wounds, or the Divine Right of Particular Forms of Church
Government Discussed and Examined_. "The argument," says Bishop Burnet,
"was managed with so much learning and skill that none of either side ever
undertook to answer it." He also wrote _Origines Sacræ, or a Rational
Account of the Christian Faith_, and various treatises in favor of
Protestantism and against the Church of Rome.

_William Sherlock_, 1678-1761: he was Dean of St. Paul's, and a writer of
numerous doctrinal discourses, among which are those on _The Trinity_, and
on _Death and the Future Judgment_. His son, Thomas Sherlock, D.D., born
1678, was also a distinguished theological writer.

_Gilbert Burnet_, 1643-1715: he was very much of a politician, and played
a prominent part in the Revolution. He was made Bishop of Salisbury in
1689. He is principally known by his _History of the Reformation_, written
in the Protestant interest, and by his greater work, the _History of my
Own Times_. Not without a decided bias, this latter work is specially
valuable as the narration of an eye-witness. The history has been
variously criticized for prejudice and inaccuracy; but it fills what would
otherwise have been a great vacuum in English historical literature.

_John Locke_, 1632-1704. In a history of philosophy, the name of this
distinguished philosopher would occupy a prominent place, and his works
would require extended notice. But it is not amiss to introduce him
briefly in this connection, because his works all have an ethical
significance. He was educated as a physician, and occupied several
official positions, in which he suffered from the vicissitudes of
political fortune, being once obliged to retreat from persecution to
Holland. His _Letters on Toleration_ is a noble effort to secure the
freedom of conscience: his _Treatises on Civil Government_ were specially
designed to refute Sir John Filmer's _Patriarcha_, and to overthrow the
principle of the _Jus Divinum_. His greatest work is an _Essay on the
Human Understanding_. This marks an era in English thought, and has done
much to invite attention to the subject of intellectual philosophy. He
derives our ideas from the two sources, _sensation_ and _reflection_; and
although many of his views have been superseded by the investigations of
later philosophers, it is due to him in some degree that their inquiries
have been possible.


_John Evelyn_, 1620-1705. Among the unintentional historians of England,
none are of more value than those who have left detailed and gossiping
diaries of the times in which they lived: among these Evelyn occupies a
prominent place. He was a gentleman of education and position, who, after
the study of law, travelled extensively, and resided several years in
France. He had varied accomplishments. His _Sylva_ is a discourse on
forest trees and on the propagation of timber in his majesty's dominions.
To this he afterwards added _Pomona_, or a treatise on fruit trees. He was
also the author of an essay on _A Parallel of the Ancient Architecture
with the Modern_. But the work by which he is now best known is his
_Diary_ from 1641 to 1705; it is a necessary companion to the study of
the history of that period; and has been largely consulted by modern
writers in making up the historic record of the time.

_Samuel Pepys_, 1637-1703. This famous diarist was the son of a London
tailor. He received a collegiate education, and became a connoisseur in
literature and art. Of a prying disposition, he saw all that he could of
the varied political, literary, and social life of England; and has
recorded what he saw in a diary so quaint, simple, and amusing, that it
has retained its popularity to the present day, and has greatly aided the
historian both in facts and philosophy. He held an official position as
secretary in the admiralty, the duties of which he discharged with great
system and skill. In addition to this _Diary_, we have also his
_Correspondence_, published after his death, which is historically of
great importance. In both diary and correspondence he has the charm of
great _naïveté_,--as of a curious and gossiping observer, who never
dreamed that his writings would be made public. Men and women of social
station are painted in pre-Raphaelite style, and figure before us with
great truth and vividness.

_Elias Ashmole_, 1617-1693. This antiquarian and virtuoso is principally
known as the founder of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. He studied law,
chemistry, and natural philosophy. Besides an edition of the manuscript
works of certain English chemists, he wrote _Bennevennu_,--the description
of a Roman road mentioned in the Itinerary of Antoninus,--and a _History
of the Order of the Garter_. His _Diary_ was published nearly a century
after his death, but is by no means equal in value to those of Evelyn and

_John Aubrey_, 1627-1697: a man of curious mind, Aubrey investigated the
supernatural topics of the day, and presented them to the world in his
_Miscellanies_. Among these subjects it is interesting to notice "blows
invisible," and "knockings," which have been resuscitated in the present
day. He was a "perambulator," and, in the words of one of his critics,
"picked up information on the highway, and scattered it everywhere as
authentic." His most valuable contribution to history is found in his
_Letters Written by Eminent Persons in the 17th and 18th Centuries, with
Lives of Eminent Men_. The searcher for authentic material must carefully
scrutinize Aubrey's _facts_; but, with much that is doubtful, valuable
information may be obtained from his pages.



   The License of the Age. Dryden. Wycherley. Congreve. Vanbrugh.
   Farquhar. Etherege. Tragedy. Otway. Rowe. Lee. Southern.


There is no portion of the literature of this period which so fully
represents and explains the social history of the age as the drama. With
the restoration of Charles it returned to England, after a time in which
the chief faults had been too great rigor in morals. The theatres had been
closed, all amusements checked, and even poetry and the fine arts placed
under a ban. In the reign of Charles I., Prynne had written his _Histrio
Mastix_, or Scourge of the Stage, in which he not only denounced all stage
plays, but music and dancing; and also declaimed against hunting, festival
days, the celebration of Christmas, and Maypoles. For this he was indicted
in the Star Chamber for libel, and was sentenced to stand in the pillory,
to lose his ears, to pay the king a fine of £5000, and to be imprisoned
for life. For his attack there was much excuse in the license of the
former period; but when puritanism, in its turn, was brought under the
three spears, the drama was to come back tenfold more injurious and more
immoral than before.

From the stern and gloomy morals of the Commonwealth we now turn to the
debaucheries of the court,--from cropped heads and dark cloaks to plumes
and velvet, gold lace and embroidery,--to the varied fashions of every
kind for which Paris has always been renowned, and which Charles brought
back with him from his exile;--from prudish morals to indiscriminate
debauchery; from the exercisings of brewers' clerks, the expounding of
tailors, the catechizing of watermen, to the stage, which was now loudly
petitioned to supply amusement and novelty. Macaulay justly says: "The
restraints of that gloomy time were such as would have been impatiently
borne, if imposed by men who were universally believed to be saints; these
restraints became altogether insupportable when they were known to be kept
up for the profit of hypocrites! It is quite certain that if the royal
family had never returned, there would have been a great relaxation of
manners." It is equally certain, let us add, that morals would not have
been correspondingly relaxed. The revulsion was terrible. In no period of
English history was society ever so grossly immoral; and the drama, which
we now come to consider, displays this immorality and license with a
perfect delineation.

The English people had always been fond of the drama in all its forms, and
were ready to receive it even contaminated as it was by the licentious
spirit of the time. An illiterate and ignorant people cannot think for
themselves; they act upon the precepts and example of those above them in
knowledge and social station: thus it is that a dissolute monarch and a
subservient aristocracy corrupt the masses.

DRYDEN'S PLAYS.--Although Dryden's reputation is based on his other poems,
and although his dramas have conduced scarcely at all to his fame, he did
play a principal part in this department of literary work. Dryden made
haste to answer the call, and his venal muse wrote to please the town. The
names of many of his plays and personages are foreign; but their vitality
is purely English. Of his first play, _The Duke of Guise_, which was
unsuccessful, he tells us: "I undertook this as the fairest way which the
Act of Indemnity had left us, as setting forth the rise of the great
rebellion, and of exposing the villanies of it upon the stage, to
precaution posterity against the like errors;"--a rebellion the
master-spirit of which he had eulogized upon his bier!

His second play, _The Wild Gallant_, may be judged by the fact that it won
for him the favor of Charles II. and of his mistress, the Duchess of
Cleveland. Pepys saw it "well acted;" but says, "It hath little good in
it." It is not our purpose to give a list of Dryden's plays; besides their
occasional lewdness, they are very far inferior to his poems, and are now
rarely read except by the historical student. They paid him in ready
money, and he cannot ask payment from posterity in fame.

On the 13th of January, 1667-8, (we are told by Pepys,) the ladies and the
Duke of Monmouth acted _The Indian Emperour_ at court.

The same chronicler says: _The Maiden Queene_ was "mightily commended for
the regularity of it, and the strain and wit;" but of the _Ladys à la
Mode_ he says it was "so mean a thing" that, when it was announced for the
next night, the pit "fell a laughing, because the house was not a quarter

But Dryden, as a playwright, does not enjoy the infamous honor of a high
rank among his fellow-dramatists. The proper representations of the drama
in that age were, in Comedy, Wycherley, Congreve, Vanbrugh, and Farquhar;
and, in Tragedy, Otway, Rowe, and Lee.

WYCHERLEY.--Of the comedists of this period, where all were evil, William
Wycherley was the worst. In his four plays, _Love in a Wood_, _The
Gentleman Dancing-Master_, _The Country Wife_, and _The Plain Dealer_, he
outrages all decency, ridicules honesty and virtue, and makes vice always
triumphant. As a young man, profligate with pen and in his life, he was a
wicked old man; for, when sixty-four years of age, he published a
miscellany of verses of which Macaulay says: "The style and versification
are beneath criticism: the morals are those of Rochester." And yet it is
sad to be obliged to say that his characters pleased the age, because such
men and women really lived then, and acted just as he describes them. He
depicted vice to applaud and not to punish it. Wycherley was born in 1640,
and died in 1715.

CONGREVE.--William Congreve, who is of the same school of morals, is far
superior as a writer; indeed, were one name to be selected in illustration
of our subject, it would be his. He was born in 1666, and, after being
educated at Trinity College, Dublin, was a student at the Middle Temple.
His first play, _The Old Bachelor_, produced in his twenty-first year, was
a great success, and won for him the patronage of Lord Halifax. His next,
_The Double Dealer_, caused Dryden to proclaim him the equal of
Shakspeare! Perhaps his most famous comedy is _Love for Love_, which is
besides an excellent index to the morality of the age. The author was
quoted and caressed; Pope dedicated to him his Translation of the Iliad;
and Voltaire considered him the most successful English writer of comedy.
His merit consists in some degree of originality, and in the liveliness of
his colloquies. His wit is brilliant and flashing, but, in the words of
Thackeray, the world to him "seems to have had no moral at all."

How much he owed to the French school, and especially to Molière, may be
judged from the fact that a whole scene in _Love for Love_ is borrowed
from the _Don Juan_ of Molière. It is that in which Trapland comes to
collect his debt from Valentine Legend. Readers of Molière will recall the
scene between Don Juan, Sganarelle and M. Dimanche, which is here, with
change of names, taken almost word for word. His men are gallants neither
from love or passion, but from the custom of the age, of which it is said,
"it would break Mr. Tattle's heart to think anybody else should be
beforehand with him;" and Mr. Tattle was the type of a thousand fine
gentlemen in the best English society of that day.

His only tragedy, _The Mourning Bride_, although far below those of
Shakspeare, is the best of that age; and Dr. Johnson says he would go to
it to find the most poetical paragraph in the range of English poetry.
Congreve died in 1729, leaving his gains to the Duchess of Marlborough,
who cherished his memory in a very original fashion. She had a statue of
him in ivory, which went by clockwork, and was daily seated at her table;
and another wax-doll imitation, whose feet she caused to be blistered and
anointed by physicians, as the poet's gouty extremities had been.

Congreve was not ashamed to vindicate the drama, licentious as it was. In
the year 1698, Jeremy Collier, a distinguished nonjuring clergyman,
published _A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English
Stage_; a very vigorous and severe criticism, containing a great deal of
wholesome but bitter truth. Congreve came to the defence of the stage, and
his example was followed by his brother dramatists. But Collier was too
strong for his enemies, and the defences were very weak. There yet existed
in England that leaven of purity which has steadily since been making its
influence felt.

VANBRUGH.--Sir John Vanbrugh (born in 1666, died in 1726) was an architect
as well as a dramatist, but not great in either rôle. His principal dramas
are _The Provoked Wife_, _The City Wives' Confederacy_, and _The Journey
to London_ (finished by Colley Cibber). His personages are vicious and
lewd, but quite real; and his wit is constant and flowing. _The Provoked
Wife_ is so licentious a play that it is supposed Vanbrugh afterwards
conceived and began his _Provoked Husband_ to make some amends for it.
This latter play, however, he did not complete: it was finished after his
death by Cibber, who says in the Prologue:

    This play took birth from principles of truth,
    To make amends for errors past of youth.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Though vice is natural, 't was never meant
    The stage should show it but for punishment.
    Warm with such thoughts, his muse once more took flame,
    Resolved to bring licentious life to shame.

If Vanbrugh was not born in France, it is certain that he spent many years
there, and there acquired the taste and handling of the comic drama, which
then had its halcyon days under Molière. His dialogue is very spirited,
and his humor is greater than that of Congreve, who, however, excelled him
in wit.

The principal architectural efforts of Vanbrugh were the design for Castle
Howard, and the palace of Blenheim, built for Marlborough by the English
nation, both of which are greater titles to enduring reputation than any
of his plays.

FARQUHAR.--George Farquhar was born in Londonderry, in 1678, and began his
studies at Trinity College, Dublin, but was soon stage-struck, and became
an actor. Not long after, he was commissioned in the army, and began to
write plays in the style and moral tone of the age. Among his nine
comedies, those which present that tone best are his _Love in a Bottle_,
_The Constant Couple_, _The Recruiting Officer_, and _The Beaux'
Stratagem_. All his productions were hastily written, but met with great
success from their gayety and clever plots, especially the last two
mentioned, which are not, besides, so immoral as the others, and which are
yet acted upon the British stage.

ETHEREGE.--Sir George Etherege, a coxcomb and a diplomatist, was born in
1636, and died in 1694. His plays are, equally with the others mentioned,
marked by the licentiousness of the age, which is rendered more insidious
by their elegance. Among them are _The Comical Revenge, or Love in a
Tub_, and _The Man of Mode, or Sir Fopling Flutter_.


The domain of tragedy, although perhaps not so attractive to the English
people as comedy, was still sufficiently so to invite the attention of the
literati. The excitement which is produced by exaggerated scenes of
distress and death has always had a charm for the multitude; and although
the principal tragedies of this period are based upon heroic stories, many
of them of classic origin, the genius of the writer displayed itself in
applying these to his own times, and in introducing that "touch of nature"
which "makes the whole world kin." Human sympathy is based upon a
community of suffering, and the sorrows of one age are similar to those of
another. Besides, tragedy served, in the period of which we are speaking,
to give variety and contrast to what would otherwise have been the gay
monotony of the comic muse.

OTWAY.--The first writer to be mentioned in this field, is Thomas Otway
(born in 1651, died in 1685). He led an irregular and wretched life, and
died, it is said, from being choked by a roll of bread which, after great
want, he was eating too ravenously.

His style is extravagant, his pathos too exacting, and his delineation of
the passions sensational and overwrought. He produced in his earlier
career _Alcibiades_ and _Don Carlos_, and, later, _The Orphan_, and _The
Soldier's Fortune_. But the piece by which his fame was secured is _Venice
Preserved_, which, based upon history, is fictional in its details. The
original story is found in the Abbé de St. Real's _Histoire de la
Conjuration du Marquis de Bedamar_, or the account of a Spanish conspiracy
in which the marquis, who was ambassador, took part. It is still put upon
the stage, with the omission, however, of the licentious comic portions
found in the original play.

NICHOLAS ROWE, who was born in 1673, a man of fortune and a government
official, produced seven tragedies, of which _The Fair Penitent_, _Lady
Jane Grey_, and _Jane Shore_ are the best. His description of the lover,
in the first, has become a current phrase: "That haughty, gallant, gay
Lothario,"--the prototype of false lovers since. The plots are too broad,
but the moral of these tragedies is in most cases good.

In _Jane Shore_, he has followed the history of the royal mistress, and
has given a moral lesson of great efficacy.

NATHANIEL LEE, 1657-1692: was a man of dissolute life, for some time
insane, and met his death in a drunken brawl. Of his ten tragedies, the
best are _The Rival Queens_, and _Theodosius, or The Force of Love_. The
rival queens of Alexander the Great--Roxana and Statira--figure in the
first, which is still presented upon the stage. It has been called, with
just critical point, "A great and glorious flight of a bold but frenzied
imagination, having as much absurdity as sublimity, and as much
extravagance as passion; the poet, the genius, the scholar are everywhere

THOMAS SOUTHERN, 1659-1746: wrote _Isabella, or The Fatal Marriage_, and
_Oronooko_. In the latter, although yielding to the corrupt taste of the
time in his comic parts, he causes his captive Indian prince to teach that
period a lesson by his pure and noble love for Imoinda. Oronooko is a
prince taken by the English at Surinam and carried captive to England.

These writers are the best representatives of those who in tragedy and
comedy form the staple of that age. Their models were copied in succeeding
years; but, with the expulsion of the Stuarts, morals were somewhat
mended; and while light, gay, and witty productions for the stage were
still in demand, the extreme licentiousness was repudiated by the public;
and the plays of Cibber, Cumberland, Colman, and Sheridan, reflecting
these better tastes, are free from much of the pollution to which we have



   Contemporary History. Birth and Early Life. Essay on Criticism. Rape of
   the Lock. The Messiah. The Iliad. Value of the Translation. The
   Odyssey. Essay on Man. The Artificial School. Estimate of Pope. Other

Alexander Pope is at once one of the greatest names in English literature
and one of the most remarkable illustrations of the fact that the
literature is the interpreter of English history. He was also a man of
singular individuality, and may, in some respects, be considered a _lusus
naturæ_ among the literary men of his day.

CONTEMPORARY HISTORY.--He was born in London on the 21st of May, 1688, the
year which witnessed the second and final expulsion of the Stuarts, in
direct line, and the accession of a younger branch in the persons of Mary
and her husband, William of Orange. Pope comes upon the literary scene
with the new order of political affairs. A dynasty had been overthrown,
and the power of the parliament had been established; new charters of
right had secured the people from kingly oppression; but there was still a
strong element of opposition and sedition in the Jacobite party, which had
by no means abandoned the hope of restoring the former rule. They were
kept in check, indeed, during the reign of William and Mary, but they
became bolder upon the accession of Queen Anne. They hoped to find their
efforts facilitated by the fact that she was childless; and they even
asserted that upon her death-bed she had favored the succession of the
pretender, whom they called James III.

In 1715, the year after the accession of George I., the electoral prince
of Hanover,--whose grandmother was the daughter of James I.,--they broke
out into open rebellion. The pretender landed in Scotland, and made an
abortive attempt to recover the throne. The nation was kept in a state of
excitement and turmoil until the disaster of Culloden, and the final
defeat of Charles Edward, the young pretender, in 1745, one year after the
death of Pope.

These historical facts had a direct influence upon English society: the
country was divided into factions; and political conflicts sharpened the
wits and gave vigor to the conduct of men in all ranks. Pope was an
interpreter of his age, in politics, in general culture, and in social
manners and morals. Thus he was a politician among the statesmen
Bolingbroke, Buckingham, Oxford, Sunderland, Halifax, Harley, and
Marlborough. His _Essay on Criticism_ presents to us the artificial taste
and technical rules which were established as a standard in literature.
His _Essay on Man_, his _Moral Epistles_, and his _Universal Prayer_ are
an index to the semi-Christian, semi-Grecian ethics of an age too selfish
to be orthodox, and too progressive to be intolerant. His _Rape of the
Lock_ is a striking picture of social life, sketched by the hand of a
gentle satire. His translations of Homer, and their great success, are
significant of a more extended taste for scholarship; not attended,
however, with many incentives to originality of production. The nobles
were still the patrons of literature, and they fancied old things which
were grand, in new and gaudy English dresses. The age was also marked by
rapid and uniform progress in the English language. The sonorous, but
cumbrous English of Milton had been greatly improved by Dryden; and we
have seen, also, that the terse and somewhat crude diction of Dryden's
earlier works had been polished and rendered more harmonious in his later

This harmony of language seemed to Pope and to his patrons the chief aim
of the poet, and to make it still more tuneful and melodious was the
purpose of his life.

BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE.--Pope was the son of a respectable linen-draper, who
had achieved a competency and retired to enjoy it. The mother of the poet
must have been a good one, to have retained the ardent and eulogistic
affection of her son to the close of her life, as she did. This attachment
is a marked feature in his biography, and at last finds vent in her
epitaph, in which he calls her "_mater optima, mulierum amantissima_."

Pope was a sickly, dwarfed, precocious child. His early studies in Latin
and Greek were conducted by priests of the Roman Catholic Church, to which
his parents belonged; but he soon took his education into his own hands.
Alone and unaided he pursued his classical studies, and made good progress
in French and German.

Of his early rhyming powers he says:

    "I lisped in numbers, for the numbers came."

At the age of twelve, he was taken to Will's Coffee-house, to see the
great Dryden, upon whom, as a model, he had already determined to fashion

His first efforts were translations. He made English versions of the first
book of the _Thebais_ of Statius; several of the stories of Chaucer, and
one of Ovid's Epistles, all of which were produced before he was fifteen.

ESSAY ON CRITICISM.--He was not quite twenty-one when he wrote his _Essay
on Criticism_, in which he lays down the canons of just criticism, and the
causes which prevent it. In illustration, he attacks the multitude of
critics of that day, and is particularly harsh in his handling of a few
among them. He gained a name by this excellent poem, but he made many
enemies, and among them one John Dennis, whom he had satirized under the
name of Appius. Dennis was his life-long foe.

Perhaps there is no better proof of the lasting and deserved popularity of
this Essay, than the numerous quotations from it, not only in works on
rhetoric and literary criticism, but in our ordinary intercourse with men.
Couplets and lines have become household words wherever the English
language is spoken. How often do we hear the sciolist condemned in these

    A little learning is a dangerous thing;
    Drink deep, or touch not the Pierian spring?

Irreverence and rash speculation are satirized thus:

    Nay, fly to altars; there they'll talk you dead,
    For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

We may waive a special notice of his _Pastorals_, which, like those of
Dryden, are but clever imitations of Theocritus and anachronisms of the
Alexandrian period. Of their merits, we may judge from his own words. "If
they have any merit, it is to be attributed to some good old authors,
whose works as I had leisure to study, so I hope I have not wanted care to

RAPE OF THE LOCK.--The poem which displays most originality of invention
is the _Rape of the Lock_. It is, perhaps, the best and most charming
specimen of the mock-heroic to be found in English; and it is specially
deserving of attention, because it depicts the social life of the period
in one of its principal phases. Miss Arabella Fermor, one of the reigning
beauties of London society, while on a pleasure party on the Thames, had a
lock of her hair surreptitiously cut off by Lord Petre. Although it was
designed as a joke, the belle was very angry; and Pope, who was a friend
of both persons, wrote this poem to assuage her wrath and to reconcile
them. It has all the system and construction of an epic. The poet
describes, with becoming delicacy, the toilet of the lady, at which she is
attended by obsequious sylphs.

The party embark upon the river, and the fair lady is described in the
splendor of her charms:

    This nymph, to the destruction of mankind,
    Nourished two locks, which graceful hung behind
    In equal curls, and well conspired to deck,
    With shining ringlets, the smooth, ivory neck.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Fair tresses man's imperial race ensnare.
    And beauty draws us by a single hair.

Surrounding sylphs protect the beauty; and one to whom the lock has been
given in charge, flutters unfortunately too near, and is clipped in two by
the scissors that cut the lock. It is a rather extravagant conclusion,
even in a mock-heroic poem, that when the strife was greatest to restore
the lock, it flew upward:

    A sudden star, it shot through liquid air,
    And drew behind a radiant trail of hair,

and thus, and always, it

    Adds new glory to the shining sphere.

With these simple and meagre materials, Pope has constructed an harmonious
poem in which the sylphs, gnomes, and other sprites of the Rosicrucian
philosophy find appropriate place and service. It failed in its principal
purpose of reconciliation, but it has given us the best mock-heroic poem
in the language. As might have been expected, it called forth bitter
criticisms from Dennis; and there were not wanting those who saw in it a
political significance. Pope's pleasantry was aroused at this, and he
published _A Key to the Lock_, in which he further mystifies these sage
readers: Belinda becomes Great Britain; the Baron is the Earl of Oxford;
and Thalestris is the Duchess of Marlborough.

THE MESSIAH.--In 1712 there appeared in one of the numbers of _The
Spectator_, his _Messiah, a Sacred Eclogue_, written with the purpose of
harmonizing the prophecy of Isaiah and the singular oracles of the Pollio,
or Fourth Eclogue of Virgil. Elevated in thought and grand in diction, the
Messiah has kept its hold upon public favor ever since, and portions of it
are used as hymns in general worship. Among these will be recognized that
of which the opening lines are:

    Rise, crowned with light, imperial Salem, rise;
    Exalt thy towering head and lift thine eyes.

In 1713 he published a poem on _Windsor Forest_, and an _Ode on St.
Cecilia's Day_, in imitation of Dryden. He also furnished the beautiful
prologue to Addison's Cato.

TRANSLATION OF THE ILIAD.--He now proposed to himself a task which was to
give him more reputation and far greater emolument than anything he had
yet accomplished--a translation of the Iliad of Homer. This was a great
desideratum, and men of all parties conspired to encourage and reward him.
Chapman's Homer, excellent as it was, was not in a popular measure, and
was known only to scholars.

In the execution of this project, Pope labored for six years--writing by
day and dreaming of his work at night; translating thirty or forty lines
before rising in the morning, and jotting down portions even while on a
journey. Pope's polished pentameters, when read, are very unlike the
full-voiced hexameters of Homer; but the errors in the translation are
comparatively few and unimportant, and his own poetry is in his best vein.
The poem was published by subscription, and was a great pecuniary success.
This was in part due to the blunt importunity of Dean Swift, who said:
"The author shall not begin to print until I have a thousand guineas for
him." Parnell, one of the most accomplished Greek scholars of the day,
wrote a life of Homer, to be prefixed to the work; and many of the
critical notes were written by Broome, who had translated the Iliad into
English prose. Pope was not without poetical rivals. Tickell produced a
translation of the first book of the Iliad, which was certainly revised,
and many thought partly written, by Addison. A coolness already existing
between Pope and Addison was increased by this circumstance, which soon
led to an open rupture between them. The public, however, favored Pope's
version, while a few of the _dilettanti_ joined Addison in preferring

The pecuniary results of Pope's labors were particularly gratifying. The
work was published in six quarto volumes, and had more than six hundred
subscribers, at six guineas a copy: the amount realized by Pope on the
first and subsequent issues was upwards of five thousand pounds--an
unprecedented payment of bookseller to author in that day.

VALUE OF THE TRANSLATION.--This work, in spite of the criticism of exact
scholars, has retained its popularity to the present time. Chapman's Homer
has been already referred to. Since the days of Pope numerous authors have
tried their hands upon Homer, translating the whole or a part. Among these
is a very fine poem by Cowper, in blank verse, which is praised by the
critics, but little read. Lord Derby's translation is distinguished for
its prosaic accuracy. The recent version of our venerable poet, Wm. C.
Bryant, is acknowledged to be at once scholarly, accurate, and harmonious,
and will be of permanent value and reputation. But the exquisite tinkling
of Pope's lines, the pleasant refrain they leave in the memory, like the
chiming of silver bells, will cause them to last, with undiminished favor,
unaffected by more correct rivals, as long as the language itself. "A very
pretty poem, Mr. Pope," said the great Bentley; "but pray do not call it
Homer." Despite this criticism of the Greek scholar, the world has taken
it for Homer, and knows Homer almost solely through this charming medium.

The Iliad was issued in successive years, the last two volumes appearing
in 1720. Of course it was savagely attacked by Dennis; but Pope had won
more than he had hoped for, and might laugh at his enemies.

With the means he had inherited, increased by the sale of his poem, Pope
leased a villa on the Thames, at Twickenham, which he fitted up as a
residence for life. He laid out the grounds, built a grotto, and made his
villa a famous spot.

Here he was smitten by the masculine charms of the gifted Lady Mary
Wortley Montagu, who figures in many of his verses, and particularly in
the closing lines of the _Epistle of Eloisa to Abelard_. It was a singular
alliance, destined to a speedy rupture. On her return from Turkey, in
1718, where her husband had been the English ambassador, she took a home
near Pope's villa, and, at his request, sat for her portrait. When, later,
they became estranged, she laughed at the poet, and his coldness turned
into hatred.

THE ODYSSEY.--The success of his version of the Iliad led to his
translation of the Odyssey; but this he did with the collaboration of
Fenton and Broome, the former writing four and the latter six books. The
volumes appeared successively in 1725-6, and there was an appendix
containing the _Batrachomiomachia_, or Battle of the Frogs and Mice,
translated by Parnell. For this work Pope received the lion's share of
profits, his co-laborers being paid only £800.

Among his miscellaneous works must be mentioned portions of _Martinus
Scriblerus_. One of these, _Peri Bathous_, or _Art of Sinking in Poetry_,
was the germ of The Dunciad.

Like Dryden, he was attacked by the _soi-disant_ poets of the day, and
retorted in similar style and taste. In imitation of Dryden's
_MacFlecknoe_, he wrote _The Dunciad_, or epic of the Dunces, in the first
edition of which Theobald was promoted to the vacant throne. It roused a
great storm. Authors besieged the publisher to hinder him from publishing
it, while booksellers and agents were doing all in their power to procure
it. In a later edition a new book was added, deposing Theobald and
elevating Colley Cibber to the throne of Dulness. This was ill-advised, as
the ridicule, which was justly applied to Theobald, is not applicable to

ESSAY ON MAN.--The intercourse of the poet with the gifted but sceptical
Lord Bolingbroke is apparent in his _Essay on Man_, in which, with much
that is orthodox and excellent, the principles and influence of his
lordship are readily discerned. The first part appeared in 1732, and the
second some years later. The opinion is no longer held that Bolingbroke
wrote any part of the poem; he has only infected it. It is one of Pope's
best poems in versification and diction, and abounds with pithy proverbial
sayings, which the English world has been using ever since as current
money in conversational barter. Among many that might be selected, the
following are well known:

    All are but parts of one stupendous whole
    Whose body nature is, and God the soul.

    Know thou thyself, presume not God to scan;
    The proper study of mankind is man.

    A wit's a feather, and a chief's a rod;
    An honest man's the noblest work of God.

Among the historical teachings of Pope's works and career, and also among
the curiosities of literature, must be noticed the publication of Pope's
letters, by Curll the bookseller, without the poet's permission. They were
principally letters to Henry Cromwell, Wycherley, Congreve, Steele,
Addison, and Swift. There were not wanting those who believed that it was
a trick of the poet himself to increase his notoriety; but such an
opinion is hardly warranted. These letters form a valuable chapter in the
social and literary history of the period.

POPE'S DEATH AND CHARACTER.--On the 30th of May, 1744, Pope passed away,
after a long illness, during which he said he was "dying of a hundred good
symptoms." Indeed, so frail and weak had he always been, that it was a
wonder he lived so long. His weakness of body seems to have acted upon his
strong mind, which must account for much that is satirical and splenetic
in his writings. Very short, thin, and ill-shaped, his person wanted the
compactness necessary to stand alone, until it was encased in stays. He
needed a high chair at table, such as children use; but he was an epicure,
and a fastidious one; and despite his infirmities, his bright,
intellectual eye and his courtly manners caused him to be noted quite as
much as his defects.

THE ARTIFICIAL SCHOOL.--Pope has been set forth as the head of the
_Artificial School_. This is, perhaps, rather a convenient than an exact
designation. He had little of original genius, but was an apt imitator and
reproducer--what in painting would be an excellent copyist. His greatest
praise, however, is that he reduced to system what had gone before him;
his poems present in themselves an art of poetry, with technical canons
and illustrations, which were long after servilely obeyed, and the
influence of which is still felt to-day.

And this artificial school was in the main due to the artificial character
of the age. Nature seemed to have lost her charms; pastorals were little
more than private theatricals, enacted with straw hats and shepherd's
crook in drawing-rooms or on close-clipped lawns. Culture was confined to
court and town, and poets found little inducement to consult the heart or
to woo nature, but wrote what would please the town or court. This taste
gave character to the technical standards, to which Pope, more than any
other writer, gave system and coherence. Most of the literati were men of
the town; many were fine gentlemen with a political bias; and thus it is
that the school of poets of which Pope is the unchallenged head, has been
known as the Artificial School.

In the passage of time, and with the increase of literature, the real
merits of Pope were for some time neglected, or misrepresented. The world
is beginning to discern and recognize these again. Learned, industrious,
self-reliant, controversial, and, above all, harmonious, instead of giving
vent to the highest fancies in simple language, he has treated the
common-place--that which is of universal interest--in melodious and
splendid diction. But, above all, he stands as the representative of his
age: a wit among the comic dramatists who were going out and the essayists
who were coming in; a man of the world with Lady Mary and the gay parties
on the Thames; a polemic, who dealt keen thrusts and who liked to see them
rankle, and who yet writhed in agony when the _riposte_ came; a Roman
Catholic in faith and a latitudinarian in speech;--such was Pope as a type
of that world in which he lived.

A poet of the first rank he was not; he invented nothing; but he
established the canons of poetry, attuned to exquisite harmony the rhymed
couplet which Dryden had made so powerful an instrument, improved the
language, discerned and reconnected the discordant parts of literature;
and thus it is that he towers above all the poets of his age, and has sent
his influence through those that followed, even to the present day.


_Matthew Prior_, 1664-1721: in his early youth he was a waiter in his
uncle's tap-room, but, surmounting all difficulties, he rose to be a
distinguished poet and diplomatist. He was an envoy to France, where he
was noted for his wit and ready repartee. His love songs are somewhat
immoral, but exquisitely melodious. His chief poems are: _Alma_, a
philosophic piece in the vein of Hudibras; _Solomon_, a Scripture poem;
and, the best of all, _The City and Country Mouse_, a parody on Dryden's
_Hind and Panther_, which he wrote in conjunction with Mr. Montague. He
was imprisoned by the Whigs in 1715, and lost all his fortune. He was
distinguished by having Dr. Johnson as his biographer, in the _Lives of
the Poets_.

_John Arbuthnot_, 1667-1735: born in Scotland. He was learned, witty, and
amiable. Eminent in medicine, he was physician to the court of Queen Anne.
He is chiefly known in literature as the companion of Pope and Swift, and
as the writer with them of papers in the Martinus Scriblerus Club, which
was founded in 1714, and of which Pope, Gay, Swift, Arbuthnot, Harvey,
Atterbury, and others, were the principal members. Arbuthnot wrote a
_History of John Bull_, which was designed to render the war then carried
on by Marlborough unpopular, and certainly conduced to that end.

_John Gay_, 1688-1732: he was of humble origin, but rose by his talents,
and figured at court. He wrote several dramas in a mock-tragic vein. Among
these are _What D'ye Call It?_ and _Three Hours after Marriage_; but that
which gave him permanent reputation is his _Beggar's Opera_, of which the
hero is a highwayman, and the characters are prostitutes and Newgate
gentry. It is interspersed with gay and lyrical songs, and was rendered
particularly effective by the fine acting of Miss Elizabeth Fenton, in the
part of _Polly_. The _Shepherd's Week_, a pastoral, contains more real
delineations of rural life than any other poem of the period. Another
curious piece is entitled, _Trivia, or the Art of Walking the Streets of

_Thomas Parnell_, 1679-1718: he was the author of numerous poems, among
which the only one which has retained popular favor is _The Hermit_, a
touching poem founded upon an older story. He wrote the life of Homer
prefixed to Pope's translation; but it was very much altered by Pope.

_Thomas Tickell_, 1686-1740: particularly known as the friend of Addison.
He wrote a translation of the First Book of Homer's Iliad, which was
corrected by Addison, and contributed several papers to _The Spectator_.
But he is best known by his _Elegy_ upon Addison, which Dr. Johnson calls
a very "elegant funeral poem."

_Isaac Watts_, 1674-1765: this great writer of hymns was born at
Southampton, and became one of the most eminent of the dissenting
ministers of England. He is principally known by his metrical versions of
the Psalms, and by a great number of original hymns, which have been
generally used by all denominations of Christians since. He also produced
many hymns for children, which have become familiar as household words. He
had a lyrical ear, and an easy, flowing diction, but is sometimes careless
in his versification and incorrect in his theology. During the greater
part of his life the honored guest of Sir Thomas Abney, he devoted himself
to literature. Besides many sermons, he produced a treatise on _The First
Principles of Geology and Astronomy_; a work on _Logic, or the Right Use
of the Reason in the Inquiry after Truth_; and _A Supplement on the
Improvement of the Mind_. These latter have been superseded as text-books
by later and more correct inquiry.

_Edward Young_, 1681-1765: in his younger days he sought preferment at
court, but being disappointed in his aspirations, he took orders in the
Church, and led a retired life. He published a satire entitled, _The Love
of Fame, the Universal Passion_, which was quite successful. But his chief
work, which for a long time was classed with the highest poetic efforts,
is the _Night Thoughts_, a series of meditations, during nine nights, on
Life, Death, and Immortality. The style is somewhat pompous, the imagery
striking, but frequently unnatural; the occasional descriptions majestic
and vivid; and the effect of the whole is grand, gloomy, and peculiar. It
is full of apothegms, which have been much quoted; and some of his lines
and phrases are very familiar to all.

He wrote papers on many topics, and among his tragedies the best known is
that entitled _The Revenge_. Very popular in his own day, Young has been
steadily declining in public favor, partly on account of the superior
claims of modern writers, and partly because of the morbid and gloomy
views he has taken of human nature. His solemn admonitions throng upon the
reader like phantoms, and cause him to desire more cheerful company. A
sketch of the life of Young may be found in Dr. Johnson's _Lives of the



   The Character of the Age. Queen Anne. Whigs and Tories. George I.
   Addison--The Campaign. Sir Roger de Coverley. The Club. Addison's
   Hymns. Person and Literary Character.


To cater further to the Artificial Age, the literary cravings of which far
exceeded those of any former period, there sprang up a school of
Essayists, most of whom were also poets, dramatists, and politicians.
Among these Addison, Steele, and Swift stand pre-eminent. Each of them was
a man of distinct and interesting personality. Two of them--Addison and
Swift--presented such a remarkable contrast, that it has been usual for
writers on this period of English Literature to bring them together as
foils to each other. This has led to injustice towards Swift; they should
be placed in juxtaposition because they are of the same period, and
because of their joint efforts in the literary development of the age. The
period is distinctly marked. We speak as currently of the wits and the
essayists of Queen Anne's reign as we do of the authors of the Elizabethan

A glance at contemporary history will give us an intelligent clue to our
literary inquiries, and cause us to observe the historical character of
the literature.

To a casual observer, the reign of Queen Anne seems particularly
untroubled and prosperous. English history calls it the time of "Good
Queen Anne;" and it is referred to with great unction by the _laudator
temporis acti_, in unjust comparison with the period which has since
intervened, as well as with that which preceded it.

QUEEN ANNE.--The queen was a Protestant, as opposed to the Romanists and
Jacobites; a faithful wife, and a tender mother in her memory of several
children who died young. She was merciful, pure, and gracious to her
subjects. Her reign was tolerant. There was plenty at home; rebellion and
civil war were at least latent. Abroad, England was greatly distinguished
by the victories of Marlborough and Eugene. But to one who looks through
this veil of prosperity, a curious history is unfolded. The fires of
faction were scarcely smouldering. It was the transition period between
the expiring dynasty of the direct line of Stuarts and the coming of the
Hanoverian house. Women took part in politics; sermons like that of
Sacheverell against the dissenters and the government were thundered from
the pulpit. Volcanic fires were at work; the low rumblings of an
earthquake were heard from time to time, and gave constant cause of
concern to the queen and her statesmen. Men of rank conspired against each
other; the moral license of former reigns seems to have been forgotten in
political intrigue. When James II. had been driven out in 1688, the
English conscience compromised on the score of the divine right of kings,
by taking his daughter Mary and her husband as joint monarchs. To do this,
they affected to call the king's son by his second wife, born in that
year, a pretender. It was said that he was the child of another woman, and
had been brought to the queen's bedside in a warming-pan, that James might
be able to present, thus fraudulently, a Roman Catholic heir to the
throne. In this they did the king injustice, and greater injustice to the
queen, Maria de Modena, a pleasing and innocent woman, who had, by her
virtues and personal popularity alone, kept the king on his throne, in
spite of his pernicious measures.

When the dynasty was overthrown, the parliament had presented to William
and Mary _A Bill of Rights_, in which the people's grievances were set
forth, and their rights enumerated and insisted upon; and this was
accepted by the monarchs as a condition of their tenure.

Mary died in 1695, and when William followed her, in 1702, Anne, the
second daughter of James, ascended the throne. Had she refused the
succession, there would have been a furious war between the Jacobites and
the Hanoverians. In 1714, Anne died childless, but her reign had bridged
the chasm between the experiment of William and Mary and the house of
Hanover. In default of direct heirs to Queen Anne, the succession was in
this Hanoverian house; represented in the person of the Electress Sophia,
the granddaughter of James I., through his daughter, Elizabeth of Bohemia.
But this lineage of blood had lost all English affinities and sympathies.

Meanwhile, the child born to James II., in 1688, had grown to be a man,
and stood ready, on the death of Queen Anne, to re-affirm his claim to the
throne. It was said that, although, on account of the plottings of the
Jacobites, a price had been put upon his head, the queen herself wished
him to succeed, and had expressed scruples about her own right to reign.
She greatly disliked the family of Hanover, and while she was on her
death-bed, the pretender had been brought to England, in the hope that she
would declare him her successor. The elements of discord asserted
themselves still more strongly. Whigs and Tories in politics, Romanists
and Protestants in creed, Jacobite and Hanoverian in loyalty, opposed each
other, harassing the feeble queen, and keeping the realm in continual

WHIGS AND TORIES.--The Whigs were those who declared that kingly power was
solely for the good of the subject; that the reformed creed was the
religion of the realm; that James had forfeited the throne, and that his
son was a pretender; and that the power justly passed to the house of
Hanover. The Tories asserted that monarchs ruled by _divine right_; and
that if, when religion was at stake, the king might be deposed, this could
not affect the succession.

Anne escaped her troubles by dying, in 1714. Sophia, the Electress of
Hanover, who had only wished to live, she said, long enough to have
engraved upon her tombstone: "Here lies Sophia, Queen of England," died,
in spite of this desire, only a few weeks before the queen; and the new
heir to the throne was her son, George Louis of Brunswick-Luneburg,
electoral prince of Hanover.

He came cautiously and selfishly to the throne of England; he felt his
way, and left a line of retreat open; he brought not a spice of honest
English sentiment, but he introduced the filth of the electoral court. As
gross in his conduct as Charles II., he had indeed a prosperous reign,
because it was based upon a just and tolerant Constitution; because the
English were in reality not governed by a king, but by well-enacted laws.

The effect of all this political turmoil upon the leading men in England
had been manifest; both parties had been expectant, and many of the
statesmen had been upon the fence, ready to get down on one side or the
other, according to circumstances. Marlborough left the Tories and joined
the Whigs; Swift, who had been a Whig, joined the Tories. The queen's
first ministry had consisted of Whigs and the more moderate Tories; but as
she fell away from the Marlboroughs, she threw herself into the hands of
the Tories, who had determined, and now achieved, the downfall of

Such was the reign of good Queen Anne. With this brief sketch as a
preliminary, we return to the literature, which, like her coin, bore her
image and carried it into succeeding reigns. In literature, the age of
Queen Anne extends far beyond her lifetime.

ADDISON.--The principal name of this period is that of Joseph Addison. He
was the son of the rector of Milston, in Wiltshire, and was born in 1672.
Old enough in 1688 to appreciate the revolution, as early as he could
wield his pen, he used it in the cause of the new monarchs. At the age of
fifteen he was sent from the Charter-House to Oxford; and there he wrote
some Latin verses, for which he was rewarded by a university scholarship.
After pursuing his studies at Oxford, he began his literary career. In his
twenty-second year he wrote a poetical address to Dryden; but he chiefly
sought preferment through political poetry. In 1695 he wrote a poem to the
king, which was well received; and in 1699 he received a pension of £300.
In 1701 he went upon the Continent, and travelled principally in France
and Italy. On his return, he published his travels, and a _Poetical
Epistle from Italy_, which are interesting as delineating continental
scenes and manners in that day. Of the travels, Dr. Johnson said, "they
might have been written at home;" but he praised the poetical epistle as
the finest of Addison's poetical works.

Upon the accession of Queen Anne, he continued to pay his court in verse.
When the great battle of Blenheim was fought, in 1704, he at once
published an artificial poem called _The Campaign_, which has received the
fitting name of the _Rhymed Despatch_. Eulogistic of Marlborough and
descriptive of his army manœuvres, its chief value is to be found in
its historical character, and not in any poetic merit. It was a political
paper, and he was rewarded for it by the appointment of Commissioner of
Appeals, in which post he succeeded the philosopher Locke.

The spirit of this poem is found in the following lines:

    Fiction may deck the truth with spurious rays,
    And round the hero cast a borrowed blaze;
    Marlboro's exploits appear divinely bright,
    And proudly shine in their own native light.

If we look for a contrast to this poem, indicating with it the two
political sides of the question, it may be found in Swift's tract on _The
Conduct of the Allies_, which asserts that the war had been maintained to
gratify the ambition and greed of Marlborough, and also for the benefit of
the Allies. Addison was appointed, as a reward for his poem,
Under-Secretary of State.

To this extent Addison was the historian by purpose. A moderate partisan,
he eulogized King William, Marlborough, Lord Somers, Lord Halifax, and
others, and thus commended himself to the crown; and in several elegant
articles in _The Spectator_, he sought to mitigate the fierce party spirit
of the time.

SIR ROGER DE COVERLEY.--But it is the unconscious historian with whom we
are most charmed, and by whom we are best instructed. It is in this
character that Addison presents himself in his numerous contributions to
_The Spectator_, _The Tatler_, and _The Guardian_. Amid much that is now
considered pedantic and artificial, and which, in those faults, marks the
age, are to be found as striking and truthful delineations of English life
and society in that day as Chaucer has given us of an earlier period.

Those who no longer read _The Spectator_ as a model of style and learning,
must continue to prize it for these rare historic teachings. The men and
women walk before us as in some antique representation in a social
festival, when grandmothers' brocades are taken out, when curious fashions
are displayed, when Honoria and Flavia, Fidelia and Gloriana dress and
speak and ogle and flirt just as Addison saw and photographed them. We
have their subjects of interest, their forms of gossip, the existing
abuses of the day, their taste in letters, their opinions upon the works
of literature, in all their freshness.

The fullest and most systematic of these social delineations is found in
the sketch of _The Club_ and _Sir Roger de Coverley_. The creation of
character is excellent. Each member, individual and distinct, is also the
type of a class.

THE CLUB.--There is Will Honeycomb, the old beau, "a gentleman who,
according to his years, should be in the decline of his life, but having
ever been careful of his person, and always had an easy fortune, time has
made but very little impression, either by wrinkles on his forehead or
traces on his brain." He knew from what French woman this manner of
curling the hair came, who invented hoops, and whose vanity to show her
foot brought in short dresses. He is a woman-killer, sceptical about
marriage; and at length he gives the fair sex ample satisfaction for his
cruelty and egotism by marrying, unknown to his friends, a farmer's
daughter, whose face and virtues are her only fortune.

Captain Sentry, the nephew of Sir Roger, is, it may be supposed, the
essayist's ideal of what an English officer should be--a courageous
soldier and a modest gentleman.

Sir Andrew Freeport is the retired merchant, drawn to the life. He is
moderate in politics, as expediency in that age would suggest. Thoroughly
satisfied of the naval supremacy of England, he calls the sea, "the
British Common." He is the founder of his own fortune, and is satisfied to
transmit to posterity an unsullied name, a goodly store of wealth, and the
title he has so honorably won.

In _The Templar_, we have a satire upon a certain class of lawyers. It is
indicative of that classical age, that he understands Aristotle and
Longinus better than Littleton and Coke, and is happy in anything but
law--a briefless barrister, but a gentleman of consideration.

But the most charming, the most living portrait is that of Sir Roger de
Coverley, an English country gentleman, as he ought to be, and as not a
few really were. What a generous humanity for all wells forth from his
simple and loving heart! He has such a mirthful cast in his behavior that
he is rather loved than esteemed. Repulsed by a fair widow, several years
before, he keeps his sentiment alive by wearing a coat and doublet of the
same cut that was in fashion at the time, which, he tells us, has been out
and in twelve times since he first wore it. All the young women profess to
love him, and all the young men are glad of his company.

Last of all is the clergyman, whose piety is all reverence, and who talks
and acts "as one who is hastening to the object of all his wishes, and
conceives hope from his decays and infirmities."

It is said that Addison, warned by the fate of Cervantes,--whose noble
hero, Don Quixote, was killed by another pen,--determined to conduct Sir
Roger to the tomb himself; and the knight makes a fitting end. He
congratulates his nephew, Captain Sentry, upon his succession to the
inheritance; he is thoughtful of old friends and old servants. In a word,
so excellent was his life, and so touching the story of his death, that we
feel like mourners at a real grave. Indeed he did live, and still
lives,--one type of the English country gentleman one hundred and fifty
years ago. Other types there were, not so pleasant to contemplate; but
Addison's Sir Roger de Coverley and Fielding's Squire Allworthy vindicate
their class in that age.

ADDISON'S HYMNS.--Addison appears to us also as the writer of beautiful
hymns, and has paraphrased some of the Psalms. In this, like Watts, he
catered to a decided religious craving of that day. In a Protestant realm,
and by reason of religious controversy, the fine old hymns of the Latin
church, which are now renewing their youth in an English dress, had fallen
into disrepute: hymnody had, to some extent, superseded the plain chant.
Hymns were in demand. Poets like Addison and Watts provided for this new
want; and from the beauty of his few contributions, our great regret is
that Addison wrote so few. Every one he did write is a gem in many
collections. Among them we have that admirable paraphrase of the
_Twenty-third Psalm_:

    The Lord my pasture shall prepare,
    And feed me with a shepherd's care;

and the hymn

    When all Thy mercies, O my God,
      My rising soul surveys.

None, however, is so beautiful, stately, and polished as the Divine Ode,
so pleasant to all people, little and large,--

    The spacious firmament on high.

HIS PERSON AND CHARACTER.--In closing this brief sketch of Addison, a few
words are necessary as to his personality, and an estimate of his powers.
In 1716 he married the Countess-Dowager of Warwick, and parted with
independence to live with a coronet. His married life was not happy. The
lady was cold and exacting; and, it must be confessed, the poet loved a
bottle at the club-room or tavern better than the luxuries of Holland
House; and not infrequently this conviviality led him to excess. He died
in 1719, in his forty-eighth year, and made a truly pious end. He wished,
he said, to atone for any injuries he had done to others, and sent for his
sceptical and dissolute step-son, Lord Warwick, to show him how a
Christian could die. A monument has been erected to his memory in the
Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey, and the closing words of the
inscription upon it calls him "the honor and delight of the English

As a man, he was grave and retiring: he had a high opinion of his own
powers; in company he was extremely diffident; in the main, he was moral,
just, and consistent. His intemperance was in part the custom of the age
and in part a physical failing, and it must have been excessive to be
distinguished in that age. In the Latin-English of Dr. Johnson, "It is not
unlikely that Addison was first seduced to excess by the manumission which
he obtained from the servile timidity of his sober hours." This failing
must be regarded as a blot on his fame.

He was the most accomplished writer of his own age, and in elegance of
style superior to all who had gone before him.

