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Title: The Age of Dryden
Author: Garnett, Richard, 1835-1906
Language: English
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The plan of a general history of English literature in a series of
introductory manuals, each dealing with a well-defined period and
individually complete, as set forth in the preface to Mr. Dennis's _Age
of Pope_, is advanced a stage further by the present volume.

The period described, from its chief literary figure, as _The Age of
Dryden_, and which might with equal propriety have been entitled _The
Age of the Restoration_, extends from 1660 to 1700. Some very important
writers, such as Milton and Clarendon, the composition or publication of
whose principal works falls within this epoch, have been passed over as
belonging in style and spirit to the preceding age; and in a few
instances this procedure has been reversed. In the main, however, the
last forty years of the seventeenth century constitute the period of
literary activity represented, and will be found to be demarcated with
unusual precision from both the preceding and the ensuing era.

The writer of a literary history embracing works on a great variety of
topics will soon discover that he is expected to impart more information
than he possesses. If in any measure endowed with the grace of modesty,
he will frequently feel compelled to acknowledge with Mr. Edward Gibbon
Wakefield, when, after having overcome every other difficulty in the
foundation of his colony, he came to provide it with a bishop: 'I fear I
do not very well understand this part of the subject myself.' Trusty
guides, however, fortunately are not wanting. The author's warmest
acknowledgments are due for the assistance he has derived from personal
communication with Professor Hales, and from the writings of Macaulay,
Matthew Arnold, Mr. Gosse, Professor Saintsbury, Mr. Churton Collins,
and Dr. Fowler. He is indebted for the Index to Mr. J. P. Anderson, of
the Reading Room of the British Museum.

     R. G.

_October, 1895._


     CHAP.                                                   PAGE

           INTRODUCTION                                        1

        I. JOHN DRYDEN AS A POET                               7

       II. POETS CONTEMPORARY WITH DRYDEN                     42

      III. LYRIC POETRY                                       67

       IV. DRYDEN AND THE RESTORATION DRAMA                   76

        V. DRAMATIC POETS AND PLAYWRIGHTS                    101


      VII. CRITICISM                                         149

     VIII. PHILOSOPHY                                        155

       IX. WRITERS ON GOVERNMENT                             168


       XI. AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND BIOGRAPHY                       195

      XII. DIVINITY                                          221



       XV. ANTIQUARIANS AND MEN OF SCIENCE                   259

      XVI. TRAVELLERS                                        272

     CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE                                     281

     INDEX                                                   285



The accession of Charles II. as king _de facto_, which in the political
history of England marks a Restoration, in her literary history marks a
Revolution. Not that the transition from one mode of writing and
thinking to another was instantaneous, or