In the words of his epitaph, his prose papers "encouraged the good and
reformed the improvident, tamed the wicked, and in some degree made them
in love with virtue." His poetry is chiefly of historical value, in that
it represents so distinctly the Artificial School; but it is now very
little read. His drama entitled _Cato_ was modelled upon the French drama
of the classical school, with its singular preservation of the unities.
But his contributions to _The Spectator_ and other periodicals are
historically of great value. Here he abandons the artificial school;
nothing in his delineations of character is simply statuesque or
pictorial. He has done for us what the historians have left undone. They
present processions of automata moving to the sound of trumpet and drum,
ushered by Black Rod or Garter King-at-arms; but in Addison we find that
Promethean heat which relumes their life; the galvanic motion becomes a
living stride; the puppet eyes emit fire; the automata are men. Thus it
is, that, although _The Spectator_, once read as a model of taste and
style, has become antiquated and has been superseded, it must still be
resorted to for its life-like portraiture of men and women, manners and
customs, and will be found truer and more valuable for these than history



   Sir Richard Steele. Periodicals. The Crisis. His Last Days. Jonathan
   Swift--Poems. The Tale of a Tub. Battle of the Books. Pamphlets. M. B.
   Drapier. Gulliver's Travels. Stella and Vanessa. His Character and

Contemporary with Addison, and forming with him a literary fraternity,
Steele and Swift were besides men of distinct prominence, and clearly
represent the age in which they lived.

SIR RICHARD STEELE.--If Addison were chosen as the principal literary
figure of the period, a sketch of his life would be incomplete without a
large mention of his lifelong friend and collaborator, Steele. If to Bacon
belongs the honor of being the first writer and the namer of the English
_essay_, Steele may claim that of being the first periodical essayist.

He was born in Dublin, in 1671, of English parents; his father being at
the time secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He received his
early education at the Charter-House school, in London, an institution
which has numbered among its pupils many who have gained distinguished
names in literature. Here he met and formed a permanent friendship with
Addison. He was afterwards entered as a student at Merton College, Oxford;
but he led there a wild and reckless life, and leaving without a degree,
he enlisted as a private in the Horse Guards. Through the influence of his
friends, he was made a cornet, and afterwards a captain, in the
Fusileers; but this only gave him opportunity for continued dissipation.
His principles were better than his conduct; and, haunted by conscience,
he made an effort to reform himself by writing a devotional work called
_The Christian Hero_; but there was such a contrast between his precepts
and his life, that he was laughed at by the town. Between 1701 and 1704 he
produced his three comedies. _The Funeral, or Grief à la Mode_; _The
Tender Husband_, and _The Lying Lover_. The first two were successful upon
the stage, but the last was a complete failure. Disgusted for the time
with the drama, he was led to find his true place as the writer of those
light, brilliant, periodical essays which form a prominent literary
feature of the reign of Queen Anne. These _Essays_ were comments,
suggestions, strictures, and satires upon the age. They were of immediate
and local interest then, and have now a value which the writers did not
foresee: they are unconscious history.

PERIODICALS.--The first of these periodicals was _The Tatler_, a penny
sheet, issued tri-weekly, on post-days. The first number appeared on the
12th of April, 1709, and asserted the very laudable purpose "to expose the
deceits, sins, and vanities of the former age, and to make virtue,
simplicity, and plain-dealing the law of social life." "For this purpose,"
in the words of Dr. Johnson,[34] "nothing is so proper as the frequent
publication of short papers, which we read not as study, but amusement. If
the subject be slight, the treatise is short. The busy may find time, and
the idle may find patience." One _nom de plume_ of Steele was _Isaac
Bickerstaff_, which he borrowed from Swift, who had issued party-pamphlets
under that name.

_The Tatler_ was a success. The fluent pen of Addison gave it valuable
assistance; and in January, 1711, it was merged into, rather than
superseded by, _The Spectator_, which was issued six days in the week.

In this new periodical, Steele wrote the paper containing the original
sketch of Sir Roger de Coverley and The Club; but, as has been already
said, Addison adopted, elaborated, and finished this in several later
papers. Steele had been by far the larger contributor to _The Tatler_. Of
all the articles in _The Spectator_, Steele wrote two hundred and forty,
and Addison two hundred and seventy-four; the rest were by various hands.
In March, 1713, when _The Spectator_ was commencing its seventh volume,
_The Guardian_ made its appearance. For the first volume of _The
Guardian_, Addison wrote but one paper; but for the second he wrote more
than Steele. Of the one hundred and seventy-six numbers of that
periodical, eighty-two of the papers were by Steele and fifty-three by
Addison. If the writings of Addison were more scholarly and elegant, those
of Steele were more vivacious and brilliant; and together they have
produced a series of essays which have not been surpassed in later times,
and which are vividly delineative of their own.

THE CRISIS.--The career of Steele was varied and erratic. He held several
public offices, was a justice of the peace, and a member of parliament. He
wrote numerous political tracts, which are not without historical value.
For one pamphlet of a political character, entitled _The Crisis_, he was
expelled from parliament for libel; but upon the death of Queen Anne, he
again found himself in favor. He was knighted in 1715, and received
several lucrative appointments.

He was an eloquent orator, and as a writer rapid and brilliant, but not
profound. Even thus, however, he catered to an age at once artificial and
superficial. Very observant of what he saw, he rushed to his closet and
jotted down his views in electrical words, which made themselves
immediately and distinctly felt.

HIS LAST DAYS.--Near the close of his life he produced a very successful
comedy, entitled _The Conscious Lover_, which would have been of pecuniary
value to him, were it not that he was already overwhelmed with debt. His
end was a sad one; but he reaped what his extravagance and recklessness
had sown. Shattered in health and ruined in fortune, he retreated from the
great world into homely retirement in Wales, where he lived, poor and
hidden, in a humble cottage at Llangunnor. His end was heralded by an
attack of paralysis, and he died in 1729.

After his death, his letters were published; and in the private history
which they unfold, he appears, notwithstanding all his follies, in the
light of a tender husband and of an amiable and unselfish man. He had
principle, but he lacked resolution; and the wild, vacillating character
of his life is mirrored in his writings, where _The Christian Hero_ stands
in singular contrast to the comic personages of his dramas. He was a
genial critic. His exuberant wit and humor reproved without wounding; he
was not severe enough to be a public censor, nor pedantic enough to be the
pedagogue of an age which often needed the lash rather than the gentle
reproof, and upon which a merciful clemency lost its end if not its
praises. He deserves credit for an attempt, however feeble, to reward
virtue upon the stage, after the wholesale rewards which vice had reaped
in the age of Charles II.

Steele has been overshadowed, in his connection with Addison, by the more
dignified and consistent career, the greater social respectability, and
the more elegant and scholarly style of his friend; and yet in much that
they jointly accomplished, the merit of Steele is really as great, and
conduces much to the reputation of Addison. The one husbanded and
cherished his fame; the other flung it away or lavished it upon his
colleagues. As contributors to history, they claim an equal share of our
gratitude and praise.

JONATHAN SWIFT.--The grandfather of Swift was vicar of Goodrich, in
Herefordshire. His father and mother were both English, but he was born in
Dublin, in the year 1667. A posthumous child, he came into the world seven
months after his father's death. From his earliest youth, he deplored the
circumstances among which his lot had been cast. He was dependent upon his
uncle, Godwin Swift, himself a poor man; but was not grateful for his
assistance, always saying that his uncle had given him the education of a
dog. At the University of Dublin, where he was entered, he did not bear a
good character: he was frequently absent from his duties and negligent of
his studies; and although he read history and poetry, he was considered
stupid as well as idle. He was more than once admonished and suspended,
but at length received his degree, _Speciali gratia_; which special act of
grace implied that he had not fairly earned it. Piqued by this, he set to
work in real earnest, and is said to have studied eight hours a day for
eight years. Thus, from an idle and unsuccessful collegian, he became a
man of considerable learning and a powerful writer.

He was a distant connection of Sir William Temple, through Lady Temple;
and he went, by his mother's advice, to live with that distinguished man
at his seat, Shene, in Moor Park, as private secretary.

In this position Swift seems to have led an uncomfortable life, ranking
somewhere between the family and the upper servants. Sir William Temple
was disposed to be kind, but found it difficult to converse with him on
account of his moroseness and other peculiarities. At Shene he met King
William III., who talked with him, and offered him a captaincy in the
army. This Swift declined, knowing his unfitness for the post, and
doubtless feeling the promptings of a higher ambition. It was also at
Shene that he met a young girl, whose history was thenceforth to be
mingled with his in sadness and sorrow, during their lives. This was
Esther Johnson, the daughter of Temple's housekeeper, and surmised, at a
later day, to be the natural daughter of Temple himself. When the young
secretary first met her, she was fourteen years of age, very clever and
beautiful; and they fell in love with each other.

We cannot dwell at length upon the events of his life. His versatile pen
was prolific of poetry, sentimental and satirical; of political allegories
of great potency, of fiction erected of impossible materials, and yet so
creating and peopling a world of fancy as to illude the reader into
temporary belief in its truth.

POEMS.--His poems are rather sententious than harmonious. His power,
however, was great; he managed verse as an engine, and had an entire
mastery over rhyme, which masters so many would-be poets. His _Odes_ are
classically constructed, but massive and cumbrous. His satirical poems are
eminently historical, ranging over and attacking almost every topic,
political, religious, and social. Among the most characteristic of his
miscellaneous verses are _Epigrams and Epistles, Clever Tom Pinch Going to
be Hanged, Advice to Grub Street Writers, Helter-Skelter, The Puppet
Show_, and similar odd pieces, frequently scurrilous, bitter, and lewd in
expression. The writer of English history consults these as he does the
penny ballads, lampoons, and caricatures of the day,--to discern the
_animus_ of parties and the methods of hostile factions.

But it is in his inimitable prose writings that Swift is of most value to
the historical student. Against all comers he stood the Goliath of
pamphleteers in the reign of Queen Anne, and there arose no David who
could slay him.

THE TALE OF A TUB.--While an unappreciated student at the university, he
had sketched a satirical piece, which he finished and published in 1704,
under the title of _The Tale of a Tub_. As a tub is thrown overboard at
sea to divert a whale, so this is supposed to be a sop cast out to the
_Leviathan_ of Hobbes, to prevent it from injuring the vessel of state.
The story is a satire aimed against the Roman Catholics on the one hand,
and the Presbyterians on the other, in order that he may exalt the Church
of England as, in his judgment, free from the errors of both, and a just
and happy medium between the two extremes. His own opinion of its merits
is well known: in one of his later years, when his hand had lost its
cunning, he is said to have exclaimed, as he picked it up, "What a genius
I had when I wrote that book!" The characters of the story are _Peter_
(representing St. Peter, or the Roman Catholic Church), _Martin_ (Luther,
or the Church of England), and _Jack_ (John Calvin, or the Presbyterians).
By their father's will each had been left a suit of clothes, made in the
fashion of his day. To this Peter added laces and fringes; Martin took off
some of the ornaments of doubtful taste; but Jack ripped and tore off the
trimmings of his dress to such an extent that he was in clanger of
exposing his nakedness. It is said that the invective was so strong and
the satire so bitter, that they presented a bar to that preferment which
Swift might otherwise have obtained. He appears at this time to have cared
little for public opinion, except that it should fear his trenchant wit
and do homage to his genius.

THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS.--In the same year, 1704, he also published _The
Battle of the Books_, the idea of which was taken from a French work of
Courtraye, entitled "_Histoire de la guerre nouvellement déclarée entre
les Anciens et les Modernes_." Swift's work was written in furtherance of
the views of his patron, Temple, who had some time before engaged in the
controversy as to the relative merits of ancient and modern learning, and
who, in the words of Macaulay, "was so absurd as to set up his own
authority against that of Bentley on questions of Greek history and

_The Battle of the Books_ is of present value, as it affords information
upon the opinions then held on a question which, in various forms, has
been agitating the literary world ever since. In it Swift compares Dryden,
Wotten, and Bentley with the old authors in St. James's Library, where the
battle of the books is said to have taken place.

Upon the death of Sir William Temple, in 1699, Swift had gone to London.
He was ambitious of power and money, and when he found little chance of
preferment among the Whigs, he became a Tory. It must be said, in
explanation of this change, that, although he had called himself a Whig,
he had disliked many of their opinions, and had never heartily espoused
their cause. Like others already referred to, he watched the political
horizon, and was ready for a change when circumstances should warrant it.
This change and its causes are set forth in his _Bickerstaff's Ridicule of
Astrology_ and _Sacramental Test_.

The Whigs tried hard to retain him; the Tories were rejoiced to receive
him, and modes of preferment for him were openly canvassed. One of these
was to make him Bishop of Virginia, with metropolitan powers in America;
but it failed. He was also recommended for the See of Hereford; but
persons near the queen advised her "to be sure that the man she was going
to make a bishop was a Christian." Thus far he had only been made rector
of Agher and vicar of Laracor and Rathbeggin.

VARIOUS PAMPHLETS.--His _Argument Against the Abolition of Christianity_,
Dr. Johnson calls "a very happy and judicious irony." In 1710 he wrote a
paper, at the request of the Irish primate, petitioning the queen to remit
the first-fruits and twentieth parts to the Irish clergy. In 1712, ten
days before the meeting of parliament, he published his _Conduct of the
Allies_, which, exposing the greed of Marlborough, persuaded the nation to
make peace. A supplement to this is found in _Reflections on the Barrier
Treaty_, in which he shows how little English interests had been consulted
in that negotiation.

His pamphlet on _The Public Spirit of the Whigs_, in answer to Steele's
_Crisis_, was so terrible a bomb-shell thrown into the camp of his former
friends, and so insulting to the Scotch, that £300 were offered by the
queen, at the instance of the Scotch lords, for the discovery of the
author; but without success.

At last his versatile and powerful pen obtained some measure of reward: in
1713 he was made Dean of St. Patrick's, in Dublin, with a stipend of £700
per annum. This was his greatest and last preferment.

On the accession of George I., in the following year, he paid his court,
but was received with something more than coldness. He withdrew to his
deanery in Dublin, and, in the words of Johnson, "commenced Irishman for
life, and was to contrive how he might be best accommodated in a country
where he considered himself as in a state of exile." After some
misunderstanding between himself and his Irish fellow-citizens, he
espoused their cause so warmly that he became the most popular man in
Ireland. In 1721 he could write to Pope, "I neither know the names nor the
number of the family which now reigneth, further than the prayer-book
informeth me." His letters, signed _M. B. Drapier_, on Irish manufactures,
and especially those in opposition to Wood's monopoly of copper coinage,
in 1724, wrought upon the people, producing such a spirit of resistance
that the project of a debased coinage failed; and so influential did Swift
become, that he was able to say to the Archbishop of Dublin, "Had I raised
my finger, the mob would have torn you to pieces." This popularity was
increased by the fact that a reward of £300 was offered by Lord Carteret
and the privy council for the discovery of the authorship of the fourth
letter; but although it was commonly known that Swift was the author,
proof could not be obtained. Carteret, the Lord Lieutenant, afterwards
said, "When people ask me how I governed Ireland, I said that I pleased
Doctor Swift."

Thus far Swift's literary labors are manifest history: we come now to
consider that great work, _Gulliver's Travels_,--the most successful of
its kind ever written,--in which, with all the charm of fiction in plot,
incident, and description, he pictures the great men and the political
parties of the day.

GULLIVER'S TRAVELS.--Lemuel Gulliver, a surgeon's mate, finds himself
shipwrecked on the shore of the country of Lilliput, the people of which
are only six inches in height. His adventures are so vividly described
that our charmed fancy places us among them as we read, and we, for a
time, abandon ourselves to a belief in their reality. It was, however,
begun as a political satire; in the insignificance of the court of
pigmies, he attacks the feebleness and folly of the new reign. _Flimnap_,
the prime minister of Lilliput, is a caricature of Walpole; the _Big
Indians_ and _Little Indians_ represent the Protestants and Roman
Catholics; the _High Heels_ and _Low Heels_ stand for the Whigs and
Tories; and the heir-apparent, who wears one heel high and the other low,
is the Prince of Wales, afterwards George II., who favored both parties in
order to gain both to his purpose.

In his second voyage, that to Brobdignag, his satirical imagination took a
wider range--European politics as they appear to a superior intelligence,
illustrated by a man of _sixty_ feet in comparison with one of _six_. As
Gulliver had looked with curious contempt upon the united efforts of the
Lilliputians, he now found himself in great jeopardy and fear when in the
hands of a giant of Brobdignag. As the pigmy metropolis, five hundred
yards square, was to London, so were London and other European capitals to
the giants' city, two thousand miles in circumference. And what are the
armies of Europe, when compared with that magnificent cavalry
manœuvring on a parade-ground twenty miles square, each mounted
trooper ninety feet high, and all, as they draw their swords at command,
representing ten thousand flashes of lightning?

The third part contains the voyage of Gulliver--no less improbable than
the former ones--to _Laputa_, the flying island of projectors and
visionaries. This is a varied satire upon the Royal Society, the
eccentricities of the savans, empirics of all kinds, mathematical magic,
and the like. In this, political schemes to restore the pretender are
aimed at. The Mississippi Scheme and the South Sea bubble are denounced.
Here, too, in his journey to Luggnagg, he introduces the sad and revolting
picture of the Struldbrugs, those human beings who live on, losing all
their power and becoming hideously old.

In his last voyage--to the land of the _Houyhnhnms_--his misanthropy is
painfully manifest. This is the country where horses are masters, and men
a servile and degraded race; and he has painted the men so brutish and
filthy that the satire loses its point. The power of satire lies in
contrast; we must compare the evil in men with the good: when the whole
race is included in one sweeping condemnation, and an inferior being
exalted, in opposition to all possibility, the standard is absurd, and the
satirist loses his pains.

The horses are the _Houyhnhnms_, (the name is an attempt to imitate a
neigh,) a noble race, who are amazed and disgusted at the Yahoos,--the
degraded men,--upon whom Swift, in his sweeping misanthropy, has exhausted
his bitterness and his filth.

STELLA AND VANESSA.--While Swift's mysterious associations with Stella and
Vanessa have but little to do with the course of English Literature, they
largely affect his personality, and no sketch of him would be complete
without introducing them to the reader. We cannot conjure up the tall,
burly form, the heavy-browed, scowling, contemptuous face, the sharp blue
eye, and the bushy black hair of the dean, without seeing on one side and
the other the two pale, meek-eyed, devoted women, who watch his every
look, shrink from his sudden bursts of wrath, receive for their
infatuation a few fair words without sentiment, and earnestly crave a
little love as a return for their whole hearts. It is a wonderful,
touching, baffling story.

Stella he had known and taught in her young maidenhood at Sir William
Temple's. As has been said, she was called the daughter of his steward and
housekeeper, but conjectures are rife that she was Sir William's own
child. When Swift removed to Ireland, she came, at Swift's request, with a
matron friend, Mrs. Dingley, to live near him. Why he did not at once
marry her, and why, at last, he married her secretly, in 1716, are
questions over which curious readers have puzzled themselves in vain, and
upon which, in default of evidence, some perhaps uncharitable conclusions
have been reached. The story of their association may be found in the
_Journal to Stella_.

With Miss Hester Vanhomrigh (Vanessa) he became acquainted in London, in
1712: he was also her instructor; and when with her he seems to have
forgotten his allegiance to Stella. Cadenus, as he calls himself, was too
tender and fond: Vanessa became infatuated; and when she heard of Swift's
private marriage with Stella, she died of chagrin or of a broken heart.
She had cancelled the will which she had made in Swift's favor, and left
it in charge to her executors to publish their correspondence. Both sides
of the history of this connection are fully displayed in the poem of
_Cadenus and Vanessa_, and in the _Correspondence of Swift and Vanessa_.

CHARACTER AND DEATH.--Pride overbearing and uncontrollable, misanthropy,
excessive dogmatism, a singular pleasure in giving others pain, were among
his personal faults or misfortunes. He abused his companions and servants;
he never forgave his sister for marrying a tradesman; he could attract
with winning words and repel with furious invective; and he was always
anxiously desiring the day of his death, and cursing that of his birth.
His common farewell was "Good-bye; I hope we may never meet again." There
is a painful levity in his verses _On the Death of Doctor Swift_, in which
he gives an epitome of his life:

    From Dublin soon to London spread,
    'Tis told at court the dean is dead!
    And Lady Suffolk, in the spleen,
    Runs laughing up to tell the queen:
    The queen, so gracious, mild, and good,
    Cries, "Is he gone? it's time he should."

At last the end came. While a young man, he had suffered from a painful
attack of vertigo, brought on by a surfeit of fruit; "eating," he says, in
a letter to Mrs. Howard, "an hundred golden pippins at a time." This had
occasioned a deafness; and both giddiness and deafness had recurred at
intervals, and at last manifestly affected his mind. Once, when walking
with some friends, he had pointed to an elm-tree, blasted by lightning,
and had said, "I shall be like that tree: I shall die first at the top."
And thus at last the doom fell. Struck on the brain, he lingered for nine
years in that valley of spectral horrors, of whose only gates idiocy and
madness are the hideous wardens. From this bondage he was released by
death on the 19th of October, 1745.

Many have called it a fearful retribution for his sins, and especially for
his treatment of Stella and Vanessa. A far more reasonable and charitable
verdict is that the evil in his conduct through life had its origin in
congenital disorder; and in his days of apparent sanity, the character of
his eccentric actions is to be palliated, if not entirely excused, on the
plea of insanity. Additional force is given to this judgment by the fact
that, when he died, it was found that he had left his money to found a
hospital for the insane, illustrating the line,--

    A fellow-feeling makes us wondrous kind.

In that day of great classical scholars, Swift will hardly rank among the
most profound; but he possessed a creative power, a ready and versatile
fancy, a clear and pleasing but plain style. He has been unjustly accused
by Lady Montagu of having stolen plot and humor from Cervantes and
Rabelais: he drew from the same source as they; and those suggestions
which came to him from them owe all their merit to his application of
them. As a critic, he was heartless and rude; but as a polemic and a
delineator of his age, he stands prominently forth as an historian, whose
works alone would make us familiar with the period.


_Sir William Temple_, 1628-1698: he was a statesman and a political
writer; rather a man of mark in his own day than of special interest to
the present time. After having been engaged in several important
diplomatic affairs, he retired to his seat of Moor Park, and employed
himself in study and with his pen. His _Essays and Observations on
Government_ are valuable as a clue to the history. In his controversy with
Bentley on the _Epistles of Phalaris_, and the relative merits of ancient
and modern authors, he was overmatched in scholarship. In a literary point
of view, Temple deserves praise for the ease and beauty of his style. Dr.
Johnson says he "was the first writer who gave cadence to English prose."
"What can be more pleasant," says Charles Lamb, "than the way in which the
retired statesman peeps out in his essays, penned in his delightful
retreat at Shene?" He is perhaps better known in literary history as the
early patron of Swift, than for his own works.

_Sir Isaac Newton_, 1642-1727: the chief glory of Newton is not connected
with literary effort: he ranks among the most profound and original
philosophers, and was one of the purest and most unselfish of men. The
son of a farmer, he was born at Woolsthorpe, in Lincolnshire, after his
father's death,--a feeble, sickly child. The year of his birth was that in
which Galileo died. At the age of fifteen he was employed on his mother's
farm, but had already displayed such an ardor for learning that he was
sent first to school and then to Cambridge, where he was soon conspicuous
for his talents and his genius. In due time he was made a professor. His
discoveries in astronomy, mechanics, and optics are of world-wide renown.
The law of gravitation was established by him, and set forth in his paper
_De Motu Corporum_. His treatise on _Fluxions_ prepared the way for that
wonderful mathematical, labor-saving instrument--the differential
calculus. In 1687 he published his _Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia
Mathematica_, in which all his mathematical theories are propounded. In
1696 he was made Warden of the Mint, and in 1699 Master of the Mint. Long
a member of the Royal Society, he was its president for the last
twenty-four years of his life. In 1688 he was elected member of parliament
for the university of Cambridge. Of purely literary works he left two,
entitled respectively, _Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the
Apocalypse of St. John_, and a _Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended_;
both of which are of little present value except as the curious remains of
so great a man.

_Viscount Bolingbroke_ (Henry St. John), 1678-1751: as an erratic
statesman, a notorious free-thinker, a dissipated lord, a clever political
writer, and an eloquent speaker, Lord Bolingbroke was a centre of
attraction in his day, and demands observation in literary history. During
the reign of Queen Anne he was a plotter in favor of the pretender, and
when she died, he fled the realm to avoid impeachment for treason. In
France he joined the pretender as Secretary of State, but was dismissed
for intrigue; and on being pardoned by the English king, he returned to
England. His writings are brilliant but specious. His influence was felt
in the literary society he drew around him,--Swift, Pope, and
others,--and, as has been already said, his opinions are to be found in
that _Essay on Man_ which Pope dedicated to him. In his meteoric political
career he represents and typifies one phase of the time in which he lived.

_George Berkeley_, 1684-1753: he was educated at Trinity College, Dublin,
and soon engaged in metaphysical controversy. In 1724 he was made Dean of
Derry, and in 1734, Bishop of Cloyne. A man of great philanthropy, he set
forth a scheme for the founding of the _Bermudas College_, to train
missionaries for the colonies and to labor among the North American
Indians. As a metaphysician, he was an _absolute idealist_. This is no
place to discuss his theory. In the words of Dr. Reid, "He maintains ...
that there is no such thing as matter in the universe; that the sun and
moon, earth and sea, our own bodies and those of our friends, are nothing
but ideas in the minds of those who think of them, and that they have no
existence when they are not objects of thought; that all that is in the
universe may be reduced to two categories, to wit, _minds_ and _ideas in
the mind_." The reader is referred, for a full discussion of this
question, to Sir William Hamilton's _Metaphysics_. Berkeley's chief
writings are: _New Theory of Vision, Treatise Concerning the Principles of
Human Knowledge_, and _Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous_. His name
and memory are especially dear to the American people; for, although his
scheme of the training-college failed, he lived for two years and a half
in Newport, where his house still stands, and where one of his children is
buried. He presented to Yale College his library and his estate in Rhode
Island, and he wrote that beautiful poem with its kindly prophecy:

    Westward the course of empire takes its way:
      The four first acts already past,
    A fifth shall close the drama with the day;
      Time's noblest offspring is the last.



   The New Age. Daniel Defoe. Robinson Crusoe. Richardson. Pamela, and
   Other Novels. Fielding. Joseph Andrews. Tom Jones. Its Moral. Smollett.
   Roderick Random. Peregrine Pickle.


We have now reached a new topic in the course of English
Literature--contemporaneous, indeed, with the subjects just named, but
marked by new and distinct development. It was a period when numerous and
distinctive forms appeared; when genius began to segregate into schools
and divisions; when the progress of letters and the demands of popular
curiosity gave rise to works which would have been impossible, because
uncalled for, in any former period. English enterprise was extending
commerce and scattering useful arts in all quarters of the globe, and thus
giving new and rich materials to English letters. Clive was making himself
a lord in India; Braddock was losing his army and his life in America.
This spirit of English enterprise in foreign lands was evoking literary
activity at home: there was no exploit of English valor, no extension of
English dominion and influence, which did not find its literary
reproduction. Thus, while it was an age of historical research, it was
also that of actual delineations of curious novelties at home and abroad.

Poetry was in a transition state; it was taking its leave of the unhealthy
satire and the technical wit of Queen Anne's reign, and attempting, on
the one hand, the impostures of Macpherson and Chatterton,--to which we
shall hereafter refer,--and, on the other, the restoration of the pastoral
from the theatrical to the real, in Thomson's song of the Rolling Year,
and Cowper's pleasant Task, so full of life and nature. Swallow-like,
English poetry had hung about the eaves or skimmed the surface of town and
court; but now, like the lark, it soared into freer air--

    Cœtusque vulgares et udam
    Spernit humum fugiente penna.

In short, it was a day of general awakening. The intestine troubles
excited by the Jacobites were brought to an end by the disaster of
Culloden, in 1745. The German campaigns culminating at Minden, in 1759,
opened a door to the study of German literature, and of the Teutonic
dialects as elements of the English language.

It is, therefore, not astonishing that in this period Literature should
begin to arrange itself into its present great divisions. As in an earlier
age the drama had been born to cater to a popular taste, so in this, to
satisfy the public demand, arose English _prose fiction_ in its peculiar
and enduring form. There had been grand and desultory works preceding
this, such as _Robinson Crusoe, The Pilgrim's Progress_, and Swift's
inimitable story of _Gulliver_; but the modern novel, unlike these, owes
its origin to a general desire for delineations of private life and
manners. "Show us ourselves!" was the cry.

A novel may be defined as a fictitious story of modern life describing the
management and mastery of the human passions, and especially the universal
passion of love. Its power consists in the creation of ideal characters,
which leave a real impress upon the reader's mind; it must be a prose
_epic_ in that there is always a hero, or, at least, a heroine, generally
both, and a _drama_ in its presentation of scenes and supplementary
personages. Thackeray calls his _Vanity Fair_ a novel without a hero: it
is impossible to conceive a novel without a heroine. There must also be a
_dénouement_, or consummation; in short, it must have, in the words of
Aristotle, a beginning, middle, and ending, in logical connection and
consecutive interest.

DANIEL DEFOE.--Before, however, proceeding to consider the modern novel,
we must make mention of one author, distinctly of his own age as a
political pamphleteer, but who, in his chief and inimitable work, stands
alone, without antecedent or consequent. _Robinson Crusoe_ has had a host
of imitators, but no rival.

Daniel Foe, or, as he afterwards called himself, De Foe, was born in
London, in the year 1661. He was the son of a butcher, but such was his
early aptitude, for learning, that he was educated to become a dissenting
minister. His own views, however, were different: he became instead a
political author, and wrote with great force against the government of
James II. and the Established Church, and in favor of the dissenters. When
the Duke of Monmouth landed to make his fatal campaign, Defoe joined his
standard; but does not seem to have suffered with the greater number of
the duke's adherents.

He was a warm supporter of William III.; and his famous poem, _The
True-Born Englishman_, was written in answer to an attack upon the king
and the Dutch, called _The Foreigners_. Of his own poem he says, in the
preface, "When I see the town full of lampoons and invectives against the
Dutch, only because they are foreigners, and the king reproached and
insulted by insolent pedants and ballad-making poets for employing
foreigners and being a foreigner himself, I confess myself moved by it to
remind our nation of their own original, thereby to let them see what a
banter they put upon themselves, since--speaking of Englishmen _ab
origine_--we are really all foreigners ourselves:"

    The Pict and painted Briton, treach'rous Scot,
    By hunger, theft, and rapine hither brought;
    Norwegian pirates, buccaneering Danes,
    Whose red-haired offspring everywhere remains;
    Who, joined with Norman-French, compound the breed
    From whence your true-born Englishmen proceed.

In 1702, just after the death of King William, Defoe published his
severely ironical pamphlet, _The Shortest Way with the Dissenters_.
Assuming the character of a High Churchman, he says: "'Tis vain to trifle
in the matter. The light, foolish handling of them by fines is their glory
and advantage. If the gallows instead of the compter, and the galleys
instead of the fines, were the reward of going to a conventicle, there
would not be so many sufferers." His irony was at first misunderstood: the
High Churchmen hailed him as a champion, and the Dissenters hated him as
an enemy. But when his true meaning became apparent, a reward of £50 was
offered by the government for his discovery. His so-called "scandalous and
seditious pamphlet" was burnt by the common hangman: he was tried, and
sentenced to pay two hundred marks, to stand three times in the pillory,
and to be imprisoned during the queen's pleasure. He bore his sentence
bravely, and during his two years' residence in prison he published a
periodical called _The Review_. In 1709 he wrote a _History of the Union_
between England and Scotland.

ROBINSON CRUSOE.--But none of these things, nor all combined, would have
given to Defoe that immortality which is his as the author of _Robinson
Crusoe_. Of the groundwork of the story not much need be said.

Alexander Selkirk, the sailing-master of an English privateer, was set
ashore, in 1704, at his own request, on the uninhabited island Juan
Fernandez, which lies several hundred miles from the coast of Chili, in
the Pacific Ocean. He was supplied with clothing and arms, and remained
there alone for four years and four months. It is supposed that his
adventures suggested the work. It is also likely that Defoe had read the
journal of Peter Serrano, who, in the sixteenth century, had been
_marooned_ in like manner on a desolate island lying off the mouth of the
Oroonoque (Orinoco). The latter locality was adopted by Defoe. But it is
not the fact or the adventures which give power to _Robinson Crusoe_. It
is the manner of treating what might occur to any fancy, even the dullest.
The charm consists in the simplicity and the verisimilitude of the
narrative, the rare adaptation of the common man to his circumstances, his
projects and failures, the birth of religion in his soul, his conflicting
hopes and fears, his occasional despair. We see in him a brother, and a
suffering one. We live his life on the island; we share his terrible fear
at the discovery of the footprint, his courage in destroying the cannibal
savages and rescuing the victim. Where is there in fiction another man
Friday? From the beginning of his misfortunes until he is again sailing
for England, after nearly thirty years of captivity, he holds us
spellbound by the reality, the simplicity, and the pathos of his
narrative; but, far beyond the temporary illusion of the modern novel,
everything remains real: the shipwrecked mariner spins his yarns in sailor
fashion, and we believe and feel every word he says. The book, although
wonderfully good throughout, is unequal: the prime interest only lasts
until he is rescued, and ends with his embarkation for England. The
remainder of his travels becomes, as a narrative, comparatively tiresome
and tame; and we feel, besides, that, after his unrivalled experience, he
should have remained in England, "the observed of all observers." Yet it
must be said that we are indebted to his later journey in Spain and
France, his adventures in the Eastern Seas, his caravan ride overland from
China to Europe, for much which illustrates the manners and customs of
navigation and travel in that day.

_Robinson Crusoe_ stands alone among English books, a perennial fountain
of instruction and pleasure. It aids in educating each new generation:
children read it for its incident; men to renew their youth; literary
scholars to discover what it teaches of its time and of its author's
genius. Its influence continues unabated; it incites boys to maritime
adventure, and shows them how to use in emergency whatever they find at
hand. It does more: it tends to reclaim the erring by its simple homilies;
it illustrates the ruder navigation of its day; shows us the habits and
morals of the merchant marine, and the need and means of reforming what
was so very bad.

Defoe's style is clear, simple, and natural. He wrote several other works,
of which few are now read. Among these are the _Account of the Plague, The
Life and Piracies of Captain Singleton_, and _The Fortunes and Misfortunes
of Moll Flanders_. He died on the 24th of April, 1731.

RICHARDSON.--Samuel Richardson, who, notwithstanding the peculiar merits
of Defoe, must be called the _Father of Modern Prose Fiction_, was born in
Derbyshire, in 1689. The personal events of his life are few and
uninteresting. A carpenter's son, he had but little schooling, and owed
everything to his own exertions. Apprenticed to a printer in London, at
the age of fifteen, he labored assiduously at his trade, and it rewarded
him with fortune: he became, in turn, printer of the Journals of the House
of Commons, Master of the Stationers' Company, and Printer to the King.
While young, he had been the confidant of three young women, and had
written or corrected their love-letters for them. He seems to have had
great fluency in letter-writing; and being solicited by a publisher to
write a series of familiar letters on the principal concerns of life,
which might be used as models,--a sort of "Easy Letter-Writer,"--he began
the task, but, changing his plan, he wrote a story in a series of letters.
The first volume was published in 1741, and was no less a work than
_Pamela_. The author was then fifty years old; and he presents in this
work a matured judgment concerning the people and customs of the day,--the
printer's notions of the social condition of England,--shrewd, clever, and

Wearied as the world had been by what Sir Walter Scott calls the "huge
folios of inanity" which had preceded him, the work was hailed with
delight. There was a little affectation; but the sentiment was moral and
natural. Ladies carried _Pamela_ about in their rides and walks. Pope,
near his end, said it was a better moral teacher than sermons: Sherlock
recommended it from the pulpit.

PAMELA, AND OTHER NOVELS.--_Pamela_ is represented as a poor servant-maid,
but beautiful and chaste, whose honor resists the attack of her dissolute
master, and whose modesty and virtue overcome his evil nature. Subdued and
reclaimed by her chastity and her charms, he reforms, and marries her.
Some pictures which are rather warmly colored and indelicate in our day
were quite in keeping with the taste of that time, and gave greater effect
to the moral lesson assigned to be taught.

In his next work, _Clarissa Harlowe_, which appeared in 1749, he has drawn
the picture of a perfect woman preserving her purity amid seductive
gayeties, and suffering sorrows to which those of the Virgin Martyr are
light. We have, too, an excellent portraiture of a bold and wicked, but
clever and gifted man--Lovelace.

His third and last novel, _Sir Charles Grandison_, appeared in 1753. The
hero, _Sir Charles_, is the model of a Christian gentleman; but is,
perhaps, too faultless for popular appreciation.

In his delineations of humbler natures,--country girls like
_Pamela_,--Richardson is happiest: in his descriptions of high life he has
failed from ignorance. He was not acquainted with the best society, and
all his grandees are stilted, artificial, and affected; but even in this
fault he is of value, for he shows us how men of his class at that time
regarded the society of those above them.

These works, which, notwithstanding their length, were devoured eagerly as
soon as they appeared, are little read at present, and exist rather as
historical interpreters of an age that is past, than as present light
literature: they have been driven from our shelves by Scott, Dickens,
Thackeray, and a host of charming novelists since his day.

Richardson lived the admired of a circle of ladies,--to whose sex he had
paid so noble a tribute,--the hero of tea-drinkings at his house on
Parson's Green; his books gave him fame, but his shop--in the back office
of which he wrote his novels, when not pressed by business--gave him money
and its comforts. He died at the age of seventy-two, on the 4th of July,

He was an unconscious actor in a great movement which had begun in France.
The brilliant theories of Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, and
Dalembert--containing much truth and many heresies--were felt in England,
and had given a new impetus to English intellect; indeed, it is not
strange, when we come to consider, that while Richardson's works were
praised in English pulpits, Voltaire and the French atheists declared that
they saw in them an advance towards human perfectibility and
self-redemption, of which, if true, Richardson himself was unconscious.
From the amours of men and women of fashion, aided by intriguing
maid-servants and lying valets, Richardson turned away to do honor to
untitled merit, to exalt the humble, and to defy gilded vice. Whatever
were the charms of rank, he has elevated our humanity; thus far, and thus
far only, has he sympathized with the Frenchmen who attacked the
corruptions of the age, but who assaulted also its faith and its

HENRY FIELDING.--The path of prose fiction, so handsomely opened by
Richardson, was immediately entered and pursued by a genius of higher
order, and as unlike him as it was possible to be. Richardson still clung
to romantic sentiment, Fielding eschewed it; Richardson was a teacher of
morality, Fielding shielded immorality; Richardson described artificial
manners in a society which he did not frequent, Fielding, in the words of
Coleridge, "was like an open lawn on a breezy day in May;" Richardson was
a plebeian, a carpenter's son, a successful printer; Fielding was a
gentleman, the son of General Fielding, and grandson of the Earl of
Denbigh; Richardson steadily rose, by his honest exertions, to independent
fortune, Fielding passed from the high estate of his ancestors into
poverty and loose company; the one has given us mistaken views of high
life, the other has been enabled, by his sad experience, to give us
truthful pictures of every grade of English society in his day from the
lord, the squire, and the fop to the thief-taker, the prostitute, and the

Henry Fielding was born on the 22d of April, 1707, at Sharpham Park,
Somersetshire. While yet a young man, he had read _Pamela_; and to
ridicule what he considered its prudery and over-righteousness, he hastily
commenced his novel of _Joseph Andrews_. This Joseph is represented as the
brother of Pamela,--a simple country lad, who comes to town and finds a
place as Lady Booby's footman. As Pamela had resisted her master's
seductions, he is called upon to oppose the vile attempts of his mistress
upon his virtue.

In that novel, as well as in its successors, _Tom Jones_ and _Amelia_,
Fielding has given us rare pictures of English life, and satires upon
English institutions, which present the social history of England a
century ago: in this view our sympathies are not lost upon purely ideal

In him, too, the French _illuminati_ claimed a co-laborer; and their
influence is more distinctly seen than in Richardson's works: great
social problems are discussed almost in the manner of a Greek chorus;
mechanical forms of religion are denounced. The French philosophers
attacked errors so intertwined with truth, that the violent stabs at the
former have cut the latter almost to death; Richardson attacked the errors
without injuring the truth: he is the champion of purity. If _Joseph
Andrews_ was to rival _Pamela_ in chastity, _Tom Jones_ was to be
contrasted with both in the same particular.

TOM JONES.--Fielding has received the highest commendations from literary
men. Byron calls him the "prose Homer of human nature;" and Gibbon, in
noticing that the Lords of Denbigh were descended, like Charles V., from
Rudolph of Hapsburg, says: "The successors of Charles V. may despise their
brethren of England, but the romance of _Tom Jones_--that exquisite
picture of human manners--will outlive the Palace of the Escurial and the
Imperial Eagle of Austria." We cannot go so far; we quote the praise but
doubt the prophecy. The work is historically valuable, but technically
imperfect and unequal. The plot is rambling, without method: most of the
scenes lie in the country or in obscure English towns; the meetings are as
theatrical as stage encounters; the episodes are awkwardly introduced, and
disfigure the unity; the classical introductions and invocations are
absurd. His heroes are men of generous impulses but dissolute lives, and
his women are either vile, or the puppets of circumstance.

ITS TRUE VALUE.--What can redeem his works from such a category of
condemnation? Their rare portraiture of character and their real glimpses
of nature: they form an album of photographs of life as it was--odd,
grotesque, but true. They have no mysterious Gothic castles like that of
Otranto, nor enchanted forests like that of Mrs. Radcliffe. They present
homely English life and people,--_Partridge_, barber, schoolmaster, and
coward; _Mrs. Honor_, the type of maid-servants, devoted to her mistress,
and yet artful; _Squire Western_, the foul and drunken country gentleman;
_Squire Allworthy_, a noble specimen of human nature; _Parson Adams_, who
is regarded by the critics as the best portrait among all his characters.

And even if we can neither commend nor recommend heroes like _Tom Jones_,
such young men really existed, and the likeness is speakingly drawn: we
bear with his faults because of his reality. Perhaps our verdict may be
best given in the words of Thackeray. "I am angry," he says, "with Jones.
Too much of the plum-cake and the rewards of life fall to that boisterous,
swaggering young scapegrace. Sophia actually surrenders without a proper
sense of decorum; the fond, foolish, palpitating little creature. 'Indeed,
Mr. Jones,' she says, 'it rests with you to name the day.' ... And yet
many a young fellow, no better than Mr. Thomas Jones, has carried by a
_coup-de-main_ the heart of many a kind girl who was a great deal too good
for him."

When _Joseph Andrews_ appeared, and Richardson found that so profane a
person as Fielding had dared to burlesque his _Pamela_, he was angry; and
his little tea-drinking coterie was warm in his defence; but Fielding's
party was then, and has remained, the stronger.

In his novel of _Amelia_, we have a general autobiography of Fielding.
Amelia, his wife, is lovely, chaste, and constant. Captain Booth--Fielding
himself--is errant, guilty, generous, and repentant. We have besides in it
many varieties of English life,--lords, clergymen, officers; Vauxhall and
the masquerade; the sponging-house and its inmates, debtors and
criminals,--all as Fielding saw and knew them.

The condition of the clergy is more clearly set forth in Fielding's novels
than in the pages of Echard, Oldham, Wood, Macaulay, or Churchill
Babington. So changed was their estate since the Reformation, that few
high-born youths, except the weak or lame, took holy orders. Many
clergymen worked during the week. One, says South, was a cobbler on
weekdays, and preached on Sundays. Wilmot says: "We are struck by the
phenomenon of a learned man sitting down to prove, with the help of logic,
that a priest or a chaplain in a family is not a servant,"--Jeremy
Collier: _Essays on Pride and the Office of a Chaplain_.

Fielding drew them and their condition from the life. Parson Adams is the
most excellent of men. His cassock is ten years old; over it he dons a
coarse white overcoat, and travels on foot to London to sell nine volumes
of sermons, wherewithal to buy food for his family. He engages the
innkeeper in serious talk; he does desperate battle to defend a young
woman who has fallen into the hands of ruffians on the highway; and when
he is arrested, his manuscript Eschylus is mistaken for a book of ciphers
unfolding a dreadful plot against the government. This is a hit against
the ignorance and want of education among the people; for it is some time
before some one in the company thinks he saw such characters many years
ago when he was young, and that it may be Greek. The incident of Parson
Trulliber mistaking his fellow-priest for a pork-merchant, on account of
his coarse garments, is excellent, but will not bear abbreviation. Adams
is splattered by the huge, overfed swine, and ejaculates, "_Nil habeo cum
porcis_; I am a clergyman, sir, and am not come to buy hogs!" The
condition of a curate and the theology of the publican are set forth in
the conversation between Parson Adams and the innkeeper.

The works of Fielding may be justly accused of describing immoral scenes
and using lewd language; but even in this they are delineative of the
manners and conversation of an age in which such men lived, such scenes
occurred, such language was used. I liken the great realm of English prose
fiction to some famous museum of art. The instructor of the young may
carefully select what pictures to show them; but the student of English
literature moves through the rooms and galleries, gazing, judging,
approving, condemning, comparing. Genius may have soiled its canvas with
what is prurient and vile; lascivious groups may stand side by side with
pictures of saints and madonnas. To leave the figure, it is wise counsel
to read on principle, and, armed with principle, to accept and imitate the
good, and to reject the evil. Conscience gives the rule, and for every
bane will give the antidote.

Of this school and period, Fielding is the greatest figure. One word as to
his career. Passing through all social conditions,--first a country
gentleman, living on or rather squandering his first wife's little fortune
in following the hounds and entertaining the county; then a playwright,
vegetating very seedily on the proceeds of his comedies; justice of the
peace, and encountering, in his vocation, such characters as _Jonathan
Wild_; drunken, licentious, unfaithful to his wife, but always--strange
paradox of poor human nature--generous as the day; mourning with bitter
tears the loss of his first wife, and then marrying her faithful
maid-servant, that they may mourn for her together,--he seems to have been
a rare mechanism without a _governor_. "Poor Harry Fielding!" And yet to
this irregular, sinful character, we owe the inimitable portraitures of
English life as it was, in _Joseph Andrews_, _Tom Jones_, and _Amelia_.

Fielding's habits, acting upon a naturally weak constitution, wore him
out. He left England, and wandered to the English factory at Lisbon, where
he died, in 1754, in the forty-eighth year of his age.

TOBIAS GEORGE SMOLLETT.--Smollett, the third in order and in rank of the
novelists of his age, was born at Cardross, Dumbartonshire, in 1721, of a
good family; but he had small means. After some schooling at Dumbarton and
a university career at Glasgow, he was, from necessity, apprenticed to a
surgeon. But as his grandfather, Sir James Smollett, on whom he depended,
died, he left his master, at the age of eighteen, and, taking in his
pocket a manuscript play he had thus early written,--_The Regicides_,--he
made his way to London, the El Dorado of all youths with literary
aspirations. The play was not accepted; but, through the knowledge
obtained in the surgery, he received an appointment as surgeon's mate, and
went out with Admiral Vernon's fated expedition to Carthagena in that
capacity, and thus acquired a knowledge of the sea and of sailors which he
was to use with great effect in his later writings. For a time he remained
in the West Indies, where he fell in love with Miss Anne Lascelles, whom
he afterwards married. In 1746 he returned to London, and, after an
unsuccessful attempt to practise medicine, he threw himself with great
vigor into the field of literature. He was a man of strange and
antagonistic features, just and generous in theory, quarrelsome and
overbearing in practice. From the year 1746 his pen seems to have been
always busy. He first tried his hand on some satires, which gained for him
numerous enemies; and in 1748 he produced his first novel, _Roderick
Random_, which, in spite of its indecency, the world at once acknowledged
to be a work of genius: the verisimilitude was perfect; every one
recognized in the hero the type of many a young North countryman going out
to seek his fortune. The variety is great, the scenes are more varied and
real than those in Richardson and Fielding, the characters are numerous
and vividly painted, and the keen sense of ridicule pervading the book
makes it a broad jest from beginning to end. Historically, his
delineations are valuable; for he describes a period in the annals of the
British marine which has happily passed away,--a hard life in little
stifling holds or forecastles, with hard fare,--a base life, for the
sailor, oppressed on shipboard, was the prey of vile women and land-sharks
when on shore. What pictures of prostitution and indecency! what obscenity
of language! what drunken infernal orgies! We may shun the book as we
would shun the company, and yet the one is the exact portraiture of the

Roderick Random was followed, in 1751, by _Peregrine Pickle_, a book in
similar taste, but the characters in which are even more striking. The
forms of Commodore Trunnion, Lieutenant Hatchway, Pipes the boatswain, and
Ap Morgan the choleric Welsh surgeon, are as familiar to us now as at the

Smollett had now retired to Chelsea, where his facile pen was still hard
at work. In 1753 appeared his _Ferdinand Count Fathom_, the portraiture of
a complete villain, corresponding in character with Fielding's _Jonathan
Wild_, but with a better moral.

About this time he translated _Don Quixote_; and although his version is
still published, it is by no means true to the idiom of the language, nor
to the higher purpose of Cervantes.

Passing by his _Complete History of Authentic and Entertaining Voyages_,
we come to his _History of England from the Descent of Julius Cæsar to the
Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 1748_. It is not a profound work; but it is
so currently written, that, in lieu of better, the latter portion was
taken to supplement Hume; as a work of less merit than either, that of
Bissett was added in the later editions to supplement Smollett and Hume.
For this history he is said to have received £2000.

In 1762 he issued _The Adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaves_, who, with his
attendant, _Captain Crowe_, goes forth, in the style of Don Quixote and
Sancho, to _do_ the world. Smollett's forte was in the broadly humorous,
and this is all that redeems this work from utter absurdity.

HUMPHREY CLINKER.--His last work of any importance, and perhaps his best,
is _The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker_, described in a series of letters
descriptive of this amusing imaginative journey. Mrs. Winifred, Tabitha,
and, best of all, Lismahago, are rare characters, and in all respects,
except its vulgarity, it was the prototype of Hood's exquisite _Up the

From the year 1756, Smollett edited, at intervals, various periodicals,
and wrote what he thought very good poetry, now forgotten,--an _Ode to
Independence_, after the Greek manner of strophe and antistrophe, not
wanting in a noble spirit; and _The Tears of Scotland_, written on the
occasion of the Duke of Cumberland's barbarities, in 1746, after the
battle of Culloden:

    Mourn, hapless Caledonia, mourn
    Thy banished peace, thy laurels torn!
    Thy sons, for valor long renowned,
    Lie slaughtered on thy native ground.

Smollett died abroad on the 21st of October, 1771. His health entirely
broken, he had gone to Italy, and taken a cottage near Leghorn: a slight
resuscitation was the consequence, and he had something in prospect to
live for: he was the heir-at-law to the estate of Bonhill, worth £1000 per
annum; but the remorseless archer would not wait for his fortune.



   The Subjective School. Sterne--Sermons. Tristram Shandy. Sentimental
   Journey. Oliver Goldsmith. Poems--The Vicar. Histories, and Other
   Works. Mackenzie. The Man of Feeling.


In the same age, and inspired by similar influences, there sprang up a
widely-different school of novelists, which has been variously named as
the Sentimental and the Subjective School. Richardson and Fielding
depicted what they saw around them objectively, rather than the
impressions made upon their individual sensitiveness. Both Sterne and
Goldsmith were eminently subjective. They stand as a transparent medium
between their works and the reader. The medium through which we see
_Tristram Shandy_ is a double lens,--one part of which is the distorted
mind of the author, and the other the nondescript philosophy which he
pilfered from Rabelais and Burton. The glass through which the _Vicar of
Wakefield_ is shown us is the good-nature and loving heart of Goldsmith,
which brighten and gladden every creation of his pen. Thus it is that two
men, otherwise essentially unlike, appear together as representatives of a
school which was at once sentimental and subjective.

STERNE.--Lawrence Sterne was the son of an officer in the British army,
and was born, in 1713, at Clonmel, in Ireland, where his father was

His father died not long afterwards, at Gibraltar, from the effect of a
wound which he had received in a duel; and it is indicative of the _code
of honor_ in that day, that the duel was about a goose at the mess-table!
What little Lawrence learned in his brief military experience was put to
good use afterwards in his army reminiscences and portraitures in
_Tristram Shandy_. No doubt My Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim are sketches
from his early recollections. Aided by his mother's relations, he studied
at Cambridge, and afterwards, without an inward call, but in accordance
with the custom of the day, he entered into holy orders, and was presented
to a living, of which he stood very much in need.

HIS SERMONS.--With no spirit for parochial work, it must be said that he
published very forcible and devout sermons, and set before his people and
the English world a pious standard of life, by which, however, he did not
choose to measure his own: he preached, but did not practise. In a letter
to Mr. Foley, he says: "I have made a good campaign in the field of the
literati: ... two volumes of sermons which I shall print very soon will
bring me a considerable sum.... 'Tis but a crown for sixteen sermons--dog
cheap; but I am in quest of honor, not money."

These discourses abound in excellent instruction and in pithy expressions;
but it is painful to see how often his pointed rebukes are undesignedly
aimed at his own conduct. In one of them he says: "When such a man tells
you that a thing goes against his conscience, always believe he means
exactly the same thing as when he tells you it goes against his stomach--a
present want of appetite being generally the true cause of both." In his
discourse on _The Forgiveness of Injuries_, we have the following striking
sentiment: "The brave only know how to forgive: it is the most refined and
generous pitch of virtue human nature can arrive at. Cowards have done
good and kind actions; cowards have even fought, nay, sometimes even
conquered; but a coward never forgave." All readers of _Tristram Shandy_
will recall his sermon on the text, "For we trust we have a good
conscience," so affecting to Corporal Trim and so overwhelming to Dr.

But if his sermons are so pious and good, we look in vain into his
entertaining _Letters_ for a corresponding piety in his life. They are
witty, jolly, occasionally licentious. They touch and adorn every topic
except religion; and so it may be feared that all his religion was
written, printed, bound, and sold by subscription, in those famous
sermons, sixteen for a crown--"dog cheap!"

TRISTRAM SHANDY.--In 1759 appeared the first part of _Tristram Shandy_--a
strange, desultory work, in which many of the curious bits of philosophy
are taken from Montaigne, Burton, Rabelais, and others; but which has,
besides, great originality in the handling and in the portraiture of
characters. Much of what Sterne borrowed from these writers passed for his
own in that day, when there were comparatively few readers of the authors
mentioned. As to the charge of plagiarism, we may say that Sterne's hero
is like the _Gargantua_ of Rabelais in many particulars; but he is a man
instead of a monster; while the chapter on _Hobby-Horses_ is a
reproduction, in a new form of crystallization, of _Gargantua's wooden

So, too, the entire theological cast of _Tristram Shandy_ is that of the
sixteenth century;--questions before the Sorbonne, the use of
excommunication, and the like. Dr. Slop, the Roman Catholic surgeon of the
family, is but a weak mouthpiece of his Church in the polemics of the
story; for Sterne was a violent opponent of the Church of Rome in story as
well as in sermon; and Obadiah, the stupid man-servant, is the lay figure
who receives the curses which Dr. Slop reads,--"cursed in house and
stable, garden and field and highway, in path or in wood, in the water or
in the church." Whether the doctor was in earnest or not, Obadiah paid
him fully by upsetting him and his pony with the coach-horse.

But in spite of the resemblance to Rabelais and a former age, it must be
allowed that _Tristram Shandy_ contains many of the richest pictures and
fairest characters of the age in which it was written. Rural England is
truthfully presented, and the political cast of the day is shown in his
references to the war in Flanders. Among the sterling original portraits
are those of Mr. Shandy, the country gentleman, controversial and
consequential; Mrs. Shandy, the nonentity,--the Amelia Osborne and Mrs.
Nickleby of her day; Yorick, the lukewarm, time-serving priest--Sterne
himself: and these are only supplementary characters.

The sieges of towns in the Low Countries, then going on, are pleasantly
connected with that most exquisite of characters, _my Uncle Toby_, who has
a fortification in his garden,--sentry-box, cannon, and all,--and who
follows the great movement on this petty scale from day to day, as the
bulletins come in from the seat of war.

The _Widow Wadman_, with her artless wiles, and the "something in her
eye," makes my Uncle Toby--who protests he can see nothing in the
white--look, not without peril, "with might and main into the pupil." Ah,
that sentry-box and the widow's tactics might have conquered many a more
wary man than my Uncle Toby! and yet my Uncle Toby escaped.

Now, all these are real English characters, sketched from life by the hand
of genius, and they become our friends and acquaintances forever. It seems
as though Sterne, after a long and close study of Rabelais and Burton, had
fancied that, with their aid, he might write a money-making book; but his
own genius, rising superior to the plagiarism, took the project out of his
venal hands; and from the antique learning and the incongruities which he
had heaped together, bright and beautiful forms sprang forth like genii
from the mine, to subsidize the tears and laughter of all future time.
What an exquisite creation is my Uncle Toby!--a soldier in the van of
battle, a man of honor and high tone in every-day life, a kind brother, a
good master to Corporal Trim, simple as a child, benevolent as an angel.
"Go, poor devil," quoth he to the fly which buzzed about his nose all
dinner-time, "get thee gone; why should I hurt thee? This world is surely
wide enough to hold both thee and me!"

And as for Corporal Trim, he is a host in himself. There is in the English
literary portrait-gallery no other Uncle Toby, there is no other Corporal
Trim. Hazlitt has not exaggerated in saying that the _Story of Le Fevre_
is perhaps the finest in the English language. My Uncle Toby's conduct to
the dying officer is the perfection of loving-kindness and charity.

THE SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY.--Sterne's _Sentimental Journey_, although
charmingly written,--and this is said in spite of the preference of such a
critic as Horace Walpole,--will not compare with _Tristram Shandy_: it is
left unfinished, and is constantly suggestive of licentiousness.

Sterne's English is excellent and idiomatic, and has commended his works
to the ordinary reader, who shrinks from the hyperlatinism of the time
represented so strongly by Dr. Johnson and his followers. His wit, if
sometimes artificial, is always acute; his sentiment is entirely
artificial; "he is always protruding his sensibility, trying to play upon
you as upon an instrument; more concerned that you should acknowledge his
power than have any depth of feeling." Thackeray, whose opinion is just
quoted, calls him "a great jester, not a great humorist." He had lived a
careless, self-indulgent life, and was no honor to his profession. His
death was like a retribution. In a mean lodging, with no friends but his
bookseller, he died suddenly from hemorrhage. His funeral was hasty, and
only attended by two persons; his burial was in an obscure graveyard; and
his body was taken up by corpse-snatchers for the dissecting-room of the
professor of anatomy at Cambridge,--alas, poor Yorick!

OLIVER GOLDSMITH.--We have placed Goldsmith in immediate connection with
Sterne as, like him, of the Subjective School, in his story of the _Vicar
of Wakefield_ and his numerous biographical and prose sketches; but he
belongs to more than one literary school of his period. He was a poet, an
essayist, a dramatist, and an historian; a writer who, in the words of his
epitaph,--written by Dr. Johnson, and with no extravagant
eulogium,--touched all subjects, and touched none that he did not
adorn,--_nullum quod tetigit non ornavit_. His life was a strange
melodrama, so varied with laughter and tears, so checkered with fame and
misfortune, so resounding with songs pathetic and comic, that, were he an
unknown hero, his adventures would be read with pleasure by all persons of
sensibility. There is no better illustration of the _subjective_ in
literature. It is the man who is presented to us in his works, and who can
no more be disjoined from them than the light from the vase, the beauties
of which it discloses. As an essayist, he was of the school of Addison and
Steele; but he has more ease of style and more humor than his teachers. As
a dramatist, he had many and superior competitors in his own vein; and yet
his plays still occupy the stage. As an historian, he was fluent but
superficial; and yet the charm of his style and the easy flow of his
narrative, have given his books currency as manuals of instruction. And
although as a writer of fiction, or of truth gracefully veiled in the
garments of fiction, he stands unrivalled in his beautiful and touching
story of the incorruptible _Vicar_, yet this is his only complete story,
and presents but one side of his literary character. Considering him first
as a poet, we shall find that he is one of the Transition School, but that
he has a beautiful originality: his poems appeal not to the initiated
alone, but to human nature in all its conditions and guises; they are
elevated and harmonious enough for the most fastidious taste, and simple
and artless enough to please the rustic and the child. To say that he is
the most popular writer in the whole course of English Literature thus
far, is hardly to overstate his claims; and the principal reason is that,
with a blundering and improvident nature, a want of dignity, a lack of
coherence, he had a great heart, alive to human suffering; he was generous
to a fault, true to the right, and ever seeking, if constantly failing, to
direct and improve his own life, and these good characteristics are
everywhere manifest in his works. A brief recital of the principal events
in his career will throw light upon his works, and will do the best
justice to his peculiar character.

Oliver Goldsmith was born at the little village of Pallas, in Ireland,
where his father was a poor curate, on the 10th of November, 1728. There
were nine children, of whom he was the fifth. His father afterwards moved
to Lissoy, which the poet described, in his _Deserted Village_, as

    Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain,
    Where health and plenty cheered the laboring swain.

As his father was entirely unable to educate so numerous a family,
Goldsmith owed his education partly to his uncle, the Rev. Thomas
Contarini, and in part to his brother, the Rev. Henry Goldsmith, whom he
cherished with the sincerest affection. An attack of the small-pox while
he was a boy marked his face, and he was to most persons an
unprepossessing child. He was ill-treated at school by larger boys, and
afterwards at Trinity College, Dublin, which he entered as a sizar, by his
tutor. He was idle, careless, and improvident: he left college without
permission, but was taken back by his brother, and was finally graduated
with a bachelor's degree, in 1749. His later professional studies were
spasmodic and desultory: he tried law and medicine, and more than once
gained a scanty support by teaching. Seized with a rambling spirit, he
went to the Continent, and visited Holland, France, Germany, Switzerland,
and Italy; sometimes gaining a scanty livelihood by teaching English, and
sometimes wandering without money, depending upon his flute to win a
supper and bed from the rustics who lived on the highway. He obtained, it
is said, the degree of Doctor of Medicine at Padua; and on his return to
England, he went before a board of examiners to obtain the position of
surgeon's mate in the army or navy. He was at this time so poor that he
was obliged to borrow a suit of clothes to make a proper appearance before
the examiners. He failed in his examination, and then, in despair, he
pawned the borrowed clothes, to the great anger of the publisher who had
lent them. This failure in his medical examination, unfortunate as it then
seemed, secured him to literature. From that time his pen was constantly
busy for the reviews and magazines. His first work was _An Inquiry into
the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe_, which, at least, prepared
the way for his future efforts. This appeared in 1759, and is
characterized by general knowledge and polish of style.

HIS POEMS.--In 1764 he published _The Traveller_, a moralizing poem upon
the condition of the people under the European governments. It was at once
and entirely successful; philosophical, elegant, and harmonious, it is
pitched in a key suited to the capacity of the world at large; and as, in
the general comparison of nations, he found abundant reason for lauding
England, it was esteemed patriotic, and was on that account popular. Many
of its lines have been constantly quoted since.

In 1770 appeared his _Deserted Village_, which was even more popular than
_The Traveller_; nor has this popularity flagged from that time down to
the present day. It is full of exquisite pictures of rural life and
manners. It is what it claims to be,--not an attempt at high art or epic,
but a gallery of cabinet pictures of rare finish and detail, painted by
the poet's heart and appealing to the sensibility of every reader. The
world knows it by heart,--the portraiture of the village schoolmaster and
his school; the beautiful picture of the country parson:

    A man he was to all the country dear,
    And passing rich with forty pounds a year.

This latter is a worthy companion-piece to Chaucer's "poor persoune," and
is, besides, a filial tribute to Goldsmith's father. So real are the
characters and scenes, that the poem has been a popular subject for the
artist. If in _The Traveller_ he has been philosophical and didactic, in
the _Deserted Village_ he is only descriptive and tender. In no work is
there a finer spirit of true charity, the love of man for God's
sake,--like God himself, "no respecter of persons."

While in form and versification he is like Pope and the Artificial School,
he has the sensibility to nature of Thomson, and the simplicity of feeling
and thought of Wordsworth; and thus he stands between the two great poetic
periods, partaking of the better nature of both.

THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD.--Between the appearance of these two poems, in
1766, came forth that nonpareil of charming stories, _The Vicar of
Wakefield_. It is so well known that we need not enter into an analysis of
it. It is the story of a good vicar, of like passions with ourselves; not
wanting in vanity and impetuosity, but shining in his Christian virtue
like a star in the midst of accumulating misfortunes,--a man of immaculate
honor and undying faith, preaching to his fellow-prisoners in the jail,
surveying death without fear, and at last, like Job, restored to
happiness, and yet maintaining his humility. It does not seem to have been
constructed according to artificial rules, but rather to have been told
extemporaneously, without effort and without ambition; and while this very
fact has been the cause of some artistic faults and some improbabilities,
it has also given it a peculiar charm, by contrast with such purely
artificial constructions as the _Rasselas_ of Johnson.

So doubtful was the publisher, who had bought the manuscript for £60, that
he held it back for two years, until the name of the author had become
known through _The Traveller_, and was thus a guarantee for its success.
The _Vicar of Wakefield_ has also an additional value in its delineation
of manners, persons, and conditions in that day, and in its strictures
upon the English penal law, in such terms and with such suggestions as
seem a prophecy of the changes which have since taken place.

HISTORIES, AND OTHER WORKS.--Of Goldsmith's various histories it may be
said that they are of value for the clear, if superficial, presentation of
facts, and for their charm of style.

The best is, without doubt, _The History of England_; but the _Histories
of Greece and Rome_, re-edited, are still used as text-books in many
schools. The _Vicar_ has been translated into most of the modern
languages, and imitated by many writers since.

As an essayist, Goldsmith has been a great enricher of English history.
His Chinese letters--for the idea of which he was indebted to the _Lettres
Persanes_ of Montesquieu--describe England in his day with the same
_vraisemblance_ which we have noticed in _The Spectator_. These were
afterwards collected and published in a volume entitled _The Citizen of
the World_. And besides the pleasure of biography, and the humor of the
presentment, his _Life of Beau Nash_ introduces us to Bath and its
frequenters with historical power. The life at the Spring is one and a
very valuable phase of English society.

As a dramatist, he was more than equalled by Sheridan; but his two plays,
_The Good-Natured Man_ and _She Stoops to Conquer_, are still favorites
upon the stage.

The irregularities of Goldsmith's private life seem to have been rather
defects in his character than intentional wrong-doings. Generous to a
fault, squandering without thought what was due to his creditors, losing
at play, he lived in continual pecuniary embarrassment, and died unhappy,
with a debt of £1000, the existence of which led Johnson to ejaculate,
"Was ever poet so trusted before?" He lived a bachelor; and the conclusion
seems forced upon us that had he married a woman who could have controlled
him, he, would have been a happier and more respectable man, but perhaps
have done less for literature than he did.

While Goldsmith was a type and presenter of his age, and while he took no
high flights in the intellectual realms, he so handled what the age
presented that he must be allowed the claim of originality, both in his
poems and in the _Vicar_; and he has had, even to the present day, hosts
of imitators. Poems on college gala-days were for a long time faint
reflections of his _Traveller_, and simple, causal stories of quiet life
are the teeming progeny of the _Vicar_, in spite of the Whistonian
controversy, and the epitaph of his living wife.

A few of his ballads and songs display great lyric power, but the most of
his poetry is not lyric; it is rather a blending of the pastoral and epic
with rare success. His minor poems are few, but favorites. Among these is
the beautiful ballad entitled _Edwin and Angelina_, or _The Hermit_, which
first appeared in _The Vicar of Wakefield_, but which has since been
printed separately among his poems. Of its kind and class it has no
superior. _Retaliation_ is a humorous epitaph upon his friends and
co-literati, hitting off their characteristics with truth and point; and
_The Haunch of Venison_--upon which he did not dine--is an amusing
incident which might have happened to any Londoner like himself, but which
no one could have related so well as he.

He died in 1774, at the age of forty-five; but his fame--his better
life--is more vigorous than ever. Washington Irving, whose writings are
similar in style to those of Goldsmith, has extended and perpetuated his
reputation in America by writing his Biography; a charming work, many
touches of which seem almost autobiographical, as displaying the
resemblance between the writer and his subject.

MACKENZIE.--From Sterne and Goldsmith we pass to Mackenzie, who, if not a
conscious imitator of the former, is, at least, unconsciously formed upon
the model of Sterne, without his genius, but also without his coarseness:
in the management of his narrative, he is a medium between Sterne and
Walter Scott; indeed, from his long life, he saw the period of both these
authors, and his writings partake of the characteristics of both.

Henry Mackenzie was born at Edinburgh, in August, 1745, and lived until
1831, to the ripe age of eighty-six. He was educated at the University of
Edinburgh, and afterwards studied law. He wrote some strong political
pamphlets in favor of the Pitt government, for which he was rewarded with
the office of comptroller of the taxes, which he held to the day of his

THE MAN OF FEELING.--In 1771 the world was equally astonished and
delighted by the appearance of his first novel, _The Man of Feeling_. In
this there are manifest tokens of his debt to Sterne's _Sentimental
Journey_, in the journey of Harley, in the story of the beggar and his
dog, and in somewhat of the same forced sensibility in the account of
Harley's death.

In 1773 appeared his _Man of the World_ which was in some sort a sequel to
the _Man of Feeling_, but which wearies by the monotony of the plot.

In 1777 he published _Julia de Roubigné_, which, in the opinion of many,
shares the palm with his first novel: the plot is more varied than that of
the second, and the language is exceedingly harmonious--elegiac prose. The
story is plaintive and painful: virtue is extolled, but made to suffer, in
a domestic tragedy, which all readers would be glad to see ending

At different times Mackenzie edited _The Mirror_ and _The Lounger_, and he
has been called the restorer of the Essay. His story of the venerable _La
Roche_, contributed to _The Mirror_, is perhaps the best specimen of his
powers as a sentimentalist: it portrays the influence of Christianity, as
exhibited in the very face of infidelity, to support the soul in the
sorest of trials--the death of an only and peerless daughter.

His contributions to the above-named periodicals were very numerous and

The name of his first novel was applied to himself as a man. He was known
as the _man of feeling_ to the whole community. This was a misnomer: he
was kind and affable; his evening parties were delightful; but he had
nothing of the pathetic or sentimental about him. On the contrary, he was
humorous, practical, and worldly-wise; very fond of field sports and
athletic exercises. His sentiment--which has been variously criticized, by
some as the perfection of moral pathos, and by others as lackadaisical and
canting--may be said to have sprung rather from his observations of life
and manners than to have welled spontaneously from any source within his
own heart.

Sterne and Goldsmith will be read as long as the English language lasts,
and their representative characters will be quoted as models and standards
everywhere: Mackenzie is fast falling into an oblivion from which he will
only be resuscitated by the historian of English Literature.



   The Sceptical Age. David Hume. History of England. Metaphysics. Essay
   on Miracles. Robertson. Histories. Gibbon. The Decline and Fall.


History presents itself to the student in two forms: The first is
_chronicle_, or a simple relation of facts and statistics; and the second,
_philosophical history_, in which we use these facts and statistics in the
consideration of cause and effect, and endeavor to extract a moral from
the actions and events recorded. From pregnant causes the philosophic
historian traces, at long distances, the important results; or,
conversely, from the present condition of things--the good and evil around
him--he runs back, sometimes remotely, to the causes from which they have
sprung. Chronicle is very pleasing to read, and the reader may be, to some
extent, his own philosopher; but the importance of history as a study is
found in its philosophy.

As far down as the eighteenth century, almost everything in history
partakes of the nature of chronicle. In that century, in obedience to the
law of human progress, there sprang up in England and on the Continent the
men who first made chronicle material for philosophy, and used philosophy
to teach by example what to imitate and what to shun.

What were the circumstances which led, in the eighteenth century, to the
simultaneous appearance of Hume, Gibbon, and Robertson, as the originators
of a new school of history? Some of them have been already mentioned in
treating of the antiquarian age. We have endeavored to show how the
English literati--novelists, essayists, and poets--have been in part
unconscious historians. It will also appear that the professed historians
themselves have been, in a great measure, the creatures of English
history. The _fifteenth_ century was the period when the revival of
letters took place, and a great spur was given to mental activity; but the
world, like a child, was again learning rudiments, and finding out what it
was, and what it possessed at that present time: it received the new
classical culture presented to it at the fall of the lower empire, and was
content to learn the existing, without endeavoring to create the new, or
even to recompose the scattered fragments of the past. The _eighteenth_
century saw a new revival: the world had become a man; great progress was
reported in arts, in inventions, and in discoveries; science began to
labor at the arduous but important task of classification; new theories of
government and laws were propounded; the past was consulted that its
experience might be applied; the partisan chronicles needed to be united
and compared that truth might be elicited; the philosophic historian was
required, and the people were ready to learn, and to criticize, what he

I have ventured to call this the Sceptical Age. It had other
characteristics: this was one. We use the word sceptical in its
etymological sense: it was an age of inquiry, of doubt to be resolved.
Voltaire, Montesquieu, Rousseau, D'Alembert, and Diderot had founded a new
school of universal inquiry, and from their bold investigations and
startling theories sprang the society of the _illuminati_, and the race of
thinkers. They went too far: they stabbed the truth as it lay in the grasp
of error. From thinkers they became free-thinkers: from philosophers they
became infidels, and some of them atheists. This was the age which
produced "the triumvirate of British historians who," in the words of
Montgomery, "exemplified in their very dissimilar styles the triple
contrast of simplicity, elegance, and splendor."

Imbued with this spirit of the time, Hume undertook to write a _History of
England_, which, with all its errors and faults, still ranks among the
best efforts of English historians. Like the French philosophers, Hume was
an infidel, and his scepticism appears in his writings; but, unlike
them--for they were stanch reformers in government as well as infidels in
faith--he who was an infidel was also an aristocrat in sentiment, and a
consistent Tory his life long. In his history, with all the artifices of a
philosopher, he takes the Jacobite side in the civil war.

HUME.--David Hume was born in Edinburgh on the 26th of April (O.S.), 1711.
His life was without many vicissitudes of interest, but his efforts to
achieve an enduring reputation on the most solid grounds, mark him as a
notable example of patient industry, study, and economy. He led a
studious, systematic, and consistent life.

Although of good family,--being a descendant of the Earl of Home,--he was
in poor circumstances, and after some study of the law, and some
unsuccessful literary ventures, he was obliged to seek employment as a
means of livelihood. Thus he became tutor or keeper to the young Marquis
of Annandale, who was insane. Abandoning this position in disgust, he was
appointed secretary to General St. Clair in various embassies,--to Paris,
Vienna, and Turin; everywhere hoarding his pay, until he became
independent, "though," he says, "most of my friends were inclined to smile
when I said so; in short, I was master of a thousand pounds."

His earliest work was a _Treatise on Human Nature_, published in 1738,
which met with no success. Nothing discouraged thereat, in 1741 he issued
a volume of _Essays Moral and Political_, the success of which emboldened
him to publish, in 1748, his _Inquiry Concerning the Human Understanding_.
These and other works were preparing his pen for its greater task, the
material for which he was soon to find.

In 1752 he was appointed librarian to the Faculty of Advocates, not for
the emolument, but with the real purpose of having entire control of the
books and material in the library; and then he determined to write the
_History of England_.

HISTORY OF ENGLAND.--He began with the accession of the Stuarts, in 1603,
the period when the popular element, so long kept tranquil by the power
and sex of Queen Elizabeth, was ready first to break out into open
assertion. Hume's self-deception must have been rudely discovered to him;
for he tells us, in an autobiography fortunately preserved, that he
expected so dispassionately to steer clear of all existent parties, or,
rather, to be so just to all, that he should gain universal approbation.
"Miserable," he adds, "was my disappointment. I was assailed by one cry of
reproach, disapprobation, and even detestation. English, Scotch, Irish,
Whig and Tory, churchman and sectary, free-thinker and religionist,
patriot and courtier, united, in their rage, against the man who had
presumed to shed a generous tear for the fate of Charles I. and the Earl
of Strafford." How far, too, this was ignorant invective, may be judged
from the fact that in twelve months only forty-five copies of his work
were sold.

However, he patiently continued his labor. The first volume, containing
the reigns of James I. and Charles I, had been issued in 1754; his second,
published in 1756, and containing the later history of the Commonwealth,
of Charles II., and James II., and concluding with the revolution of 1688,
was received with more favor, and "helped to buoy up its unfortunate
brother." Then he worked backward: in 1759 he produced the reigns of the
house of Tudor; and in 1761, the earlier history, completing his work,
from the earliest times to 1688. The tide had now turned in his favor; the
sales were large, and his pecuniary rewards greater than any historian had
yet received.

The Tory character of his work is very decided: he not only sheds a
generous tear for the fate of Charles I., but conceals or glosses the
villanies of Stuarts far worse than Charles. The liberties of England
consist, in his eyes, of wise concessions made by the sovereign, rather
than as the inalienable birthright of the English man.

He has also been charged with want of industry and honesty in the use of
his materials--taking things at second-hand, without consulting original
authorities which were within his reach, and thus falling into many
mistakes, while placing in his marginal notes the names of the original
authors. This charge is particularly just with reference to the
Anglo-Saxon period, since so picturesquely described by Sharon Turner.

The first in order of the philosophical historians, he is rather a
collector of facts than a skilful diviner with them. His style is sonorous
and fluent, but not idiomatic. Dr. Johnson said, "His style is not
English; the structure of his sentences is French,"--an opinion concurred
in by the eminent critic, Lord Jeffrey.

But whatever the criticism, the _History_ of Hume is a great work. He did
what was never done before. For a long time his work stood alone; and even
now it has the charm of a clear, connected narrative, which is still
largely consulted by many who are forewarned of its errors and faults. And
however unidiomatic his style, it is very graceful and flowing, and lends
a peculiar charm to his narrative.

METAPHYSICS.--Of Hume as a philosopher, we need not here say much. He was
acute, intelligent, and subtle; he was, in metaphysical language, "a
sceptical nihilist." And here a distinction must be made between his
religious tenets and his philosophical views,--a distinction so happily
stated by Sir William Hamilton, that we present it in his words: "Though
decidedly opposed to one and all of Hume's theological conclusions, I have
no hesitation in asserting of his philosophical scepticism, that this was
not only beneficial in its results, but, in the circumstances of the
period, even a necessary step in the progress of Philosophy towards
Truth." And again he says, "To Hume we owe the philosophy of Kant, and
therefore also, in general, the later philosophy of Germany." "To Hume, in
like manner, we owe the philosophy of Reid, and, consequently, what is now
distinctively known in Europe as the Philosophy of the Scottish School."
Great praise this from one of the greatest Christian philosophers of this
century, and it shows Hume to have been more original as a philosopher
than as an historian.

He is also greatly commended by Lord Brougham as a political economist.
"His _Political Discourses_," says his lordship, "combine almost every
excellence which can belong to such a performance.... Their great merit is
their originality, and the new system of politics and political economy
which they unfold."

MIRACLES.--The work in which is most fairly set forth his religious
scepticism is his _Essay on Miracles_. In it he adopts the position of
Locke, who had declared "that men should not believe any proposition that
is contrary to reason, on the authority either of inspiration or of
miracle; for the reality of the inspiration or of the miracle can only be
established by reason." Before Hume, assaults on the miracles recorded in
Scripture were numerous and varied. Spinoza and the Pantheistic School had
started the question, "Are miracles possible?" and had taken the negative.
Hume's question is, "Are miracles credible?" And as they are contrary to
human experience, his answer is essentially that it must be always more
probable that a miracle is false than that it is true; since it is not
contrary to experience that witnesses are false or deceived. With him it
is, therefore, a question of the preponderance of evidence, which he
declares to be always against the miracle. This is not the place to
discuss these topics. Archbishop Whately has practically illustrated the
fallacy of Hume's reasoning, in a little book called _Historic Doubts,
relative to Napoleon Bonaparte_, in which, with Hume's logic, he has
proved, that the great emperor never lived; and Whately's successor in the
archbishopric of Dublin, Dr. Trench, has given us some thoughtful words on
the subject: "So long as we abide in the region of nature, miraculous and
improbable, miraculous and incredible may be allowed to remain convertible
terms; but once lift up the whole discussion into a higher region, once
acknowledge aught higher than nature--_a kingdom of God_, and men the
intended denizens of it--and the whole argument loses its strength and the
force of its conclusions."

Hume's death occurred on the 25th of August, 1776. His scepticism, or
philosophy as he called it, remained with him to the end. He even diverted
himself with the prospect of the excuses he would make to Charon as he
reached the fatal river, and is among the few doubters who have calmly
approached the grave without that concern which the Christian's hope alone
is generally able to dispel.

WILLIAM ROBERTSON.--the second of the great historians of the eighteenth
century, although very different from the others in his personal life and
in his creed,--was, like them, a representative and creature of the age.
They form, indeed, a trio in literary character as well as in period; and
we have letters from each to the others on the appearance of their works,
showing that they form also what in the present day is called a "Mutual
Admiration Society." They were above common envy: they recognized each
other's excellence, and forbore to speak of each other's faults. As a
philosopher, Hume was the greatest of the three; as an historian, the palm
must be awarded to Gibbon. But Robertson surprises us most from the fact
that a quiet Scotch pastor, who never travelled, should have attempted,
and so gracefully treated, subjects of such general interest as those he

William Robertson was the son of a Scottish minister, and was born at
Borthwick, in Scotland, on September 19th, in the year 1721. He was a
precocious child, and, after attending school at Dalkeith, he entered the
University of Edinburgh at the age of twelve. At the age of twenty he was
licensed to preach. He published, in 1755, a sermon on _The Situation of
the World at the Time of Christ's Appearance_, which attracted attention;
but he astonished the world by issuing, in 1759, his _History of Scotland
During the Reigns of Queen Mary, and of James VI. until his Accession to
the Crown of England_. This is undoubtedly his best work, but not of such
general interest as his others. His materials were scanty, and he did not
consult such as were in his reach with much assiduity. The invaluable
records of the archives of Simancas were not then opened to the world, but
he lived among the scenes of his narrative, and had the advantage of
knowing all the traditions and of hearing all the vehement opinions _pro_
and _con_ upon the subjects of which he treated. The character of Queen
Mary is drawn with a just but sympathetic hand, and his verdict is not so
utterly denunciatory as that of Mr. Froude. Such was the popularity of
this work, that in 1764 its author was appointed to the honorable office
of Historiographer to His Majesty for Scotland. In 1769 he published his
_History of Charles V._ Here was a new surprise. Whatever its faults, as
afterwards discerned by the critics, it opened a new and brilliant page to
the uninitiated reader, and increased his reputation very greatly. The
history is preceded by a _View of the Progress of Society in Europe from
the Subversion of the Roman Empire to the Beginning of the Sixteenth
Century_. The best praise that can be given to this _View_ is, that
students have since used it as the most excellent summary of that kind
existing. Of the history itself it may be said that, while it is greatly
wanting in historic material in the interest of the narrative and the
splendor of the pageantry of the imperial court, it marked a new era in
historical delineations.

HISTORY OF AMERICA.--In 1777 appeared the first eight books of his
_History of America_, to which, in 1778, he appended additions and
corrections. The concluding books, the ninth and tenth, did not appear
until 1796, when, three years after his death, they were issued by his
son. As a connected narrative of so great an event in the world's history
as the discovery of America, it stood quite alone. If, since that time,
far better and fuller histories have appeared, we should not withhold our
meed of praise from this excellent forerunner of them all. One great
defect of this and the preceding work was his want of knowledge of the
German and Spanish historians, and of the original papers then locked up
in the archives of Simancas; later access to which has given such great
value to the researches of Irving and Prescott and Sterling. Besides,
Robertson lacked the life-giving power which is the property of true
genius. His characters are automata gorgeously arrayed, but without
breath; his style is fluent and sometimes sparkling, but in all respects
he has been superseded, and his works remain only as curious
representatives of the age to the literary student. One other work remains
to be mentioned, and that is his _Historical Disquisition Concerning the
Knowledge which the Ancients had of India, and the Progress of Trade with
that Country Prior to the Discovery of the Passage to it by the Cape of
Good Hope_. This is chiefly of value as it indicates the interest felt in
England at the rise of the English Empire in India; but for real facts it
has no value at all.

GIBBON.--Last in order of time, though far superior as an historian to
Hume and Robertson, stands Edward Gibbon, the greatest historian England
has produced, whether we regard the dignity of his style--antithetic and
sonorous; the range of his subject--the history of a thousand years; the
astonishing fidelity of his research in every department which contains
historic materials; or the symmetry and completeness of his colossal work.

Like Hume, he has left us a sketch of his own life and labors, simple and
dispassionate, from which it appears that he was born in London on the
27th of April, 1737; and, being of a good family, he had every advantage
of education. Passing a short time at the University of Oxford, he stands
in a small minority of those who can find no good in their _Alma Mater_.
"To the University of Oxford," he says, "I acknowledge no obligation, and
she will as cheerfully renounce me for a son as I am willing to disclaim
her for a mother. I spent fourteen months at Magdalen College. They proved
to be fourteen of the most idle and unprofitable months of my whole life."
This singular experience may be contrasted with that of hundreds, but may
be most fittingly illustrated by stating that of Dr. Lowth, a venerable
contemporary of the historian. He speaks enthusiastically of the place
where the student is able "to breathe the same atmosphere that had been
breathed by Hooker and Chillingworth and Locke; to revel in its grand and
well-ordered libraries; to form part of that academic society where
emulation without envy, ambition without jealousy, contention without
animosity, incited industry and awakened genius."

Gibbon, while still in his boyhood, had read with avidity ancient and
modern history, and had written a juvenile paper on _The Age of
Sesostris_, which was, at least, suggested by Voltaire's _Siècle de Louis

Early interested, too, in the history of Christianity, his studies led him
to become a Roman Catholic; but his belief was by no means stable. Sent by
his father to Lausanne, in Switzerland, to be under the religious training
of a Protestant minister, he changed his opinions, and became again a
Protestant. His convictions, however, were once more shaken, and, at the
last, he became a man of no creed, a sceptic of the school of Voltaire, a
creature of the age of illumination. Many passages of his history display
a sneering unbelief, which moves some persons more powerfully than the
subtlest argument. This modern Platonist, beginning with sensation,
evolves his philosophy from within,--from the finite mind; whereas human
history can only be explained in the light of revelation, which gives to
humanity faith, but which educes all science from the infinite--the mind
of God.

The history written by Gibbon, called _The Decline and Fall of the Roman
Empire_, begins with that empire in its best days, under Hadrian, and
extends to the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, under Mohammed II.,
in 1453.

And this marvellous scope he has treated with a wonderful equality of
research and power;--the world-absorbing empire, the origin and movements
of the northern tribes and the Scythian marauders, the fall of the Western
Empire, the history of the civil law, the establishment of the Gothic
monarchies, the rise and spread of Mohammedanism, the obscurity of the
middle age deepening into gloom, the crusades, the dawning of letters, and
the inauguration of the modern era after the fall of Constantinople,--the
detailed history of a thousand years. It is difficult to conceive that any
one should suggest such a task to himself; it is astonishing to think
that, with a dignified, self-reliant tenacity of purpose, it should have
been completely achieved. It was an historic period, in which, in the
words of Corneille, "_Un grand destin commence un grand destin s'achève_."
In many respects Gibbon's work stands alone; the general student must
refer to Gibbon, because there is no other work to which he can refer. It
was translated by Guizot into French, the first volume by Wenck into
German (he died before completing it); and it was edited by Dean Milman in

The style of Gibbon is elegant and powerful; at first it is singularly
pleasing, but as one reads it becomes too sonorous, and fatigues, as the
crashing notes of a grand march tire the ear. His periods are antithetic;
each contains a surprise and a witty point. His first two volumes have
less of this stately magnificence, but in his later ones, in seeking to
vindicate popular applause, he aims to shine, and perpetually labors for
effect. Although not such a philosopher as Hume, his work is quite as
philosophical as Hume's history, and he has been more faithful in the use
of his materials. Guizot, while pointing out his errors, says he was
struck, after "a second and attentive perusal," with "the immensity of his
researches, the variety of his knowledge, and, above all, with that truly
philosophical discrimination which judges the past as it would judge the

The danger to the unwary reader is from the sceptical bias of the author,
which, while he states every important fact, leads him, by its manner of
presentation, to warp it, or put it in a false light. Thus, for example,
he has praise for paganism, and easy absolution for its sins; Mohammed
walks the stage with a stately stride; Alaric overruns Europe to a grand
quickstep; but Christianity awakens no enthusiasm, and receives no
eulogium, although he describes its early struggles, its martyrdoms, its
triumphs under Constantine, its gentle radiance during the dark ages, and
its powerful awakening. Because he cannot believe, he cannot even be just.

In his special chapter on the rise and spread of Christianity, he gives a
valuable summary of its history, and of the claims of the papacy, with
perhaps a leaning towards the Latin Church. Gibbon finished his work at
Lausanne on the 27th of June, 1787.

Its conception had come to his mind as he sat one evening amid the ruins
of the Capitol at Rome, and heard the barefooted friars singing vespers in
the Temple of Jupiter. He had then thought of writing the decline and fall
of the city of Rome, but soon expanded his view to the empire. This was in
1764. Nearly thirteen years afterwards, he wrote the last line of the last
page in his garden-house at Lausanne, and reflected joyfully upon his
recovered freedom and his permanent fame. His second thought, however,
will fitly close this notice with a moral from his own lips: "My pride was
soon humbled, and a sober melancholy was spread over my mind by the idea
that I had taken an everlasting leave of an old and agreeable companion,
and that whatever might be the future fate of my history, the life of the
historian must be short and precarious."


_James Boswell_, 1740-1795: he was the son of a Scottish judge called Lord
Auchinleck, from his estate. He studied law, and travelled, publishing, on
his return, _Journal of a Tour in Corsica_. He appears to us a
simple-hearted and amiable man, inquisitive, and exact in details. He
became acquainted with Dr. Johnson in 1763, and conceived an immense
admiration for him. In numerous visits to London, and in their tour to the
Hebrides together, he noted Johnson's speech and actions, and, in 1791,
published his life, which has already been characterized as the greatest
biography ever written. Its value is manifold; not only is it a faithful
portrait of the great writer, but, in the detailed record of his life, we
have the wit, dogmatism, and learning of his hero, as expressing and
illustrating the history of the age, quite as fully as the published works
of Johnson. In return for this most valuable contribution to history and
literature, the critics, one and all, have taxed their ingenuity to find
strong words of ridicule and contempt for Boswell, and have done him great
injustice. Because he bowed before the genius of Johnson, he was not a
toady, nor a fool; at the worst, he was a fanatic, and a not always wise
champion. Johnson was his king, and his loyalty was unqualified.

_Horace Walpole_, the Right Honorable, and afterwards Earl of Orford,
1717-1797: he was a wit, a satirist, and a most accomplished writer, who,
notwithstanding, affected to despise literary fame. His paternity was
doubted; but he enjoyed wealth and honors, and, by the possession of three
sinecures, he lived a life of elegant leisure. He transformed a small
house on the bank of the Thames, at Twickenham, into a miniature castle,
called _Strawberry Hill_, which he filled with curiosities. He held a very
versatile pen, and wrote much on many subjects. Among his desultory works
are: _Anecdotes of Painting in England_, and _Ædes Walpoliana_, a
description of the pictures at Houghton Hall, the seat of Sir Robert
Walpole. He also ranks among the novelists, as the author of _The Castle
of Otranto_, in which he deviates from the path of preceding writers of
fiction--a sort of individual reaction from their portraitures of existing
society to the marvellous and sensational. This work has been variously
criticized; by some it has been considered a great flight of the
imagination, but by most it is regarded as unnatural and full of
"pasteboard machinery." He had immediate followers in this vein, among
whom are Mrs. Aphra Behn, in her _Old English Baron_; and Ann Radcliffe,
in _The Romance of the Forest_, and _The Mysteries of Udolpho_. Walpole
also wrote a work entitled _Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of
Richard III_. But his great value as a writer is to be found in his
_Memoirs_ and varied _Correspondence_, in which he presents photographs of
the society in which he lives. Scott calls him "the best letter-writer in
the language." Among the series of his letters, those of the greatest
historical importance are those addressed to Sir Horace Mann, between 1760
and 1785. Of this series, Macaulay, who is his severest critic, says: "It
forms a connected whole--a regular journal of what appeared to Walpole the
most important transactions of the last twenty years of George II.'s
reign. It contains much new information concerning the history of that
time, the portion of English history of which common readers know the

_John Lord Hervey_, 1696-1743: he is known for his attempts in poetry, and
for a large correspondence, since published; but his chief title to rank
among the contributors to history is found in his _Memoirs of the Court of
George II. and Queen Caroline_, which were not published until 1848. They
give an unrivalled view of the court and of the royal household; and the
variety of the topics, combined with the excellence of description, render
them admirable as aids to understanding the history.

_Sir William Blackstone_, 1723-1780: a distinguished lawyer, he was an
unwearied student of the history of the English statute law, and was on
that account made Professor of Law in the University of Oxford. Some time
a member of Parliament, he was afterwards appointed a judge. He edited
_Magna Charta_ and _The Forest Charter_ of King John and Henry III. But
his great work, one that has made his name famous, is _The Commentaries on
the Laws of England_. Notwithstanding much envious criticism, it has
maintained its place as a standard work. It has been again and again
edited, and perhaps never better than by the Hon. George Sharswood, one of
the Judges of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

_Adam Smith_, 1723-1790: this distinguished writer on political economy,
the intelligent precursor of a system based upon the modern usage of
nations, was educated at Glasgow and Oxford, and became in turn Professor
of Logic and of Moral Philosophy in the University of Glasgow. His lecture
courses in Moral Science contain the germs of his two principal works: 1.
_The Theory of Moral Sentiments_, and 2. _An Enquiry into the Nature and
Causes of the Wealth of Nations_. The theory of the first has been
superseded by the sounder views of later writers; but the second has
conferred upon him enduring honor. In it he establishes as a principle
that _labor_ is the source of national wealth, and displays the value of
division of labor. This work--written in clear, simple language, with
copious illustrations--has had a wonderful influence upon the legislation
and the commercial system of all civilized states since its issue, and has
greatly conduced to the happiness of the human race. He wrote it in
retirement, during a period of ten years. He astonished and instructed his
period by presenting it with a new and necessary science.



   Early Life and Career. London. Rambler and Idler. The Dictionary. Other
   Works. Lives of the Poets. Person and Character. Style. Junius.


Doctor Samuel Johnson was poet, dramatist, essayist, lexicographer,
dogmatist, and critic, and, in this array of professional characters,
played so distinguished a part in his day that he was long regarded as a
prodigy in English literature. His influence has waned since his
personality has grown dim, and his learning been superseded or
overshadowed; but he still remains, and must always remain, the most
prominent literary figure of his age; and this is in no small measure due
to his good fortune in having such a champion and biographer as James
Boswell. Johnson's Life by Boswell is without a rival among biographies:
in the words of Macaulay: "Homer is not more decidedly the first of heroic
poets; Shakspeare is not more decidedly the first of dramatists;
Demosthenes is not more decidedly the first of orators, than Boswell is
the first of biographers;" and Burke has said that Johnson appears far
greater in Boswell's book than in his own. We thus know everything about
Johnson, as we do not know about any other literary man, and this
knowledge, due to his biographer, is at least one of the elements of
Johnson's immense reputation.

He was born at Lichfield on the 18th of September, 1709. His father was a
bookseller; and after having had a certain amount of knowledge "well
beaten into him" by Mr. Hunter, young Johnson was for two years an
assistant in his father's shop. But such was his aptitude for learning,
that he was sent in 1728 to Pembroke College, Oxford. His youth was not a
happy one: he was afflicted with scrofula, "which disfigured a countenance
naturally well formed, and hurt his visual nerves so much that he did not
see at all with one of his eyes." He had a morbid melancholy,--fits of
dejection which made his life miserable. He was poor; and when, in 1731,
his father died insolvent, he was obliged to leave the university without
a degree. After fruitless attempts to establish a school, he married, in
1736, Mrs. Porter, a widow, who had £800. Rude and unprepossessing to
others, she was sincerely loved by her husband, and deeply lamented when
she died. In 1737 Johnson went to London in company with young Garrick,
who had been one of his few pupils, and who was soon to fill the English
world with his theatrical fame.

LONDON.--Johnson soon began to write for Cave's _Gentleman's Magazine_,
and in 1738 he astonished Pope and the artificial poets by producing, in
their best vein, his imitation of the third Satire of Juvenal, which he
called _London_. This was his usher into the realm of literature. But he
did not become prominent until he had reached his fiftieth year; he
continued to struggle with gloom and poverty, too proud to seek patronage
in an age when popular remuneration had not taken its place. In 1740 he
was a reporter of the debates in parliament for Cave; and it is said that
many of the indifferent speakers were astonished to read the next day the
fine things which the reporter had placed in their mouths, which they had
never uttered.

In 1749 he published his _Vanity of Human Wishes_, an imitation of the
tenth Satire of Juvenal, which was as heartily welcomed as _London_ had
been. It is Juvenal applied to English and European history. It contains
many lines familiar to us all; among them are the following:

    Let observation with extended view
    Survey mankind from China to Peru.

In speaking of Charles XII., he says:

    His fall was destined to a barren strand,
    A petty fortress and a dubious hand;
    He left a name at which the world grew pale,
    To point a moral or adorn a tale.

    From Marlborough's eyes the streams of dotage flow,
    And Swift expires a driveller and a show.

In the same year he published his tragedy of _Irene_, which,
notwithstanding the friendly efforts of Garrick, who was now manager of
Drury Lane Theatre, was not successful. As a poet, Johnson was the
perfection of the artificial school; and this very technical perfection
was one of the causes of the reaction which was already beginning to sweep
it away.

RAMBLER AND IDLER.--In 1750 he commenced _The Rambler_, a periodical like
_The Spectator_, of which he wrote nearly all the articles, and which
lived for two years. Solemn, didactic, and sonorous, it lacked the variety
and genial humor which had characterized Addison and Steele. In 1758 he
started _The Idler_, in the same vein, which also ran its respectable
course for two years. In 1759 his mother died, and, in order to defray the
expenses of her funeral, he wrote his story of _Rasselas_ in the evenings
of one week, for two editions of which he received £125. Full of moral
aphorisms and instruction, this "Abyssinian tale" is entirely English in
philosophy and fancy, and has not even the slight illusion of other
Eastern tales in French and English, which were written about the same
time, and which are very similar in form and matter. Of _Rasselas_,
Hazlitt says: "It is the most melancholy and debilitating moral
speculation that was ever put forth."

THE DICTIONARY.--As early as 1747 he had begun to write his English
Dictionary, which, after eight years of incessant and unassisted labor,
appeared in 1755. It was a noble thought, and produced a noble work--a
work which filled an original vacancy. In France, a National Academy had
undertaken a similar work; but this English giant had accomplished his
labors alone. The amount of reading necessary to fix and illustrate his
definitions was enormous, and the book is especially valuable from the apt
and varied quotations from English authors. He established the language,
as he found it, on a firm basis in signification and orthography. He laid
the foundation upon which future lexicographers were to build; but he was
ignorant of the Teutonic languages, from which so much of the structure
and words of the English are taken, and thus is signally wanting in the
scientific treatment of his subject. This is not to his discredit, for the
science of language has had its origin in a later and modern time.

Perhaps nothing displays more fully the proud, sturdy, and self-reliant
character of the man, than the eight years of incessant and unassisted
labor upon this work.

His letter to Lord Chesterfield, declining his tardy patronage, after
experiencing his earlier neglect, is a model of severe and yet respectful
rebuke, and is to be regarded as one of the most significant events in his
history. In it he says: "The notice you have been pleased to take of my
labors, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been delayed till I
am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary, and cannot impart
it; till I am known, and do not want it. I hope it is no very cynical
asperity not to confess obligation when no benefit has been received, or
to be unwilling that the public should consider me as owing that to a
patron which Providence has enabled me to do for myself." Living as he did
in an age when the patronage of the great was wearing out, and public
appreciation beginning to reward an author's toils, this manly letter gave
another stab to the former, and hastened the progress of the latter.

OTHER WORKS.--The fame of Johnson was now fully established, and his
labors were rewarded, in 1762, by the receipt of a pension of £300 from
the government, which made him quite independent. It was then, in the very
heyday of his reputation, that, in 1763, he became acquainted with James
Boswell, to whom he at once became a Grand Lama; who took down the words
as they dropped from his lips, and embalmed his fame.

In 1764 he issued his edition of Shakspeare, in eight octavo volumes, of
which the best that can be said is, that it is not valuable as a
commentary. A commentator must have something in common with his author;
there was nothing congenial between Shakspeare and Johnson.

It was in 1773, that, urged by Boswell, he made his famous _Journey to the
Hebrides_, or Western Islands of Scotland, of which he gave delightful
descriptions in a series of letters to his friend Mrs. Thrale, which he
afterwards wrote out in more pompous style for publication. The letters
are current, witty, and simple; the published work is stilted and

It is well known that he had no sympathy with the American colonies in
their struggle against British oppression. When, in 1775, the Congress
published their _Resolutions_ and _Address_, he answered them in a
prejudiced and illogical paper entitled _Taxation no Tyranny_.
Notwithstanding its want of argument, it had the weight of his name and of
a large party; but history has construed it by the _animus_ of the writer,
who had not long before declared of the colonists that they were "a race
of convicts, and ought to be thankful for anything we allow them short of

As early as 1744 he had published a Life of the gifted but unhappy
Savage, whom in his days of penury he had known, and with whom he had
sympathized; but in 1781 appeared his _Lives of the English Poets, with
Critical Observations on their Works_, and _Lives of Sundry Eminent

LIVES OF THE POETS.--These comprise fifty-two poets, most of them little
known at the present day, and thirteen _eminent persons_. Of historical
value, as showing us the estimate of an age in which Johnson was an usher
to the temple of Fame, they are now of little other value; those of his
own school and coterie he could understand and eulogize. To Milton he
accorded carefully measured praise, but could not do him full justice,
from entire want of sympathy; the majesty of blank verse pentameters he
could not appreciate, and from Milton's puritanism he recoiled with

Johnson died on the 13th of December, 1784, and was buried in Westminster
Abbey; a flat stone with an inscription was placed over his grave: it was
also designed to erect his monument there, but St. Paul's Cathedral was
afterwards chosen as the place. There, a colossal figure represents the
distinguished author, and a Latin epitaph, written by Dr. Parr, records
his virtues and his achievements in literature.

PERSON AND CHARACTER.--A few words must suffice to give a summary of his
character, and will exhibit some singular contrarieties. He had varied but
not very profound learning; was earnest, self-satisfied, overbearing in
argument, or, as Sir Walter Scott styles it, _despotic_. As distinguished
for his powers of conversation as for his writings, he always talked _ex
cathedra_, and was exceedingly impatient of opposition. Brutal in his word
attacks, he concealed by tone and manner a generous heart. Grandiloquent
in ordinary matters, he "made little fishes talk like whales."

Always swayed by religious influences, he was intolerant of the sects
around him; habitually pious, he was not without superstition; he was not
an unbeliever in ghostly apparitions, and had a great fear of death; he
also had the touching mania--touching every post as he walked along the
street, thereby to avoid some unknown evil.

Although of rural origin, he became a thorough London cockney, and his
hatred of Scotchmen and dissenters is at once pitiful and ludicrous. His
manners and gestures were uncouth and disagreeable. He devoured rather
than eat his food, and was a remarkable tea-drinker; on one occasion,
perhaps for bravado, taking twenty-five cups at a sitting.

Massive in figure, seamed with scrofulous scars and marks, seeing with but
one eye, he had convulsive motions and twitches, and his slovenly dress
added to the uncouthness and oddity of his appearance. In all respects he
was an original, and even his defects and peculiarities seemed to conduce
to make him famous.

Considered the first among the critics of his own day, later judgments
have reversed his decisions; many of those whom he praised have sunk into
obscurity, and those whom he failed to appreciate have been elevated to
the highest pedestals in the literary House of Fame.

STYLE.--His style is full-sounding and antithetic, his periods are
carefully balanced, his manner eminently respectable and good; but his
words, very many of them of Latin derivation, constitute what the later
critics have named _Johnsonese_, which is certainly capable of translation
into plainer Saxon English, with good results. Thus, in speaking of
Addison's style, he says: "It is pure without scrupulosity, and exact
without apparent elaboration; ... he seeks no ambitious ornaments, and
tries no hazardous innovations; his page is always luminous, but never
blazes in unexpected splendor." Very numerous examples might be given of
sentences most of the words in which might be replaced by simpler
expressions with great advantage to the sound and to the sense.

As a critic, his word was law: his opinion was clearly and often severely
expressed on literary men and literary subjects, and no great writer of
his own or a past age escaped either his praise or his censure. Authors
wrote with the fear of his criticism before their eyes; and his pompous
diction was long imitated by men who, without this influence, would have
written far better English. But, on the other hand, his honesty, his
scholarship, his piety, and his championship of what was good and true, as
depicted in his writings, made him a blessing to his time, and an honored
and notable character in the noble line of English authors.

JUNIUS.--Among the most significant and instructive writings to the
student of English history, in the earlier part of the reign of George
III., is a series of letters written by a person, or by several persons in
combination, whose _nom de plume_ was Junius. These letters specified the
errors and abuses of the government, were exceedingly bold in denunciation
and bitter in invective. The letters of Junius were forty-four in number,
and were addressed to Mr. Woodfall, the proprietor of _The Public
Advertiser_, a London newspaper, in which they were published. Fifteen
others in the same vein were signed Philo-Junius; and there are besides
sixty-two notes addressed by Junius to his publisher.

The principal letters signed Junius were addressed to ministers directly,
and the first, on the _State of the Nation_, was a manifesto of the
grounds of his writing and his purpose. It was evident that a bold censor
had sprung forth; one acquainted with the secret movements of the
government, and with the foibles and faults of the principal statesmen:
they writhed under his lash. Some of the more gifted attempted to answer
him, and, as in the case of Sir William Draper, met with signal
discomfiture. Vigorous efforts were made to discover the offender, but
without success; and as to his first patriotic intentions he soon added
personal spite, the writer found that his life would not be safe if his
secret were discovered. The rage of parties has long since died away, and
the writer or writers have long been in their graves, but the curious
secret still remains, and has puzzled the brains of students to the
present day. Allibone gives a list of forty-two persons to whom the
letters were in whole or in part ascribed, among whom are Colonel Barré,
Burke, Lord Chatham, General Charles Lee, Horne Tooke, Wilkes, Horace
Walpole, Lord Lyttleton, Lord George Sackville, and Sir Philip Francis.
Pamphlets and books have been written by hundreds upon this question of
authorship, and it is not yet by any means definitely settled. The
concurrence of the most intelligent investigators is in favor of Sir
Philip Francis, because of the handwriting being like his, but slightly
disguised; because he and Junius were alike intimate with the government
workings in the state department and in the war department, and took notes
of speeches in the House of Lords; because the letters came to an end just
before Francis was sent to India; and because, indecisive as these claims
are, they are stronger than those of any other suspected author. Macaulay
adds to these: "One of the strongest reasons for believing that Francis
was Junius is the _moral_ resemblance between the two men."

It is interesting to notice that the ministry engaged Dr. Johnson to
answer the _forty-second_ letter, in which the king is especially
arraigned. Johnson's answer, published in 1771, is entitled _Thoughts on
the Late Transactions respecting Falkland's Islands_. Of Junius he says:
"He cries havoc without reserve, and endeavors to let slip the dogs of
foreign and civil war, ignorant whither they are going, and careless what
maybe their prey." "It is not hard to be sarcastic in a mask; while he
walks like Jack the giant-killer, in a coat of darkness, he may do much
mischief with little strength." "Junius is an unusual phenomenon, on which
some have gazed with wonder and some with terror; but wonder and terror
are transitory passions. He will soon be more closely viewed, or more
attentively examined, and what folly has taken for a comet, that from its
flaming hair shook pestilence and war, inquiry will find to be only a
meteor formed by the vapors of putrefying democracy, and kindled into
flame by the effervescence of interest struggling with conviction, which,
after having plunged its followers into a bog, will leave us inquiring why
we regarded it."

Whatever the moral effect of the writings of Junius, as exhibited by
silent influence in the lapse of years, the schemes he proposed and the
party he championed alike failed of success. His farewell letter to
Woodfall bears date the 19th of January, 1773. In that letter he declared
that "he must be an idiot to write again; that he had meant well by the
cause and the public; that both were given up; that there were not ten men
who would act steadily together on any question."[35] But one thing is
sure: he has enriched the literature with public letters of rare sagacity,
extreme elegance of rhetoric and great logical force, and has presented a
problem always curious and interesting for future students,--not yet
solved, in spite of Mr. Chabot's recent book,[36] and every day becoming
more difficult of solution,--_Who was Junius_?



   The Eighteenth Century. James Macpherson. Ossian. Thomas Chatterton.
   His Poems. The Verdict. Suicide. The Cause.


The middle of the eighteenth century is marked as a period in which, while
other forms of literature flourished, there arose a taste for historic
research. Not content with the _actual_ in poetry and essay and pamphlet,
there was a looking back to gather up a record of what England had done
and had been in the past, and to connect, in logical relation, her former
with her latter glory. It was, as we have seen, the era of her great
historians, Hume, Gibbon, and Robertson, who, upon the chronicles, and the
abundant but scattered material, endeavored to construct philosophic
history; it was the day of her greatest moralists, Adam Smith, Tucker, and
Paley, and of research in metaphysics and political economy. In this
period Bishop Percy collected the ancient English ballads, and also
historic poems from the Chinese and the Runic; in it Warton wrote his
history of poetry. Dr. Johnson, self-reliant and laborious, was producing
his dictionary, and giving limits and coherence to the language. Mind was
on the alert, not only subsidizing the present, but looking curiously into
the past. I have ventured to call it the antiquarian age. In 1751, the
Antiquarian Society of London was firmly established; men began to collect
armor and relics: in this period grew up such an antiquary as Mr. Oldbuck,
who curiously sought out every relic of the Roman times,--armor, fosses,
and _prætoria_,--and found, with much that was real, many a fraud or
delusion. It was an age which, in the words of old Walter Charleton,
"despised the present as an innovation, and slighted the future, like the
madman who fell in love with Cleopatra."

There was manifestly a great temptation to adventurous men--with
sufficient learning, and with no high notion of honor--to creep into the
distant past; to enact, in mask and domino, its literary parts, and
endeavor to deceive an age already enthusiastic for antiquity.

Thus, in the third century, if we may believe the Scotch and Irish
traditions, there existed in Scotland a great chieftain named Fion na
Gael--modernized into Fingal--who fought with Cuthullin and the Irish
warriors, and whose exploits were, as late as the time of which we have
been speaking, the theme of rude ballads among the highlands and islands
of Scotland. To find and translate these ballads was charming and
legitimate work for the antiquarian; to counterfeit them, and call them by
the name of a bard of that period, was the great temptation to the
literary forger. Of such a bard, too, there was a tradition. As brave as
were the deeds of Fingal, their fame was not so great as that of his son
Ossian, who struck a lofty harp as he recounted his father's glory. Could
the real poems be found, they would verify the lines:

    From the barred visor of antiquity
    Reflected shines the eternal light of Truth
    As from a mirror.

And if they could not be found, they might be counterfeited. This was
undertaken by Doctor James Macpherson. Catering to the spirit of the age,
he reproduced the songs of Ossian and the lofty deeds of Fingal.

Again, we have referred, in an early part of this work, to the almost
barren expanse in the highway of English literature from the death of
Chaucer to the middle of the sixteenth century; this barrenness was due,
as we saw, to the turbulence of those years--civil war, misgovernment, a
time of bloody action rather than peaceful authorship. Here, too, was a
great temptation for some gifted but oblique mind to supply a partial
literature for that bare period; a literature which, entirely fabricated,
should yet bear all the characteristics of the history, language, customs,
manners, and religion of that time.

This attempt was made by Thomas Chatterton, an obscure, ill-educated lad,
without means or friends, but who had a master-mind, and would have
accomplished some great feat in letters, had he not died, while still very
young, by his own hand.

Let us examine these frauds in succession: we shall find them of double
historic value, as literary efforts in one age designed to represent the
literature of a former age.

JAMES MACPHERSON.--James Macpherson was born at Ruthven, a village in
Inverness-shire, in 1738. Being intended for the ministry, he received a
good preliminary education, and became early interested in the ancient
Gaelic ballads and poetic fragments still floating about the Highlands of
Scotland. By the aid of Mr. John Home, the author of _Douglas_, and his
friends Blair and Ferguson, he published, in 1760, a small volume of sixty
pages entitled, _Fragments of Ancient Poetry translated from the Gaelic or
Erse Language_. They were heroic and harmonious, and were very well
received: he had catered to the very spirit of the age. At first, there
seemed to be no doubt as to their genuineness. It was known to tradition
that this northern Fingal had fought with Severus and Caracalla, on the
banks of the Carun, and that blind Ossian had poured forth a flood of song
after the fight, and made the deeds immortal. And now these songs and
deeds were echoing in English ears,--the thrumming of the harp which told
of "the stream of those olden years, where they have so long hid, in their
mist, their many-colored sides." (_Cathloda_, Duan III.)

So enthusiastically were these poems received, that a subscription was
raised to enable Macpherson to travel in the Highlands, and collect more
of this lingering and beautiful poetry.

Gray the poet, writing to William Mason, in 1760, says: "These poems are
in everybody's mouth in the Highlands; have been handed down from father
to son. We have therefore set on foot a subscription of a guinea or two
apiece, in order to enable Mr. Macpherson to recover this poem (Fingal),
and other fragments of antiquity."

FINGAL.--On his return, in 1762, he published _Fingal_, and, in the same
volume, some smaller poems. This Fingal, which he calls "an ancient epic
poem" in six duans or books, recounts the deliverance of Erin from the
King of Lochlin. The next year, 1763, he published _Temora_. Among the
earlier poems, in all which Fingal is the hero, are passages of great
beauty and touching pathos. Such, too, are found in _Carricthura and
Carthon, the War of Inis-thona_, and the _Songs of Selma_. After reading
these, we are pleasantly haunted with dim but beautiful pictures of that
Northern coast where "the blue waters rolled in light," "when morning rose
In the east;" and again with ghostly moonlit scenes, when "night came down
on the sea, and Rotha's Bay received the ship." "The wan, cold moon rose
in the east; sleep descended upon the youths; their blue helmets glitter
to the beam; the fading fire decays; but sleep did not rest on the king;
he rode in the midst of his arms, and slowly ascended the hill to behold
the flame of Sarno's tower. The flame was dim and distant; the moon hid
her red face in the east. A blast came from the mountain; on its wings was
the spirit of Loda." In _Carthon_ occurs that beautiful address to the
Sun, which we are fortunate in knowing, from other sources than
Macpherson, is a tolerably correct translation of a real original. If we
had that alone, it would be a revelation of the power of Ossian, and of
the aptitudes of a people who could enjoy it. It is not within our scope
to quote from the veritable Ossian, or to expose the bombast and fustian,
tumid diction and swelling sound of Macpherson, of which the poems contain
so much.

As soon as a stir was made touching the authenticity of the poems, a
number of champions sprang up on both sides: among those who favored
Macpherson, was Dr. Hugh Blair, who wrote the critical dissertation
usually prefixed to the editions of Ossian, and who compares him favorably
to Homer. First among the incredulous, as might be expected, was Dr.
Samuel Johnson, who, in his _Journey to the Hebrides_, lashes Macpherson
for his imposture, and his insolence in refusing to show the original.
Johnson was threatened by Macpherson with a beating, and he answered: "I
hope I shall never be deterred from detecting what I think a cheat by the
menaces of a ruffian ... I thought your book an imposture; I think it an
imposture still ... Your rage I defy ... You may print this if you will."

Proofs of the imposture were little by little discovered by the critics.
There were some real fragments in his first volume; but even these he had
altered, and made symmetrical, so as to disguise their original character.
Ossian would not have known them. As for Fingal, in its six duans, with
captional arguments, it was made up from a few fragments, and no such poem
ever existed. It was Macpherson's from beginning to end.

The final establishment of the forgery was not simply by recourse to
scholars versed in the Celtic tongues, but the Highland Society appointed
a committee in 1767, whose duty it was to send to the Highland pastors a
circular, inquiring whether they had heard in the original the poems of
Ossian, said to be translated by Macpherson; if so, where and by whom they
had been written out or repeated: whether similar fragments still existed,
and whether there were persons living who could repeat them; whether, to
their knowledge, Macpherson had obtained such poems in the Highlands; and
for any information concerning the personality of Fingal and Ossian.

CRITICISM.--The result was as follows: Certain Ossianic poems did exist,
and some manuscripts of ancient ballads and bardic songs. A few of these
had formed the foundation of Macpherson's so-called translations of the
earlier pieces; but he had altered and added to them, and joined them with
his own fancies in an arbitrary manner.

_Fingal_ and _Temora_ were also made out of a few fragments; but in their
epic and connected form not only did not exist, but lack the bardic
character and construction entirely.

Now that the critics had the direction of the chase made known, they
discovered that Macpherson had taken his imagery from the Bible, of which
Ossian was ignorant; from classic authors, of whom he had never heard; and
from modern sources down to his own day.

Then Macpherson's Ossian--which had been read with avidity and translated
into many languages, while it was considered an antique gem only reset in
English--fell into disrepute, and was unduly despised when known to be a

It is difficult to conceive why he did not produce the work as his own,
with a true story of its foundation: it is not so difficult to understand
why, when he was detected, he persisted in the falsehood. For what it
really is, it must be partially praised; and it will remain not only as a
literary curiosity, but as a work of unequal but real merit. It was
greatly admired by Napoleon and Madame de Staël, and, in endeavoring to
consign it to oblivion, the critics are greatly in the wrong.

Macpherson resented any allusion to the forgery, and any leading question
concerning it. He refused, at first, to produce the originals; and when he
did say where they might be found, the world had decided so strongly
against him, that there was no curiosity to examine them. He at last
maintained a sullen silence; and, dying suddenly, in 1796, left no papers
which throw light upon the controversy. The subject is, however, still
agitated. Later writers have endeavored to reverse the decision of his
age, without, however, any decided success. For much information
concerning the Highland poetry, the reader is referred to _A Summer in
Skye_, by Alexander Smith.

OTHER WORKS.--His other principal work was a _Translation of the Iliad of
Homer_ in the Ossianic style, which was received with execration and
contempt. He also wrote _A History of Great Britain from the Restoration
to the Accession of the House of Hanover_, which Fox--who was, however,
prejudiced--declared to be full of impudent falsehoods.

Of his career little more need be said: he was too shrewd a man to need
sympathy; he took care of himself. He was successful in his pecuniary
schemes; as agent of the Nabob of Arcot, he had a seat in parliament for
ten years, and was quite unconcerned what the world thought of his
literary performances. He had achieved notoriety, and enjoyed it.

But, unfortunately, his forgery did fatal injury by its example; it
inspired Chatterton, the precocious boy, to make another attempt on public
credulity. It opened a seductive path for one who, inspired by the
adventure and warned by the causes of exposure, might make a better
forgery, escape detection, and gain great praise in the antiquarian world.

THOMAS CHATTERTON.--With this name, we accost the most wonderful story of
its kind in any literature; so strange, indeed, that we never take it up
without trying to discover some new meaning in it. We hope, against hope,
that the forgery is not proved.

Chatterton was born in Bristol, on the Avon, in 1752, of poor parents, but
early gave signs of remarkable genius, combined with a prurient ambition.
A friend who wished to present him with an earthen-ware cup, asked him
what device he would have upon it. "Paint me," he answered, "an angel with
wings and a trumpet, to trumpet my name over the world." He learned his
alphabet from an old music-book; at eight years of age he was sent to a
charity-school, and he spent his little pocket-money at a circulating
library, the books of which he literally devoured.

At the early age of eleven he wrote a piece of poetry, and published it in
the _Bristol Journal_ of January 8, 1763; it was entitled _On the last
Epiphany, or Christ coming to Judgment_, and the next year, probably, a
_Hymn to Christmas-day_, of which the following lines will give an idea:

    How shall we celebrate his name,
    Who groaned beneath a life of shame,
      In all afflictions tried?
    The soul is raptured to conceive
    A truth which being must believe;
      The God eternal died.

    My soul, exert thy powers, adore;
    Upon Devotion's plumage soar
      To celebrate the day.
    The God from whom creation sprung
    Shall animate my grateful tongue,
      From Him I'll catch the lay.

Some member of the Chatterton family had, for one hundred and fifty years,
held the post of sexton in the church of St. Mary Redcliffe at Bristol;
and at the time of which we write his uncle was sexton. In the
muniment-room of the church were several coffers, containing old papers
and parchments in black letter, some of which were supposed to be of
value. The chests were examined by order of the vestry; the valuable
papers were removed, and of the rest, as perquisites of the sexton, some
fell into the hands of Chatterton's father. The boy, who had been, upon
leaving school, articled to an attorney, and had thus become familiar with
the old English text, caught sight of these, and seemed then to have first
formed the plan of turning them to account, as _The Rowlie papers_.

OLD MANUSCRIPTS.--If he could be believed, he found a variety of material
in this old collection. To a credulous and weak acquaintance, Mr. Burgum,
he went, beaming with joy, to present the pedigree and illuminated arms of
the de Bergham family--tracing the honest mechanic's descent to a noble
house which crossed the Channel with William the Conqueror. The delighted
Burgum gave him a crown, and Chatterton, pocketing the money, lampooned
his credulity thus:

    Gods! what would Burgum give to get a name,
    And snatch his blundering dialect from shame?
    What would he give to hand his memory down
    To time's remotest boundary? a crown!
    Would you ask more, his swelling face looks blue--
    Futurity he rates at two pound two!

In September, 1768, the inauguration or opening of the new bridge across
the Avon took place; and, taking advantage of the temporary interest it
excited, Chatterton, then sixteen, produced in the _Bristol Journal_ a
full description of the opening of the old bridge two hundred years
before, which he said he found among the old papers: "A description of the
Fryers first passing over the old bridge, taken from an ancient
manuscript," with details of the procession, and the Latin sermon preached
on the occasion by Ralph de Blundeville; ending with the dinner, the
sports, and the illumination on Kynwulph Hill.

This paper, which attracted general interest, was traced to Chatterton,
and when he was asked to show the original, it was soon manifest that
there was none, but that the whole was a creation of his fancy. The
question arises,--How did the statements made by Chatterton compare with
the known facts of local history?

There was in the olden time in Bristol a great merchant named William
Canynge, who was remembered for his philanthropy; he had altered and
improved the church of St. Mary, and had built the muniment-room: the
reputed poems, some of which were said to have been written by himself,
and others by the monk Rowlie, Chatterton declared he had found in the
coffers. Thomas Rowlie, "the gode preeste," appears as a holy and learned
man, poet, artist, and architect. Canynge and Rowlie were strong friends,
and the latter was supposed to have addressed many of the poems to the
former, who was his good patron.

The principal of the Rowlie poems is the _Bristowe_ (Bristol) _Tragedy_,
or _Death of Sir Charles Bawdin_. This Bawdin, or Baldwin, a real
character, had been attainted by Edward IV. of high treason, and brought
to the block. The poem is in the finest style of the old English ballad,
and is wonderfully dramatic. King Edward sends to inform Bawdin of his

    Then with a jug of nappy ale
    His knights did on him waite;
    "Go tell the traitor that to daie
    He leaves this mortal state."

Sir Charles receives the tidings with bold defiance. Good Master Canynge
goes to the king to ask the prisoner's life as a boon.

    "My noble liege," good Canynge saide,
      "Leave justice to our God;
    And lay the iron rule aside,
      Be thine the olyve rodde."

The king is inexorable, and Sir Charles dies amid tears and loud weeping
around the scaffold.

Among the other Rowlie poems are the _Tragical Interlude of Ella_, "plaied
before Master Canynge, and also before Johan Howard, Duke of Norfolk;"
_Godwin_, a short drama; a long poem on _The Battle of Hastings_, and _The
Romaunt of the Knight_, modernized from the original of John de Bergham.

THE VERDICT.--These poems at once became famous, and the critics began to
investigate the question of their authenticity. From this investigation
Chatterton did not shrink. He sent some of them with letters to Horace
Walpole, and, as Walpole did not immediately answer, he wrote to him quite
impertinently. Then they were submitted to Mason and Gray. The opinion of
those who examined them was almost unanimous that they were forgeries: he
could produce no originals; the language is in many cases not that of the
period, and the spelling and idioms are evidently factitious. A few there
were who seemed to have committed themselves, at first, to their
authenticity; but Walpole, the Wartons, Dr. Johnson, Gibbon the historian,
Sheridan, and most other literary men, were clear as to their forgery. The
forged manuscripts which he had the hardihood afterwards to present, were
totally unlike those of Edward the Fourth's time; he was entirely at fault
in his heraldry; words were used out of their meaning; and, in his poem on
_The Battle of Hastings_, he had introduced the modern discoveries
concerning Stone Henge. He uses the possessive case _yttes_, which did not
come into use until long after the Rowlie period. Add to these that
Chatterton's reputation for veracity was bad.

The truth was, that he had found some curious scraps, which had set his
fancy to work, and the example of Macpherson had led to the cheat he was
practising upon the public. To some friends he confessed the deception,
denying it again, violently, soon after; and he had been seen smoking
parchment to make it look old. The lad was crazy.

HIS SUICIDE.--Keeping up appearances, he went to London, and tried to get
work. At one time he was in high spirits, sending presents to his mother
and sisters, and promising them better days; at another, he was in want,
in the lowest depression, no hope in the world. He only asks for work; he
is entirely unconcerned for whom he writes or what party he eulogizes; he
wants money and a name, and when these seem unattainable, he takes refuge
from "the whips and scorns of time," the burning fever of pride, the
gnawings of hunger, in suicide. He goes to his little garret
room,--refusing, as he goes, a dinner from his landlady, although he is
gaunt with famine,--mixes a large dose of arsenic in water, and--"jumps
the life to come." He was just seventeen years and nine months old! When
his room was forced open, it was found that he had torn up most of his
papers, and had left nothing to throw light upon his deception.

The verdict of literary criticism is that of the medical art--he was
insane; and to what extent this mania acted as a monomania, that is, how
far he was himself deceived, the world can never know. One thing, at
least; it redeems all his faults. Precocious beyond any other known
instance of precocity; intensely haughty; bold in falsehood; working best
when the moon was at the full, he stands in English literature as the most
singular of its curiosities. His will is an awful jest; his declaration of
his religious opinions a tissue of contradictions and absurdities: he
bequeathes to a clergyman his humility; to Mr. Burgum his prosody and
grammar, with half his modesty--the other half to any young lady that
needs it; his abstinence--a fearful legacy--to the aldermen of Bristol at
their annual feast! to a friend, a mourning ring--"provided he pays for it
himself"--with the motto, "Alas, poor Chatterton!" Fittest ending to his
biography--"Alas, poor Chatterton!"

And yet it is evident that the crazy Bristol boy and the astute Scotchman
were alike the creatures of the age and the peculiar circumstances in
which they lived. No other age of English history could have produced
them. In an earlier period, they would have found no curiosity in the
people to warrant their attempts; and in a later time, the increase in
antiquarian studies would have made these efforts too easy of detection.



   The Transition Period. James Thomson. The Seasons. The Castle of
   Indolence. Mark Akenside. Pleasures of the Imagination. Thomas Gray.
   The Elegy. The Bard. William Cowper. The Task. Translation of Homer.
   Other Writers.


The poetical standards of Dryden and Pope, as poetic examples and
arbiters, exercised tyrannical sway to the middle of the eighteenth
century, and continued to be felt, with relaxing influence, however, to a
much later period. Poetry became impatient of too close a captivity to
technical rules in rhythm and in subjects, and began once again to seek
its inspiration from the worlds of nature and of feeling. While seeking
this change, it passed through what has been properly called the period of
transition,--a period the writers of which are distinctly marked as
belonging neither to the artificial classicism of Pope, nor to the simple
naturalism of Wordsworth and the Lake school; partaking, indeed, in some
degree of the former, and preparing the way for the latter.

The excited condition of public feeling during the earlier period,
incident to the accession of the house of Hanover and the last struggles
of the Jacobites, had given a political character to every author, and a
political significance to almost every literary work. At the close of this
abnormal condition of things, the poets of the transition school began
their labors; untrammelled by the court and the town, they invoked the
muse in green fields and by babbling brooks; from materialistic
philosophy in verse they appealed through the senses to the hearts of men;
and appreciation and popularity rewarded and encouraged them.

JAMES THOMSON.--The first distinguished writer of this school was Thomson,
the son of a Scottish minister. He was born on the 11th of September,
1700, at Ednam in Roxburghshire. While a boy at school in Jedburgh, he
displayed poetical talent: at the University of Edinburgh he completed his
scholastic course, and studied divinity; which, however, he did not pursue
as a profession. Being left, by his father's death, without means, he
resolved to go to the great metropolis to try his fortunes. He arrived in
London in sorry plight, without money, and with ragged shoes; but through
the assistance of some persons of station, he procured occupation as tutor
to a lord's son, and thus earned a livelihood until the publication of his
first poem in 1726. That poem was _Winter_, the first of the series called
_The Seasons_: it was received with unusual favor. The first edition was
speedily exhausted, and with the publication of the second, his position
as a poet was assured. In 1727 he produced the second poem of the series,
_Summer_, and, with it, a proposal for issuing the _Four Seasons_, with a
_Hymn_ on their succession. In 1728 his _Spring_ appeared, and in the next
year an unsuccessful tragedy called _Sophonisba_, which owed its immediate
failure to the laughter occasioned by the line,

    O Sophonisba, Sophonisba O!

This was parodied by some wag in these words:

    O Jemmie Thomson, Jemmie Thomson O!

and the ridicule was so potent that the play was ruined.

The last of the seasons, _Autumn_, and the _Hymn_, were first printed in a
complete edition of _The Seasons_, in 1730. It was at once conceded that
he had gratified the cravings of the day, In producing a real and
beautiful English pastoral. The reputation which he thus gained caused him
to be selected as the mentor and companion of the son of Sir Charles
Talbot in a tour through France and Italy in 1730 and 1731.

In 1734 he published the first part of a poem called _Liberty_, the
conclusion of which appeared in 1736. It is designed to trace the progress
of Liberty through Italy, Greece, and Rome, down to her excellent
establishment in Great Britain, and was dedicated to Frederick, Prince of

His tragedies _Agamemnon_ and _Edward and Eleanora_ are in the then
prevailing taste. They were issued in 1738-39. The latter is of political
significance, in that Edward was like Frederick the Prince of Wales--heir
apparent to the crown; and some of the passages are designed to strengthen
the prince in the favor of the people.

The personal life of Thomson is not of much interest. From his first
residence in London, he supported, with his slender means, a brother, who
died young of consumption, and aided two maiden sisters, who kept a small
milliner-shop in Edinburgh. This is greatly to his praise, as he was at
one time so poor that he was arrested for debt and committed to prison. As
his reputation increased, his fortunes were ameliorated. In 1745 his play
_Tancred and Sigismunda_ was performed. It was founded upon a story
universally popular,--the same which appears in the episode of _The Fatal
Marriage_ in Gil Bias, and in one of the stories of Boccaccio. He enjoyed
for a short time a pension from the Prince of Wales, of which, however, he
was deprived without apparent cause; but he received the office of
Surveyor-General of the Leeward Islands, the duties of which he could
perform by deputy; after that he lived a lazy life at his cottage near
Richmond, which, if otherwise reprehensible, at least gave him the power
to write his most beautiful poem, _The Castle of Indolence_. It appeared
in 1748, and was universally admired; it has a rhetorical harmony similar
and quite equal to that of the _Lotos Eaters_ of Tennyson. The poet, who
had become quite plethoric, was heated by a walk from London, and, from a
check of perspiration, was thrown into a high fever, a relapse of which
caused his death on the 27th of August, 1748. His friend Lord Lyttleton
wrote the prologue to his play of _Coriolanus_, which was acted after the
poet's death, in which he says:

    "--His chaste Muse employed her heaven-taught lyre
    None but the noblest missions to inspire,
    Not one immoral, one corrupted thought,
    _One line which, dying, he could wish to blot_."

The praise accorded him in this much-quoted line is justly his due: it is
greater praise that he was opening a new pathway in English Literature,
and supplying better food than the preceding age had given. His _Seasons_
supplied a want of the age: it was a series of beautiful pastorals. The
descriptions of nature will always be read and quoted with pleasure; the
little episodes, if they affect the unity, relieve the monotony of the
subject, and, like figures introduced by the painter into his landscape,
take away the sense of loneliness, and give us a standard at once of
judgment, of measurement, and of sympathetic enjoyment; they display, too,
at once the workings of his own mind in his production, and the manners
and sentiments of the age in which he wrote. It was fitting that he who
had portrayed for us such beautiful gardens of English nature, should
people them instead of leaving them solitary.

THE CASTLE OF INDOLENCE.--This is an allegory, written after the manner of
Spenser, and in the Spenserian stanza. He also employs archaic words, as
Spenser did, to give it greater resemblance to Spenser's poem. The
allegorical characters are well described, and the sumptuous adornings and
lazy luxuries of the castle are set forth _con amore_. The spell that
enchants the castle is broken by the stalwart knight _Industry_; but the
glamour of the poem remains, and makes the reader in love with

MARK AKENSIDE.--Thomson had restored or reproduced the pastoral from
Nature's self; Akenside followed in his steps. Thomson had invested blank
verse with a new power and beauty; Akenside produced it quite as
excellent. But Thomson was the original, and Akenside the copy. The one is
natural, the other artificial.

Akenside was the son of a butcher, and was born at New Castle, in 1721.
Educated at the University of Edinburgh, he studied medicine, and
received, at different periods, lucrative and honorable professional
appointments. His great work, and the only one to which we need refer, is
his _Pleasures of the Imagination_. Whether his view of the imagination is
always correct or not, his sentiments are always elevated; his language
high sounding but frequently redundant, and his versification correct and
pleasing. His descriptions of nature are cold but correct; his standard of
humanity is high but mortal. Grand and sonorous, he constructs his periods
with the manner of a declaimer; his ascriptions and apostrophes are like
those of a high-priest. The title of his poem, if nothing more, suggested
_The Pleasures-of Hope_ to Campbell, and _The Pleasures of Memory_ to
Rogers. As a man, Akenside was overbearing and dictatorial; as a hospital
surgeon, harsh in his treatment of poor patients. His hymn to the Naiads
has been considered the most thoroughly and correctly classical of
anything in English. He died on the 23rd of June, 1770.

THOMAS GRAY.--Among those who form a link between the school of Pope and
that of the modern poets, Gray occupies a distinguished place, both from
the excellence of his writings, and from the fact that, while he
unconsciously conduced to the modern, he instinctively resisted its
progress. He was in taste and intention an extreme classicist. Thomas Gray
was born in London on the 26th December, 1716. His father was a money
scrivener, and, to his family at least, a bad man; his mother, forced to
support herself, kept a linen-draper shop; and to her the poet owed his
entire education. He was entered at Eton College, and afterwards at
Cambridge, and found in early life such friendships as were of great
importance to him later in his career. Among his college friends were
Horace Walpole, West, the son of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and
William Mason, who afterwards wrote the poet's life. After completing his
college course, he travelled on the continent with Walpole; but, on
account of incompatibility of temper, they quarrelled and parted, and Gray
returned home. Although Walpole took the blame upon himself, it would
appear that Gray was a somewhat captious person, whose serious tastes
interfered with the gayer pleasures of his friend. On his return, Gray
went to Cambridge, where he led the life of a retired student, devoting
himself to the ancient authors, to poetry, botany, architecture, and
heraldry. He was fastidious as to his own productions, which were very
few, and which he kept by him, pruning, altering, and polishing, for a
long time before he would let them see the light. His lines entitled _A
Distant Prospect of Eton College_ appeared in 1742, and were received with
great applause.

It was at this time that he also began his _Elegy in a Country
Churchyard_; which, however, did not appear until seven or eight years
later, and which has made him immortal. The grandeur of its language, the
elevation of its sentiments, and the sympathy of its pathos, commend it to
all classes and all hearts; and of its kind of composition it stands alone
in English literature.

The ode on the progress of poetry appeared in 1755. Like the _Elegy_, his
poem of _The Bard_ was for several years on the literary easel, and he was
accidentally led to finish it by hearing a blind harper performing on a
Welsh harp.

On the death of Cibber, Gray was offered the laureate's crown, which he
declined, to avoid its conspicuousness and the envy of his brother poets.
In 1762, he applied for the professorship of modern history at Cambridge,
but failed to obtain the position. He was more fortunate in 1768, when it
again became vacant; but he held it as a sinecure, doing none of its
duties. He died in 1770, on the 3d of July, of gout in the stomach. His
habits were those of a recluse; and whether we agree or not, with Adam
Smith, in saying that nothing is wanting to render him perhaps the first
poet in the English language, but to have written a little more, it is
astonishing that so great and permanent a reputation should have been
founded on so very little as he wrote. Gray has been properly called the
finest lyric poet in the language; and his lyric power strikes us as
intuitive and original; yet he himself, adhering strongly to the
artificial school, declared, if there was any excellence in his own
numbers, he had learned it wholly from Dryden. His archæological tastes
are further shown by his enthusiastic study of heraldry, and by his
surrounding himself with old armor and other curious relics of the past.
Mr. Mitford, in a curious dissection of the _Elegy_, has found numerous
errors of rhetoric, and even of grammar.

His _Bard_ is founded on a tradition that Edward I., when he conquered
Wales, ordered all the bards to be put to death, that they might not, by
their songs, excite the Welsh people to revolt. The last one who figures
in his story, sings a lament for his brethren, prophesies the downfall of
the usurper, and then throws himself over the cliff:

    "Be thine despair and sceptered care,
    To triumph and to die are mine!"
    He spoke, and headlong from the mountain's height,
    Deep in the roaring tide, he plunged to endless night.

WILLIAM COWPER.--Next in the catalogue of the transition school occurs the
name of one who, like Gray, was a recluse, but with a better reason and a
sadder one. He was a gentle hypochondriac, and, at intervals, a maniac,
who literally turned to poetry, like Saul to the harper, for relief from
his sufferings. William Cowper, the eldest son of the Rector of
Berkhampsted in Hertfordshire, was born on the 15th of November, 1731. He
was a delicate and sensitive child, and was seriously affected by the loss
of his mother when he was six years old. At school, he was cruelly treated
by an older boy, which led to his decided views against public schools,
expressed in his poem called _Tirocinium_. His morbid sensitiveness
increased upon him as he grew older, and interfered with his legal studies
and advancement. His depression of spirits took a religious turn; and we
are glad to think that religion itself brought the balm which gave him
twelve years of unclouded mind, devoted to friendship and to poetry. He
was offered, by powerful friends, eligible positions connected with the
House of Lords, in 1762; but as the one of these which he accepted was
threatened with a public examination, he abandoned it in horror; not,
however, before the fearful suspense had unsettled his brain, so that he
was obliged to be placed, for a short time, in an asylum for the insane.
When he left this asylum, he went to Huntingdon, where he became
acquainted with the Rev. William Unwin, who, with his wife and son, seem
to have been congenial companions to his desolate heart. On the death of
Mr. Unwin, in 1767, he removed with the widow to Olney, and there formed
an intimate acquaintance with another clergyman, the Rev. William Newton.
Here, and in this society, the remainder of the poet's life was passed in
writing letters, which have been considered the best ever written in
England; in making hymns, in conjunction with Mr. Newton, which have ever
since been universal favorites; and in varied poetic attempts, which give
him high rank in the literature of the day. The first of his larger pieces
was a poem entitled, _The Progress of Error_, which appeared in 1783, when
the author had reached the advanced age of 52. Then followed _Truth_ and
_Expostulation_, which, according to the poet himself, did much towards
diverting his melancholy thoughts. These poems would not have fixed his
fame; but Lady Austen, an accomplished woman with whom he became
acquainted in 1781, deserves our gratitude for having proposed to him the
subjects of those poems which have really made him famous, namely, _The
Task, John Gilpin_, and the translation of _Homer_. Before, however,
undertaking these, he wrote poems on _Hope_, _Charity_, _Conversation_ and
_Retirement_. The story of _John Gilpin_--a real one as told him by Lady
Austen--made such an impression upon him, that he dashed off the ballad at
a sitting.

THE TASK.--The origin of _The Task_ is well known. In 1783, Lady Austen
suggested to him to write a poem in blank verse: he said he would, if she
would suggest the subject. Her answer was, "Write on _this sofa_." The
poem thus begun was speedily expanded into those beautiful delineations of
varied nature, domestic life, and religious sentiment which rivalled the
best efforts of Thomson. The title that connects them is _The Task.
Tirocinium_ or _the Review of Schools_, appeared soon after, and excited
considerable attention in a country where public education has been the
rule of the higher social life. Cowper began the translation of Homer in
1785, from a feeling of the necessity of employment for his mind. His
translations of both Iliad and Odyssey, which occupied him for five years,
and which did not entirely keep off his old enemy, were published in 1791.
They are correct in scholarship and idiom, but lack the nature and the
fire of the old Grecian bard.

The rest of his life was busy, but sad--a constant effort to drive away
madness by incessant labor. The loss of his friend, Mrs. Unwin, in 1796,
affected him deeply, and the clouds settled thicker and thicker upon his
soul. In the year before his death, he published that painfully touching
poem, _The Castaway_, which gives an epitome of his own sufferings in the
similitude of a wretch clinging to a spar in a stormy night upon the

His minor and fugitive poems are very numerous; and as they were
generally inspired by persons and scenes around him, they are truly
literary types of the age in which he lived. In his _Task_, he resembles
Thomson and Akenside; in his didactic poems, he reminds us of the essays
of Pope; in his hymns he catered successfully to the returning piety of
the age; in his translations of Homer and of Ovid, he presented the
ancients to moderns in a new and acceptable dress; and in his Letters he
sets up an epistolary model, which may be profitably studied by all who
desire to express themselves with energy, simplicity, and delicate taste.


_James Beattie_, 1735-1803: he was the son of a farmer, and was educated
at Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he was afterwards professor of
natural philosophy. For four years he taught a village school. His first
poem, _Retirement_, was not much esteemed; but in 1771 appeared the first
part of _The Minstrel_, a poem at once descriptive, didactic, and
romantic. This was enthusiastically received, and gained for him the favor
of the king, a pension of £200 per annum, and a degree from Oxford. The
second part was published in 1774. _The Minstrel_ is written in the
Spenserian stanza, and abounds in beautiful descriptions of nature,
marking a very decided progress from the artificial to the natural school.
The character of Edwin, the young minstrel, ardent in search for the
beautiful and the true, is admirably portrayed; as is also that of the
hermit who instructs the youth. The opening lines are very familiar:

    Ah, who can tell how hard it is to climb
    The steep where Fame's proud temple shines afar;

and the description of the morning landscape has no superior in the

    But who the melodies of morn can tell?
      The wild brook babbling down the mountain side;
    The lowing herd; the sheepfold's simple bell;
      The pipe of early shepherd dim descried
        In the lone valley.

Beattie wrote numerous prose dissertations and essays, one of which was in
answer to the infidel views of Hume--_Essay on the Nature and
Immutability of Truth, in Opposition to Sophistry and Scepticism_. Beattie
was of an excitable and sensitive nature, and his polemical papers are
valued rather for the beauty of their language, than for acuteness of

_William Falconer_, 1730-1769: first a sailor in the merchant service, he
afterwards entered the navy. He is chiefly known by his poem _The
Shipwreck_, and for its astonishing connection with his own fortunes and
fate. He was wrecked off Cape Colonna, on the coast of Greece, before he
was eighteen; and this misfortune is the subject of his poem. Again, in
1760, he was cast away in the Channel. In 1769, the Aurora frigate, of
which he was the purser, foundered in Mozambique Channels, and he, with
all others on board, went down with her. The excellence of his nautical
directions and the vigor of his descriptions establish the claims of his
poem; but it has the additional interest attaching to his curious
experience--it is his autobiography and his enduring monument. The picture
of the storm is very fine; but in the handling of his verse there is more
of the artificial than of the romantic school.

_William Shenstone_, 1714-1763: his principal work is _The
Schoolmistress_, a poem in the stanza of Spenser, which is pleasing from
its simple and sympathizing description of the village school, kept by a
dame; with the tricks and punishment of the children, and many little
traits of rural life and character. It is pitched in so low a key that it
commends itself to the world at large. Shenstone is equally known for his
mania in landscape gardening, upon which he spent all his means. His
place, _The Leasowes_ in Shropshire, has gained the greater notoriety
through the descriptions of Dodsley and Goldsmith. The natural simplicity
of _The Schoolmistress_ allies it strongly to the romantic school, which
was now about to appear.

_William Collins_, 1720-1756: this unfortunate poet, who died at the early
age of thirty-six, deserves particular mention for the delicacy of his
fancy and the beauty of his diction. His _Ode on the Passions_ is
universally esteemed for its sudden and effective changes from the
bewilderment of Fear, the violence of Anger, and the wildness of Despair
to the rapt visions of Hope, the gentle dejection of Pity, and the
sprightliness of Mirth and Cheerfulness. His _Ode on the Death of Thomson_
is an exquisite bit of pathos, as is also the _Dirge on Cymbeline_.
Everybody knows and admires the short ode beginning

    How sleep the brave who sink to rest
    By all their country's wishes blest!

His _Oriental Eclogues_ please by the simplicity of the colloquies, the
choice figures of speech, and the fine descriptions of nature. But of all
his poems, the most finished and charming is the _Ode to Evening_. It
contains thirteen four-lined stanzas of varied metre, and in blank verse
so full of harmony that rhyme would spoil it. It presents a series of
soft, dissolving views, and stands alone in English poetry, with claims
sufficient to immortalize the poet, had he written nothing else. The
latter part of his life was clouded by mental disorders, not unsuggested
to the reader by the pathos of many of his poems. Like Gray, he wrote
little, but every line is of great merit.

_Henry Kirke White_, 1785-1806: the son of a butcher, this gifted youth
displayed, in his brief life, such devotion to study, and such powers of
mind, that his friends could not but predict a brilliant future for him,
had he lived. Nothing that he produced is of the highest order of poetic
merit, but everything was full of promise. Of a weak constitution, he
could not bear the rigorous study which he prescribed to himself, and
which hastened his death. With the kind assistance of Mr. Capel Lofft and
the poet Southey, he was enabled to leave the trade to which he had been
apprenticed and go to Cambridge. His poems have most of them a strongly
devotional cast. Among them are _Gondoline_, _Clifton Grove_, and the
_Christiad_, in the last of which, like the swan, he chants his own
death-song. His memory has been kept green by Southey's edition of his
_Remains_, and by the beautiful allusion of Byron to his genius and his
fate in _The English Bards and Scotch Reviewers_. His sacred piece called
_The Star of Bethlehem_ has been a special favorite:

    When marshalled on the nightly plain
      The glittering host bestud the sky,
    One star alone of all the train
      Can fix the sinner's wandering eye.

_Bishop Percy_, 1728-1811: Dr. Thomas Percy, Bishop of Dromore, deserves
particular notice in a sketch of English Literature not so much for his
own works,--although he was a poet,--as for his collection of ballads,
made with great research and care, and published in 1765. By bringing
before the world these remains of English songs and idyls, which lay
scattered through the ages from the birth of the language, he showed
England the true wealth of her romantic history, and influenced the
writers of the day to abandon the artificial and reproduce the natural,
the simple, and the romantic. He gave the impulse which produced the
minstrelsy of Scott and the simple stories of Wordsworth. Many of these
ballads are descriptive of the border wars between England and Scotland;
among the greatest favorites are _Chevy Chase, The Battle of Otterburne,
The Death of Douglas_, and the story of _Sir Patrick Spens_.

_Anne Letitia Barbauld_, 1743-1825: the hymns and poems of Mrs. Barbauld
are marked by an adherence to the artificial school in form and manner;
but something of feminine tenderness redeems them from the charge of being
purely mechanical. Her _Hymns in Prose for Children_ have been of value in
an educational point of view; and the tales comprised in _Evenings at
Home_ are entertaining and instructive. Her _Ode to Spring_, which is an
imitation of Collins's _Ode to Evening_, in the same measure and
comprising the same number of stanzas, is her best poetic effort, and
compares with Collins's piece as an excellent copy compares with the
picture of a great master.



   The Progress of the Drama. Garrick. Foote. Cumberland. Sheridan. George
   Colman. George Colman, the Younger. Other Dramatists and Humorists.
   Other Writers on Various Subjects.


The latter half of the eighteenth century, so marked, as we have seen, for
manifold literary activity, is, in one phase of its history, distinctly
represented by the drama. It was a very peculiar epoch in English annals.
The accession of George III., in 1760, gave promise, from the character of
the king and of his consort, of an exemplary reign. George III. was the
first monarch of the house of Hanover who may be justly called an English
king in interest and taste. He and his queen were virtuous and honest; and
their influence was at once felt by a people in whom virtue and honesty
are inherent, and whose consciences and tastes had been violated by the
evil examples of the former reigns.

In 1762 George Augustus Frederick, Prince of Wales, was born; and as soon
as he approached manhood, he displayed the worst features of his ancestral
house: he was extravagant and debauched; he threw himself into a violent
opposition to his father: with this view he was at first a Whig, but
afterwards became a Tory. He had also peculiar opportunities for exerting
authority during the temporary fits of insanity which attacked the king in
1764, in 1788, and in 1804. At last, in 1810, the king was so disabled
from attending to his duties that the prince became regent, and assumed
the reins of government, not to resign them again during his life.

In speaking of the drama of this period, we should hardly, therefore, be
wrong in calling it the Drama of the Regency. It held, however, by
historic links, following the order of historic events, to the earlier
drama. Shakspeare and his contemporaries had established the dramatic art
on a firm basis. The frown of puritanism, in the polemic period, had
checked its progress: with the restoration of Charles II, it had returned
to rival the French stage in wicked plots and prurient scenes. With the
better morals of the Revolution, and the popular progress which was made
at the accession of the house of Hanover, the drama was modified: the
older plays were revived in their original freshness; a new and better
taste was to be catered to; and what of immorality remained was chiefly
due to the influence of the Prince of Wales. Actors, so long despised,
rose to importance as great artists. Garrick and Foote, and, later,
Kemble, Kean, and Mrs. Siddons, were social personages in England. Peers
married actresses, and enduring reputation was won by those who could
display the passions and the affections to the life, giving flesh and
blood and mind and heart to the inimitable creations of Shakspeare.

It must be allowed that this power of presentment marks the age more
powerfully than any claims of dramatic authorship. The new play-writers
did not approach Shakspeare; but they represented their age, and
repudiated the vices, in part at least, of their immediate predecessors.
In them, too, is to be observed the change from the artificial to the
romantic and natural, The scenes and persons in their plays are taken from
the life around them, and appealed to the very models from which they were

DAVID GARRICK.--First among these purifiers of the drama is David Garrick,
who was born in Lichfield, in 1716. He was a pupil of Dr. Johnson, and
came up with that distinguished man to London, in 1735. The son of a
captain in the Royal army, but thrown upon his own exertions, he first
tried to gain a livelihood as a wine merchant; but his fondness for the
stage led him to become an actor, and in taking this step he found his
true position. A man of respectable parts and scholarship, he wrote many
agreeable pieces for the stage; which, however, owed their success more to
his accurate knowledge of the _mise en scene_, and to his own
representation of the principal characters, than to their intrinsic
merits. His mimetic powers were great: he acted splendidly in all casts,
excelling, perhaps, in tragedy; and he, more than any actor before or
since, has made the world thoroughly acquainted with Shakspeare. Dramatic
authors courted him; for his appearance in any new piece was almost an
assurance of its success.

Besides many graceful prologues, epigrams, and songs, he wrote, or
altered, forty plays. Among these the following have the greatest merit:
_The Lying Valet_, a farce founded on an old English comedy; _The
Clandestine Marriage_, in which he was aided by the elder Colman; (the
character of _Lord Ogleby_ he wrote for himself to personate;) _Miss in
her Teens_, a very clever and amusing farce. He was charmingly natural in
his acting; but he was accused of being theatrical when off the stage. In
the words of Goldsmith:

    On the stage he was natural, simple, affecting;
    'Twas only that when he was off, he was acting.

Garrick married a dancer, who made him an excellent wife. By his own
exertions he won a highly respectable social position, and an easy fortune
of £140,000, upon which he retired from the stage. He died in London in

In 1831-2 his _Private Correspondence with the Most Celebrated Persons of
his Time_ was published, and opened a rich field to the social historian.
Among his correspondents were Dr. Johnson, Boswell, Goldsmith, Gibber,
Sheridan, Burke, Wilkes, Junius, and Dr. Franklin. Thus Garrick catered
largely to the history of his period, as an actor and dramatic author,
illustrating the stage; as a reviver of Shakspeare, and as a correspondent
of history.

SAMUEL FOOTE.--Among the many English actors who have been distinguished
for great powers of versatility in voice, feature, and manner, there is
none superior to Foote. Bold and self-reliant, he was a comedian in
every-day life; and his ready wit and humor subdued Dr. Johnson, who had
determined to dislike him. He was born in 1722, at Truro, and educated at
Oxford: he studied law, but his peculiar aptitudes soon led him to the
stage, where he became famous as a comic actor. Among his original pieces
are _The Patron_, _The Devil on Two Stilts_, _The Diversions of the
Morning_, _Lindamira_, and _The Slanderer_. But his best play, which is a
popular burlesque on parliamentary elections, is _The Mayor of Garrat_. He
died in 1777, at Dover, while on his way to France for the benefit of his
health. His plays present the comic phase of English history in his day.

RICHARD CUMBERLAND.--This accomplished man, who, in the words of Walter
Scott, has given us "many powerful sketches of the age which has passed
away," was born in 1732, and lived to the ripe age of seventy-nine, dying
in 1811. After receiving his education at Cambridge, he became secretary
to Lord Halifax. His versatile pen produced, besides dramatic pieces,
novels and theological treatises, illustrating the principal topics of the
time. In his plays there is less of immorality than in those of his
contemporaries. _The West Indian_, which was first put upon the stage in
1771, and which is still occasionally presented, is chiefly noticeable in
that an Irishman and a West Indian are the principal characters, and that
he has not brought them into ridicule, as was common at the time, but has
exalted them by their merits. The best of his other plays are _The Jew,
The Wheel of Fortune_, and _The Fashionable Lover_. Goldsmith, in his poem
_Retaliation_, says of Cumberland, referring to his greater morality and
his human sympathy,

    Here Cumberland lies, having acted his parts,
    The Terence of England, the mender of hearts;
    A flattering painter, who made it his care
    To draw men as they ought to be, not as they are.

RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN.--No man represents the Regency so completely as
Sheridan. He was a statesman, a legislator, an orator, and a dramatist;
and in social life a wit, a gamester, a spendthrift, and a debauchee. His
manifold nature seemed to be always in violent ebullition. He was born in
September, 1751, and was the son of Thomas Sheridan, the actor and
lexicographer, His mother, Frances Sheridan, was also a writer of plays
and novels. Educated at Harrow, he was there considered a dunce; and when
he grew to manhood, he plunged into dissipation, and soon made a stir in
the London world by making a runaway match with Miss Linley, a singer, who
was noted as one of the handsomest women of the day. A duel with one of
her former admirers was the result.

As a dramatist, he began by presenting _A Trip to Scarborough_, which was
altered from Vanbrugh's _Relapse_; but his fame was at once assured by his
production, in 1775, of _The Duenna_ and _The Rivals_. The former is
called an opera, but is really a comedy containing many songs: the plot is
varied and entertaining; but it is far inferior to _The Rivals_, which is
based upon his own adventures, and is brimming with wit and humor. Mrs.
Malaprop, Bob Acres, Sir Lucius O'Trigger, and the Absolutes, father and
son, have been prime favorites upon the stage ever since.

In 1777 he produced _The School for Scandal_, a caustic satire on London
society, which has no superior in genteel comedy. It has been said that
the characters of Charles and Joseph Surface were suggested by the Tom
Jones and Blifil of Fielding; but, if this be true, the handling is so
original and natural, that they are in no sense a plagiarism. Without the
rippling brilliancy of _The Rivals, The School for Scandal_ is better
sustained in scene and colloquy; and in spite of some indelicacy, which is
due to the age, the moral lesson is far more valuable. The satire is
strong and instructive, and marks the great advance in social decorum over
the former age.

In 1779 appeared _The Critic_, a literary satire, in which the chief
character is that of Sir Fretful Plagiary.

Sheridan sat in parliament as member for Stafford. His first effort in
oratory was a failure; but by study he became one of the most effective
popular orators of his day. His speeches lose by reading: he abounded in
gaudy figures, and is not without bombast; but his wonderful flow of words
and his impassioned action dazzled his audience and kept it spellbound.
His oratory, whatever its faults, gained also the unstinted praise of his
colleagues and rivals in the art. Of his great speech in the trial of
Warren Hastings, in 1788, Fox declared that "all he had ever heard, all he
had ever read, when compared with it, dwindled into nothing, and vanished
like vapor before the sun." Burke called it "the most astonishing effort
of eloquence, argument, and wit united, of which there was any record or
tradition;" and Pitt said "that it surpassed all the eloquence of ancient
or modern times."

Sheridan was for some time the friend and comrade of the Prince Regent, in
wild courses which were to the taste of both; but this friendship was
dissolved, and the famous dramatist and orator sank gradually in the
social scale, until he had sounded the depths of human misery. He was
deeply in debt; he obtained money under mean and false pretences; he was
drunken and debauched; and even death did not bring rest. He died in July,
1816. His corpse was arrested for debt, and could not be buried until the
debt was paid. In his varied brilliancy and in his fatal debauchery, his
character stands forth as the completest type of the period of the
Regency. Many memoirs have been written, among which those of his friend
Moore, and his granddaughter the Hon. Mrs. Norton, although they unduly
palliate his faults, are the best.

GEORGE COLMAN.--Among the respectable dramatists of this period who
exerted an influence in leading the public taste away from the witty and
artificial schools of the Restoration, the two Colmans deserve mention.
George Colman, the elder, was born in Florence in 1733, but began his
education at Westminster School, from which he was removed to Oxford.
After receiving his degree he studied law; but soon abandoned graver study
to court the comic muse. His first piece, _Polly Honeycomb_, was produced
in 1760; but his reputation was established by _The Jealous Wife_,
suggested by a scene in Fielding's _Tom Jones_. Besides many humorous
miscellanies, most of which appeared in _The St. James' Chronicle_,--a
magazine of which he was the proprietor,--he translated Terence, and
produced more than thirty dramatic pieces, some of which are still
presented upon the stage. The best of these is _The Clandestine Marriage_,
which was the joint production of Garrick and himself. Of this play,
Davies says "that no dramatic piece, since the days of Beaumont and
Fletcher, had been written by two authors, in which wit, fancy, and humor
were so happily blended." In 1768 he became one of the proprietors of the
Covent Garden Theatre: in 1789 his mind became affected, and he remained a
mental invalid until his death in 1794.

GEORGE COLMAN. THE YOUNGER.--This writer was the son of George Colman, and
was born in 1762. Like his father, he was educated at Westminster and
Oxford; but he was removed from the university before receiving his
degree, and was graduated at King's College, Aberdeen. He inherited an
enthusiasm for the drama and considerable skill as a dramatic author. In
1787 he produced _Inkle and Yarico_, founded upon the pathetic story of
Addison, in _The Spectator_. In 1796 appeared _The Iron Chest_; this was
followed, in 1797,. by _The Heir at Law_ and _John Bull_. To him the world
is indebted for a large number of stock pieces which still appear at our
theatres. In 1802 he published a volume entitled _Broad Grins_, which was
an expansion of a previous volume of comic scraps. This is full of frolic
and humor: among the verses in the style of Peter Pindar are the
well-known sketches _The Newcastle Apothecary_, (who gave the direction
with his medicine, "When taken, to be well shaken,") and _Lodgings for
Single Gentlemen_.

The author's fault is his tendency to farce, which robs his comedies of
dignity. He assumed the cognomen _the younger_ because, he said, he did
not wish his father's memory to suffer for his faults. He died in 1836.


_John Wolcot_, 1738-1819: his pseudonym was _Peter Pindar_. He was a
satirist as well as a humorist, and was bold in lampooning the prominent
men of his time, not even sparing the king. The world of literature knows
him best by his humorous poetical sketches, _The Apple-Dumplings and the
King, The Razor-Seller, The Pilgrims and the Peas_, and many others.

_Hannah More_, 1745-1833: this lady had a flowing, agreeable style, but
produced no great work. She wrote for her age and pleased it; but
posterity disregards what she has written. Her principal plays are:
_Percy_, presented in 1777, and a tragedy entitled _The Fatal Falsehood_.
She was a poet and a novelist also; but in neither part did she rise above
mediocrity. In 1782 appeared her volume of _Sacred Dramas_. Her best novel
is entitled _Cælebs in Search of a Wife, comprehending Observations on
Domestic Habits and Manners, Religion and Morals_. Her greatest merit is
that she always inculcated pure morals and religion, and thus aided in
improving the society of her age. Something of her fame is also due to the
rare appearance, up to this time, of women in the fields of literature; so
that her merits are indulgently exaggerated.

_Joanna Baillie_, 1762-1851: this lady, the daughter of a Presbyterian
divine, wrote graceful verses, but is principally known by her numerous
plays. Among these, which include thirteen _Plays on the Passions_, and
thirteen _Miscellaneous Plays_, those best known are _De Montfort_ and
_Basil_--both tragedies, which have received high praise from Sir Walter
Scott. Her _Ballads_ and _Metrical Legends_ are all spirited and
excellent; and her _Hymns_ breathe the very spirit of devotion. Very
popular during her life, and still highly estimated by literary critics,
her works have given place to newer and more favorite authors, and have
already lost interest with the great world of readers.


_Thomas Warton_, 1728-1790: he was Professor of Poetry and of Ancient
History at Oxford, and, for the last five years of his life,
poet-laureate. The student of English Literature is greatly indebted to
him for his _History of English Poetry_, which he brings down to the early
part of the seventeenth century. No one before him had attempted such a
task; and, although his work is rather a rare mass of valuable materials
than a well articulated history, it is of great value for its collected
facts, and for its suggestions as to where the scholar may pursue his
studies farther.

_Joseph Warton_, 1722-1800: a brother of Thomas Warton; he published
translations and essays and poems. Among the translations was that of the
_Eclogues and Georgics of Virgil_, which is valued for its exactness and

_Frances Burney_, (Madame D'Arblay,) 1752-1840: the daughter of Dr.
Burney, a musical composer. While yet a young girl, she astonished herself
and the world by her novel of _Evelina_, which at once took rank among the
standard fictions of the day. It is in the style of Richardson, but more
truthful in the delineation of existing manners, and in the expression of
sentiment. She afterwards published _Cecilia_ and several other tales,
which, although excellent, were not as good as the first. She led an
almost menial life, as one of the ladies in waiting upon Queen Charlotte;
but the genuine fame achieved by her writings in some degree relieved the
sense of thraldom, from which she happily escaped with a pension. The
novels of Madame D'Arblay are the intermediate step between the novels of
Richardson, Fielding, and Smollett, and the Waverly novels of Walter
Scott. They are entirely free from any taint of immorality; and they were
among the first feminine efforts that were received with enthusiasm: thus
it is that, without being of the first order of merit, they mark a
distinct era in English letters.

_Edmund Burke_, 1730-1797: he was born in Dublin, and educated at Trinity
College. He studied law, but soon found his proper sphere in public life.
He had brilliant literary gifts; but his fame is more that of a statesman
and an orator, than an author. Prominent in parliament, he took noble
ground in favor of American liberty in our contest with the mother
country, and uttered speeches which have remained as models of forensic
eloquence. His greatest oratorical efforts were his famous speeches as one
of the committee of impeachment in the case of Warren Hastings,
Governor-General of India. Whatever may be thought of Hastings and his
administration, the famous trial has given to English oratory some of its
noblest specimens; and the people of England learned more of their empire
in India from the learned, brilliant, and exhaustive speeches of Burke,
than they could have learned in any other way. The greatest of his written
works is: _Reflections on the Revolution in France_, written to warn
England to avoid the causes of such colossal evil. In 1756 he had
published his _Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and
Beautiful_. This has been variously criticized; and, although written with
vigor of thought and brilliancy of style, has now taken its place among
the speculations of theory, and not as establishing permanent canons of
æsthetical science. His work entitled _The Vindication of Natural Society,
by a late noble writer_, is a successful attempt to overthrow the infidel
system of Lord Bolingbroke, by applying it to civil society, and thus
showing that it proved too much--"that if the abuses of or evils sometimes
connected with religion invalidate its authority, then every institution,
however beneficial, must be abandoned." Burke's style is peculiar, and, in
another writer, would be considered pompous and pedantic; but it so
expresses the grandeur and dignity of the man, that it escapes this
criticism. His learning, his private worth, his high aims and
incorruptible faith in public station, the dignity of his statesmanship,
and the power of his oratory, constitute Mr. Burke as one of the noblest
characters of any English period; and, although his literary reputation is
not equal to his political fame, his accomplishments in the field of
letters are worthy of admiration and honorable mention.

_Hugh Blair_, 1718-1800: a Presbyterian divine in Edinburgh, Dr. Blair
deserves special mention for his lectures on _Rhetoric and
Belles-Lettres_, which for a long time constituted the principal text-book
on those subjects in our schools and colleges. A better understanding of
the true scope of rhetoric as a science has caused this work to be
superseded by later text-books. Blair's lectures treat principally of
style and literary criticism, and are excellent for their analysis of some
of the best authors, and for happy illustrations from their works. Blair
wrote many eloquent sermons, which were published, and was one of the
strong champions of Macpherson, in the controversy concerning the poems of
Ossian. He occupied a high place as a literary critic during his life.

_William Paley_, 1743-1805: a clergyman of the Established Church, he rose
to the dignity of Archdeacon and Chancellor of Carlisle. At first
thoughtless and idle, he was roused from his unprofitable life by the
earnest warnings of a companion, and became a severe student and a
vigorous writer on moral and religious subjects. Among his numerous
writings, those principally valuable are: _Horæ Paulinæ_, and _A View of
the Evidences of Christianity_--the former setting forth the life and
character of St. Paul, and the latter being a clear exposition of the
truth of Christianity, which has long served as a manual of academic
instruction. His treatise on _Natural Theology_ is, in the words of Sir
James Mackintosh, "the wonderful work of a man who, after sixty, had
studied anatomy in order to write it." Later investigations of science
have discarded some of his _facts_; but the handling of the subject and
the array of arguments are the work of a skilful and powerful hand. He
wrote, besides, a work on _Moral and Political Philosophy_, and numerous
sermons. His theory of morals is, that whatever is expedient is right; and
thus he bases our sense of duty upon the ground of the production of the
greatest amount of happiness. This low view has been successfully refuted
by later writers on moral science.



   Walter Scott. Translations and Minstrelsy. The Lay of the Last
   Minstrel. Other Poems. The Waverly Novels. Particular Mention.
   Pecuniary Troubles. His Manly Purpose. Powers Overtasked. Fruitless
   Journey. Return and Death. His Fame.

The transition school, as we have seen, in returning to nature, had
redeemed the pastoral, and had cultivated sentiment at the expense of the
epic. As a slight reaction, and yet a progress, and as influenced by the
tales of modern fiction, and also as subsidizing the antiquarian lore and
taste of the age, there arose a school of poetry which is best represented
by its _Tales in verse_;--some treating subjects of the olden time, some
laying their scenes in distant countries, and some describing home
incidents of the simplest kind. They were all minor epics: such were the
poetic stories of Scott, the _Lalla Rookh_ of Moore, _The Bride_ and _The
Giaour_ of Byron, and _The Village_ and _The Borough_ of Crabbe; all of
which mark the taste and the demand of the period.

WALTER SCOTT.--First in order of the new romantic poets was Scott, alike
renowned for his _Lays_ and for his wonderful prose fictions; at once the
most equable and the most prolific of English authors.

Walter Scott was born in Edinburgh, on the 15th of August, 1771. His
father was a writer to the signet; his mother was Anne Rutherford, the
daughter of a medical professor in the University of Edinburgh. His
father's family belonged to the clan Buccleugh. Lame from his early
childhood, and thus debarred the more active pleasures of children, his
imagination was unusually vigorous; and he took special pleasure in the
many stories, current at the time, of predatory warfare, border forays,
bogles, warlocks, and second sight. He spent some of his early days in the
country, and thus became robust and healthy; although his lameness
remained throughout life. He was educated in Edinburgh, at the High School
and the university; and, although not noted for excellence as a scholar,
he exhibited precocity in verse, and delighted his companions by his
readiness in reproducing old stories or improving new ones. After leaving
the university he studied law, and ranged himself in politics as a
Conservative or Tory.

Although never an accurate classical scholar, he had a superficial
knowledge of several languages, and was an industrious collector of old
ballads and relics of the antiquities of his country. He was, however,
better than a scholar;--he had genius, enthusiasm, and industry: he could
create character, adapt incident, and, in picturesque description, he was
without a rival.

During the rumors of the invasion of Scotland by the French, which he has
treated with such comical humor in _The Antiquary_, his lameness did not
prevent his taking part with the volunteers, as quartermaster--a post
given him to spare him the fatigue and rough service of the ranks. The
French did not come; and Scott returned to his studies with a budget of
incident for future use.

TRANSLATIONS AND MINSTRELSY.--The study of the German language was then
almost a new thing, even among educated people in England; and Scott made
his first public essay in the form of translations from the German. Among
these were versions of the _Erl König_ of Goethe, and the _Lenore_ and
_The Wild Huntsman_ of Bürger, which appeared in 1796. In 1797 he rendered
into English _Otho of Wittelsbach_ by Steinburg, and in 1799 Goethe's
tragedy, _Götz von Berlichingen_. These were the trial efforts of his
"'prentice hand," which predicted a coming master.

On the 24th of December, 1797, he married Miss Carpenter, or Charpentier,
a lady of French parentage, and retired to a cottage at Lasswade, where he
began his studies, and cherished his literary aspirations in earnest and
for life.

In 1799 he was so fortunate as to receive the appointment of Sheriff of
Selkirkshire, with a salary of £300 per annum. His duties were not
onerous: he had ample time to scour the country, ostensibly in search of
game, and really in seeking for the songs and traditions of Scotland,
border ballads, and tales, and in storing his fancy with those picturesque
views which he was afterwards to describe so well in verse and prose. In
1802 he was thus enabled to present to the world his first considerable
work, _The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border_, containing many new ballads
which he had collected, with very valuable local and historical notes.
This was followed, in 1804, by the metrical romance _of Sir Tristrem_, the
original of which was by Thomas of Ercildoune, of the thirteenth century,
known as _Thomas the Rhymer_: it was he who dreamed on Huntley bank that
he met the Queen of Elfland,

    And, till seven years were gone and past,
    True Thomas on earth was never seen.

The reputation acquired by these productions led the world to expect
something distinctly original and brilliant from his pen; a hope which was
at once realized.

THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.--In 1805 appeared his first great poem, _The
Lay of the Last Minstrel_, which immediately established his fame: it was
a charming presentation of the olden time to the new. It originated in a
request of the Countess of Dalkeith that he would write a ballad on the
legend of Gilpin Horner. The picture of the last minstrel, "infirm and
old," fired by remembrance as he begins to tell an old-time story of
Scottish valor, is vividly drawn. The bard is supposed to be the last of
his fraternity, and to have lived down to 1690. The tale, mixed of truth
and fable, is exceedingly interesting. The octo-syllabic measure, with an
occasional line of three feet, to break the monotony, is purely
minstrelic, and reproduces the effect of the _troubadours and trouvères_.
The wizard agency of Gilpin Horner's brood, and the miracle at the tomb of
Michael Scott, are by no means out of keeping with the minstrel and the
age of which he sings. The dramatic effects are good, and the descriptions
very vivid. The poem was received with great enthusiasm, and rapidly
passed through several editions. One element of its success is modestly
and justly stated by the author in his introduction to a later edition:
"The attempt to return to a more simple and natural style of poetry was
likely to be welcomed at a time when the public had become tired of heroic
hexameters, with all the buckram and binding that belong to them in modern

With an annual income of £1000, and an honorable ambition, Scott worked
his new literary mine with great vigor. He saw not only fame but wealth
within his reach. He entered into a silent partnership with the publisher,
James Ballantyne, which was for a long time lucrative, by reason of the
unprecedented sums he received for his works. In 1806 he was appointed to
the reversion--on the death of the incumbent--of the clerkship of the
Court of Sessions, a place worth £1300 per annum.

OTHER POEMS.--In 1808, before _The Lay_ had lost its freshness, _Marmion_
appeared: it was kindred in subject and form, and was received with equal
favor. _The Lady of the Lake_, the most popular of these poems, was
published in 1810; and with it his poetical talent culminated. The later
poems were not equal to any of those mentioned, although they were not
without many beauties and individual excellences.

_The Vision of Don Roderick_, which appeared in 1811, is founded upon the
legend of a visit made by one of the Gothic kings of Spain to an enchanted
cavern near Toledo. _Rokeby_ was published in 1812; _The Bridal of
Triermain_ in 1813; _The Lord of the Isles_, founded upon incidents in the
life of Bruce, in 1815; and _Harold the Dauntless_ in 1817. With the
decline of his poetic power, manifest to himself, he retired from the
field of poetry, but only to appear upon another and a grander field with
astonishing brilliancy: it was the domain of the historical romance. Such,
however, was the popular estimate of his poetry, that in 1813 the Prince
Regent offered him the position of poet-laureate, which was gratefully and
wisely declined.

Just at this time the new poets came forth, in his own style, and actuated
by his example and success. He recognized in Byron, Moore, Crabbe, and
others, genius and talent; and, with his generous spirit, exaggerated
their merits by depreciating his own, which he compared to cairngorms
beside the real jewels of his competitors. The mystics, following the lead
of the Lake poets, were ready to increase the depreciation. It soon became
fashionable to speak of _The Lay_, and _Marmion_, and _The Lady of the
Lake_ as spirited little stories, not equal to Byron's, and not to be
mentioned beside the occult philosophy of _Thalaba_ and gentle egotism of
_The Prelude_. That day is passed: even the critical world returns to its
first fancies. In the words of Carlyle, a great balance-striker of
literary fame, speaking in 1838: "It were late in the day to write
criticisms on those metrical romances; at the same time, the great
popularity they had seems natural enough. In the first place, there was
the indisputable impress of worth, of genuine human force in them ...
Pictures were actually painted and presented; human emotions conceived and
sympathized with. Considering that wretched Dellacruscan and other
vamping up of wornout tattlers was the staple article then, it may be
granted that Scott's excellence was superior and supreme." Without
preferring any claim to epic grandeur, or to a rank among the few great
poets of the first class, Scott is entitled to the highest eminence in
minstrelic power. He is the great modern troubadour. His descriptions of
nature are simple and exquisite. There is nothing in this respect more
beautiful than the opening of _The Lady of the Lake_. His battle-pieces
live and resound again: what can be finer than Flodden field in _Marmion_,
and The Battle of Beal and Duine in _The Lady of the Lake_?

His love scenes are at once chaste, impassioned, and tender; and his harp
songs and battle lyrics are unrivalled in harmony. And, besides these
merits, he gives us everywhere glimpses of history, which, before his day,
were covered by the clouds of ignorance, and which his breath was to sweep

Such are his claims as the first of the new romantic poets. We might here
leave him, to consider his prose works in another connection; but it seems
juster to his fame to continue and complete a sketch of his life, because
all its parts are of connected interest. The poems were a grand proem to
the novels.

While he was achieving fame by his poetry, and reaping golden rewards as
well as golden opinions, he was also ambitious to establish a family name
and estate. To this end, he bought a hundred acres of land on the banks of
the Tweed, near Melrose Abbey, and added to these from time to time by the
purchase of adjoining properties. Here he built a great mansion, which
became famous as Abbotsford: he called it one of his air-castles reduced
to solid stone and mortar. Here he played the part of a feudal proprietor,
and did the honors for Scotland to distinguished men from all quarters:
his hospitality was generous and unbounded.

THE WAVERLEY NOVELS.--As early as 1805, while producing his beautiful
poems, he had tried his hand upon a story in prose, based upon the
stirring events in 1745, resulting in the fatal battle of Culloden, which
gave a death-blow to the cause of the Stuarts, and to their attempts to
regain the crown. Dissatisfied with the effort, and considering it at that
time less promising than poetry, he had thrown the manuscript aside in a
desk with some old fishing-tackle. There it remained undisturbed for eight
years. With the decline of his poetic powers, he returned to the former
notion of writing historical fiction; and so, exhuming his manuscript, he
modified and finished it, and presented it anonymously to the world in
1814. He had at first proposed the title of _Waverley, or 'Tis Fifty Years
Since_, which was afterwards altered to '_Tis Sixty Years Since_. This,
the first of his splendid series of fictions, which has given a name to
the whole series, is by no means the best; but it was good and novel
enough to strike a chord in the popular heart at once. Its delineations of
personal characters already known to history were masterly; its historical
pictures were in a new and striking style of art. There were men yet
living to whom he could appeal--men who had _been out_ in the '45, who had
seen Charles Edward and many of the originals of the author's heroes and
heroines. In his researches and wanderings, he had imbibed the very spirit
of Scottish life and history; and the Waverley novels are among the most
striking literary types and expounders of history.

PARTICULAR MENTION.--In 1815, before half the reading world had delighted
themselves with _Waverley_, his rapid pen had produced _Guy Mannering_, a
story of English and Scottish life, superior to Waverley in its original
descriptions and more general interest. He is said to have written it in
six weeks at Christmas time. The scope of this volume will not permit a
critical examination of the Waverley novels. The world knows them almost
by heart. In _The Antiquary_, which appeared in 1816, we have a rare
delineation of local manners, the creation of distinct characters, and a
humorous description of the sudden arming of volunteers in fear of
invasion by the French. _The Antiquary_ was a free portrait or sketch of
Mr. George Constable, filled in perhaps unconsciously from the author's
own life; for he, no less than his friend, delighted in collecting relics,
and in studying out the lines, prætoria, and general castrametation of the
Roman armies. Andrew Gemmels was the original of that Edie Ochiltree who
was bold enough to dispute the antiquary's more learned assertions.

In the same year, 1816, was published the first series of _The Tales of my
Landlord_, containing _The Black Dwarf_ and _Old Mortality_, both valuable
as contributions to Scottish history. The former is not of much literary
merit; and the author was so little pleased with it, that he brought it to
a hasty conclusion; the latter is an extremely animated sketch of the
sufferings of the Covenanters at the hands of Grahame of Claverhouse, with
a fairer picture of that redoubted commander than the Covenanters have
drawn. _Rob Roy_, the best existing presentation of Highland life and
manners, appeared in 1817. Thus Scott's prolific pen, like nature,
produced annuals. In 1818 appeared _The Heart of Mid-Lothian_, that
touching story of Jeanie and Effie Deans, which awakens the warmest
sympathy of every reader, and teaches to successive generations a moral
lesson of great significance and power.

In 1819 he wrote _The Bride of Lammermoor_, the story of a domestic
tragedy, which warns the world that outraged nature will sometimes assert
herself in fury; a story so popular that it has been since arranged as an
Italian opera. With that came _The Legend of Montrose_, another historic
sketch of great power, and especially famous for the character of Major
Dugald Dalgetty, soldier of fortune and pedant of Marischal College,
Aberdeen. The year 1819 also beheld the appearance of _Ivanhoe_, which
many consider the best of the series. It describes rural England during
the regency of John, the romantic return of Richard Lion-heart, the
glowing embers of Norman and Saxon strife, and the story of the Templars.
His portraiture of the Jewess Rebecca is one of the finest in the Waverley

The next year, 1820, brought forth _The Monastery_, the least popular of
the novels thus far produced; and, as Scott tells us, on the principle of
sending a second arrow to find one that was lost, he wrote _The Abbot_, a
sequel, to which we are indebted for a masterly portrait of Mary Stuart in
her prison of Lochleven. The _Abbot_, to some extent, redeemed and
sustained its weaker brother. In this same year Scott was created a
baronet, in recognition of his great services to English Literature and
history. The next five years added worthy companion-novels to the
marvellous series. _Kenilworth_ is founded upon the visit of Queen
Elizabeth to her favorite Leicester, in that picturesque palace in
Warwickshire, and contains that beautiful and touching picture of Amy
Robsart. _The Pirate_ is a story the scene of which is laid in Shetland,
and the material for which he gathered in a pleasure tour among those
islands. In _The Fortunes of Nigel_, London life during the reign of James
I. is described; and it contains life-like portraits of that monarch, of
his unfortunate son, Prince Charles, and of Buckingham. _Peveril of the
Peak_ is a story of the time of Charles II., which is not of equal merit
with the other novels. _Quentin Durward_, one of the very best, describes
the strife between Louis XI. of France and Charles the Bold of Burgundy,
and gives full-length historic portraits of these princes. The scene of
_St. Ronan's Well_ is among the English lakes in Cumberland, and the story
describes the manners of the day at a retired watering-place. _Red
Gauntlet_ is a curious narrative connected with one of the latest attempts
of Charles Edward--abortive at the outset--to effect a rising in
Scotland. In 1825 appeared his _Tales of the Crusaders_, comprising _The
Betrothed_ and _The Talisman_, of which the latter is the more popular, as
it describes with romantic power the deeds of Richard and his comrades in
the second crusade.

A glance at this almost tabular statement will show the scope and
versatility of his mind, the historic range of his studies, the fertility
of his fancy, and the rapidity of his pen. He had attained the height of
fame and happiness; his success had partaken of the miraculous; but
misfortune came to mar it all, for a time.

PECUNIARY TROUBLES.--In the financial crash of 1825-6, he was largely
involved. As a silent partner in the publishing house of the Ballantynes,
and as connected with them in the affairs of Constable & Co., he found
himself, by the failure of these houses, legally liable to the amount of
£117,000. To relieve himself, he might have taken the benefit of the
_bankrupt law_; or, such was his popularity, that his friends desired to
raise a subscription to cover the amount of his indebtedness; but he was
now to show by his conduct that, if the author was great, the man was
greater. He refused all assistance, and even rejected general sympathy. He
determined to relieve himself, to pay his debts, or die in the effort. He
left Abbotsford, and took frugal lodgings in Edinburgh; curtailed all his
expenses, and went to work--which was over-work--not for fame, but for
guineas; and he gained both.

His first novel after this, and the one which was to test the
practicability of his plan, was _Woodstock_, a tale of the troublous times
of the Civil War, in the last chapter of which he draws the picture of the
restored Charles coming in peaceful procession to his throne. This he
wrote in three months; and for it he received upwards of £8000. With this
and the proceeds of his succeeding works, he was enabled to pay over to
his creditors the large sum of £70,000; a feat unparalleled in the history
of literature. But the anxiety and the labor were too much even for his
powerful constitution: he died in his heroic attempt.

HIS MANLY PURPOSE.--More for money than for reputation, he compiled
hastily, and from partial and incomplete material, a _Life of Napoleon
Bonaparte_, which appeared in 1827. The style is charming and the work
eminently readable; but it contains many faults, is by no means
unprejudiced, and, as far as pure truth is concerned, is, in parts, almost
as much of a romance as any of the Waverley novels; but, for the first two
editions, he received the enormous sum of £18,000. The work was
accomplished in the space of one year. Among the other _task-work_ books
were the two series of _The Chronicles of the Canongate_ (1827 and 1828),
the latter of which contains the beautiful story of _St. Valentine's Day_,
or _The Fair Maid of Perth_. It is written in his finest vein, especially
in those chapters which describe the famous Battle of the Clans. In 1829
appeared _Anne of Geierstein_, another story presenting the figure of
Charles of Burgundy, and his defeat and death in the battle with the Swiss
at Nancy.

POWERS OVERTASKED.--And now new misfortunes were to come upon him. In 1826
he had lost his wife: his sorrows weighed upon him, and his superhuman
exertions were too much for his strength. In 1829 he was seized with a
nervous attack, accompanied by hemorrhages of a peculiar kind. In
February, 1830, a slight paralysis occurred, from which he speedily
recovered; this was soon succeeded by another; and it was manifest that
his mind was giving way. His last novel, _Count Robert of Paris_, was
begun in 1830, as one of a fourth series of _The Tales of My Landlord_: it
bears manifest marks of his failing powers, but is of value for the
historic stores which it draws from the Byzantine historians, and
especially from the unique work of Anna Comnena: "I almost wish," he said,
"I had named it Anna Comnena." A slight attack of apoplexy in November,
1830, was followed by a severer one in the spring of 1831. Even then he
tried to write, and was able to produce _Castle Dangerous_. With that the
powerful pen ended its marvellous work. The manly spirit still chafed that
his debts were not paid, and could not be, by the labor of his hands.

FRUITLESS JOURNEY.--In order to divert his mind, and, as a last chance for
health, a trip to the Mediterranean was projected. The Barham frigate was
placed by the government at his disposal; and he wandered with a party of
friends to Malta, Naples, Pompeii, Paestum, and Rome. But feeling the end
approaching, he exclaimed, "Let us to Abbotsford:" for the final hour he
craved the _grata quies patriæ_; to which an admiring world has added the
remainder of the verse--_sed et omnis terra sepulchrum_. It was not a
moment too soon: he travelled northward to the Rhine, down that river by
boat, and reached London "totally exhausted;" thence, as soon as he could
be moved, he was taken to Abbotsford.

RETURN AND DEATH.--There he lingered from July to September, and died
peacefully on the 21st of the latter month, surrounded by his family and
lulled to repose by the rippling of the Tweed. Among the noted dead of
1832, including Goethe, Cuvier, Crabbe, and Mackintosh, he was the most
distinguished; and all Scotland and all the civilized world mourned his

HIS FAME.--At Edinburgh a colossal monument has been erected to his
memory, within which sits his marble figure. Numerous other memorial
columns are found in other cities, but all Scotland is his true monument,
every province and town of which he has touched with his magic pen.
Indeed, Scotland may be said to owe to him a new existence. In the words
of Lord Meadowbank,--who presided at the Theatrical Fund dinner in 1827,
and who there made the first public announcement of the authorship of the
Waverley novels,--Scott was "the mighty magician who rolled back the
current of time, and conjured up before our living senses the men and
manners of days which have long since passed away ... It is he who has
conferred a new reputation on our national character, and bestowed on
Scotland an imperishable name."

Besides his poetry and novels, he wrote very much of a miscellaneous
character for the reviews, and edited the works of the poets with valuable
introductions and congenial biographies. Most of his fictions are
historical in plot and personages; and those which deal with Scottish
subjects are enriched by those types of character, those descriptions of
manners--national and local--and those peculiarities of language, which
give them additional and more useful historical value. It has been justly
said that, by his masterly handling of historical subjects, he has taught
the later historians how to write, how to give vivid and pictorial effects
to what was before a detail of chronology or a dry schedule of philosophy.
His critical powers may be doubted: he was too kind and genial for a
critic; and in reading contemporary authors seems to have endued their
inferior works with something of his own fancy.

The _Life of Scott_, by his son-in-law, J. G. Lockhart, is one of the most
complete and interesting biographies in the language. In it the student
will find a list of all his works, with the dates of their production; and
will wonder that an author who was so rapid and so prolific could write so
much that was of the highest excellence. If not the greatest genius of his
age, he was its greatest literary benefactor; and it is for this reason
that we have given so much space to the record of his life and works.



   Early Life of Byron. Childe Harold and Eastern Tales. Unhappy Marriage.
   Philhellenism and Death. Estimate of his Poetry. Thomas Moore.
   Anacreon. Later Fortunes. Lalla Rookh. His Diary. His Rank as Poet.

In immediate succession after Scott comes the name of Byron. They were
both great lights of their age; but the former may be compared to a planet
revolving in regulated and beneficent beauty through an unclouded sky;
while the latter is more like a comet whose lurid light came flashing upon
the sight in wild and threatening career.

Like Scott, Byron was a prolific poet; and he owes to Scott the general
suggestion and much of the success of his tales in verse. His powers of
description were original and great: he adopted the new romantic tone,
while in his more studied works he was an imitator and a champion of a
former age, and a contemner of his own.

EARLY LIFE OF BYRON.--The Honorable George Gordon Byron, afterwards Lord
Byron, was born in London on the 22d of January, 1788. While he was yet an
infant, his father--Captain Byron--a dissipated man, deserted his mother;
and she went with her child to live upon a slender pittance at Aberdeen.
She was a woman of peculiar disposition, and was unfortunate in the
training of her son. She alternately petted and quarrelled with him, and
taught him to emulate her irregularities of temper. On account of an
accident at his birth, he had a malformation in one of his feet, which,
producing a slight limp in his gait through life, rendered his sensitive
nature quite unhappy, the signs of which are to be discerned in his drama,
_The Deformed Transformed_. From the age of five years he went to school
at Aberdeen, and very early began to exhibit traits of generosity,
manliness, and an imperious nature: he also displayed great quickness in
those studies which pleased his fancy.

In 1798, when he was eleven years old, his grand-uncle, William, the fifth
Lord Byron, died, and was succeeded in the title and estates by the young
Gordon Byron, who was at once removed with his mother to Newstead Abbey.
In 1801 he was sent to Harrow, where he was well esteemed by his comrades,
but was not considered forward in his studies.

He seems to have been of a susceptible nature, for, while still a boy, he
fell in love several times. His third experience in this way was
undoubtedly the strongest of his whole life. The lady was Miss Mary
Chaworth, who did not return his affection. His last interview with her he
has powerfully described in his poem called _The Dream_. From Harrow he
went to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he lived an idle and
self-indulgent life, reading discursively, but not studying the prescribed
course. As early as November, 1806, before he was nineteen, he published
his first volume, _Poems on Various Occasions_, for private distribution,
which was soon after enlarged and altered, and presented to the public as
_Hours of Idleness, a Series of Poems Original and Translated, by George
Gordon, Lord Byron, A Minor_. These productions, although by no means
equal to his later poems, are not without merit, and did not deserve the
exceedingly severe criticism they met with from the _Edinburgh Review_.
The critics soon found that they had bearded a young lion: in his rage, he
sprang out upon the whole literary craft in a satire, imitated from
Juvenal, called _The English Bards and Scotch Reviewers_, in which he
ridicules and denounces the very best poets of the day furiously but most
uncritically. That his conduct was absurd and unjust, he himself allowed
afterwards; and he attempted to call in and destroy all the copies of this

CHILDE HAROLD AND EASTERN TALES.--In March, 1809, he took his seat in the
House of Lords, where he did not accomplish much. He took up his residence
at Newstead Abbey, his ancestral seat, most of which was in a ruinous
condition; and after a somewhat disorderly life there, he set out on his
continental tour, spending some time at Lisbon, Cadiz, Gibraltar, Malta,
and in Greece. On his return, after two years' absence, he brought a
summary of his travels in poetical form,--the first part of _Childe
Harold_; and also a more elaborated poem entitled _Hints from Horace_.
Upon the former he set little value; but he thought the latter a noble
work. The world at once reversed his decision. The satire in the Latin
vein is scarcely read; while to the first cantos of _Childe Harold_ it was
due that, in his own words, "he woke up one morning and found himself
famous." As fruits of the eastern portion of his travels, we have the
romantic tale, _The Giaour_, published in 1811, and _The Bride of Abydos_,
which appeared in 1813. The popularity of these oriental stories was
mainly due to their having been conceived on the spots they describe. In
1814 he issued _The Corsair_, perhaps the best of these sensational
stories; and with singular versatility, in the same year, inspired by the
beauty of the Jewish history, he produced _The Hebrew Melodies_, some of
which are fervent, touching, and melodious. Late in the same year _Lara_
was published, in the same volume with Mr. Rogers's _Jacqueline_, which it
threw completely into the shade. Thus closed one distinct period of his
life and of his authorship. A change came over the spirit of his dream.

UNHAPPY MARRIAGE.--In 1815, urged by his friends, and thinking it due to
his position, he married Miss Milbanke; but the union was without
affection on either side, and both were unhappy. One child, a daughter,
was born to them; and a year had hardly passed when they were separated,
by mutual consent and for reasons never truly divulged; and which, in
spite of modern investigations, must remain mysterious. He was licentious,
extravagant, of a violent temper: his wife was of severe morals, cold, and
unsympathetic. We need not advance farther into the horrors recently
suggested to the world. The blame has rested on Byron; and, at the time,
the popular feeling was so strong, that it may be said to have driven him
from England. It awoke in him a dark misanthropy which returned English
scorn with an unnatural hatred. He sojourned at various places on the
continent. At Geneva he wrote a third canto of _Childe Harold_, and the
touching story of Bonnivard, entitled _The Prisoner of Chillon_, and other
short poems.

In 1817 he was at Venice, where he formed a connection with the Countess
Guiccioli, to the disgrace of both. In Venice he wrote a fourth canto of
_Childe Harold_, the story of _Mazeppa_, the first two cantos of _Don
Juan_, and two dramas, _Marino Faliero_ and _The Two Foscari_.

For two years he lived at Ravenna, where he wrote some of his other
dramas, and several cantos of _Don Juan_. In 1821 he removed to Pisa;
thence, after a short stay, to Genoa, still writing dramas and working at
_Don Juan_.

PHILHELLENISM: HIS DEATH.--The end of his misanthropy and his debaucheries
was near; but his story was to have a ray of sunset glory--his death was
to be connected with a noble effort and an exhibition of philanthropic
spirit which seem in some degree to palliate his faults. Unlike some
writers who find in his conduct only a selfish whim, we think that it
casts a beautiful radiance upon the early evening of a stormy life. The
Greeks were struggling for independence from Turkish tyranny: Byron threw
himself heart and soul into the movement, received a commission from the
Greek government, recruited a band of Suliotes, and set forth gallantly to
do or die in the cause of Grecian freedom: he died, but not in battle. He
caught a fever of a virulent type, from his exposure, and after very few
days expired, on the 19th of April, 1824, amid the mourning of the nation.
Of this event, Macaulay--no mean or uncertain critic--could say, in his
epigrammatical style: "Two men have died within our recollection, who, at
a time of life at which few people have completed their education, had
raised themselves, each in his own department, to the height of glory. One
of them died at Longwood; the other at Missolonghi."

ESTIMATE OF HIS POETRY.--In giving a brief estimate of his character and
of his works, we may begin by saying that he represents, in clear
lineaments, the nobleman, the traveller, the poet, and the debauchee, of
the beginning of the nineteenth century. In all his works he unconsciously
depicts himself. He is in turn Childe Harold, Lara, the Corsair, and Don
Juan. He affected to despise the world's opinion so completely that he has
made himself appear worse than he really was--more profane, more
intemperate, more licentious. It is equally true that this tendency, added
to the fact that he was a handsome peer, had much to do with the immediate
popularity of his poems. There was also a paradoxical vanity, which does
not seem easily reconcilable with his misanthropy, that thus led him to
reproduce himself in a new dress in his dramas and tales. He paraded
himself as if, after all, he did value the world's opinion.

That he was one of the new romantic poets, with, however, a considerable
tincture of the transition school, may be readily discerned in his works:
his earlier poems are full of the conceits of the artificial age. His
_English Bards and Scotch Reviewers_ reminds one of the _MacFlecknoe_ of
Dryden and _The Dunciad_ of Pope, without being as good as either. When
he began that original and splendid portrait of himself, and transcript
of his travels, _Childe Harold_, he imitated Spenser in form and in
archaism. But he was possessed by the muse: the man wrote as the spirit
within dictated, as the Pythian priestess is fabled to have uttered her
oracles. _Childe Harold_ is a stream of intuitive, irrepressible poetry;
not art, but overflowing nature: the sentiments good and bad came welling
forth from his heart. His descriptive powers are great but peculiar.
Travellers find in _Childe Harold_ lightning glimpses of European scenery,
art, and nature, needing no illustrations, almost defying them. National
conditions, manners, customs, and costumes, are photographed in his
verses:--the rapid rush to Waterloo; a bull-fight in Spain; the women of
Cadiz or Saragossa; the Lion of St. Mark; the eloquent statue of the Dying
Gladiator; "Fair Greece, sad relic of departed worth;" the address to the
ocean; touches of love and hate; pictures of sorrow, of torture, of death.
Everywhere thought and glance are powerfully concentrated, and we find the
poem to be journal, history, epic, and autobiography. His felicity of
expression is so great, that, as we come upon the happy conceptions
exquisitely rendered, we are inclined to say of each, as he has said of
the Egeria of Muna:

                         ... whatsoe'er thy birth,
    Thou wert a beautiful thought and softly bodied forth.

Of his dramas which are founded upon history, we cannot say so much; they
are dramatic only in form: some of them are spectacular, like
_Sardanapalus_, which is still presented upon the stage on account of its
scenic effects. In _Manfred_ we have a rare insight into his nature, and
_Cain_ is the vehicle for his peculiar, dark sentiments on the subject of

_Don Juan_ is illustrative not only of the poet, but of the age; there was
a generation of such men and women. But quite apart from its moral, or
rather immoral, character, the poem is one of the finest in our
literature: it is full of wonderful descriptions, and exhibits a splendid
mastery of language, rhythm, and rhyme: a glorious epic with an inglorious
hero, and that hero Byron himself.

As a man he was an enigma to the world, and doubtless to himself: he was
bad, but he was bold. If he was vindictive, he was generous; if he was
misanthropic and sceptical, it was partly because he despised shams: in
all his actions, we see that implicit working out of his own nature, which
not only conceals nothing, but even exaggerates his own faults. His
antecedents were bad;--his father was a villain; his grand-uncle a
murderer; his mother a woman of violent temper; and himself, with all this
legacy, a man of powerful passions. If evil is in any degree to be
palliated because it is hereditary, those who most condemn it in the
abstract, may still look with compassionate leniency upon the career of
Lord Byron.

THOMAS MOORE.--Emphatically the creature of his age, Moore wrote
sentimental songs in melodious language to the old airs of Ireland, and
used them as an instrument to excite the Irish people in the struggle they
were engaged in against English misgovernment. But his songs were true
neither to tradition nor to nature; they placed before the ardent Celtic
fancy an Irish glory and grandeur entirely different from the reality. Nor
had he in any degree caught the bardic spirit. His lyre was attuned to
reach the ear rather than the heart; his scenes are in enchanted lands;
his _dramatis personæ_ tread theatrical boards; his thunder is a
melo-dramatic roll; his lightning is pyrotechny; his tears are either
hypocritical or maudlin; and his laughter is the perfection of genteel

Thomas Moore was born in Dublin, on the 28th of May, 1779: he was a
diminutive but precocious child, and was paraded by his father and mother,
who were people in humble life, as a reciter of verse; and as an early
rhymer also. His first poem was printed in a Dublin magazine, when he was
fourteen years old. In 1794 he entered Trinity College, Dublin; and,
although never considered a good scholar, he was graduated in 1798, when
he was nineteen years old.

ANACREON.--The first work which brought him into notice, and which
manifests at once the precocity of his powers and the peculiarity of his
taste, was his translation of the _Odes of Anacreon_. He had begun this
work while at college, but it was finished and published in London,
whither he had gone after leaving college, to enter the Middle Temple, in
order to study law. With equal acuteness and adaptation to character, he
dedicated the poems to the Prince of Wales, an anacreontic hero. As might
be expected, with such a patron, the volume was a success. In 1801 he
published another series of erotic poems, under the title _The Poetical
Works of the late Thomas Little_. This gained for him, in Byron's line,
the name of "the young Catullus of his day"; and, at the instance of Lord
Moira, he was appointed poet-laureate, a post he filled only long enough
to write one birthday ode. What seemed a better fortune came in the shape
of an appointment as Registrar of the Admiralty Court of Bermuda. He went
to the island; remained but a short time; and turned over the uncongenial
duties of the post to a deputy, who subsequently became a defaulter, and
involved Moore to a large amount. Returning from Bermuda, he travelled in
the United States and Canada; not without some poetical record of his
movements. In 1806 he published his _Epistles, Odes, and Other Poems_,
which called down the righteous wrath of the Edinburgh Review: Jeffrey
denounced the book as "a public nuisance," and "a corrupter of public
morals." For this harsh judgment, Moore challenged him; but the duel was
stopped by the police. This hostile meeting was turned to ridicule by
Byron in the lines:

    When Little's leadless pistols met his eye,
    And Bow-street myrmidons stood laughing by.

LATER FORTUNES.--Moore was now the favorite--the poet and the dependent of
the nobility; and his versatile pen was principally employed to amuse and
to please. He soon began that series of _Irish Melodies_ which he
continued to augment with new pieces for nearly thirty years.

Always of a theatrical turn, he acted well in private drama, in which the
gentlemen were amateurs, and the female parts were personated by
professional actresses. Thus playing in a cast with Miss Dyke, the
daughter of an Irish actor, Moore fell in love with her, and married her
on the 25th of March, 1811.

With a foolish lack of judgment, he lost his hopes of preferment, by
writing satires against the regent; but as a means of livelihood, he
engaged to write songs for Powers, at a salary of £500 per annum, for
seven years.

LALLA ROOKH.--The most acceptable offering to fame, and the most
successful pecuniary venture, was his _Lalla Rookh_. The East was becoming
known to the English; and the fancy of the poet could convert the glimpses
of oriental things into charming pictures. Long possessed with the purpose
to write an Eastern story in verse, Moore set to work with laudable
industry to read books of travels and history, in order to form a strong
and sensible basis for his poetical superstructure. The work is a
collection of beautiful poems, in a delicate setting of beautiful prose.
The princess Lalla Rookh journeys, with great pomp, to become the bride of
the youthful king of Bokkara, and finds among her attendants a handsome
young poet, who beguiles the journey by singing to her these tales in
verse. The dangers of the process became manifest--the king of Bokkara is
forgotten, and the heart of the unfortunate princess is won by the beauty
and the minstrelsy of the youthful poet. What is her relief and her joy to
find on her arrival the unknown poet seated upon the throne as the king,
who had won her heart as an humble bard!

This beautiful and popular work was published in 1817; and for it Moore
received from his publishers, the Longmans, £3000.

In the same year Moore took a small cottage at Sloperton on the estate of
the Marquis of Lansdowne, which, with some interruptions of travel, and a
short residence in Paris, continued to be his residence during his life.
Improvident in money matters, he was greatly troubled by his affairs in
Bermuda;--the amount for which he became responsible by the defalcation of
his deputy was £6000; which, however, by legal cleverness, was compromised
for a thousand guineas.

HIS DIARY.--It is very fortunate, for a proper understanding of Moore's
life, that we have from this time a diary which is invaluable to the
biographer. In 1820 he went to Paris, where he wasted his time and money
in fashionable dissipation, and produced nothing of enduring value. Here
he sketched an Egyptian story, versified in _Alciphron_, but enlarged in
the prose romance called _The Epicurean_.

On a short tour he visited Venice, where he received, as a gift from Lord
Byron, his autobiographical memoirs, which contained so much that was
compromising to others, that they were never published--at least in that
form. They were withdrawn from the Murrays, in whose hands he had placed
them, upon the death of Byron in 1824, and destroyed. A short visit to
Ireland led to his writing the _Memoirs of Captain Rock_, a work which
attained an unprecedented popularity in Ireland.

In 1825 he published his _Life of Sheridan_, which is rather a friendly
panegyric than a truthful biography.

During three years--from 1827 to 1830--he was engaged upon the _Life of
Byron_, which concealed more truth than it divulged. But in all these
years, his chief dependence for daily bread was upon his songs and glees,
squibs for newspapers and magazines, and review articles.

In 1831 he made another successful hit in his _Life of Lord Edward
Fitzgerald_, a rebel of '98, which was followed in 1833 by _The Travels of
an Irish Gentleman in Search of a Religion_.

In 1835, through the agency of Lord John Russel, the improvident poet
received a pension of £300. It came in a time of need; for he was getting
old, and his mind moved more sluggishly. His infirmities made him more
domestic; but his greater trials were still before him. His sons were
frivolous spendthrifts; one for whom he had secured a commission in the
army behaved ill, and drew upon his impoverished father again and again
for money: both died young. This cumulation of troubles broke him down; he
had a cerebral attack in December, 1849, and lived helpless and broken
until the 26th of February, 1852, when he expired without suffering.

HIS POETRY.--In most cases, the concurrence of what an author has written
will present to us the mental and moral features of the man. It is
particularly true in the case of Moore. He appears to us in Protean
shapes, indeed, but not without an affinity between them. Small in
stature, of jovial appearance; devoted to the gayest society; not very
earnest in politics; a Roman Catholic in name, with but little practical
religion, he pandered at first to a frivolous public taste, and was even
more corrupt than the public morals.

Not so apparently as Pope an artificial poet, he had few touches of
nature. Of lyric sentiment he has but little; but we must differ from
those who deny to him rare lyrical expression, and happy musical
adaptations. His songs one can hardly _read_; we feel that they must be
sung. He has been accused, too violently, by Maginn of plagiarism: this,
of course, means of phrases and ideas. In our estimate of Moore, it counts
but little; his rare rhythm and exquisite cadences are not plagiarized;
they are his own, and his chief merit.

He abounds in imagery of oriental gorgeousness; and if, in personality,
he may be compared to his own Peri, or one of "the beautiful blue damsel
flies" of that poem, he has given to his unfriendly critics a judgment of
his own style, in a criticism made by Fadladeen of the young poet's story
to Lalla Rookh;--"it resembles one of those Maldivian boats--a slight,
gilded thing, sent adrift without rudder or ballast, and with nothing but
vapid sweets and faded flowers on board." "The effect of the whole," says
one of his biographers, speaking of Lalla Rookh, "is much the same as that
of a magnificent ballet, on which all the resources of the theatre have
been lavished, and no expense spared in golden clouds, ethereal light,
gauze-clad sylphs, and splendid tableaux."

Moore has been felicitously called "the poet of all circles," a phrase
which shows that he reflected the general features of his age. At no time
could the license of _Anacreon_, or the poems of Little, have been so well
received as when "the first gentleman in Europe" set the example of
systematic impurity. At no time could _Irish Melodies_ have had such a
_furore_ of adoption and applause, as when _Repeal_ was the cry, and the
Irish were firing their minds by remembering "the glories of Brian the
Brave;" that Brian Boroimhe who died in the eleventh century, after
defeating the Danes in twenty-five battles.

Moore's _Biographies_, with all their faults, are important social
histories. _Lalla Rookh_ has a double historical significance: it is a
reflection--like _Anastasius_ and _Vathek_, like _Thalaba_ and _The Curse
of Kehama_, like _The Giaour_ and _The Bride of Abydos_--of English
conquest, travel, and adventure in the East. It is so true to nature in
oriental descriptions and allusions, that one traveller declared that to
read it was like riding on a camel; but it is far more important to
observe that the relative conditions of England and the Irish Roman
Catholics are symbolized in the Moslem rule over the Ghebers, as
delineated in _The Fire Worshippers_. In his preface to that poem, Moore
himself says: "The cause of tolerance was again my inspiring theme; and
the spirit that had spoken in the melodies of Ireland soon found itself at
home in the East."

In an historic view of English Literature, the works of Moore, touching
almost every subject, must always be of great value to the student of his
period: there he will always have his prominent place. But he is already
losing his niche in public favor as a poet proper; better taste, purer
morals, truer heart-songs, and more practical views will steadily supplant
him, until, with no power to influence the present, he shall stand only as
a charming relic of the past.



   Robert Burns. His Poems. His Career. George Crabbe. Thomas Campbell.
   Samuel Rogers. P. B. Shelley. John Keats. Other Writers.


If Moore was, in the opinion of his age, an Irish prodigy, Burns is, for
all time, a Scottish marvel. The one was polished and musical, but
artificial and insidiously immoral; the other homely and simple, but
powerful and effective to men of all classes in society. The one was the
poet of the aristocracy; the other the genius whose sympathies were with
the poor. One was most at home in the palaces of the great; and the other,
in the rude Ayrshire cottage, or in the little sitting-room of the
landlord in company with Souter John and Tam O'Shanter. As to most of his
poems, Burns was really of no distinct school, but seems to stand alone,
the creature of circumstance rather than of the age, in an unnatural and
false position, compared by himself to the daisy he uprooted with his

    Even thou who mourn'st the daisy's fate,
    That fate is thine--no distant date;
    Stern Ruin's ploughshare drives elate,
                       Full on thy bloom,
    Till crushed beneath the furrow's weight
                       Shall be thy doom!

His life was uneventful. He was the son of a very poor man who was
gardener to a gentleman at Ayr. He was born in Alloway on the 25th of
January, 1759. His early education was scanty; but he read with avidity
the few books on which he could lay his hands, among which he particularly
mentions, in his short autobiography, _The Spectator_, the poems of Pope,
and the writings of Sterne and Thomson. But the work which he was to do
needed not even that training: he drew his simple subjects from
surrounding nature, and his ideas came from his heart rather than his
head. Like Moore, he found the old tunes or airs of the country, and set
them to new words--words full of sentiment and sense.

HIS POEMS.--Most of his poems are quite short, and of the kind called
fugitive, except that they will not fly away. _The Cotter's Saturday
Night_ is for men of all creeds, a pastoral full of divine philosophy. His
_Address to the Deil_ is a tender thought even for the Prince of Darkness,
whom, says Carlyle, his kind nature could not hate with right orthodoxy.
His poems on _The Louse, The Field-Mouse's Nest_, and _The Mountain
Daisy_, are homely meditations and moral lessons, and contain counsels for
all hearts. In _The Twa Dogs_ he contrasts, in fable, the relative
happiness of rich and poor. In the beautiful song

    Ye banks and braes of bonnie Doun,

he expresses that hearty sympathy with nature which is one of the most
attractive features of his character. His _Bruce's Address_ stirs the
blood, and makes one start up into an attitude of martial advance. But his
most famous poem--drama, comedy, epic, and pastoral--is _Tam o' Shanter_:
it is a universal favorite; and few travellers leave Scotland without
standing at the window of "Alloway's auld haunted kirk," walking over the
road upon which Meg galloped, pausing over "the keystane of the brigg"
where she lost her tail; and then returning, full of the spirit of the
poem, to sit in Tam's chair, and drink ale out of the same silver-bound
wooden bicker, in the very room of the inn where Tam and the poet used to
get "unco fou," while praising "inspiring bold John Barley-corn." Indeed,
in the words of the poor Scotch carpenter, met by Washington Irving at
Kirk Alloway, "it seems as if the country had grown more beautiful since
Burns had written his bonnie little songs about it."

HIS CAREER.--The poet's career was sad. Gifted but poor, and doomed to
hard work, he was given a place in the excise. He went to Edinburgh, and
for a while was a great social lion; but he acquired a horrid thirst for
drink, which shortened his life. He died in Dumfries, at the early age of
thirty-seven. His allusions to his excesses are frequent, and many of them
touching. In his praise of _Scotch Drink_ he sings _con amore_. In a
letter to Mr. Ainslie, he epitomizes his failing: "Can you, amid the
horrors of penitence, regret, headache, nausea, and all the rest of the
hounds of hell that beset a poor wretch who has been guilty of the sin of
drunkenness,--can you speak peace to a troubled soul."

Burns was a great letter-writer, and thought he excelled in that art; but,
valuable as his letters are, in presenting certain phases of his literary
and personal character, they display none of the power of his poetry, and
would not alone have raised him to eminence. They are in vigorous and
somewhat pedantic English; while most of his poems are in that Lowland
Scottish language or dialect which attracts by its homeliness and pleases
by its _couleur locale_. It should be stated, in conclusion, that Burns is
original in thought and presentation; and to this gift must be added a
large share of humor, and an intense patriotism. Poverty was his grim
horror. He declared that it killed his father, and was pursuing him to the
grave. He rose above the drudgery of a farmer's toil, and he found no
other work which would sustain him; and yet this needy poet stands to-day
among the most distinguished Scotchmen who have contributed to English

GEORGE CRABBE.--Also of the transition school; in form and diction
adhering to the classicism of Pope, but, with Thomson, restoring the
pastoral to nature, the poet of the humble poor;--in the words of Byron,
"Pope in worsted stockings," Crabbe was the delight of his time; and Sir
Walter Scott, returning to die at Abbotsford, paid him the following
tribute: he asked that they would read him something amusing, "Read me a
bit of Crabbe." As it was read, he exclaimed, "Capital--excellent--very
good; Crabbe has lost nothing."

George Crabbe was born on December 24th, 1754, at Aldborough, Suffolk. His
father was a poor man; and Crabbe, with little early education, was
apprenticed to a surgeon, and afterwards practised; but his aspirations
were such that he went to London, with three pounds in his pocket, for a
literary venture. He would have been in great straits, had it not been for
the disinterested generosity of Burke, to whom, although an utter
stranger, he applied for assistance. Burke aided him by introducing him to
distinguished literary men; and his fortune was made. In 1781 he published
_The Library_, which was well received. Crabbe then took orders, and was
for a little time curate at Aldborough, his native place, while other
preferment awaited him. In 1783 he appeared under still more favorable
auspices, by publishing _The Village_, which had a decided success. Two
livings were then given him; and he, much to his credit, married his early
love, a young girl of Suffolk. In _The Village_ he describes homely scenes
with great power, in pentameter verse. The poor are the heroes of his
humble epic; and he knew them well, as having been of them. In 1807
appeared _The Parish Register_, in 1810 _The Borough_, and in 1812 his
_Tales in Verse_,--the precursor, in the former style, however, of
Wordsworth's lyrical stories. All these were excellent and very popular,
because they were real, and from his own experience. _The Tales of the
Hall_, referring chiefly to the higher classes of society, are more
artificial, and not so good. His pen was most at home in describing
smugglers, gipsies, and humble villagers, and in delineating poverty and
wretchedness; and thus opening to the rich and titled, doors through which
they might exercise their philanthropy and munificence. In this way Crabbe
was a reformer, and did great good; although his scenes are sometimes
revolting, and his pathos too exacting. As a painter of nature, he is true
and felicitous; especially in marine and coast views, where he is a
pre-Raphaelite in his minuteness. Byron called him "Nature's sternest
painter, but the best." He does not seem to write for effect, and he is
without pretension; so that the critics were quite at fault; for what they
mainly attack is not the poet's work so much as the consideration whether
his works come up to his manifesto. Crabbe died in 1832, on the 3d of
February, being one of the famous dead of that fatal year.

Crabbe's poems mark his age. At an earlier time, when literature was for
the fashionable few, his subjects would have been beneath interest; but
the times had changed; education had been more diffused, and readers were
multiplied. Goldsmith's _Deserted Village_ had struck a new chord, upon
which Crabbe continued to play. Of his treatment of these subjects it must
be said, that while he holds a powerful pen, and portrays truth vividly,
he had an eye only for the sadder conditions of life, and gives pain
rather than excites sympathy in the reader. Our meaning will be best
illustrated by a comparison of _The Village_ of Crabbe with _The Deserted
Village_ of Goldsmith, and the pleasure with which we pass from the
squalid scenes of the former to the gentler sorrows and sympathies of the

THOMAS CAMPBELL.--More identified with his age than any other poet, and
yet forming a link between the old and the new, was Campbell. Classical
and correct in versification, and smothering nature with sonorous prosody,
he still had the poetic fire, and an excellent power of poetic criticism.
He was the son of a merchant, and was born at Glasgow on the 27th of July,
1777. He thus grew up with the French revolution, and with the great
progress of the English nation in the wars incident to it. He was
carefully educated, and was six years at the University of Glasgow, where
he received prizes for composition. He went later to Germany, after being
graduated, to study Greek literature with Heyne. After some preliminary
essays in verse, he published the _Pleasures of Hope_ in 1799, before he
was twenty-two years old. It was one of the greatest successes of the age,
and has always since been popular. His subject was one of universal
interest; his verse was high-sounding; and his illustrations modern--such
as the fall of Poland--_Finis Poloniæ_; and although there is some
turgidity, and some want of unity, making the work a series of poems
rather than a connected one, it was most remarkable for a youth of his
age. It was perhaps unfortunate for his future fame; for it led the world
to expect other and better things, which were not forthcoming. Travelling
on the continent in the next year, 1800, he witnessed the battle of
Hohenlinden from the monastery of St. Jacob, and wrote that splendid,
ringing battle-piece, which has been so often recited and parodied. From
that time he wrote nothing in poetry worthy of note, except songs and
battle odes, with one exception. Among his battle-pieces which have never
been equalled are _Ye Mariners of England_, _The Battle of the Baltic_,
and _Lochiel's Warning_. His _Exile of Erin_ has been greatly admired, and
was suspected at the time of being treasonable; the author, however, being
entirely innocent of such an intention, as he clearly showed.

Besides reviews and other miscellanies, Campbell wrote _The Annals of
Great Britain, from the Accession of George III. to the Peace of Amiens_,
which is a graceful but not valuable work. In 1805 he received a pension
of £200 per annum.

In 1809 he published his _Gertrude of Wyoming_--the exception referred
to--a touching story, written with exquisite grace, but not true to the
nature of the country or the Indian character. Like _Rasselas_, it is a
conventional English tale with foreign names and localities; but as an
English poem it has great merit; and it turned public attention to the
beautiful Valley of Wyoming, and the noble river which flows through it.

As a critic, Campbell had great acquirements and gifts. These were
displayed in his elaborate _Specimens of the British Poets_, published in
1819, and in his _Lectures on Poetry_ before the Surrey Institution in
1820. In 1827 he was elected Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow; but
afterwards his literary efforts were by no means worthy of his reputation.
Few have read his _Pilgrim of Glencoe_; and all who have, are pained by
its manifestation of his failing powers. In fact, his was an unfinished
fame--a brilliant beginning, but no continuance. Sir Walter Scott has
touched it with a needle, when he says, "Campbell is in a manner a bugbear
to himself; the brightness of his early success is a detriment to all his
after efforts. He is afraid of the shadow which his own fame casts before
him." Byron placed him in the second category of the greatest living
English poets; but Byron was no critic.

He also published a _Life of Petrarch_, and a _Life of Frederick the
Great_; and, in 1830, he edited the _New Monthly Magazine_. He died at
Boulogne, June 15th, 1844, after a long period of decay in mental power.

SAMUEL ROGERS.--Rogers was a companion or consort to Campbell, although
the two men were very different personally. As Campbell had borrowed from
Akenside and written _The Pleasures of Hope_, Rogers enriched our
literature with _The Pleasures of Memory_, a poem of exquisite
versification, more finished and unified than its pendent picture;
containing neither passion nor declamation, but polish, taste, and

Rogers was born in a suburb of London, in 1762. His father was a banker;
and, although well educated, the poet was designed to succeed him, as he
did, being until his death a partner in the same banking-house. Early
enamored of poetry by reading Beattie's _Minstrel_, Rogers devoted all his
spare time to its cultivation, and with great and merited success.

In 1786 he produced his _Ode to Superstition_, after the manner of Gray,
and in 1792 his _Pleasures of Memory_, which was enthusiastically
received, and which is polished to the extreme. In 1812 appeared a
fragment, _The Voyage of Columbus_, and in 1814 _Jacqueline_, in the same
volume with Byron's _Lara_. _Human Life_ was published in 1819. It is a
poem in the old style, (most of his poems are in the rhymed pentameter
couplet;) but in 1822 appeared his poem of _Italy_, in blank verse, which
has the charm of originality in presentation, freshness of personal
experience, picturesqueness in description, novelty in incident and story,
scholarship, and taste in art criticism. In short, it is not only the best
of his poems, but it has great merit besides that of the poetry. The story
of Ginevra is a masterpiece of cabinet art, and is universally
appreciated. With these works Rogers contented himself. Rich and
distinguished, his house became a place of resort to men of distinction
and taste in art: it was filled with articles of _vertu_; and Rogers the
poet lived long as Rogers the _virtuoso_. His breakfast parties were
particularly noted. His long, prosperous, and happy life was ended on the
18th December, 1855, at the age of ninety-two.

The position of Rogers may be best illustrated in the words of Sir J.
Mackintosh, in which he says: "He appeared at the commencement of this
literary revolution, without paying court to the revolutionary tastes, or
seeking distinction by resistance to them." His works are not destined to
live freshly in the course of literature, but to the historical student
they mark in a very pleasing manner the characteristics of his age.

PERCY B. SHELLEY.--Revolutions never go backward; and one of the greatest
characters in this forward movement was a gifted, irregular, splendid,
unbalanced mind, who, while taking part in it, unconsciously, as one of
many, stands out also in a very singular individuality.

Percy Bysshe Shelley was born on the 4th of August, 1792, at Fieldplace,
in Sussex, England. He was the eldest son of Sir Timothy Shelley, and of
an ancient family, traced back, it is said, to Sir Philip Sidney. When
thirteen years old he was sent to Eton, where he began to display his
revolutionary tendencies by his resistance to the fagging system; and
where he also gave some earnest in writing of his future powers. At the
age of sixteen he entered University College, Oxford, and appeared as a
radical in most social, political, and religious questions. On account of
a paper entitled _The Necessity of Atheism_, he was expelled from the
university and went to London. In 1811 he made a runaway match with Miss
Harriet Westbrook, the daughter of the keeper of a coffee-house, which
brought down on him the wrath of his father. After the birth of two
children, a separation followed; and he eloped with Miss Godwin in 1814.
His wife committed suicide in 1816; and then the law took away from him
the control of his children, on the ground that he was an atheist.

After some time of residence in England, he returned to Italy, where soon
after he met with a tragical end. Going in an open boat from Leghorn to
Spezzia, he was lost in a storm on the Mediterranean: his body was washed
on shore near the town of Via Reggio, where his remains were burned in
the presence of Lord Byron, Leigh Hunt, and others. The ashes were
afterwards buried in the Protestant cemetery at Rome in July, 1822.

Shelley's principles were irrational and dangerous. He was a
transcendentalist of the extreme order, and a believer in the
perfectability of human nature. His works are full of his principles. The
earliest was _Queen Mab_, in which his profanity and atheism are clearly
set forth. It was first privately printed, and afterwards published in
1821. This was followed by _Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude_, in 1816.
In this he gives his own experience in the tragical career of the hero.
His longest and most pretentious poem was _The Revolt of Islam_, published
in 1819. It is in the Spenserian stanza. Also, in the same year, he
published _The Cenci_, a tragedy, a dark and gloomy story on what should
be a forbidden subject, but very powerfully written. In 1820 he also
published _The Prometheus Unbound_, which is full of his irreligious
views. His remaining works were smaller poems, among which may be noted
_Adonais_, and the odes _To the Skylark_ and _The Cloud_.

In considering his character, we must first observe the power of his
imagination; it was so strong and all-absorbing, that it shut out the real
and the true. He was a man of extreme sensibility; and that sensibility,
hurt by common contact with things and persons around him, made him morbid
in morality and metaphysics. He was a polemic of the fiercest type; and
while he had an honest desire for reform of the evils that he saw about
him, it is manifest that he attacked existing institutions for the very
love of controversy. Bold, retired, and proud, without a spice of vanity,
if he has received harsh judgment from one half the critical world, who
had at least the claim that they were supporting pure morals and true
religion, his character has been unduly exalted by the other half, who
have mistaken reckless dogmatism for true nobility of soul. The most
charitable judgment is that of Moir, who says: "It is needless to disguise
the fact--and it accounts for all--his mind was diseased; he never knew,
even from boyhood, what it was to breathe the atmosphere of healthy
life--to have the _mens sana in corpore sano_."

But of his poetical powers we must speak in a different manner. What he
has left, gives token that, had he lived, he would have been one of the
greatest modern poets. Thoroughly imbued with the Greek poetry, his
verse-power was wonderful, his language stately and learned without
pedantry, his inspiration was that of nature in her grandest moods, his
fancy always exalted; and he presents the air of one who produces what is
within him from an intense love of his art, without regard to the opinion
of the world around him,--which, indeed, he seems to have despised more
thoroughly than any other poet has ever done. Byron affected to despise
it; Shelley really did.

We cannot help thinking that, had he lived after passing through the fiery
trial of youthful passions and disordered imagination, he might have
astonished the world with the grand spectacle of a convert to the good and
true, and an apostle in the cause of both. Of him an honest thinker has
said,--and there is much truth in the apparent paradox,--"No man who was
not a fanatic, had ever more natural piety than he; and his supposed
atheism is a mere metaphysical crotchet in which he was kept by the
affected scorn and malignity of dunces."[37]

JOHN KEATS.--Another singular illustration of eccentricity and abnormal
power in verse is found in the brief career of John Keats, the son of the
keeper of a livery-stable in London, who was born on the 29th October,

Keats was a sensitive and pugnacious youth; and in 1810, after a very
moderate education, he was apprenticed to a surgeon; but the love of
poetry soon interfered with the surgery, and he began to read, not without
the spirit of emulation, the works of the great poets--Chaucer, Spenser,
Shakspeare, and Milton. After the issue of a small volume which attracted
little or no attention, he published his _Endymion_ in 1818, which, with
some similarity in temperament, he inscribed to the memory of Thomas
Chatterton. It is founded upon the Greek mythology, and is written in a
varied measure. Its opening line has been a familiar quotation since:

    A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

It was assailed by all the critics; but particularly, although not
unfairly, by Jeffrey, in the _Edinburgh Review_. An article in
_Blackwood_, breathing the spirit of British caste, had the bad taste to
tell the young apothecary to go back to his galley-pots. The excessive
sensibility of Keats received a great shock from this treatment; but we
cannot help thinking that too much stress has been laid upon this in
saying that he was killed by it. This was more romantic than true. He was
by inheritance consumptive, and had lost a brother by that disease. Add to
this that his peculiar passions and longings took the form of fierce

With a decided originality, he was so impressible that there are in his
writings traces of the authors whom he was reading, if he did not mean to
make them models of style.

In 1820 he published a volume containing _Lamia_, _Isabella_, and _The Eve
of St. Agnes_, and _Hyperion_, a fragment, which was received with far
greater favor by the reviewers. Keats was self-reliant, and seems to have
had something of that magnificent egotism which is not infrequently
displayed by great minds.

The judicious verdict at last pronounced upon him may be thus epitomized:
he was a poet with fine fancy, original ideas, felicity of expression, but
full of faults due to his individuality and his youth; and his life was
not spared to correct these. In 1820 a hemorrhage of brilliant arterial
blood heralded the end. He himself said, "Bring me a candle; let me see
this blood;" and when it was brought, added, "I cannot be deceived in that
color; that drop is my death-warrant: I must die." By advice he went to
Italy, where he grew rapidly worse, and died on the 23d of February, 1821,
having left this for his epitaph: "Here lies one whose name was writ in
water." Thus dying at the age of twenty-four, he must be judged less for
what he was, than as an earnest of what he would have been. _The Eve of
St. Agnes_ is one of the most exquisite poems in any language, and is as
essentially allied to the simplicity and nature of the modern school of
poetry as his _Endymion_ is to the older school. Keats took part in what a
certain writer has called "the reaction against the barrel-organ style,
which had been reigning by a kind of sleepy, divine right for half a


In consonance with the Romantic school of Poetry, and as contributors to
the prose fiction of the period of Scott, Byron, and Moore, a number of
gifted women have made good their claim to the favor of the reading world,
and have left to us productions of no mean value. First among these we
mention Mrs. FELICIA DOROTHEA HEMANS, 1794-1835: early married to Captain
Hemans, of the army, she was not happy in the conjugal state, and lived
most of her after-life in retirement, separated from her husband. Her
style is harmonious, and her lyrical power excellent; she makes melody of
common-places; and the low key in which her poetry is pitched made her a
favorite with the multitude. There is special fervor in her religious
poems. Most of her writings are fugitive and occasional pieces. Among the
longer poems are _The Forest Sanctuary_, _Dartmoor_, (a lyric poem,) and
_The Restoration of the works of Art to Italy_. _The Siege of Valencia_
and _The Vespers of Palermo_ are plays on historical subjects. There is a
sameness in her poetry which tires; but few persons can be found who do
not value highly such a descriptive poem as _Bernardo del Carpio_,
conceived in the very spirit of the Spanish Ballads, and such a sad and
tender moralizing as that found in _The Hour of Death_:

    Leaves have their time to fall,
      And flowers to wither, at the north-wind's breath,
    And stars to set--but all,
      Thou hast all seasons for thine own, O Death!

Such poems as these will live when the greater part of what she has
written has been forgotten, because its ministry has been accomplished.

_Mrs. Caroline Elizabeth Norton_, (born in 1808, still living:) she is the
daughter of Thomas Sheridan, and the grand-daughter of the famous R. B.
Sheridan. She married the Hon. Mr. Norton, and, like Mrs. Hemans, was
unhappy in her union. As a poet, she has masculine gifts combined with
feminine grace and tenderness. Her principal poems are _The Sorrows of
Rosalie_, _The Undying One_, (founded on the legend of _The Wandering
Jew_,) and _The Dream_. Besides these her facile pen has produced a
multitude of shorter pieces, which have been at once popular. Her claims
to enduring fame are not great, and she must be content with a present

_Letitia Elizabeth Landon_, 1802-1839: more gifted, and yet not as well
trained as either of the preceding, Miss Landon (L. E. L.) has given vent
to impassioned sentiment in poetry and prose. Besides many smaller pieces,
she wrote _The Improvisatrice_, _The Troubadour_, _The Golden Violet_, and
several prose romances, among which the best are _Romance and Reality_,
and _Ethel Churchill_. She wrote too rapidly to finish with elegance; and
her earlier pieces are disfigured by this want of finish, and by a lack of
cool judgment; but her later writings are better matured and more correct.
She married Captain Maclean, the governor of Cape Coast Castle, in Africa,
and died there suddenly, from an overdose of strong medicine which she was
accustomed to take for a nervous affection.

_Maria Edgeworth_, 1767-1849: she was English born, but resided most of
her life in Ireland. Without remarkable genius, she may be said to have
exercised a greater influence over her period than any other woman who
lived in it. There is an aptitude and a practical utility in her stories
which are felt in all circles. Her works for children are delightful and
formative. Every one has read and re-read with pleasure the interesting
and instructive stories contained in _The Parents' Assistant_. And what
these are to the children, her novels are to those of larger growth. They
are eighteen in number, and are illustrative of the society, fashion, and
morals of the day; and always inculcate a good moral. Among them we may
particularize _Forester_, _The Absentee_, and _The Modern Griselda_. All
critics, even those who deny her great genius, agree in their estimate of
the moral value of her stories, every one of which is at once a
portraiture of her age and an instructive lesson to it. The feminine
delicacy with which she offers counsel and administers reproof gives a
great charm to, and will insure the permanent popularity of, her

_Jane Austen_, 1775-1817: as a novelist she occupied a high place in her
day, but her stories are gradually sinking into an historic repose, from
which the coming generations will not care to disturb them. _Pride and
Prejudice_ and _Sense and Sensibility_ are perhaps the best of her
productions, and are valuable as displaying the society and the nature
around her with delicacy and tact.

_Mary Ferrier_, 1782-1855: like Miss Austen, she wrote novels of existing
society, of which _The Marriage_ and _The Inheritance_ are the best known.
They were great favorites with Sir Walter Scott, who esteemed Miss
Ferrier's genius highly: they are little read at the present time.

_Robert Pollok_, 1799-1827: a Scottish minister, who is chiefly known by
his long poem, cast in a Miltonic mould, entitled _The Course of Time_. It
is singularly significant of religious fervor, delicate health, youthful
immaturity, and poetic yearnings. It abounds in startling effects, which
please at first from their novelty, but will not bear a calm, critical
analysis. On its first appearance, _The Course of Time_ was immensely
popular; but it has steadily lost favor, and its highest flights are
"unearthly flutterings" when compared with the powerful soarings of
Milton's imagination and the gentle harmonies of Cowper's religious muse.
Pollok died early of consumption: his youth and his disease account for
the faults and defects of his poem.

_Leigh Hunt_, 1784-1859: a novelist, a poet, an editor, a critic, a
companion of literary men, Hunt occupies a distinct position among the
authors of his day. Wielding a sensible and graceful rather than a
powerful pen, he has touched almost every subject in the range of our
literature, and has been the champion and biographer of numerous literary
friends. He was the companion of Byron, Shelley, Keats, Lamb, Coleridge,
and many other authors. He edited at various times several radical
papers--_The Examiner_, _The Reflector_, _The Indicator_, and _The
Liberal_; for a satire upon the regent, published in the first, he was
imprisoned for two years. Among his poems _The Story of Rimini_ is the
best. His _Legend of Florence_ is a beautiful drama. There are few pieces
containing so small a number of lines, and yet enshrining a full story,
which have been as popular as his _Abou Ben Adhem_. Always cheerful,
refined and delicate in style, appreciative of others, Hunt's place in
English literature is enviable, if not very exalted; like the atmosphere,
his writings circulate healthfully and quietly around efforts of greater
poets than himself.

_James Hogg_, 1770-1835: a self-taught rustic, with little early
schooling, except what the shepherd-boy could draw from nature, he wrote
from his own head and heart without the canons and the graces of the
Schools. With something of the homely nature of Burns, and the Scottish
romance of Walter Scott, he produced numerous poems which are stamped with
true genius. He catered to Scottish feeling, and began his fame by the
stirring lines beginning;

    My name is Donald McDonald,
    I live in the Highlands so grand.

His best known poetical works are _The Queen's Wake_, containing seventeen
stories in verse, of which the most striking is that of _Bonny Kilmeny_.
He was always called "The Ettrick Shepherd." Wilson says of _The Queen's
Wake_ that "it is a garland of fresh flowers bound with a band of rushes
from the moor;" a very fitting and just view of the work of one who was at
once poet and rustic.

_Allan Cunningham_, 1785-1842; like Hogg, in that as a writer he felt the
influence of both Burns and Scott, Cunningham was the son of a gardener,
and a self-made man. In early life he was apprenticed to a mason. He wrote
much fugitive poetry, among which the most popular pieces are, _A Wet
Sheet and a Flowing Sea_, _Gentle Hugh Herries_, and _It's Hame and it's
Hame_. Among his stories are _Traditional Tales of the Peasantry_, _Lord
Roldan_, and _The Maid of Elwar_. His position for a time, as clerk and
overseer of Chantrey's establishment, gave him the idea of writing _The
Lives of Eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and Architects_. He was a
voluminous author; his poetry is of a high lyrical order, and true to
nature; but his prose will not retain its place in public favor: it is at
once diffuse and obscure.

_Thomas Hope_, 1770-1831: an Amsterdam merchant, who afterwards resided in
London, and who illustrated the progress of knowledge concerning the East
by his work entitled, _Anastasius, or Memoirs of a Modern Greek_.
Published anonymously, it excited a great interest, and was ascribed by
the public to Lord Byron. The intrigues and adventures of the hero are
numerous and varied, and the book has great literary merit; but it is
chiefly of historical value in that it describes persons and scenes in
Greece and Turkey, countries in which Hope travelled at a time when few
Englishmen visited them.

_William Beckford_, 1760-1844: he was the son of an alderman, who became
Lord Mayor of London. After a careful education, he found himself the
possessor of a colossal fortune. He travelled extensively, and wrote
sketches of his travels. His only work of importance is that called
_Vathek_, in which he describes the gifts, the career, and the fate of the
Caliph of that name, who was the grandson of the celebrated Haroun al
Raschid. His palaces are described in a style of Oriental gorgeousness;
his temptations, his lapses from virtue, his downward progress, are
presented with dramatic power; and there is nothing in our literature more
horribly real and terror-striking than the _Hall of Eblis_,--that hell
where every heart was on fire, where "the Caliph Vathek, who, for the sake
of empty pomp and forbidden power, had sullied himself with a thousand
crimes, became a prey to grief without end and remorse without
mitigation." Many of Beckford's other writings are blamed for their
voluptuous character; the last scene in _Vathek_ is, on the other hand, a
most powerful and influential sermon. Beckford was eccentric and unsocial:
he lived for some time in Portugal, but returned to England, and built a
luxurious palace at Bath.

_William Roscoe_, 1753-1831: a merchant and banker of Liverpool. He is
chiefly known by his _Life of Lorenzo de Medici_, and _The Life and
Pontificate of Leo X._, both of which contained new and valuable
information. They are written in a pleasing style, and with a liberal and
charitable spirit as to religious opinions. Since they appeared, history
has developed new material and established more exacting canons, and the
studies of later writers have already superseded these pleasing works.



   The New School. William Wordsworth. Poetical Canons. The Excursion and
   Sonnets. An Estimate. Robert Southey. His Writings. Historical Value.
   S. T. Coleridge. Early Life. His Helplessness. Hartley and H. N.


In the beginning of the year 1820 George III. died, after a very long--but
in part nominal--reign of fifty-nine years, during a large portion of
which he was the victim of insanity, while his son, afterwards George IV.,
administered the regency of the kingdom.

George III. did little, either by example or by generosity, to foster
literary culture: his son, while nominally encouraging authors, did much
to injure the tone of letters in his day. But literature was now becoming
independent and self-sustaining: it needed to look no longer wistfully for
a monarch's smile: it cared comparatively little for the court: it issued
its periods and numbers directly to the English people: it wrote for them
and of them; and when, in 1830, the last of the Georges died, after an
ill-spent life, in which his personal pleasures had concerned him far more
than the welfare of his people, former prescriptions and prejudices
rapidly passed away; and the new epoch in general improvement and literary
culture, which had already begun its course, received a marvellous

The great movement, in part unconscious, from the artificial rhetoric of
the former age towards the simplicity of nature, was now to receive its
strongest propulsion: it was to be preached like a crusade; to be reduced
to a system, and set forth for the acceptance of the poetical world: it
was to meet with criticism, and even opprobrium, because it had the
arrogance to declare that old things had entirely passed away, and that
all things must conform themselves to the new doctrine. The high-priest of
this new poetical creed was Wordsworth: he proposed and expounded it; he
wrote according to its tenets; he defended his illustrations against the
critics by elaborate prefaces and essays. He boldly faced the clamor of a
world in arms; and what there was real and valuable in his works has
survived the fierce battle, and gathered around him an army of proselytes,
champions, and imitators.

WORDSWORTH.--William Wordsworth was the son of the law-agent to the Earl
of Lonsdale; he was born at Cockermouth, Cumberland, in 1770. It was a
gifted family. His brother, Dr. Christopher Wordsworth, was Master of
Trinity College. Another, the captain of an East Indiaman, was lost at sea
in his own ship. He had also a clever sister, who was the poet's friend
and companion as long as she lived.

Wordsworth and his companions have been called the Lake Poets, because
they resided among the English lakes. Perhaps too much has been claimed
for the Lake country, as giving inspiration to the poets who lived there:
it is beautiful, but not so surpassingly so as to create poets as its
children. The name is at once arbitrary and convenient.

Wordsworth was educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, which he entered
in 1787; but whenever he could escape from academic restraints, he
indulged his taste for pedestrian excursions: during these his ardent mind
became intimate and intensely sympathetic with nature, as may be seen in
his _Evening Walk_, in the sketch of the skater, and in the large
proportion of description in all his poems.

It is truer of him than perhaps of any other author, that the life of the
man is the best history of the poet. All that is eventful and interesting
in his life may be found translated in his poetry. Milton had said that
the poet's life should be a grand poem. Wordsworth echoed the thought:

    If thou indeed derive thy light from Heaven,
    Then to the measure of that Heaven-born light,
    Shine, Poet! in thy place, and be content.

He was not distinguished at college; the record of his days there may be
found in _The Prelude_, which he calls _The Growth of a Poet's Mind_. He
was graduated in 1791, with the degree of B.A., and went over to France,
where he, among others, was carried away with enthusiasm for the French
Revolution, and became a thorough Radical. That he afterwards changed his
political views, should not be advanced in his disfavor; for many ardent
and virtuous minds were hoping to see the fulfilment of recent predictions
in greater freedom to man. Wordsworth erred in a great company, and from
noble sympathies. He returned to England in 1792, with his illusions
thoroughly dissipated. The workings of his mind are presented in _The

In the same year he published _Descriptive Sketches_, and _An Evening
Walk_, which attracted little attention. A legacy of £900 left him by his
friend Calvert, in 1795, enabled the frugal poet to devote his life to
poetry, and particularly to what he deemed the emancipation of poetry from
the fetters of the mythic and from the smothering ornaments of rhetoric.

In Nov., 1797, he went to London, taking with him a play called _The
Borderers_: it was rejected by the manager. In the autumn of 1798, he
published his _Lyrical Ballads_, which contained, besides his own verses,
a poem by an anonymous friend. The poem was _The Ancient Mariner_; the
friend, Coleridge. In the joint operation, Wordsworth took the part based
on nature; Coleridge illustrated the supernatural. The _Ballads_ were
received with undisguised contempt; nor, by reason of its company, did
_The Ancient Mariner_ have a much better hearing. Wordsworth preserved his
equanimity, and an implicit faith in himself.

After a visit to Germany, he settled in 1799 at Grasmere, in the Lake
country, and the next year republished the _Lyrical Ballads_ with a new
volume, both of which passed to another edition in 1802. With this
edition, Wordsworth ran up his revolutionary flag and nailed it to the

POETICAL CANONS.--It would be impossible as well as unnecessary to attempt
an analysis of even the principal poems of so voluminous a writer; but it
is important to state in substance the poetical canons he laid down. They
may be found in the prefaces to the various editions of his _Ballads_, and
may be thus epitomized:

I. He purposely chose his incidents and situations from common life,
because in it our elementary feelings coexist in a state of simplicity.

II. He adopts the _language_ of common life, because men hourly
communicate with the best objects from which the best part of language is
originally derived; and because, being less under the influence of social
vanity, they convey their feelings and notions in simple and unelaborated

III. He asserts that the language of poetry is in no way different, except
in respect to metre, from that of good prose. Poetry can boast of no
celestial _ichor_ that distinguishes her vital juices from those of prose:
the same human blood circulates through the veins of them both. In works
of imagination and sentiment, in proportion as ideas and feelings are
valuable, whether the composition be in prose or verse, they require and
exact one and the same language.

Such are the principal changes proposed by Wordsworth; and we find Herder,
the German poet and metaphysician, agreeing with him in his estimate of
poetic language. Having thus propounded his tenets, he wrote his earlier
poems as illustrations of his views, affecting a simplicity in subject and
diction that was sometimes simply ludicrous. It was an affected
simplicity: he was simple with a purpose; he wrote his poems to suit his
canons, and in that way his simplicity became artifice.

Jeffrey and other critics rose furiously against the poems which
inculcated such doctrines. "This will never do" were the opening words of
an article in the _Edinburgh Review_. One of the _Rejected Addresses_,
called _The Baby's Début, by W. W._, (spoken in the character of Nancy
Lake, eight years old, who is drawn upon the stage in a go-cart,) parodies
the ballads thus:

    What a large floor! 'tis like a town;
    The carpet, when they lay it down,
      Won't hide it, I'll be bound:
    And there's a row of lamps, my eye!
    How they do blaze: I wonder why
      They keep them on the ground?

And this, Jeffrey declares, is a flattering imitation of Wordsworth's

The day for depreciating Wordsworth has gone by; but calmer critics must
still object to his poetical views in their entireness. In binding all
poetry to his _dicta_, he ignores that _mythus_ in every human mind, that
longing after the heroic, which will not be satisfied with the simple and
commonplace. One realm in which Poetry rules with an enchanted sceptre is
the land of reverie and day-dream,--a land of fancy, in which genius
builds for itself castles at once radiant and, for the time, real; in
which the beggar is a king, the poor man a Crœsus, the timid man a hero:
this is the fairy-land of the imagination. Among Wordsworth's poems are a
number called _Poems of the Imagination_. He wrote learnedly about the
imagination and fancy; but the truth is, that of all the great
poets,--and, in spite of his faults, he is a great poet,--there is none so
entirely devoid of imagination. What has been said of the heroic may be
applied to wit, so important an element in many kinds of poetry; he
ignores it because he was without it totally. If only humble life and
commonplace incidents and unfigured rhetoric and bald language are the
proper materials for the poetry, what shall be said of all literature,
ancient and modern, until Wordsworth's day?

THE EXCURSION AND SONNETS.--With his growing fame and riper powers, he had
deviated from his own principles, especially of language; and his peaceful
epic, _The Excursion_, is full of difficult theology, exalted philosophy,
and glowing rhetoric. His only attempt to adhere to his system presents
the incongruity of putting these subjects into the lips of men, some of
whom, the Scotch pedler for example, are not supposed to be equal to their
discussion. In his language, too, he became far more polished and
melodious. The young writer of the _Lyrical Ballads_ would have been
shocked to know that the more famous Wordsworth could write

    A golden lustre slept upon the hills;

or speak of

    A pupil in the many-chambered school,
    Where superstition weaves her airy dreams.

_The Excursion_, although long, is unfinished, and is only a portion of
what was meant to be his great poem--_The Recluse_. It contains poetry of
the highest order, apart from its mannerism and its improbable narrative;
but the author is to all intents a different man from that of the
_Ballads_: as different as the conservative Wordsworth of later years was
from the radical youth who praised the French Revolution of 1791. As a
whole, _The Excursion_ is accurate, philosophic, and very dull, so that
few readers have the patience to complete its perusal, while many enjoy
its beautiful passages.

To return to the events of his life. In 1802 he married; and, after
several changes of residence, he finally purchased a place called
Rydal-mount in 1813, where he spent the remainder of his long, learned,
and pure life. Long-standing dues from the Earl of Lonsdale to his father
were paid; and he received the appointment of collector at Whitehaven and
stamp distributor for Cumberland. Thus he had an ample income, which was
increased in 1842 by a pension of £300 per annum. In 1843 he was made
poet-laureate. He died in 1850, a famous poet, his reputation being due
much more to his own clever individuality than to the poetic principles he

His ecclesiastical sonnets compare favorably with any that have been
written in English. Landor, no friend of the poet, says: "Wordsworth has
written more fine sonnets than are to be met with in the language

AN ESTIMATE.--The great amount of verse Wordsworth has written is due to
his estimate of the proper uses of poetry. Where other men would have
written letters, journals, or prose sketches, his ready metrical pen wrote
in verse: an excursion to England or Scotland, _Yarrow Visited and
Revisited_, journeys in Germany and Italy, are all in verse. He exhibits
in them all great humanity and benevolence, and is emphatically and
without cant the poet of religion and morality. Coleridge--a poet and an
attached friend, perhaps a partisan--claims for him, in his _Biographia
Literaria_, "purity of language, freshness, strength, _curiosa felicitas_
of diction, truth to nature in his imagery, imagination in the highest
degree, but faulty fancy." We have already ventured to deny him the
possession of imagination: the rest of his friend's eulogium is not
undeserved. He had and has many ardent admirers, but none more ardent than
himself. He constantly praised his own verses, and declared that they
would ultimately conquer all prejudices and become universally popular--an
opinion that the literary world does not seem disposed to adopt.

ROBERT SOUTHEY.--Next to Wordsworth, and, with certain characteristic
differences, of the same school, but far beneath him in poetical power, is
Robert Southey, who was born at Bristol, August 12, 1774. He was the son
of a linen-draper in that town. He entered Balliol College, Oxford, in
1792, but left without taking his degree. In 1794 he published a radical
poem on the subject of _Wat Tyler_, the sentiments of which he was
afterwards very willing to repudiate. With the enthusiastic instinct of a
poet, he joined with Wordsworth and Coleridge in a scheme called
_Pantisocrasy_; that is, they were to go together to the banks of the
Susquehanna, in a new country of which they knew nothing except by
description; and there they were to realize a dream of nature in the
golden age--a Platonic republic, where everything was to be in common, and
from which vice and selfishness were to be forever excluded. But these
young neo-platonists had no money, and so the scheme was given up.

In 1795 he married Miss Fricker, a milliner of Bristol, and made a voyage
to Lisbon, where his uncle was chaplain to the British Factory. He led an
unsettled life until 1804, when he established himself at Keswick in the
Lake country, where he spent his life. He was a literary man and nothing
else, and perhaps one of the most industrious writers that ever held a
literary pen. Much of the time, indeed, he wrote for magazines and
reviews, upon whatever subject was suggested to him, to win his daily

HIS WRITINGS.--After the publication of _Wat Tyler_ he wrote an epic poem
called _Joan of Arc_, in 1796, which was crude and severely criticized.
After some other unimportant essays, he inaugurated his purpose of
illustrating the various oriental mythologies, by the publication of
_Thalaba the Destroyer_, which was received with great disfavor at the
time, and which first coupled his name with that of Wordsworth as of the
school of Lake poets. It is in irregular metre, which at first has the
charm of variety, but which afterwards loses its effect, on account of its
broken, disjointed versification. In 1805 appeared _Madoc_--a poem based
upon the subject of early Welsh discoveries in America. It is a long poem
in two parts: the one descriptive of _Madoc in Wales_ and the other of
_Madoc in Aztlan_. Besides many miscellaneous works in prose, we notice
the issue, in 1810, of _The Curse of Kehama_--the second of the great
mythological poems referred to.

Among his prose works must be mentioned _The Chronicle of the Cid_, _The
History of Brazil_, _The Life of Nelson_, and _The History of the
Peninsular War_. A little work called _The Doctor_ has been greatly liked
in America.

Southey wrote innumerable reviews and magazine articles; and, indeed,
tried his pen at every sort of literary work. His diction--in prose, at
least--is almost perfect, and his poetical style not unpleasing. His
industry, his learning, and his care in production must be acknowledged;
but his poems are very little read, and, in spite of his own prophecies,
are doomed to the shelf rather than retained upon the table. Like
Wordsworth, he was one of the most egotistical of men; he had no greater
admirer than Robert Southey; and had his exertions not been equal to his
self-laudation, he would have been intolerable.

The most singular instance of perverted taste and unmerited eulogy is to
be found in his _Vision of Judgment_, which, as poet-laureate, he produced
to the memory of George the Third. The severest criticism upon it is Lord
Byron's _Vision of Judgment_--reckless, but clever and trenchant. The
consistency and industry of Southey's life caused him to be appointed
poet-laureate upon the death of Pye; and in 1835, having declined a
baronetcy, he received an annual pension of £300. Having lost his first
wife in 1837, he married Miss Bowles, the poetess, in 1839; but soon after
his mind began to fail, and he had reached a state of imbecility which
ended in death on the 21st of March, 1843. In 1837, at the age of
sixty-three, he collected and edited his complete poetical works, with
copious and valuable historical notes.

HISTORICAL VALUE.--It is easy to see in what manner Southey, as a literary
man, has reflected the spirit of the age. Politically, he exhibits
partisanship from Radical to Tory, which may be clearly discerned by
comparing his _Wat Tyler_ with his _Vision of Judgment_ and his _Odes_. As
to literary and poetic canons, his varied metre, and his stories in the
style of Wordsworth, show that he had abandoned all former schools. In his
histories and biographies he is professedly historical; and in his epics
he shows that greater range of learned investigation which is so
characteristic of that age. The _Curse of Kehama_ and _Thalaba_ would have
been impossible in a former age. He himself objected to be ranked with the
Lakers; but Wordsworth, Southey, and Coleridge have too much in common,
notwithstanding much individual difference, not to be classed together as
innovators and asserters, whether we call them Lakers or something else.

It was on the occasion of his publishing _Thalaba_, that his name was
first coupled with that of Wordsworth. His own words are, "I happened to
be residing at Keswick when Mr. Wordsworth and I began to be acquainted.
Mr. Coleridge also had resided there; and this was reason enough for
classing us together as a school of poets." There is not much external
resemblance, it is true, between _Thalaba_ and the _Excursion_; but the
same poetical motives will cause both to remain unread by the
multitude--unnatural comparisons, recondite theology, and a great lack of
common humanity. That there was a mutual admiration is found in Southey's
declaration that Wordsworth's sonnets contain the profoundest poetical
wisdom, and that the _Preface_ is the quintessence of the philosophy of

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.--More individual, more eccentric, less
commonplace, in short, a far greater genius than either of his fellows,
Coleridge accomplished less, had less system, was more visionary and
fragmentary than they: he had an amorphous mind of vast proportions. The
man, in his life and conversation, was great; the author has left little
of value which will last when the memory of his person has disappeared. He
was born on the 21st of October, 1772, at Ottery St. Mary. His father was
a clergyman and vicar of the parish. He received his education at Christ's
Hospital in London, where, among others, he had Charles Lamb as a comrade,
and formed with him a friendship which lasted as long as they both lived.

EARLY LIFE.--There he was an erratic student, but always a great reader;
and while he was yet a lad, at the age of fourteen, he might have been
called a learned man.

He had little self-respect, and from stress of poverty he intended to
apprentice himself to a shoemaker; but friends who admired his learning
interfered to prevent this, and he was sent with a scholarship to Jesus
College, Cambridge, in 1791. Like Wordsworth and Southey, he was an
intense Radical at first; and on this account left college without his
degree in 1793. He then enlisted as a private in the 15th Light Dragoons;
but, although he was a favorite with his comrades, whose letters he wrote,
he made a very poor soldier. Having written a Latin sentence under his
saddle on the stable wall, his superior education was recognized; and he
was discharged from the service after only four months' duty. Eager for
adventure, he joined Southey and Lloyd in their scheme of pantisocracy,
to which we have already referred; and when that failed for want of money,
he married the sister-in-law of Southey--Miss Fricker, of Bristol. He was
at this time a Unitarian as well as a Radical, and officiated frequently
as a Unitarian minister. His sermons were extremely eloquent. He had
already published some juvenile poems, and a drama on the fall of
Robespierre, and had endeavored to establish a periodical called _The
Watchman_. He was always erratic, and dependent upon the patronage of his
friends; in short, he always presented the sad spectacle of a man who
could not take care of himself.

HIS WRITINGS.--After a residence at Stowey, in Somersetshire, where he
wrote some of his finest poems, among which were the first part of
_Christabel_, _The Ancient Mariner_, and _Remorse_, a tragedy, he was
enabled, through the kindness of friends, to go, in 1798, to Germany,
where he spent fourteen months in the study of literature and metaphysics.
In the year 1800 he returned to the Lake country, where he for some time
resided with Southey at Keswick; Wordsworth being then at Grasmere. Then
was established as a fixed fact in English literature the Lake school of
poetry. These three poets acted and reacted upon each other. From having
been great Radicals they became Royalists, and Coleridge's Unitarian
belief was changed into orthodox churchmanship. His translation of
Schiller's _Wallenstein_ should rather be called an expansion of that
drama, and is full of his own poetic fancies. After writing for some time
for the _Morning Post_, he went to Malta as the Secretary to the Governor
in 1804, at a salary of £800 per annum. But his restless spirit soon drove
him back to Grasmere, and to desultory efforts to make a livelihood.

In 1816 he published the two parts of _Christabel_, an unfinished poem,
which, for the wildness of the conceit, exquisite imagery, and charming
poetic diction, stands quite alone in English literature. In a periodical
called _The Friend_, which he issued, are found many of his original
ideas; but it was discontinued after twenty-seven numbers. His _Biographia
Literaria_, published in 1817, contains valuable sketches of literary men,
living and dead, written with rare critical power.

In his _Aids to Reflection_, published in 1825, are found his metaphysical
tenets; his _Table-Talk_ is also of great literary value; but his lectures
on Shakspeare show him to have been the most remarkable critic of the
great dramatist whom the world has produced.

It has already been mentioned that when the first volume of Wordsworth's
_Lyrical Ballads_ was published, _The Ancient Mariner_ was included in it,
as a poem by an anonymous friend. It had been the intention of Coleridge
to publish another poem in the second volume; but it was considered
incongruous, and excluded. That poem was the exquisite ballad entitled
_Love_, or _Genevieve_.

HIS HELPLESSNESS.--With no home of his own, he lived by visiting his
friends; left his wife and children to the support of others, and seemed
incapable of any other than this shifting and shiftless existence. This
natural imbecility was greatly increased during a long period by his
constant use of opium, which kept him, a greater portion of his life, in a
world of dreams. He was fortunate in having a sincere and appreciative
friend in Mr. Gilman, surgeon, near London, to whose house he went in
1816; and where, with the exception of occasional visits elsewhere, he
resided until his death in 1834. If the Gilmans needed compensation for
their kindness, they found it in the celebrity of their visitor; even
strangers made pilgrimages to the house at Highgate to hear the rhapsodies
of "the old man eloquent." Coleridge once asked Charles Lamb if he had
ever heard him preach, referring to the early days when he was a Unitarian
preacher. "I never heard you do anything else," was the answer he
received. He was the prince of talkers, and talked more coherently and
connectedly than he wrote: drawing with ease from the vast stores of his
learning, he delighted men of every degree. While of the Lake school of
poetry, and while in some sort the creature of his age and his
surroundings, his eccentricities gave him a rare independence and
individuality. A giant in conception, he was a dwarf in execution; and
something of the interest which attaches to a _lusus naturæ_ is the chief
claim to future reputation which belongs to S. T. C.

HARTLEY COLERIDGE, his son, (1796-1849,) inherited much of his father's
talents; but was an eccentric, deformed, and, for a time, an intemperate
being. His principal writings were monographs on various subjects, and
articles for Blackwood. HENRY NELSON COLERIDGE, (1800-1843,) a nephew and
son-in-law of the poet, was also a gifted man, and a profound classical
scholar. His introduction to the study of the great classic poets,
containing his analysis of Homer's epics, is a work of great merit.



   Alfred Tennyson. Early Works. The Princess. Idyls of the King.
   Elizabeth B. Browning. Aurora Leigh. Her Faults. Robert Browning. Other


ALFRED TENNYSON.--It is the certain fate of all extravagant movements,
social or literary, to invite criticism and opposition, and to be followed
by reaction. The school of Wordsworth was the violent protest against what
remained of the artificial in poetry; but it had gone, as we have seen, to
the other extreme. The affected simplicity, and the bald diction which it
inculcated, while they raised up an army of feeble imitators, also
produced in the ranks of poetry a vindication of what was good in the old;
new theories, and a very different estimate of poetical subjects and
expression. The first poet who may be looked upon as leading the
reactionary party is Alfred Tennyson. He endeavored out of all the schools
to synthesize a new one. In many of his descriptive pieces he followed
Wordsworth: in his idyls, he adheres to the romantic school; in his
treatment and diction, he stands alone.

EARLY EFFORTS.--He was the son of a clergyman of Lincolnshire, and was
born at Somersby, in 1810. After a few early and almost unknown efforts in
verse, the first volume bearing his name was issued in 1830, while he was
yet an under-graduate at Cambridge: it had the simple title--_Poems,
chiefly Lyrical_. In their judgment of this new poet, the critics were
almost as much at fault as they had been when the first efforts of
Wordsworth appeared; but for very different reasons. Wordsworth was simple
and intensely realistic. Tennyson was mystic and ideal: his diction was
unusual; his little sketches conveyed an almost hidden moral; he seemed to
inform the reader that, in order to understand his poetry, it must be
studied; the meaning does not sparkle upon the surface; the language
ripples, the sense flows in an undercurrent. His first essays exhibit a
mania for finding strange words, or coining new ones, which should give
melody, to his verse. Whether this was a process of development or not, he
has in his later works gotten rid of much of this apparent mannerism,
while he has retained, and even improved, his harmony. He exhibits a rare
power of concentration, as opposed to the diffusiveness of his
contemporaries. Each of his smaller poems is a thought, briefly, but
forcibly and harmoniously, expressed. If it requires some exertion to
comprehend it, when completely understood it becomes a valued possession.

It is difficult to believe that such poems as _Mariana_ and _Recollections
of the Arabian Nights_ were the production of a young man of twenty.

In 1833 he published his second volume, containing additional poems, among
which were _Enone_, _The May Queen_, _The Lotos-Eaters_, and _A Dream of
Fair Women_. _The May Queen_ became at once a favorite, because every one
could understand it: it touched a chord in every heart; but his rarest
power of dreamy fancy is displayed in such pieces as _The Arabian Nights_
and the _Lotos-Eaters_. No greater triumph has been achieved in the realm
of fancy than that in the court of good Haroun al Raschid, and amid the
Lotos dreams of the Nepenthe coast. These productions were not received
with the favor which they merited, and so he let the critics alone for
nine years. In 1842 he again appeared in print, with, among other poems,
the exquisite fragment of the _Morte d'Arthur_, _Godiva_, _St. Agnes_,
_Sir Galahad_, _Lady Clara Vere de Vere_, _The Talking Oak_, and chief,
perhaps, of all, _Locksley Hall_. In these poems he is not only a poet,
but a philosopher. Each of these is an extended apothegm, presenting not
only rules of life, but mottoes and maxims for daily use. They are
soliloquies of the nineteenth century, and representations of its men and

THE PRINCESS.--In 1847 he published _The Princess, a Medley_--a pleasant
and suggestive poem on woman's rights, in which exquisite songs are
introduced, which break the monotony of the blank verse, and display his
rare lyric power. The _Bugle Song_ is among the finest examples of the
adaptation of sound to sense in the language; and there is nothing more
truthful and touching than the short verses beginning,

    Home they brought her warrior dead.

Arthur Hallam, a gifted son of the distinguished historian, who was
betrothed to Tennyson's sister, died young; and the poet has mourned and
eulogized him in a long poem entitled _In Memoriam_. It contains one
hundred and twenty-nine four-lined stanzas, and is certainly very musical
and finished; but it is rather the language of calm philosophy elaborately
studied, than that of a poignant grief. It is not, in our judgment, to be
compared with his shorter poems, and is generally read and overpraised
only by his more ardent admirers, who discover a crystal tear of genuine
emotion in every stanza.

IDYLS OF THE KING.--The fragment on the death of Arthur, already
mentioned, foreshadowed a purpose of the poet's mind to make the legends
of that almost fabulous monarch a vehicle for modern philosophy in English
verse. In 1859 appeared a volume containing the _Idyls of the King_. They
are rather minor epics than idyls. The simple materials are taken from the
Welsh and French chronicles, and are chiefly of importance in that they
cater to that English taste which finds national greatness typified in
Arthur. It had been a successful stratagem with Spenser in _The Fairy
Queen_, and has served Tennyson equally well in the _Idyls_. It unites the
ages of fable and of chivalry; it gives a noble lineage to heroic deeds.
The best is the last--_Guinevere_--almost the perfection of pathos in
poetry. The picturesqueness of his descriptions is evinced by the fact
that Gustave Doré has chosen these _Idyls_ as a subject for illustration,
and has been eminently successful in his labor.

_Maud_, which appeared in 1855, notwithstanding some charming lyrical
passages, may be considered Tennyson's failure. In 1869 he completed _The
Idyls_ by publishing _The Coming of Arthur_, _The Holy Grail_, and
_Pelleas and Etteare_. He also finished the _Morte d'Arthur_, and put it
in its proper place as _The Passing of Arthur_.

Tennyson was appointed poet-laureate upon the death of Wordsworth, in
1850, and receives besides a pension of £200. He lived for a long time in
great retirement at Farringford, on the Isle of Wight; but has lately
removed to Petersfield, in Hampshire. It may be reasonably doubted whether
this hermit-life has not injured his poetical powers; whether, great as he
really is, a little inhalation of the air of busy every-day life would not
have infused more of nature and freshness into his verse. Among his few
_Odes_ are that on the death of the Duke of Wellington, the dedication of
his poems to the Queen, and his welcome to Alexandra, Princess of Wales,
all of which are of great excellence. His _Charge of the Light Brigade_,
at Balaclava, while it gave undue currency to that stupid military
blunder, must rank as one of the finest battle-lyrics in the language.

The poetry of Tennyson is eminently representative of the Victorian age.
He has written little; but that little marks a distinct era in
versification--great harmony untrammelled by artificial _correctness_; and
in language, a search for novelty to supply the wants and correct the
faults of the poetic vocabulary. He is national in the _Idyls_;
philosophic in _The Two Voices_, and similar poems. The _Princess_ is a
gentle satire on the age; and though, in striving for the reputation of
originality, he sometimes mistakes the original for the beautiful, he is
really the laurelled poet of England in merit as well as in title.

ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.--The literary usher is now called upon to cry
with the herald of the days of chivalry--_Place aux dames_. A few ladies,
as we have seen, have already asserted for themselves respectable
positions in the literary ranks. Without a question as to the relative
gifts of mind in man and woman, we have now reached a name which must rank
among those of the first poets of the present century--one which
represents the Victorian age as fully and forcibly as Tennyson, and with
more of novelty than he. Nervous in style, elevated in diction, bold in
expression, learned and original, Mrs. Browning divides the poetic renown
of the period with Tennyson. If he is the laureate, she was the
acknowledged queen of poetry until her untimely death.

Miss Elizabeth Barrett was born in London, in 1809. She was educated with
great care, and began to write at a very early age. A volume, entitled
_Essays on Mind, with Other Poems_, was published when she was only
seventeen. In 1833 she produced _Prometheus Bound_, a translation of the
drama of Æschylus from the original Greek, which exhibited rare classical
attainments; but which she considered so faulty that she afterwards
retranslated it. In 1838 appeared _The Seraphim, and other Poems_; and in
1839, _The Romaunt of the Page_. Not long after, the rupture of a
blood-vessel brought her to the verge of the grave; and while she was
still in a precarious state of health, her favorite brother was drowned.
For several years she lived secluded, studying and composing when her
health permitted; and especially drawing her inspiration from original
sources in Greek and Hebrew. In 1844 she published her collected poems in
two volumes. Among these was _Lady Geraldine's Courtship_: an exquisite
story, the perusal of which is said to have induced Robert Browning to
seek her acquaintance. Her health was now partially restored; and they
were married in 1846. For some time they resided at Florence, in a
congenial and happy union. The power of passionate love is displayed in
her _Sonnets from the Portuguese_, which are among the finest in the
language. Differing in many respects from those of Shakspeare, they are
like his in being connected by one impassioned thought, and being, without
doubt, the record of a heart experience.

Thoroughly interested in the social and political conditions of struggling
Italy, she gave vent to her views and sympathies in a volume of poems,
entitled _Casa Guidi Windows_. Casa Guidi was the name of their residence
in Florence, and the poems vividly describe what she saw from its
windows--divers forms of suffering, injustice, and oppression, which
touched the heart of a tender woman and a gifted poet, and compelled it to
burst forth in song.

AURORA LEIGH.--But by far the most important work of Mrs. Browning is
_Aurora Leigh_: a long poem in nine books, which appeared in 1856, in
which the great questions of the age, social and moral, are handled with
great boldness. It is neither an epic, nor an idyl, nor a tale in verse:
it combines features of them all. It presents her clear convictions of
life and art, and is full of philosophy, largely expressed in the language
of irony and sarcasm. She is an inspired advocate of the intellectual
claims of woman; and the poem is, in some degree, an autobiography: the
identity of the poet and the heroine gives a great charm to the narrative.
There are few finer pieces of poetical inspiration than the closing scene,
where the friend and lover returns blind and helpless, and the woman's
heart, unconquered before, surrenders to the claims of misfortune as the
champion of love. After a happy life with her husband and an only child,
sent for her solace, this gifted woman died in 1863.

HER FAULTS.--It is as easy to criticize Mrs. Browning's works as to admire
them; but our admiration is great in spite of her faults: in part because
of them, for they are faults of a bold and striking individuality. There
is sometimes an obscurity in her fancies, and a turgidity in her language.
She seems to transcend the poet's license with a knowledge that she is
doing so. For example:

    We will sit on the throne of a purple sublimity,
    And grind down men's bones to a pale unanimity.

And again, in speaking of Goethe, she says:

    His soul reached out from far and high,
    And fell from inner entity.

Her rhymes are frequently and arrogantly faulty: she seems to scorn the
critics; she writes more for herself than for others, and infuses all she
writes with her own fervent spirit: there is nothing commonplace or
lukewarm. She is so strong that she would be masculine; but so tender that
she is entirely feminine: at once one of the most vigorous of poets and
one of the best of women. She has attained the first rank among the
English poets.

ROBERT BROWNING.--As a poet of decided individuality, which has gained for
him many admirers, Browning claims particular mention. His happy marriage
has for his fame the disadvantage that he gave his name to a greater
poet; and it is never mentioned without an instinctive thought of her
superiority. Many who are familiar with her verses have never read a line
of her husband. This is in part due to a mysticism and an intense
subjectivity, which are not adapted to the popular comprehension. He has
chosen subjects unknown or uninteresting to the multitude of readers, and
treats them with such novelty of construction and such an affectation of
originality, that few persons have patience to read his poems.

Robert Browning was born, in 1812, at Camberwell; and after a careful
education, not at either of the universities, (for he was a dissenter,) he
went at the age of twenty to Italy, where he eagerly studied the history
and antiquity to be found in the monasteries and in the remains of the
mediæval period. He also made a study of the Italian people. In 1835 he
published a drama called _Paracelsus_, founded upon the history of that
celebrated alchemist and physician, and delineating the conditions of
philosophy in the fifteenth century. It is novel, antique, and
metaphysical: it exhibits the varied emotions of human sympathy; but it is
eccentric and obscure, and cannot be popular. He has been called the poet
for poets; and this statement seems to imply that he is not the poet for
the great world.

In 1837 he published a tragedy called _Strafford_; but his Italian culture
seems to have spoiled his powers for portraying English character, and he
has presented a stilted Strafford and a theatrical Charles I.

In 1840 appeared _Sordello_, founded upon incidents in the history of that
Mantuan poet Sordello, whom Dante and Virgil met in purgatory; and who,
deserting the language of Italy, wrote his principal poems in the
Provençal. The critics were so dissatisfied with this work, that Browning
afterwards omitted it in the later editions of his poems. In 1843 he
published a tragedy entitled _A Blot on the 'Scutcheon_, and a play
called _The Dutchess of Cleves_. In 1850 appeared _Christmas Eve_ and
_Easter Day_. Concerning all these, it may be said that it is singular and
sad that a real poetic gift, like that of Browning, should be so shrouded
with faults of conception and expression. What leads us to think that many
of these are an affectation, is that he has produced, almost with the
simplicity of Wordsworth, those charming sketches, _The Good News from
Ghent to Aix_, and _An Incident at Ratisbon_.

Among his later poems we specially commend _A Death in the Desert_, and
_Pippa Passes_, as less obscure and more interesting than any, except the
lyrical pieces just mentioned. It is difficult to show in what manner
Browning represents his age. His works are only so far of a modern
character that they use the language of to-day without subsidizing its
simplicity, and abandon the old musical couplet without presenting the
intelligible if commonplace thought which it used to convey.


_Reginald Heber_, 1783-1826: a godly Bishop of Calcutta. He is most
generally known by one effort, a little poem, which is a universal
favorite, and has preached, from the day it appeared, eloquent sermons in
the cause of missions--_From Greenland's Icy Mountains_. Among his other
hymns are _Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning_, and _The Son of
God goes forth to War_.

_Barry Cornwall_, born 1790: this is a _nom de plume_ of _Bryan Proctor_,
a pleasing, but not great poet. His principal works are _Dramatic Scenes_,
_Mirandola_, a tragedy, and _Marcian Colonna_. His minor poems are
characterized by grace and fluency. Among these are _The Return of the
Admiral_; _The Sea, the Sea, the Open Sea_; and _A Petition to Time_. He
also wrote essays and tales in prose--a _Life of Edmund Keane_, and a
_Memoir of Charles Lamb_. His daughter, _Adelaide Anne Proctor_, is a
gifted poetess, and has written, among other poems, _Legends and Lyrics_,
and _A Chaplet of Verses_.

_James Sheridan Knowles_, 1784-1862: an actor and dramatist. He left the
stage and became a Baptist minister. His plays were very successful upon
the stage. Among them, those of chief merit are _The Hunchback_,
_Virginius and Caius Gracchus_, and _The Wife, a Tale of Mantua_.

_Jean Ingelow_, born 1830: one of the most popular of the later English
poets. _The Song of Seven_, and _My Son's Wife Elizabeth_, are extremely
pathetic, and of such general application that they touch all hearts. The
latter is the refrain of _High Tide on the Coast of Lancashire_. She has
published, besides, several volumes of stories for children, and one
entitled _Studies for Stories_.

_Algernon Charles Swinburne_, born 1843: he is principally and very
favorably known by his charming poem _Atalanta in Calydon_. He has also
written a somewhat heterodox and licentious poem entitled _Laus Veneris_,
_Chastelard_, and _The Song of Italy_; besides numerous minor poems and
articles for magazines. He is among the most notable and prolific poets of
the age; and we may hope for many and better works from his pen.

_Richard Harris Barham_, 1788-1845: a clergyman of the Church of England,
and yet one of the most humorous of writers. He is chiefly known by his
_Ingoldsby Legends_, which were contributed to the magazines. They are
humorous tales in prose and verse; the latter in the vein of Peter Pindar,
but better than those of Wolcot, or any writer of that school. Combined
with the humorous and often forcible, there are touches of pathos and
terror which are extremely effective. He also wrote a novel called _My
Cousin Nicholas_.

_Philip James Bailey_, born 1816: he published, in 1839, _Festus_, a poem
in dramatic form, having, for its _dramatis personæ_, God in his three
persons, Lucifer, angels, and man. Full of rare poetic fancy, it repels
many by the boldness of its flight in the consideration of the
incomprehensible, which many minds think the forbidden. _The Angel World_
and _The Mystic_ are of a similar kind; but his last work, _The Age, a
Colloquial Satire_ is on a mundane subject and in a simpler style.

_Charles Mackay_, born 1812: principally known by his fugitive pieces,
which contain simple thoughts on pleasant language. His poetical
collections are called _Town Lyrics_ and _Egeria_.

_John Keble_, 1792-1866: the modern George Herbert; a distinguished
clergyman. He was Professor of Poetry at Oxford, and produced, besides
_Tracts for the Times_, and other theological writings, _The Christian
Year_, containing a poem for every Sunday and holiday in the
ecclesiastical year. They are devout breathings in beautiful verse, and
are known and loved by great numbers out of his own communion. Many of
them have been adopted as hymns in many collections.

_Martin Farquhar Tupper_, born 1810: his principal work is _Proverbial
Philosophy_, in two series. It was unwontedly popular; and Tupper's name
was on every tongue. Suddenly, the world reversed its decision and
discarded its favorite; so that, without having done anything to warrant
the desertion, Tupper finds himself with but very few admirers, or even
readers: so capricious is the _vox populi_. The poetry is not without
merit; but the world cannot forgive itself for having rated it too high.

_Matthew Arnold_, born 1822: the son of Doctor Arnold of Rugby. He has
written numerous critical papers, and was for some time Professor of
Poetry at Oxford. _Sorab and Rustam_ is an Eastern tale in verse, of great
beauty. His other works are _The Strayed Reveller_, and _Empedocles on
Etna_. More lately, an Inspector of Schools, he has produced several works
on education, among which are _Popular Education in France_ and _The
Schools and Universities of the Continent_.



   New Materials. George Grote. History of Greece. Lord Macaulay. History
   of England. Its Faults. Thomas Carlyle. Life of Frederick II. Other


Nothing more decidedly marks the nineteenth century than the progress of
history as a branch of literature. A wealth of material, not known before,
was brought to light, increasing our knowledge and reversing time-honored
decisions upon historic points. Countries were explored and their annals
discovered. Expeditions to Egypt found a key to hieroglyphs; State papers
were arranged to the hand of the scholar; archives, like those of
Simancas, were thrown open. The progress of Truth, through the extension
of education, unmasked ancient prescriptions and prejudices: thus, where
the chronicle remained, philosophy was transformed; and it became evident
that the history of man in all times must be written anew, with far
greater light to guide the writer than the preceding century had enjoyed.
Besides, the world of readers became almost as learned as the historian
himself, and he wrote to supply a craving and a demand such as had never
before existed. A glance at the labors of the following historians will
show that they were not only annalists, but reformers in the full sense of
the word: they re-wrote what had been written before, supplying defects
and correcting errors.

GEORGE GROTE.--This distinguished writer was born near London, in 1794. He
was the son of a banker, and received his education at the Charter House.
Instead of entering one of the universities, he became a clerk in his
father's banking-house. Early imbued with a taste for Greek literature, he
continued his studies with great zeal; and was for many years collecting
the material for a history of Greece. The subject was quietly and
thoroughly digested in his mind before he began to write. A member of
Parliament from 1832 to 1841, he was always a strong Whig, and was
specially noted for his championship of the vote by ballot. There was no
department of wholesome reform which he did not sustain. He opposed the
corn laws, which had become oppressive; he favored the political rights of
the Jews, and denounced prescriptive evils of every kind.

HISTORY OF GREECE.--In 1846 he published the first volume of his _History
of Greece from the Earliest Period to the Death of Alexander the Great_:
the remaining volumes appeared between that time and 1856. The work was
well received by critics of all political opinions; and the world was
astonished that such a labor should have been performed by any writer who
was not a university man. It was a luminous ancient history, in a fresh
and racy modern style: the review of the mythology is grand; the political
conditions, the manners and customs of the people, the military art, the
progress of law, the schools of philosophy, are treated with remarkable
learning and clearness. But he as clearly exhibits the political condition
of his own age, by the sympathy which he displays towards the democracy of
Athens in their struggles against the tenets and actions of the
aristocracy. The historian writes from his own political point of view;
and Grote's history exhibits his own views of reform as plainly as that of
Mitford sets forth his aristocratic proclivities. Thus the English
politics of the age play a part in the Grecian history.

There were several histories of Greece written not long before that of
Grote, which may be considered as now set aside by his greater accuracy
and better style. Among these the principal are that of JOHN GILLIES,
1747-1836, which is learned, but statistical and dry; that of CONNOP
THIRLWALL, born 1797, Bishop of St. David's, which was greatly esteemed by
Grote himself; and that of WILLIAM MITFORD, 1744-1827, to correct the
errors and supply the deficiencies of which, Grote's work was written.

LORD MACAULAY.--Thomas Babington Macaulay was born at Rothley, in
Leicestershire, on the 25th of October, 1800. His father, Zachary
Macaulay, a successful West Indian merchant, devoted his later life to
philanthropy. His mother was Miss Selina Mills, the daughter of a
bookseller of Bristol. After an early education, chiefly conducted at
home, he was entered at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1818, where he
distinguished himself as a debater, and gained two prize poems and a
scholarship. He was graduated in 1822, and afterwards continued his
studies; producing, during the next four years, several of his stirring
ballads. He began to write for the Edinburgh Review in 1825. In 1830 he
entered Parliament, and was immediately noted for his brilliant oratory in
advocating liberal principles. In 1834 he was sent to India, as a member
of the Supreme Council; and took a prominent part in preparing an Indian
code of laws. This code was published on his return to England, in 1838;
but it was so kind and considerate to the natives, that the martinets in
India defeated its adoption. From his return until 1847, he had a seat in
Parliament as member for Edinburgh; but in the latter year his support of
the grant to the Maynooth (Roman Catholic) College so displeased his
constituents, that in the next election he lost his seat.

During all these busy years he had been astonishing and delighting the
reading world by his truly brilliant papers in the _Edinburgh Review_,
which have been collected and published as _Miscellanies_. The subjects
were of general interest; their treatment novel and bold; the learning
displayed was accurate and varied; and the style pointed, vigorous, and
harmonious. The papers upon _Clive_ and _Hastings_ are enriched by his
intimate knowledge of Indian affairs, acquired during his residence in
that country. His critical papers are severe and satirical, such as the
articles on _Croker's Boswell_, and on _Mr. Robert Montgomery's Poems_.
His unusual self-reliance as a youth led him to great vehemence in the
expression of his opinions, as well as into errors of judgment, which he
afterwards regretted. The radicalism which is displayed in his essay on
_Milton_ was greatly modified when he came to treat of kindred subjects in
his History.

THE HISTORY OF ENGLAND.--He had long cherished the intention of writing
the history of England, "from the accession of James II. down to a time
which is within the memory of men still living." The loss of his election
at Edinburgh gave him the leisure necessary for carrying out this purpose.
In 1848 he published the first and second volumes, which at once achieved
an unprecedented popularity. His style had lost none of its brilliancy;
his reading had been immense; his examination of localities was careful
and minute. It was due, perhaps, to this growing fame, that the electors
of Edinburgh, without any exertion on his part, returned him to Parliament
in 1852. In 1855 the third and fourth volumes of his History appeared,
bringing the work down to the peace of Ryswick, in 1697. All England
applauded the crown when he was elevated to the peerage, in 1857, as Baron
Macaulay of Rothley.

It was now evident that Macaulay had deceived himself as to the magnitude
of his subject; at least, he was never to finish it. He died suddenly of
disease of the heart, on the 28th of December, 1859; and all that remained
of his History was a fragmentary volume, published after his death by his
sister, Lady Trevelyan, which reaches the death of William III., in 1702.

ITS FAULTS.--The faults of Macaulay's History spring from the character of
the man: he is always a partisan or a bitter enemy. His heroes are angels;
those whom he dislikes are devils; and he pursues them with the ardor of a
crusader or the vendetta of a Corsican. The Stuarts are painted in the
darkest colors; while his eulogy of William III. is fulsome and false. He
blackens the character of Marlborough for real faults indeed; but for such
as Marlborough had in common with thousands of his contemporaries. If, as
has been said, that great captain deserved the greatest censure as a
statesman and warrior, it is equally true, paradoxical as it may seem,
that he deserved also the greatest praise in both capacities. Macaulay has
fulminated the censure and withheld the praise.

What is of more interest to Americans, he loses no opportunity of
attacking and defaming William Penn; making statements which have been
proved false, and attributing motives without reason or justice.

His style is what the French call the _style coupé_,--short sentences,
like those of Tacitus, which ensure the interest by their recurring
shocks. He writes history with the pen of a reviewer, and gives verdicts
with the authority of a judge. He seems to say, Believe the autocrat; do
not venture to philosophize.

His poetry displays tact and talent, but no genius; it is pageantry in
verse. His _Lays of Ancient Rome_ are scholarly, of course, and pictorial
in description, but there is little of nature, and they are theatrical
rather than dramatic; they are to be declaimed rather than to be read or

In society, Macaulay was a great talker--he harangued his friends; and
there was more than wit in the saying of Sidney Smith, that his
conversation would have been improved by a few "brilliant flashes of

But in spite of his faults, if we consider the profoundness of his
learning, the industry of his studies, and the splendor of his style, we
must acknowledge him as the most distinguished of English historians. No
one has yet appeared who is worthy to complete the magnificent work which
he left unfinished.

THOMAS CARLYLE.--A literary brother of a very different type, but of a
more distinct individuality, is Carlyle, who was born in Dumfries-shire,
Scotland, in 1795. He was the eldest son of a farmer. After a partial
education at home, he entered the University of Edinburgh, where he was
noted for his attainments in mathematics, and for his omnivorous reading.
After leaving the university he became a teacher in a private family, and
began to study for the ministry, a plan which he soon gave up.

His first literary effort was a _Life of Schiller_, issued in numbers of
the _London Magazine_, in 1823-4. He turned his attention to German
literature, in the knowledge of which he has surpassed all other
Englishmen. He became as German as the Germans.

In 1826 he married, and removed to Craigen-Puttoch, on a farm, where, in
isolation and amid the wildness of nature, he studied, and wrote articles
for the _Edinburgh Review_, the _Foreign Quarterly_, and some of the
monthly magazines. His study of the German, acting upon an innate
peculiarity, began to affect his style very sensibly, as is clearly seen
in the singular, introverted, parenthetical mode of expression which
pervades all his later works. His earlier writings are in ordinary
English, but specimens of _Carlylese_ may be found in his _Sartor
Resartus_, which at first appalled the publishers and repelled the general
reader. Taking man's clothing as a nominal subject, he plunges into
philosophical speculations with which clothes have nothing to do, but
which informed the world that an original thinker and a novel and curious
writer had appeared.

In 1834 he removed to Chelsea, near London, where he has since resided. In
1837, he published his _French Revolution_, in three volumes,--_The
Bastile_, _The Constitution_, _The Guillotine_. It is a fiery, historical
drama rather than a history; full of rhapsodies, startling rhetoric,
disconnected pictures. It has been fitly called "a history in flashes of
lightning." No one could learn from it the history of that momentous
period; but one who has read the history elsewhere, will find great
interest in Carlyle's wild and vivid pictures of its stormy scenes.

In 1839 he wrote, in his dashing style, upon _Chartism_, and about the
same time read a course of lectures upon _Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the
Heroic in History_, in which he is an admirer of will and impulse, and
palliates evil when found in combination with these.

In 1845 he edited _The Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell_, and in
his extravagant eulogies worships the hero rather than the truth.

FREDERICK II.--In 1858 appeared the first two volumes of _The Life of
Frederick the Great_, and since that time he has completed the work. This
is doubtless his greatest effort. It is full of erudition, and contains
details not to be found in any other biography of the Prussian monarch;
but so singularly has he reasoned and commented upon his facts, that the
enlightened reader often draws conclusions different from those which the
author has been laboring to establish. While the history shows that, for
genius and success, Frederick deserved to be called the Great, Carlyle
cannot make us believe that he was not grasping, selfish, a dissembler,
and an immoral man.

The author's style has its admirers, and is a not unpleasing novelty and
variety to lovers of plain English; but it wearies in continuance, and one
turns to French or German with relief. The Essays upon _German
Literature_, _Richter_, and _The Niebelungen Lied_ are of great value to
the young student. Such tracts as _Past and Present_, and _The Latter-Day
Pamphlets_, have caused him to be called the "Censor of the Age." He is
too eccentric and prejudiced to deserve the name in its best meaning. If
he fights shams, he sometimes mistakes windmills and wine-skins for
monsters, and, what is worse, if he accost a shepherd or a milkmaid, they
at once become _Amadis de Gaul_ and _Dulcinea del Toboso_. In spite of
these prejudices and peculiarities, Carlyle will always be esteemed for
his arduous labors, his honest intentions, and his boldness in expressing
his opinions. His likes and dislikes find ready vent in his written
judgments, and he cares for neither friend nor foe, in setting forth his
views of men and events. On many subjects it must be said his views are
just. There are fields in which his word must be received with authority.


_John Lingard_, 1771-1851: a Roman Catholic priest. He was a man of great
probity and worth. His chief work is _A History of England_, from the
first invasion of the Romans to the accession of William and Mary. With a
natural leaning to his own religious side in the great political
questions, he displays great industry in collecting material, beauty of
diction, and honesty of purpose. His history is of particular value, in
that it stands among the many Protestant histories as the champion of the
Roman Catholics, and gives an opportunity to "hear the other side," which
could not have had a more respectable advocate. In all the great
controversies, the student of English history must consult Lingard, and
collate his facts and opinions with those of the other historians. He
wrote, besides, numerous theological and controversial works.

_Patrick Fraser Tytler_, 1791-1849: the author of _A History of Scotland
from Alexander III. to James VI. (James I. of England)_, and _A History of
England during the reigns of Edward VI. and Mary_. His _Universal History_
has been used as a text-book, and in style and construction has great
merit, although he does not rise to the dignity of a philosophic

_Sir William Francis Patrick Napier_, 1785-1866: a distinguished soldier,
and, like Cæsar, a historian of the war in which he took part. His
_History of the War in the Peninsula_ stands quite alone. It is clear in
its strategy and tactics, just to the enemy, and peculiar but effective in
style. It was assailed by several military men, but he defended all his
positions in bold replies to their strictures, and the work remains as
authority upon the great struggle which he relates.

_Lord Mahon_, Earl of Stanhope, born 1805: his principal work is a
_History of England from the Peace of Utrecht to the Peace of Versailles_.
He had access to much new material, and from the Stuart papers has drawn
much of interest with reference to that unfortunate family. His view of
the conduct of Washington towards Major André has been shown to be quite
untenable. He also wrote a _History of the War of Succession in Spain_.

_Henry Thomas Buchle_, 1822-1862: he was the author of a _History of
Civilization_, of which he published two volumes, the work remaining
unfinished at the time of his death. For bold assumptions, vigorous style,
and great reading, this work must be greatly admired; but all his theories
are based on second principles, and Christianity, as a divine institution,
is ignored. It startled the world into admiration, but has not retained
the place in popular esteem which it appeared at first to make for itself.
He is the English _Comte_, without the eccentricity of his model.

_Sir Archibald Alison_, 1792-1867: he is the author of _The History of
Europe from the Commencement of the French Revolution to the Restoration
of the Bourbons_, and a continuation from 1815 to 1852. It may be doubted
whether even the most dispassionate scholar can write the history of
contemporary events. We may be thankful for the great mass of facts he has
collated, but his work is tinctured with his high Tory principles; his
material is not well digested, and his style is clumsy.

_Agnes Strickland_, born 1806: after several early attempts Miss
Strickland began her great task, which she executed nobly--_The Queens of
England_. Accurate, philosophic, anecdotal, and entertaining, this work
ranks among the most valuable histories in English. If the style is not so
nervous as that of masculine writers, there is a ready intuition as to the
rights and the motives of the queens, and a great delicacy combined with
entire lack of prudery in her treatment of their crimes. The library of
English history would be singularly incomplete without Miss Strickland's
work. She also wrote _The Queens of Scotland_, and _The Bachelor Kings of

_Henry Hallam_, 1778-1859: the principal works of this judicious and
learned writer are _A View of Europe during the Middle Ages_, _The
Constitutional History of England_, and _An Introduction to the Literature
of Europe_ in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. With
the skill of an advocate he combines the calmness of a judge; and he has
been justly called "the accurate Hallam," because his facts are in all
cases to be depended on. By his clear and illustrative treatment of dry
subjects, he has made them interesting; and his works have done as much to
instruct his age as those of any writer. Later researches in literature
and constitutional history may discover more than he has presented, but he
taught the new explorers the way, and will always be consulted with
profit, as the representative of this varied learning during the first
half of the nineteenth century.

_James Anthony Froude_, born 1818: an Oxford graduate, Mr. Froude
represents the Low Church party in a respectable minority. His chief work
is _A History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Death of
Elizabeth_. With great industry, and the style of a successful novelist in
making his groups and painting his characters, he has written one of the
most readable books published in this period. He claimed to take his
authorities from unpublished papers, and from the statute-books, and has
endeavored to show that Henry VIII. was by no means a bad king, and that
Elizabeth had very few faults. His treatment of Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen
of Scots is unjust and ignoble. Not content with publishing what has been
written in their disfavor, with the omniscience of a romancer, he asserts
their motives, and produces thoughts which they never uttered. A race of
powerful critics has sprung forth in defence of Mary, and Mr. Froude's
inaccuracies and injustice have been clearly shown. To novel readers who
are fond of the sensational, we commend his work: to those who desire
historic facts and philosophies, we proclaim it to be inaccurate,
illogical, and unjust in the highest degree.

_Sharon Turner_, 1768-1847: among many historical efforts, principally
concerning England in different periods, his _History of the Anglo-Saxons_
stands out prominently as a great work. He was an eccentric scholar, and
an antiquarian, and he found just the place to delve in when he undertook
that history. The style is not good--too epigrammatic and broken; but his
research is great, his speculations bold, and his information concerning
the numbers, manners, arts, learning, and other characters of the
Anglo-Saxons, immense. The student of English history must read Turner for
a knowledge of the Saxon period.

_Thomas Arnold_, 1795-1832: widely known and revered as the Great
Schoolmaster. He was head-master at Rugby, and influenced his pupils more
than any modern English instructor. Accepting the views of Niebuhr, he
wrote a work on _Roman History_ up to the close of the second Punic war.
But he is more generally known by his historical lectures delivered at
Oxford, where he was Professor of Modern History. A man of original views
and great honesty of purpose, his influence in England has been
strengthened by the excellent biography written by his friend Dean

_William Hepworth Dixon_, born 1821: he was for some time editor of _The
Athenæum_. In historic biography he appears as a champion of men who have
been maligned by former writers. He vindicates _William Penn_ from the
aspersions of Lord Macaulay, and _Bacon_ from the charges of meanness and

_Charles Merivale_, born 1808: he is a clergyman, and a late Fellow of
Cambridge, and is favorably known by his admirable work entitled, _The
History of the Romans under the Empire_. It forms an introduction to
Gibbon, and displays a thorough grasp of the great epoch, varied
scholarship, and excellent taste. His analyses of Roman literature are
very valuable, and his pictures of social life so vivid that we seem to
live in the times of the Cæsars as we read.



   Bulwer. Changes in Writing. Dickens's Novels. American Notes. His
   Varied Powers. Second Visit to America. Thackeray. Vanity Fair. Henry
   Esmond. The Newcomes. The Georges. Estimate of his Powers.

The great feature in the realm of prose fiction, since the appearance of
the works of Richardson, Fielding, and Smollett, had been the Waverley
novels of Sir Walter Scott; but these apart, the prose romance had not
played a brilliant part in literature until the appearance of Bulwer, who
began, in his youth, to write novels in the old style; but who underwent
several organic changes in modes of thought and expression, and at last
stood confessed as the founder of a new school.

BULWER.--Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer was a younger son of General
Bulwer of Heydon Hall, Norfolk, England. He was born, in 1806, to wealth
and ease, but was early and always a student. Educated at Cambridge, he
took the Chancellor's prize for a poem on _Sculpture_. His first public
effort was a volume of fugitive poems, called _Weeds and Wild Flowers_, of
more promise than merit. In 1827 he published _Falkland_, and very soon
after _Pelham, or the Adventures of a Gentleman_. The first was not
received favorably; but _Pelham_ was at once popular, neither for the
skill of the plot nor for its morality, but because it describes the
character, dissipations, and good qualities of a fashionable young man,
which are always interesting to an English public. Those novels that
immediately followed are so alike in general features that they may be
called the Pelham series. Of these the principal are _The Disowned_,
_Devereux_, and _Paul Clifford_--the last of which throws a sentimental,
rosy light upon the person and adventures of a highwayman; but it is too
unreal to have done as much injury as the _Pirate's Own Book_, or the
_Adventures of Jack Sheppard_. It may be safely asserted that _Paul
Clifford_ never produced a highwayman. Of the same period is _Eugene
Aram_, founded upon the true story of a scholar who was a murderer--a
painful subject powerfully handled.

In 1831 Bulwer entered Parliament, and seems to have at once commenced a
new life. With his public duties he combined severe historical study; and
the novels he now produced gave witness of his riper and better learning.
Chief among these were _Rienzi_, and _The Last Days of Pompeii_. The
former is based upon the history of that wonderful and unfortunate man
who, in the fourteenth century, attempted to restore the Roman republic,
and govern it like an ancient tribune. The latter is a noble production:
he has caught the very spirit of the day in which Pompeii was submerged by
the lava-flood; his characters are masterpieces of historic delineation;
he handles like an adept the conflicting theologies, Christian, Roman, and
Egyptian; and his natural scenes--Vesuvius in fury, the Bay of Naples in
the lurid light, the crowded amphitheatre, and the terror which fell on
man and beast, gladiator and lion--are _chef-d'œuvres_ of Romantic art.

CHANGES IN WRITING.--For a time he edited _The New Monthly Magazine_, and
a change came over the spirit of his novels. This was first noticed in his
_Ernest Maltravers_, and the sequel, _Alice, or the Mysteries_, which are
marked by sentimental passion and mystic ideas. In _Night and Morning_ he
is still mysterious: a blind fate seems to preside over his characters,
robbing the good of its free merit and condoning the evil.

In 1838 he was made a baronet. His versatile pen now turned to the drama;
and although he produced nothing great, his _Lady of Lyons_, _Richelieu_,
_Money_, and _The Sea Captain_ have always since been favorites upon the
stage, subsidizing the talents of actors like Macready, Kean, and Edwin

We must now chronicle another change, from the mystic to the supernatural,
as displayed in _Zanoni_ and _Lucretia_, and especially in _A Strange
Story_, which is the strangest of all. It was at the same period that he
wrote _The Last of the Barons_, or the story of Warwick the king-maker,
and _Harold, the Last of the Saxon Kings_. Both are valuable to the
student of English history as presenting the fruits of his own historic

The last and most decided, and, we may add, most beneficial, change in
Bulwer as a writer, was manifested in his publication of the _Caxtons_,
the chief merit of which is as an usher of the novels which were to
follow. Pisistratus Caxton is the modern Tristram Shandy, and becomes the
putative editor of the later novels. First of these is _My Novel, or
Varieties of English Life_. It is an admirable work: it inculcates a
better morality, and a sense of Christian duty, at which Pelham would have
laughed in scorn. Like it, but inferior to it, is _What Will He do with
It?_ which has an interesting plot, an elevated style, and a rare human

Among other works, which we cannot mention, he wrote _The New Timon_, and
_King Arthur_, in poetry, and a prose history entitled _Athens, its Rise
and Fall_.

Without the highest genius, but with uncommon scholarship and great
versatility, Bulwer has used the materials of many kinds lying about him,
to make marvellous mosaics, which imitate very closely the finest efforts
of word-painting of the great geniuses of prose fiction.

CHARLES DICKENS.--Another remarkable development of the age was the use
of prose fiction, instead of poetry, as the vehicle of satire in the cause
of social reform. The world consents readily to be amused, and it likes to
be amused at the expense of others; but it soon tires of what is simply
amusing or satirical unless some noble purpose be disclosed. The novels of
former periods had interested by the creation of character and scenes; and
there had been numerous satires prompted by personal pique. It is the
glory of this latest age that it demands what shall so satirize the evil
around it in men, in classes, in public institutions, that the evil shall
recoil before the attack, and eventually disappear. Chief among such
reformers are Dickens and Thackeray.

Charles Dickens, the prince of modern novelists, was born at Landsport,
Portsmouth, England, in 1812. His father was at the time a clerk in the
Pay Department of the Navy, but afterwards became a reporter of debates in
Parliament. After a very hard early life and an only tolerable education,
young Dickens made some progress in the study of law; but soon undertook
his father's business as reporter, in which he struggled as he has made
David Copperfield to do in becoming proficient.

His first systematic literary efforts were as a daily writer and reporter
for _The True Sun_; he then contributed his sketches of life and
character, drawn from personal observation, to the _Morning Chronicle_:
these were an earnest of his future powers. They were collected as
_Sketches by Boz_, in two volumes, and published in 1836.

PICKWICK.--In 1837 he was asked by a publisher to prepare a series of
comic sketches of cockney sportsmen, to illustrate, as well as to be
illustrated by, etchings by Seymour. This yoking of two geniuses was a
trammel to both; but the suicide of Seymour dissolved the connection, and
Dickens had free play to produce the _Pickwick Papers_, by Boz, which were
illustrated, as he proceeded, by H. K. Browne (Phiz). The work met and
has retained an unprecedented popularity. Caricature as it was, it
caricatured real, existent oddities; everything was probable; the humor
was sympathetic if farcical, the assertion of humanity bold, and the
philosophy of universal application. He had touched our common nature in
all ranks and conditions; he had exhibited men and women of all types; he
had exposed the tricks of politics and the absurdity of elections; the
snobs of society were severely handled. He was the censor of law courts,
the exposer of swindlers, the dread of cockneys, the friend of rustics and
of the poor; and he has displayed in the principal character, that of the
immortal Pickwick, the power of a generous, simple-hearted, easily
deceived, but always philanthropic man, who comes through all his trials
without bating a jot of his love for humanity and his faith in human
nature. But the master-work of his plastic hand was Sam Weller, whose wit
and wisdom pervaded both hemispheres, and is as potent to excite laughter
to-day as at the first.

In this work he began that assault, not so much on shams as upon
prominent, unblushing evil, which he carried on in some form or other in
all his later works; and which was to make him prominent among the
reformers and benefactors of his age. He was at once famous, and his pen
was in demand to amuse the idle and to aid the philanthropic.

NICHOLAS NICKLEBY.--The _Pickwick Papers_ were in their intention a series
of sketches somewhat desultory and loosely connected. His next work was
_Nicholas Nickleby_, a complete story, in which he was entirely
successful. Wonderful in the variety and reality of his characters, his
powerful satire was here principally directed against the private
boarding-schools in England, where unloved children, exiled and forgotten,
were ill fed, scantily clothed, untaught, and beaten. Do-the-boys' Hall
was his type, and many a school prison under that name was fearfully
exposed and scourged. The people read with wonder and applause; these
haunts of cruelty were scrutinized, some of them were suppressed; and
since Nicholas Nickleby appeared no such school can live, because Squeers
and Smike are on every lip, and punishment awaits the tyrant.

Our scope will not permit a review of his numerous novels. In _Oliver
Twist_ he denounces the parish system in its care of orphans, and throws a
Drummond light upon the haunts of crime in London.

_The Old Curiosity Shop_ exposes the mania of gaming, and seems to have
been a device for presenting the pathetic pictures of _Little Nell_ and
her grandfather, the wonderful and rapid learning of the marchioness, and
the uncommon vitality of Mr. Richard Swiveller; and also the compound of
will and hideousness in Quilp.

He affected to find in the receptacle of Master Humphrey's clock, his
_Barnaby Rudge_, a very dramatic picture of the great riot incited by Lord
George Gordon in 1780, which, in its gathering, its fury, and its easy
dispersion, was not unlike that of Wat Tyler. Dickens's delineations are
eminently historic, and present a better notion of the period than the
general history itself.

AMERICAN NOTES.--In 1841 Dickens visited America, where he was received by
the public with great enthusiasm, and annoyed, as the author of his
biography says, by many individuals. On his return to England, he produced
his _American Notes for General Circulation_. They were sarcastic,
superficial, and depreciatory, and astonished many whose hospitalities he
had received. But, in 1843, he published _Martin Chuzzlewit_, in which
American peculiarities are treated with the broadest caricature. The
_Notes_ might have been forgiven; but the novel excited a great and just
anger in America. His statements were not true; his pictures were not
just; his prejudice led him to malign a people who had received him with
a foolish hospitality. He had eaten and drunk at the hands of the men whom
he abused, and his character suffered more than that of his intended
victims. In taking a few foibles for his caricature, he had left our
merits untold, and had been guilty of the implication that we had none,
although he knew that there were as elegant gentlemen, as refined ladies,
and as cultivated society in America as the best in England. But a truce
to reproaches; he has been fully forgiven.

His next novel was _Dombey and Son_, in which he attacks British pomp and
pride of state in the haughty merchant. It is full of character and of
pathos. Every one knows, as if they had appeared among us, the proud and
rigid Dombey, J. B. the sly, the unhappy Floy, the exquisite Toots, the
inimitable Nipper, Sol Gills the simple, and Captain Cuttle with his hook
and his notes.

This was followed by _David Copperfield_, which is, to some extent, an
autobiography describing the struggles of his youth, his experience in
acquiring short-hand to become a reporter, and other vicissitudes of his
own life. In it there is an attack upon the system of model prisons; but
the chief interest is found in his wonderful portraitures of varied and
opposite characters: the Peggottys, Steerforth, the inimitable Micawber,
Betsy Trotwood; Agnes, the lovely and lovable; Mr. Dick, with such noble
method in his madness; Dora, the child-wife; the simple Traddles, and
Uriah Heep, the 'umble intriguer and villain.

_Bleak House_ is a tremendous onslaught upon the Chancery system, and is
said to have caused a modification of it; his knowledge of law gave him
the power of an expert in detailing and dissecting its enormities.

_Little Dorrit_ presents the heartlessness of society, and is besides a
full and fearful picture of the system of imprisonment for debt. For
variety, power, and pathos, it is one of his best efforts.

_A Tale of Two Cities_ is a gloomy but vivid story of the French
Revolution, which has by no means the popularity of his other works.

In _Hard Times_, a shorter story, he has shown the evil consequences of a
hard, statistical, cramming education, in which the sympathies are
repressed, and the mind made a practical machine. The failure of Gradgrind
has warned many a parent from imitating him.

_Great Expectations_ failed to fulfil the promise of the name; but Joe
Gargery is as original a character as any he had drawn.

His last completed story is _Our Mutual Friend_, which, although unequal
to his best novels, has still original characters and striking scenes. The
rage for rising in the social scale ruins the Veneerings, and Podsnappery
is a well-chosen name far the heartless dogmatism which rules in English

Besides these splendid works, we must mention the delight he has given,
and the good he has done in expanding individual and public charity, by
his exquisite Christmas stories, of which _The Chimes_, _The Christmas
Carol_, and _The Cricket on the Hearth_ are the best.

His dramatic power has been fully illustrated by the ready adaptations of
his novels to the stage; they are, indeed, in scenes, personages, costume,
and interlocution, dramas in all except the form; and he himself was an
admirable actor.

HIS VARIED POWERS.--His tenderness is touching, and his pathos at once
excites our sympathy. He does not tell us to feel or to weep, but he shows
us scenes like those in the life of Smike, and in the sufferings and death
of Little Nell, which so simply appeal to the heart that we are for the
time forgetful of the wand which conjures them before us.

Dickens is bold in the advocacy of truth and in denouncing error; he is
the champion of honest poverty; he is the foe of class pretension and
oppression; he is the friend of friendless children; the reformer of
those whom society has made vagrants. Without many clear assertions of
Christian doctrine, but with no negation of it, he believes in doing good
for its own sake,--in self-denial, in the rewards which virtue gives
herself. His faults are few and venial. His merry life smacks too much of
the practical joke and the punch-bowl; he denounces cant in the
self-appointed ministers of the gospel, but he is not careful to draw
contrasted pictures of good pastors. His opinion seems to be based upon a
human perfectibility. But for rare pictures of real life he has never been
surpassed; and he has instructed an age, concerning itself, wisely,
originally, and usefully. He has the simplicity of Goldsmith, and the
truth to nature of Fielding and Smollett, without a spice of
sentimentalism or of impurity; he has brought the art of prose fiction to
its highest point, and he has left no worthy successor. He lived for years
separated from his wife on the ground of incompatibility, and, during his
later years at Gadshill, twenty miles from London, to avoid the
dissipations and draughts upon his time in that city.

SECOND VISIT TO AMERICA.--In 1868 he again visited America, to read
portions of his own works. He was well received by the public; but society
had learned its lesson on his former visit, and he was not overwhelmed
with a hospitality he had so signally failed to appreciate. And if we had
learned better, he had vastly improved; the genius had become a gentleman.
His readings were a great pecuniary success, and at their close he made an
amend which was graceful and proper; so that when he departed from our
shores his former errors were fully condoned, and he left an admiring
hemisphere behind him.

In the glow of health, and while writing, in serial numbers, a very
promising novel entitled _The Mystery of Edwin Drood_, he was struck by
apoplexy, in June, 1870, and in a few hours was dead. England has hardly
experienced a greater loss. All classes of men mourned when he was buried
in Westminster Abbey, in the poets' corner, among illustrious writers,--a
prose-poet, none of whom has a larger fame than he; a historian of his
time of greater value to society than any who distinctively bear the
title. His characters are drawn from life; his own experience is found in
_Nicholas Nickleby_ and _David Copperfield_; _Micawber_ is a caricature of
his own father. _Traddles_ is said to represent his friend Talfourd.
_Skimpole_ is supposed to be an original likeness of Leigh Hunt, and
William and Daniel Grant, of Manchester, were the originals of the
_Brothers Cheeryble_.

WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY.--Dickens gives us real characters in the garb
of fiction; but Thackeray uses fiction as the vehicle of social
philosophy. Great name, second only to Dickens; he is not a story-teller,
but an eastern Cadi administering justice in the form of apologue. Dickens
is eminently dramatic; Thackeray has nothing dramatic, neither scene nor
personage. He is Democritus the laughing philosopher, or Jupiter the
thunderer; he arraigns vice, pats virtue on the shoulder, shouts for
muscular Christianity, uncovers shams,--his personages are only names.
Dickens describes individuals; Thackeray only classes: his men and women
are representatives, and, with but few exceptions, they excite our sense
of justice, but not our sympathy; the principal exception is _Colonel
Newcome_, a real individual creation upon whom Thackeray exhausted his
genius, and he stands alone.

Thackeray was born in Calcutta, of an old Yorkshire family, in 1811. His
father was in the civil service, and he was sent home, when a child of
seven, for his education at the Charter House in London. Thence he was
entered at Cambridge, but left without being graduated. An easy fortune of
£20,000 led him to take life easily; he studied painting with somewhat of
the desultory devotion he has ascribed to Clive Newcome, and, like that
worthy, travelled on the Continent. Partly by unsuccessful investments,
and partly by careless living, his means were spent, and he took up
writing as a profession. The comic was his forte, and his early pieces,
written under the pseudonym of Michael Angelo Fitzmarsh and George Fitz
Boodle, are broadly humorous, but by no means in his later finished style.
_The Great Hoggarty Diamond_ (1841) did not disclose his full powers.

In 1841, _Punch_, a weekly comic illustrated sheet, was begun, and it
opened to Thackeray a field which exactly suited him. Short scraps of
comedy, slightly connected sketches, and the weekly tale of brick, chimed
with his humor, and made him at once a favorite. The best of these serial
contributions were _The Snob Papers_: they are as fine specimens of
humorous satire as exist in the language. But these would not have made
him famous, as they did not disclose his power as a novelist.

VANITY FAIR.--This was done by his _Vanity Fair_, which was published, in
monthly numbers, between 1846 and 1848. It was at once popular, and is the
most artistic of all his works. He called it a novel without a hero, and
he is right; the mind repudiates all aspirants for the post, and settles
upon poor Major Sugar-Plums as the best man in it. He could not have said
_without a heroine_, for does not the world since ring with the fame of
Becky Sharpe, the cleverest and wickedest little woman in England? The
virtuous reader even is sorry that Becky must come to grief, as, with a
proper respect to morality, the novelist makes her.

Never had the Vanity Fair of European society received so scathing a
dissection; and its author was immediately recognized as one of the
greatest living satirists and novelists. If he adheres more to the old
school of Fielding, who was his model, in his plots and handling of the
story, he was evidently original in his satire.

In 1847, upon the completion of this work, he began his _History of
Pendennis_, in serial numbers, in which he presents the hero, Arthur
Pendennis, as an average youth of the day, full of faults and foibles, but
likewise generous and repentant. Here he enlists the sympathies which one
never feels for perfection; and here, too, he portrays female loveliness
and endurance in his Mrs. Pendennis and Laura. Arthur is a purer Tom Jones
and Laura a superior Sophia Western.

In 1851 he gave a course of lectures, repeated in America the next year,
on "the English Humorists of the Eighteenth Century." There was no one
better fitted to write such a course; he felt with them and was of them.
But if this enabled him to present them sympathetically, it also caused
him to overrate them, and in some cases to descend to the standpoint of
their own partial views. He is wrong in his estimate of Swift, and too
eulogistic of Addison; but he is thoroughly English in both.

HENRY ESMOND.--The study of history necessary to prepare these led to his
undertaking a novel on the time of Queen Anne, entitled _The History of
Henry Esmond, Esq., written by himself_. His appreciation of the age is
excellent; but the book, leaving for the most part the comic field in
which he was most at home, is drier and less read than his others; as an
historical presentation a great success, with rare touches of pathos; as a
work of fiction not equal to his other stories. The comic muse assumes a
tragic, or at least a very sombre, dress. We have a portraiture of Queen
Anne in her last days, and a sad picture of him who, to the Protestant
succession, was the pretender, and to the hopeful Jacobites, James III.
The character of Marlborough is given with but little of what was really
meritorious in that great captain.

His novel of _Pendennis_ gave him, after the manner of Bulwer's _Caxton_,
an editor in _Arthur Pendennis_, who presents us _The Newcomes, Memoirs of
a Most Respectable Family_, which he published in a serial form,
completing it in 1855.

THE NEWCOMES.--In that work we have the richest culture, the finest
satire, and the rarest social philosophy. The character--the hero by
pre-eminence--is Colonel Newcome, a nobleman of nature's creation,
generous, simple, a yearningly affectionate father, a friend to all the
poor and afflicted, one of the best men ever delineated by a novelist; few
hearts are so hard as not to be touched by the story of his death in his
final retirement at the Charter House. When, surrounded by weeping
friends, he heard the bell, "a peculiar sweet smile shone over his face,
and he lifted up his head a little, and quickly said 'Adsum,' and fell
back: it was the word we used at school when names were called; and, lo!
he, whose heart was that of a little child, had answered to his name, and
stood in the presence of the Master."

THE GEORGES.--While he was writing _The Newcomes_, he had prepared a
course of four lectures on the _Four Georges_, kings of England, with
which he made his second visit to the United States, and which he
delivered in the principal cities, to make a fund for his daughters and
for his old age. It was entirely successful, and he afterwards read them
in England and Scotland. They are very valuable historically, as they give
us the truth with regard to men whose reigns were brilliant and on the
whole prosperous, but who themselves, with the exception of the third of
the name, were as bad men as ever wore crowns. George III. was continent
and honest, but a maniac, and Mr. Thackeray has treated him with due
forbearance and eulogy.

In 1857, Mr. Thackeray was a candidate for Parliament from Oxford, but
was defeated by a small majority; his conduct in the election was so
magnanimous, that his defeat may be regarded as an advantage to his

In the same year he began _The Virginians_, which may be considered his
failure; it is historically a continuation of _Esmond_,--some of the
English characters, the Esmonds in Virginia, being the same as in that
work. But his presentation and estimate of Washington are a caricature,
and his sketch of General James Wolfe, the hero of Quebec, is tame and
untrue to life. His descriptions of Virginia colonial life are unlike the
reality; but where he is on his own ground, describing English scenes and
customs in that day, he is more successful. To paint historical characters
is beyond the power of his pencil, and his Doctor Johnson is not the man
whom Boswell has so successfully presented.

In 1860 he originated the _Cornhill Magazine_, to which his name gave
unusual popularity: it attained a circulation of one hundred
thousand--unprecedented in England. In that he published _Lovel the
Widower_, which was not much liked, and a charming reproduction of the
Newcomes,--for it is nothing more,--entitled _The Adventures of Philip on
His Way through the World_. Philip is a more than average Englishman, with
a wicked father and rather a stupid wife; but "the little sister" is a
star--there is no finer character in any of his works. _Philip_, in spite
of its likeness to _The Newcomes_, is a delightful book.

With an achieved fame, a high position, a home which he had just built at
Kensington, a large income, he seemed to have before him as prosperous an
old age as any one could desire, when, such are the mysteries of
Providence, he was found dead in his room on the morning of December 24,

ESTIMATE OF HIS POWERS.--Thackeray's excellences are manifest: he was the
master of idiomatic English, a great moralist and reformer, and the king
of satire, all the weapons of which he managed with perfect skill. He had
a rapier for aristocratic immunities of evil, arrows to transfix
prescriptions and shams; and with snobs (we must change the figure) he
played as a cat does with a mouse, torturing and then devouring. In the
words of Miss Bronté, "he was the first social regenerator of the day, the
very master of that working corps who would restore to rectitude the
warped system of things." But this was his chief and glorious strength: in
the truest sense, he was a satirist and a humorist, but not a novelist; he
could not create character. His dramatic persons do not speak for
themselves; he tells us what they are and do. His mission seems to have
been to arraign and demolish evil rather than to applaud good, and thus he
enlists our sinless anger as crusaders rather than our sympathy as
philanthropists. In Dickens we are sometimes disposed to skip a little, in
our ardor, to follow the plot and find the dénouement. In Thackeray we
read every word, for it is the philosophy we want; the plot and personages
are secondary, as indeed he considered them; for he often tells us, in the
time of greatest depression of his hero, that it will all come out right
at the end,--that Philip will marry Charlotte, and have a good income,
while the poor soul is wrestling with the _res augusta domi_. Dickens and
Thackeray seemed to draw from each other in their later works; the former
philosophizing more in his _Little Dorrit_ and _Our Mutual Friend_, and
the latter attempting more of the descriptive in _The Newcomes_ and
_Philip_. Of minor pieces we may mention his _Rebecca_ and _Rowena_, and
his _Kickleburys on the Rhine_; his _Essay on Thunder_ and _Small Beer_;
his _Notes on a Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo_, in 1846, and his
published collection of smaller sketches called _The Roundabout Papers_.
That Thackeray was fully conscious of the dignity of his functions may be
gathered from his own words in _Henry Esmond_. "I would have history
familiar rather than heroic, and think Mr. Hogarth and Mr. Fielding.
[and, we may add, Mr. Thackeray,] will give our children a much better
idea of the manners of that age in England than the _Court Gazette_ and
the newspapers which we get thence." At his death he left an unfinished
novel, entitled _Dennis Duval_. A gifted daughter, who was his kind
amanuensis. Miss ANNE E. THACKERAY, has written several interesting tales,
among which are _The Village on the Cliff_ and _The Story of Elizabeth_.



   Charles Lamb. Thomas Hood. Thomas de Quincey. Other Novelists. Writers
   on Science and Philosophy.

CHARLES LAMB.--This distinguished writer, although not a novelist like
Dickens and Thackeray, in the sense of having produced extensive works of
fiction, was, like them, a humorist and a satirist, and has left
miscellaneous works of rare merit. He was born in London, and was the son
of a servant to one of the Benches of the Inner Temple; he was educated at
Christ's Hospital, where he became the warm friend of Coleridge. In 1792
he received an appointment as clerk in the South Sea House, which he
retained until 1825, when, owing to the distinction he had obtained in the
world of letters, he was permitted to retire with a pension of £450. He
describes his feelings on this happy release from business, in his essay
on _The Superannuated Man_. He was an eccentric man, a serio-comic
character, whose sad life is singularly contrasted with his irrepressible
humor. His sister, whom he has so tenderly described as Bridget Elia, in a
fit of insanity killed their mother with a carving-knife, and Lamb devoted
himself to her care.

He was a poet, and left quaint and beautiful album verses and minor
pieces. As a dramatist, he is known by his tragedy _John Woodvil_, and the
farce _Mr. H----_, neither of which was a success. But he has given us in
his _Specimens of Old English Dramatists_ the result of great reading and
rare criticism.

But it is chiefly as a writer of essays and short stories that he is
distinguished. The _Essays of Elia_, in their vein, mark an era in the
literature; they are light, racy, seemingly dashed off, but really full of
his reading of the older English authors. Indeed, he is so quaint in
thought and style, that he seems an anachronism--a writer of the
Elizabethan period returned to life in this century. He bubbles over with
puns, jests, and repartees; and although not popular in the sense of
reaching the multitude, he is the friend and companion of congenial
readers. Among his essays, we may mention the stories of _Rosamund Gray_
and _Old Blind Margaret_. _Dream Children_ and _The Child Angel_ are those
of greatest power; but every one he has written is charming. His sly hits
at existing abuses are designed to laugh them away. He was the favorite of
his literary circle, and as a talker had no superior. After a life of
care, not unmingled with pleasures, he died in 1834. Lamb's letters are
racy, witty, idiomatic, and unlabored; and, as most of them are to
colleagues in literature and on subjects of social and literary interest,
they are important aids in studying the history of his period.

THOMAS HOOD.--The greatest humorist, the best punster, and the ablest
satirist of his age, Hood attacked the social evils around him with such
skill and power that he stands forth as a philanthropist. He was born in
London in 1798, and, after a limited education, he began to learn the art
of engraving; but his pen was more powerful than his burin. He soon began
to contribute to the _London Magazine_ his _Whims and Oddities_; and, in
irregular verse, satirized the would-be great men of the time, and the
eccentric legislation they proposed in Parliament. These short poems are
full of puns and happy _jeux de mots_, and had a decided effect in
frustrating the foolish plans. After this he published _National Tales_,
in the same comic vein; but also produced his exquisite serious pieces,
_The Plea of the Midsummer Fairies_, _Hero and Leander_, and others, all
of which are striking and tasteful. In 1838 he commenced _The Comic
Annual_, which appeared for several years, brimful of mirth and fun. He
was editor of various magazines,--_The New Monthly_, and _Hood's
Magazine_. For _Punch_ he wrote _The Song of the Shirt_, and _The Bridge
of Sighs_. No one can compute the good done by both; the hearts touched;
the pockets opened. The sewing women were better paid, more cared for,
elevated in the social scale; and many of them saved from that fate which
is so touchingly chronicled in _The Bridge of Sighs_. Hood was a true poet
and a great poet. _Miss Kilmansegg and her Precious Leg_ is satire, story,
epic, comedy, in one.

If he owed to Smollett's _Humphrey Clinker_ the form of his _Up the
Rhine_, he has equalled Smollett in the narrative, in the variety of
character, and in the admirable cacography of Martha Penny. His
caricatures fasten facts in the memory, and every tourist up the Rhine
recognizes Hood's personages wherever he lands.

After a life of ill-health and pecuniary struggle, Hood died, greatly
lamented, on the 3d of May, 1845, and left no successor to wield his
subtle pen.

THOMAS DE QUINCEY (1785-1859).--This singular author, and very learned and
original thinker, owes much of his reputation to the evil habit of
opium-eating, which affected his personal life and authorship. His most
popular work is _The Confessions of an English Opium-Eater_, which
interests the reader by its curious pictures of the abnormal conditions in
which he lived and wrote. He abandoned this noxious practice in the year
1820. He produced much which he did not publish; and his writings all
contain a suggestion of strength and scholarship, a surplus beyond what he
has given to the world. There are numerous essays and narratives, among
which his paper entitled _Murder considered as One of the Fine Arts_ is
especially notable. His prose is considered a model of good English.

The death of Dickens and Thackeray left England without a novelist of
equal fame and power, but with a host of scholarly and respectable pens,
whose productions delight the popular taste, and who are still in the tide
of busy authorship.

Our purpose is already accomplished, and we might rest without the
proceeding beyond the middle of the century; but it will be proper to make
brief mention of those, some of whom have already departed, but many of
whom still remain, and are producing new works, who best illustrate the
historical value and teachings of English literature, and whose writings
will be read in the future for their delineations of the habits and
conditions of the present period.


_Captain Frederick Marryat_, of the Royal Navy, 1792-1848: in his sea
novels depicts naval life with rare fidelity, and with, a roystering
joviality which makes them extremely entertaining. The principal of these
are _Frank Mildmay_, _Newton Forster_, _Peter Simple_, and _Midshipman
Easy_. His works constitute a truthful portrait of the British Navy in the
beginning of the eighteenth century, and have influenced many
high-spirited youths to choose a maritime profession.

_George P. R. James_, 1806-1860: is the author of nearly two hundred
novels, chiefly historical, which have been, in their day, popular. It was
soon found, however, that he repeated himself, and the sameness of
handling began to tire his readers. His "two travellers," with whom he
opens his stories, have become proverbially ridiculous. But he has
depicted scenes in modern history with skill, and especially in French
history. His _Richelieu_ is a favorite; and in his _Life of Charlemagne_
he has brought together the principal events in the career of that
distinguished monarch with logical force and historical accuracy.

_Benjamin d'Israeli_, born 1805: is far more famous as a persevering,
acute, and able statesman than as a novelist. In proof of this, having
surmounted unusual difficulties, he has been twice Chancellor of the
Exchequer and once Prime Minister of England. Among his earlier novels,
which are pictures of existing society, are: _Vivian Gray_, _Contarini
Fleming_, _Coningsby_, and _Henrietta Temple_. In _The Wondrous Tale of
Alroy_ he has described the career of that singular claimant to the
Jewish Messiahship. _Lothair_, which was published in 1869, is the story
of a young nobleman who was almost enticed to enter the Roman Catholic
Church. The descriptions of society are either very much overwrought or
ironical; but his knowledge of State craft and Church craft renders the
book of great value to the history of religious polemics. His father,
_Isaac d'Israeli_, is favorably known as the author of _The Curiosities of
Literature_, _The Amenities of Literature_, and _The Quarrels of Authors_.

_Charles Lever_, 1806-1872: he was born in Dublin, and, after a partial
University career, studied medicine. He has embodied his experience of
military life in several striking but exaggerated works,--among these are:
_The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer_, _Charles O'Malley_, and _Jack
Hinton_. He excels in humor and in picturesque battle-scenes, and he has
painted the age in caricature. Of its kind, _Charles O'Malley_ stands
pre-eminent: the variety of character is great; all classes of military
men figure in the scenes, from the Duke of Wellington to the inimitable
Mickey Free. He was for some time editor of the _Dublin University
Magazine_, and has written numerous other novels, among which are: _Roland
Cashel_, _The Knight of Gwynne_, and _The Dodd Family Abroad_; and, last
of all, _Lord Kilgobbin_.

_Charles Kingsley_, born 1809: this accomplished clergyman, who is a canon
of Chester, is among the most popular English writers,--a poet, a
novelist, and a philosopher. He was first favorably known by a poetical
drama on the story of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, entitled _The Saint's
Tragedy_. Among his other works are: _Alton Locke, Tailor and Poet_;
_Hypatia, the Story of a Virgin Martyr_; _Andromeda; Westward Ho! or the
Adventures of Sir Amyas Leigh_; _Two Years Ago_; and _Hereward, the Last
of the English_. This last is a very vivid historical picture of the way
in which the man of the fens, under the lead of this powerful outlaw, held
out against William the Conqueror. The busy pen of Kingsley has produced
numerous lectures, poems, reviews, essays, and some plain and useful
sermons. He is now Professor of Modern History at Cambridge.

_Charlotte Bronté_, 1816-1855: if of an earlier period, this gifted woman
would demand a far fuller mention and a more critical notice than can be
with justice given of a contemporary. She certainly wrote from the depths
of her own consciousness. _Jane Eyre_, her first great work, was received
with intense interest, and was variously criticized. The daughter of a
poor clergyman at Haworth, and afterwards a teacher in a school at
Brussels, with little knowledge of the world, she produced a powerful book
containing much curious philosophy, and took rank at once among the first
novelists of the age. Her other works, if not equal to _Jane Eyre_, are
still of great merit, and deal profoundly with the springs of human
action. They are: _The Professor_, _Villette_, and _Shirley_. Her
characters are portraits of the men and women around her, painted from
life; and she speaks boldly of motives and customs which other novelists
have touched very delicately. She had two gifted sisters, who were also
successful novelists; but who died young. Miss Bronté died a short time
after her marriage to Mr. Nichol, her father's curate. _Mrs. Elizabeth
Gaskell_, her near friend, and the author of a successful novel called
_Mary Barton_, has written an interesting biography of Mrs. Nichol.

_George Eliot_, born 1820: under this pseudonym, Miss Evans has written
several works of great interest. Among these are: _Adam Bede_; _The Mill
on the Floss_; _Romola_, an Italian story; _Felix Holt_; and _Silas
Marner_. Simple, and yet eminently dramatic in scene, character, and
interlocution, George Eliot has painted pictures from middle and common
life, and is thus the exponent of a large humanity. She is now the wife of
the popular author, G. H. Lewes.

_Dinah Maria Muloch_ (Mrs. Craik), born 1826: a versatile writer. She is
best known by her novels entitled _John Halifax_ and _The Ogilvies_.

_Wilkie Collins_, born 1824: he is the son of a landscape-painter, and is
renowned for his curious and well-concealed plots, phantom-like
characters, and striking effects. Among his novels the best known are:
_Antonina_, _The Dead Secret_, _The Woman in White_, _No Name_,
_Armadale_, _The Moonstone_, and _Man and Wife_. There is a sameness in
these works; and yet it is evident that the author has put his invention
on the rack to create new intrigues, and to mystify his reader from the
beginning to the end of each story.

_Charles Reade_, born 1814: he is one of the most prolific writers of the
day, as well as one of the most readable in all that he has written. He
draws many impassioned scenes, and is as sensuous in literature as Rubens
in art. Among his principal works are: _White Lies_, _Love Me Little, Love
Me Long_; _The Cloister and The Hearth_; _Hard Cash_, and _Griffith
Gaunt_, which convey little, if any, practical instruction. His _Never Too
Late to Mend_ is of great value in displaying the abuses of the prison
system in England; and his _Put Yourself in His Place_ is a very powerful
attack upon the Trades' Unions. A singular epigrammatic style keeps up the
interest apart from the story.

_Mary Russell Mitford_, 1786-1855: she was a poet and a dramatist, but is
chiefly known by her stories. In the collection called _Our Village_, she
has presented beautiful and simple pictures of English country life which
are at once touching and instructive.

_Charlotte Mary Yonge_, born 1823: among the many interesting works of
this author, _The Heir of Redclyff_ is the first and best. This was
followed by _Daisy Chain_, _Heartsease_, _The Clever Woman of the Family_,
and numerous other works of romance and of history,--all of which are
valuable for their high tone of moral instruction and social manners.

_Anthony Trollope_, born 1815: he and his brother, Thomas Adolphus
Trollope, are sons of that Mrs. Frances Trollope who abused our country in
her work entitled _The Domestic Manners of the Americans_, in terms that
were distasteful even to English critics. Anthony Trollope is a successful
writer of society-novels, which, without being of the highest order, are
faithful in their portraitures. Among those which have been very popular
are: _Barchester Towers_, _Framley Parsonage_, _Doctor Thorne_, and _Orley
Farm_, He travelled in the United States, and has published a work of
discernment entitled _North America_. His brother Thomas is best known by
his _History of Florence to the Fall of the Republic_.

_Thomas Hughes_, born 1823: the popular author of _Tom Brown's School-Days
at Rugby_, and _Tom Brown at Oxford_,--books which display the workings of
these institutions, and set up a standard for English youth. The first is
the best, and has made him famous.


Although these do not come strictly within the scope of English
literature, they are so connected with it in the composition of general
culture, and give such a complexion to the age, that it is well to mention
the principal names.

_Sir William Hamilton_, 1788-1856: for twenty years Professor of Logic and
Metaphysics in the University of Edinburgh. His voluminous lectures on
both these subjects were edited, after his death, by Mansel and Veitch,
and have been since of the highest authority.

_William Whewell_, 1795-1866: for some time Master of Trinity College,
Cambridge. He has written learnedly on many subjects: his most valuable
works are: _A History of the Inductive Sciences_, _The Elements of
Morality_, and _The Plurality of Worlds_. Of Whewell it has been pithily
said, that "science was his forte, and omniscience his foible."

_Richard Whately, D.D._, 1787-1863: he was appointed in 1831 Archbishop
of Dublin and Kildare, in Ireland. His chief works are: _Elements of
Logic_, _Elements of Rhetoric_, and _Lectures on Political Economy_. He
gave a new impetus to the study of Logic and Rhetoric, and presented the
formal logic of Aristotle anew to the world; thus marking a distinct epoch
in the history of that much controverted science.

_John Ruskin_, born 1819: he ranks among the most original critics in art;
but is eccentric in his opinions. His powers were first displayed in his
_Modern Painters_. In his _Seven Lamps of Architecture_ he has laid down
the great fundamental principles of that art, among the forms of which the
Gothic claims the pre-eminence. These are further carried out in _The
Stones of Venice_. He is a transcendentalist and a pre-Raphaelite, and
exceedingly dogmatic in stating his views. His descriptive powers are very

_Hugh Miller_, 1802-1856: an uneducated mechanic, he was a brilliant
genius and an observant philosopher. His best works are: _The Old Red
Sandstone_, _Footprints of the Creator_, and _The Testimonies of the
Rocks_. He shot himself in a fit of insanity.

_John Stuart Mill_, born 1806: the son of James Mill, the historian of
India. He was carefully educated, and has written on many subjects. He is
best known by his _System of Logic_; his work on _Political Economy_; and
his _Treatise on Liberty_. Each of these topics being questions of
controversy, Mr. Mill states his views strongly in respect to opposing
systems, and is very clear in the expression of his own dogmas.

_Thomas Chalmers, D.D._, 1780-1847: this distinguished divine won his
greatest reputation as an eloquent preacher. He was for some time
Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of St. Andrew's, and wrote
on _Natural Theology_, _The Evidences of Christianity_, and some lectures
on _Astronomy_. But all his works are glowing sermons rather than
philosophical treatises.

_Richard Chevenix Trench, D.D._, born 1807: the present Archbishop of
Dublin. He has written numerous theological works of popular value, among
which are _Notes on the Parables, and on Miracles_. He has also published
two series of charming lectures on English philology, entitled _The Study
of Words_ and _English Past and Present_. They are suggestive and
discursive rather than philosophical, but have incited many persons to
pursue this delightful study.

_Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, D.D._, born 1815: Dean of Westminster. He was
first known by his excellent biography of Dr. Arnold of Rugby; but has
since enriched biblical literature by his lectures on _The Eastern Church_
and on _The Jewish Church_. He accompanied the Prince of Wales on his
visit to Palestine, and was not only eager in collecting statistics, but
has reproduced them with poetic power.

_Nicholas Wiseman, D.D._, 1802-1865: the head of the Roman Catholic Church
in England. Cardinal Wiseman has written much on theological and
ecclesiastical questions; but he is best known to the literary world by
his able lectures on _The Connection between Science and Revealed
Religion_, which are additionally valuable because they have no sectarian

_Charles Darwin_, born 1809: although he began his career at an early age,
his principal works are so immediately of the present time, and his
speculations are so involved in serious controversies, that they are not
within the scope of this work. His principal works are: _The Origin of
Species by means of Natural Selection_, and _The Descent of Man_. His
facts are curious and very carefully selected; but his conclusions have
been severely criticized.

_Frederick Max Müller_, born 1823: a German by birth. He is a professional
Oxford, and has done more to popularize the Science of Language than any
other writer. He has written largely on Oriental linguistics, and has
given two courses of lectures on _The Science of Language_, which have
been published, and are used as text-books. His _Chips from a German
Workshop_ is a charming book, containing his miscellaneous articles in
reviews and magazines.



   Roman News Letters. The Gazette. The Civil War. Later Divisions. The
   Reviews. The Monthlies. The Dailies. The London Times. Other

ROMAN NEWS LETTERS.--English serials and periodicals, from the very time
of their origin, display, in a remarkable manner, the progress both of
English literature and of English history, and form the most striking
illustration that the literature interprets the history. In using the
caption, "journalism," we include all forms of periodical
literature--reviews, magazines, weekly and daily papers. The word
journalism is, in respect to many of them, a misnomer, etymologically
considered: it is a French corruption of _diurnal_, which, from the Latin
_dies_, should mean a daily paper; but it is now generally used to include
all periodicals. The origin of newspapers is quite curious, and antedates
the invention of printing. The _acta diurna_, or journals of public
events, were the daily manuscript reports of the Roman Government during
the later commonwealth. In these, among other matters of public interest,
every birth, marriage, and divorce was entered. As an illustration of the
character of these brief entries, we have the satire of Petronius, which
he puts in the mouth of the freed man Trimalchio: "The seventh of the
Kalends of Sextilis, on the estate at Cumæ, were born thirty boys, twenty
girls; were carried from the floor to the barn, 500,000 bushels of wheat;
were broke 500 oxen. The same day the slave Mithridates was crucified for
blasphemy against the Emperor's genius; the same day was placed in the
chest the sum of ten millions sesterces, which could not be put out to
use." Similar in character were the _Acta Urbana_, or city register, the
_Acta Publica_, and the _Acta Senatus_, whose names indicate their
contents. They were brief, almost tabular, and not infrequently

THE GAZETTE.--After the downfall of Rome, and during the Dark Ages, there
are few traces of journalism. When Venice was still in her palmy days, in
1563, during a war with the Turks, printed bulletins were issued from time
to time, the price for reading which was a coin of about three farthings'
value called a _gazetta_; and so the paper soon came to be called a
gazette. Old files, to the amount of thirty volumes, of great historical
value, may be found in the Magliabecchian Library at Florence.

Next in order, we find in France _Affiches_, or _placards_, which were
soon succeeded by regular sheets of advertisement, exhibited at certain

As early as the time of the intended invasion of England by the Spanish
Armada, about the year 1588, we find an account of its defeat and
dispersion in the _Mercurie_, issued by Queen Elizabeth's own printer. In
another number is the news of a plot for killing the queen, and a
statement that instruments of torture were on board the vessels, to set up
the Inquisition in London. Whether true or not, the newspaper said it; and
the English people believed it implicitly.

About 1600, with the awakening spirit of the people, there began to appear
periodical papers containing specifically news from Germany, from Italy,
&c. And during the Thirty Years' War there was issued a weekly paper
called _The Certain News of the Present Week_. Although the word _news_ is
significant enough, many persons considered it as made up of the initial
letters representing the cardinal points of the compass, _N.E.W.S._, from
which the curious people looked for satisfying intelligence.

THE CIVIL WAR.--The progress of English journalism received a great
additional impetus when the civil war broke out between Charles I. and his
Parliament, in 1642. To meet the demands of both parties for intelligence,
numbers of small sheets were issued: _Truths from York_ told of the rising
in the king's favor there. There were: _Tidings from Ireland_, _News from
Hull_, telling of the siege of that place in 1643; _The Dutch Spy_; _The
Parliament Kite_; _The Secret Owl_; _The Scot's Dove_, with the
olive-branch. Then flourished the _Weekly Discoverer_, and _The Weekly
Discoverer Stripped Naked_. But these were only bare and partial
statements, which excited rancor without conveying intelligence. "Had
there been better vehicles for the expression of public opinion," says the
author of the Student's history of England, "the Stuarts might have been
saved from some of those schemes which proved so fatal to themselves."

In the session of Parliament held in 1695, there occurred a revolution of
great moment. There had been an act, enforced for a limited time, to
restrain unlicensed printing, and under it censors had been appointed;
but, in this year, the Parliament refused to re-enact or continue it, and
thus the press found itself comparatively free.

We have already referred to the powerful influence of the essayists in
_The Tatler_, _Spectator_, _Guardian_, and _Rambler_, which may be called
the real origin of the present English press.

LATER DIVISIONS.--Coming down to the close of the eighteenth century, we
find the following division of English periodical literature:
_Quarterlies_, usually called _Reviews_; _Monthlies_, generally entitled
_Magazines_; _Weeklies_, containing digests of news; and _Dailies_, in
which are found the intelligence and facts of the present moment; and in
this order, too, were the intellectual strength and learning of the time
at first employed. The _Quarterlies_ contained the articles of the great
men--the acknowledged critics in politics, literature, and art; the
_Magazines_, a current literature of poetry and fiction; the _Weeklies_
and _Dailies_, reporters' facts and statistics; the latter requiring
activity rather than cleverness, and beginning to be a vehicle for
extensive advertisements.

This general division has been since maintained; but if the order has not
been reversed, there can be no doubt that the great dailies have steadily
risen; on most questions of popular interest in all departments, long and
carefully written articles in the dailies, from distinguished pens,
anticipate the quarterlies, or force them to seek new grounds and forms of
presentation after forestalling their critical opinions. Not many years
ago, the quarterlies subsidized the best talent; now the men of that class
write for _The Times_, _Standard_, _Telegraph_, &c.

Let us look, in the order we have mentioned, at some representatives of
the press in its various forms.

Each of the principal reviews represents a political party, and at the
same time, in most cases, a religious denomination; and they owe much of
their interest to the controversial spirit thus engendered.

REVIEWS.--First among these, in point of origin, is the _Edinburgh
Review_, which was produced by the joint efforts of several young, and
comparatively unknown, gentlemen, among whom were Francis (afterwards)
Lord Jeffrey, Lord Murray, Mr. (since Lord) Brougham, and the Rev. Sydney
Smith. The latter gentleman was appointed first editor, and remained long
enough in Edinburgh to edit the first number. Thereafter Jeffrey conducted
it. The men were clever, witty, studious, fearless; and the Review was not
only from the first a success, but its fiat was looked for by authors with
fear and trembling. It became a vehicle for the efforts of the best minds.
Macaulay wrote for it those brilliant miscellanies which at once
established his fame, and gave it much of its popularity. In it Jeffrey
attacked the Lake poetry, and incurred the hatred of Byron. Its
establishment, in 1803, was an era in the world of English letters. The
papers were not merely reviews, but monographs on interesting subjects--a
new anatomy of history; it was in a general way an exponent, but quite an
independent one, of the Whig party, or those who would liberally construe
the Constitution,--putting Churchmen and Dissenters on the same platform;
although published in Edinburgh, it was neither Scotch nor Presbyterian.
It attacked ancient prescriptions and customs; agitated questions long
considered settled both of present custom and former history; and thus
imitated the champion knights who challenged all comers, and sustained no

Occupying opposite ground to this is the great English review called the
_London Quarterly_: it was established in 1809; is an uncompromising
Tory,--entirely conservative as to monarchy, aristocracy, and Established
Church. Its first editor was William Gifford; but it attained its best
celebrity under the charge of John Gibson Lockhart, the son-in-law of Sir
Walter Scott, a man of singular critical power. Among its distinguished
contributors were Southey, Scott, Canning, Croker, and Wordsworth.

The _North British Review_, which never attained the celebrity of either
of these, and which has at length, in 1871, been discontinued, occupied
strong Scottish and Presbyterian ground, and had its respectable

But besides the parties mentioned, there is a floating one, growing by
slow but sure accretion, know as the _Radical_. It includes men of many
stamps, mainly utilitarian,--radical in politics, innovators, radical in
religion, destructive as to systems of science and arts, a learned and
inquisitive class,--rational, transcendental, and intensely dogmatic. As a
vent for this varied party, the _Westminster Review_ was founded by Mr
Bentham, in 1824. Its articles are always well written, and sometimes
dangerous, according to our orthodox notions. It is supported by such
writers as Mill, Bowring, and Buckle.

Besides these there are numerous quarterlies of more or less limited
scope, as in science or art, theology or law; such as _The Eclectic, The
Christian Observer, The Dublin_, and many others.

THE MONTHLIES.--Passing from the reviews to the monthlies, we find the
range and number of these far greater, and the matter lighter. The first
great representative of the modern series, and one that has kept its issue
up to the present day, is Cave's _Gentleman's Magazine_, which commenced
its career in 1831, and has been continued, after Cave's death, by Henry &
Nichols, who wrote under the pseudonym of _Sylvanus Urban_. It is a strong
link between past and present. Johnson sent his _queries_ to it while
preparing his dictionary, and at the present day it is the favorite
vehicle of antiquarians and historians. Passing by others, we find
Blackwood's _Edinburgh Magazine_, first published in 1817. Originally a
strong and bitter conservative, it kept up its popularity by its fine
stories and poems. Among the most notable papers in Blackwood are the
_Noctes Ambrosianæ_, in which Professor Wilson, under the pseudonym of
_Christopher North_, took the greater part.

Most of the magazines had little or no political proclivity, but were
chiefly literary. Among them are _Fraser's_, begun in 1830, and the
_Dublin University_, in 1832.

A charming light literature was presented by the _New Monthly_: in
politics it was a sort of set-off to Blackwood: in it Captain Marryat
wrote his famous sea stories; and among other contributors are the ever
welcome names of Hood, Lytton, and Campbell. The _Penny Magazine_, of
Knight, was issued from 1832 to 1845.

Quite a new era dawned upon the magazine world in the establishment of
several new ones, under the auspices of famous authors; among which we
mention _The Cornhill_, edited by Thackeray, in 1859, with unprecedented
success, until his tender heart compelled him to resign it; _Temple Bar_,
by Sala, in 1860, is also very successful.

In 1850 Dickens began the issue of _Household Words_, and in 1859 this was
merged into _All the Year Round_, which owed its great popularity to the
prestige of the same great writer.

Besides these, devoted to literature and criticism, there are also many
monthlies issued in behalf of special branches of knowledge, art, and
science, which we have not space to refer to.

Descending in the order mentioned, we come to the weeklies, which, besides
containing summaries of daily intelligence, also share the magazine field
in brief descriptive articles, short stories, and occasional poems.

A number of these are illustrated journals, and are of great value in
giving us pictorial representations of the great events and scenes as they
pass, with portraits of men who have become suddenly famous by some
special act or appointment. Their value cannot be too highly appreciated;
they supply to the mind, through the eye, what the best descriptions in
letter-press could not give; and in them satire uses comic elements with
wonderful effect. Among the illustrated weeklies, the _Illustrated London
News_ has long held a high place; and within a short period _The Graphic_
has exhibited splendid pictures of men and things of timely interest. Nor
must we forget to mention _Punch_, which has been the grand jester of the
realm since its origin. The best humorous and witty talent of England has
found a vent in its pages, and sometimes its pathos has been productive of
reform. Thackeray, Cuthbert Bede, Mark Lemon, Hood, have amused us in its
pages, and the clever pencil of Leech has made a series of etching which
will never grow tiresome. To it Thackeray contributed his _Snob Papers_,
and Hood _The Song of the Shirt_.

THE DAILIES.--But the great characteristic of the age is the daily
newspaper, so common a blessing that we cease to marvel at it, and yet
marvellous as it is common. It is the product of quick intelligence, of
great energy, of concurrent and systematized labor, and, in order to
fulfil its mission, it seems to subsidize all arts and invade all
subjects--steam, mechanics, photography, phonography, and electricity. The
news which it prints and scatters comes to it on the telegraph; long
orations are phonographically reported; the very latest mechanical skill
is used in its printing; and the world is laid at our feet as we sit at
the breakfast-table and read its columns.

I shall not go back to the origin of printing, to show the great progress
that has been made in the art from that time to the present; nor shall I
attempt to explain the present process, which one visit to a press-room
would do far better than any description; but I simply refer to the fact
that fifty years ago newspapers were still printed with the hand-press,
giving 250 impressions per hour--no cylinder, no flying Hoe, (that was
patented only in 1847.) Now, the ten-cylinder Hoe, steam driven, works off
20,000 sheets in an hour, and more, as the stereotyper may multiply the
forms. What an emblem of art-progress is this! Fifty years ago
mail-coaches carried them away. Now, steamers and locomotives fly with
them all over the world, and only enlarge and expand the story, the great
facts of which have been already sent in outline by telegraph.

Nor is it possible to overrate the value of a good daily paper: as the
body is strengthened by daily food, so are we built up mentally and
spiritually for the busy age in which we live by the world of intelligence
contained in the daily journal. A great book and a good one is offered for
the reading of many who have no time to read others, and a great culture
in morals, religion, politics, is thus induced. Of course it would be
impossible to mention all the English dailies. Among them _The London
Times_ is pre-eminent, and stands highest in the opinion of the
ministerial party, which fears and uses it.

There was a time when the press was greatly trammelled in England, and
license of expression was easily charged with constructive treason; but at
present it is remarkably free, and the great, the government, and existing
abuses, receive no soft treatment at its hands.

_The London Times_ was started by John Walter, a printer, in 1788, there
having been for three years before a paper called the _London Daily
Universal Register_. In 1803 his son, John, went into partnership, when
the circulation was but 1,000. Within ten years it was 5,000. In 1814,
cleverly concealing the purpose from his workmen, he printed the first
sheet ever printed by steam, on Kœnig's press. The paper passed, at his
death, into the hands of his son, the third John, who is a scholar,
educated at Eton and Oxford, like his father a member of Parliament, and
who has lately been raised to the peerage. The _Times_ is so influential
that it may well be called a third estate in the realm: its writers are
men of merit and distinction; its correspondence secures the best foreign
intelligence; and its travelling agents, like Russell and others, are the
true historians of a war. English journalism, it is manifest, is eminently
historical. The files of English newspapers are the best history of the
period, and will, by their facts and comments, hereafter confront specious
and false historians. Another thing to be observed is the impersonality of
the British press, not only in the fact that names are withheld, but that
the articles betray no authorship; that, in short, the paper does not
appear as the glorification of one man or set of men, but like an
unprejudiced relator, censor, and judge.

Of the principal London papers, the _Morning Post_ (Liberal, but not
Radical,) was begun in 1772. The _Globe_ (at first Liberal, but within a
short time Tory), in 1802. The _Standard_ (Conservative), in 1827. The
_Daily News_ (high-class Liberal), in 1846. The _News_ announced itself as
pledged to _Principles of Progress and Improvement_. _The Daily Telegraph_
was started in 1855, and claims the largest circulation. It is also a
_Liberal_ paper.


Addison, Joseph, 258.
Akenside, Mark, 351.
Alcuin, 40.
Aldhelm, Abbot, 40.
Alfred the Great, 42.
Alfric, surnamed Germanicus, 40.
Alison, Sir Archibald, 447.
Alured of Rievaux, 49.
Arbuthnot, John, 252.
Arnold, Matthew, 438.
Arnold, Thomas, 448.
Ascham, Roger, 103.
Ashmole, Elias, 232.
Aubrey, John, 232.
Austen, Jane, 411.

Bacon, Francis, 156.
Bacon, Roger, 59.
Bailey, Philip James, 437.
Baillie, Joanna, 368.
Barbauld, Anne Letitia, 359.
Barbour, John, 89.
Barclay, Robert, 228.
Barham, Richard Harris, 437.
Barklay, Alexander, 102.
Barrow, Isaac, 230.
Baxter, Richard, 226.
Beattie, James, 356.
Beaumont, Francis, 154.
Beckford, William, 412.
Bede the Venerable, 37.
Benoit, 52.
Berkeley, George, 278.
Blair, Hugh, 369.
Blind Harry, 89.
Bolingbroke, Viscount, (Henry St. John,) 278.
Boswell, James, 321.
Browne, Sir Thomas, 225.
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 432.
Browning, Robert, 434.
Buchanan, George, 126.
Buckle, Henry Thomas, 447.
Bulwer, Edward George Earle Lytton, 450.
Bunyan, John, 228.
Burke, Edmund, 369.
Burnet, Gilbert, 231.
Burney, Frances, 368.
Burns, Robert, 397.
Burton, Robert, 125.
Butler, Samuel, 198.
Byron, Rt. Hon. George Gordon, 384

Caedmon, 34.
Cambrensis, Giraldus, 49.
Camden, William, 126.
Campbell, Thomas, 401.
Carlyle, Thomas, 444.
Cavendish, George, 102.
Caxton, William, 92.
Chapman, George, 127.
Chatterton, Thomas, 340.
Chaucer, Geoffrey, 60.
Chillingworth, William, 222.
Coleridge, Hartley, 427.
Coleridge, Henry Nelson, 427.
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 424.
Collier, John Payne, 153.
Collins, William, 357.
Colman, George, 366.
Colman, George, (The Younger,) 366.
Congreve, William, 236.
Cornwall, Barry, 436.
Colton, Charles, 205.
Coverdale, Miles, 170.
Cowley, Abraham, 195.
Cowper, William, 353.
Crabbe, George, 400.
Cumberland, Richard, 363.
Cunningham, Allan, 412.

Daniel, Samuel, 127.
Davenant, Sir William, 205.
Davies, Sir John, 127.
Defoe, Daniel, 282.
Dekker, Thomas, 154.
De Quincey, Thomas, 468.
Dickens, Charles, 452.
Dixon, William Hepworth, 449.
Donne, John, 127.
Drayton, Michael, 127.
Dryden, John, 207.
Dunbar, William, 90.
Dunstan, (called Saint,) 41.

Eadmer, 49.
Edgeworth, Maria, 410.
Erigena, John Scotus, 40.
Etherege, Sir George, 238.
Evelyn, John, 231.

Falconer, William, 357.
Farquhar, George, 238.
Ferrier, Mary, 411.
Fielding, Henry, 288.
Fisher, John, 102.
Florence of Worcester, 49.
Foote, Samuel, 363.
Ford, John, 154.
Fox, George, 226.
Froissart, Sire Jean, 58.
Fronde, James Anthony, 448.
Fuller, Thomas, 224.

Gaimar, Geoffrey, 52.
Garrick, David, 361.
Gay, John, 252.
Geoffrey, 52.
Geoffrey of Monmouth, 48.
Gibbon, Edward, 317
Gillies, John, 441.
Goldsmith, Oliver, 301.
Gowen, John, 86.
Gray, Thomas, 351.
Greene, Robert, 136.
Greville, Sir Fulke, 127.
Grostête, Robert, 59.
Grote, George, 440.

Hakluyt, Richard, 126.
Hall, Joseph, 221.
Hallam, Henry, 448.
Harvey, Gabriel, 110.
Heber, Reginald, 436.
Hemans, Mrs. Felicia Dorothea, 409.
Henry of Huntingdon, 49.
Hennyson, Robert, 90.
Herbert, George, 203.
Herrick, Robert, 204.
Heywood, John, 131.
Higden, Ralph, 50.
Hobbes, Thomas, 125.
Hogg, James, 412.
Hollinshed, Raphael, 126.
Hood, Thomas, 467.
Hooker, Richard, 125.
Hope, Thomas, 412.
Hume, David, 311.
Hunt, Leigh, 411.
Hyde, Edward, Earl of Clarendon, 205.

Ingelow, Jean, 437.
Ingulphus, Abbot of Croyland, 49.
Ireland, Samuel, 153.

James I, (of Scotland,) 89.
Johnson, Doctor Samuel, 324.
Jonson, Ben, 153.
Junius, 331.

Keats, John, 407.
Keble, John, 437.
Knowles, James Sheridan, 436.
Kyd, Thomas, 136.

Lamb, Charles, 466.
Landon, Letitia Elizabeth, 410.
Langland, 56.
Latimer, Hugh, 102.
Layamon, 53.
Lee, Nathaniel, 240.
Leland, John, 102.
Lingard, John, 446.
Locke, John, 231.
Lodge, Thomas, 135.
Luc de la Barre, 52.
Lydgate, John, 90.
Lyly, John, 136.

Macaulay, Thomas Babington, 441.
Mackay, Charles, 437.
Mackenzie, Henry, 307.
Macpherson, Doctor James, 336.
Mahon, Lord, 447.
Mandevil, Sir John, 58.
Manning, Robert, 59.
Marlowe, Christopher, 134.
Marston, John, 136.
Massinger, 154.
Matthew of Westminster, 49.
Mestre, Thomas, 32.
Milton, John, 174.
Mitford, William, 444.
Moore, Thomas, 390.
More, Hannah, 367.
More, Sir Thomas, 99.

Napier. Sir William Francis Patrick, 447.
Nash, Thomas, 136.
Newton, Sir Isaac, 278.
Norton, Mrs. Caroline Elizabeth, 410.

Occleve, Thomas, 89.
Ormulum, 54.
Otway, Thomas, 239.

Paley, William, 370.
Paris, Matthew, 49.
Parnell, Thomas, 252.
Pecock, Reginald, 102.
Peele, George, 136.
Penn, William, 227.
Pepys, Samuel, 232.
Percy, Dr. Thomas, (Bishop,) 358.
Philip de Than, 52.
Pollok, Robert, 411.
Pope, Alexander, 241.
Prior, Matthew, 251.
Purchas, Samuel, 126.

Quarles, Francis, 203.

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 126.
Richard I., (Cœur de Lion,) 52.

Richardson, Samuel, 285.
Robert of Gloucester, 55.
Robertson, William, 315.
Roger de Hovedin, 49.
Rogers, Samuel, 403.
Roscoe, William, 413.
Rowe, Nicholas, 240.

Sackville, Thomas, 127.
Scott, Sir Michael, 59.
Scott, Walter, 371.
Shakspeare, William, 137.
Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 405.
Shenstone, William, 357.
Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, 364.
Sherlock, William, 230.
Shirley, 154.
Sidney, Sir Philip, 107.
Skelton, John, 95.
Smollett, Tobias George, 292.
South, Robert, 230.
Southern, Thomas, 240.
Southey, Robert, 421.
Spencer, Edmund, 104.
Steele, Sir Richard, 264.
Sterne, Lawrence, 296.
Still, John, 132.
Stillingfleet, Edward, 230.
Stow, John, 126.
Strickland, Agnes, 447.
Suckling, Sir John, 204.
Surrey, Earl of, 98.
Swift, Jonathan, 268.
Swinburne, Algernon Charles, 437.

Tailor, Robert, 136.
Taylor, Jeremy, 223.
Temple, Sir William, 277.
Tennyson, Alfred, 428.
Thackeray, Anne E., 465.
Thackeray, William Makepeace, 459.
Thirlwall, Connop, 441.
Thomas of Ercildoun, 59.
Thomson, James, 347.
Tickell, Thomas, 252.
Tupper, Martin Farquhar, 437.
Turner, Sharon, 448.
Tusser, Thomas, 102.
Tyndale, William, 169.
Tytler, Patrick Frazer, 446.

Udall, Nicholas, 132.

Vanbrugh, Sir John, 237.
Vaughan, Henry, 205.
Vitalis, Ordericus, 49.

Wace, Richard, 51.
Waller, Edmund, 204.
Walpole, Horace, 321.
Walton, Izaak, 202.
Warton, Joseph, 368.
Warton, Thomas, 368.
Watts, Isaac, 252.

Webster, 154.
White, Henry Kirke, 358.
Wiclif, John, 77.
William of Jumièges, 49.
William of Malmsbury, 47.
William of Poictiers, 49.
Wither, George, 203.
Wolcot, John, 367.
Wordsworth, William, 415.
Wyat, Sir Thomas, 97.
Wycherley, William, 235.

Young, Edward, 253.



[1] His jurisdiction extended from Norfolk around to Sussex.

[2] This is the usually accepted division of tribes; but Dr. Latham denies
that the Jutes, or inhabitants of Jutland, shared in the invasion. The
difficult question does not affect the scope of our inquiry.

[3] Gibbon's Decline and Fall, c. lv.

[4] H. Martin, Histoire de France, i. 53.

[5] Vindication of the Ancient British Poems.

[6] Craik's English Literature, i. 37.

[7] Sharon Turner, History of the Anglo-Saxons, book ix., c. i.

[8] Bosworth's Anglo-Saxon Dictionary.

[9] Kemble ("Saxon in England") suggests the resemblance between the
fictitious landing of Hengist and Horsa "in three keels," and the Gothic
tradition of the migration of Ostrogoths, Visigoths, and Gepidæ to the
mouth of the Vistula in the same manner. Dr. Latham (English Language)
fixes the Germanic immigration into Britain at the middle of the fourth,
instead of the middle of the fifth century.

[10] Lectures on Modern History, lect, ii.

[11] Sharon Turner.

[12] Turner, ch. xii.

[13] For the discussion of the time and circumstances of the introduction
of French into law processes, see Craik, i. 117.

[14] Sharon Turner's History of the Anglo-Saxons, i. 199. For an admirable
summary of the bardic symbolisms and mythological types exhibited in the
story of Arthur, see H. Martin, Hist. de France, liv. xx.

[15] Craik says, (i. 198,) "Or, as he is also called, _Lawemon_--for the
old character represented in this instance by our modern _y_ is really
only a guttural, (and by no means either a _j_ or a _z_,) by which it is
sometimes rendered." Marsh says, "Or, perhaps, _Lagamon_, for we do not
know the sound of _y_ in this name."

[16] Introduction to the Poets of Queen Elizabeth's Age.

[17] So called from his having a regular district or _limit_ in which to

[18] Spelled also Wycliffe, Wicliff, and Wyklyf.

[19] Am. ed., i. 94.

[20] Wordsworth, Ecc. Son., xvii.

[21] "The Joyous Science, as the profession of minstrelsy was termed, had
its various ranks, like the degrees in the Church and in chivalry."--_Sir
Walter Scott_, (_The Betrothed_.)

[22] 1st, the real presence; 2d, celibacy; 3d, monastic vows; 4th, low
mass; 5th, auricular confession; 6th, withholding the cup from the laity.

[23] "The Earl of Surrey is said to have translated one of Virgil's books
without rhyme, and, besides our tragedies, a few short poems had appeared
in blank verse.... These petty performances cannot be supposed to have
much influenced Milton; ... finding blank verse easier than rhyme, he was
desirous of persuading himself that it is better."--_Lives of the

[24] From this dishonor Mr. Froude's researches among the statute books
have not been able to lift him, for he gives system to horrors which were
before believed to be eccentric; and, while he fails to justify the
monarch, implicates a trembling parliament and a servile ministry, as if
their sharing the crime made it less odious.

[25] The reader's attention is called--or recalled--to the masterly
etching of Sir Philip Sidney, in Motley's History of the United
Netherlands. The low chant of the _cuisse rompue_ is especially pathetic.

[26] This last claim of title was based upon the voyages of the Cabots,
and the unsuccessful colonial efforts of Raleigh and Gilbert.

[27] Froude, i. 65.

[28] Introduction to fifth canto of Marmion.

[29] Froude, i. 73.

[30] Opening scene of The Merry Wives of Windsor.

[31] Rev. A. Dyce attributes this play to Marlowe or Kyd.

[32] The dates as determined by Malone are given: many of them differ from
those of Drake and Chalmers.


    If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shined
    The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind.

_Pope, Essay on Man_.

[34] Life of Addison.

[35] Macaulay: Art. on Warren Hastings.

[36] The handwriting of Junius professionally investigated by Mr. Charles
P. Chabot. London, 1871.

[37] H. C. Robinson, Diary II., 79.

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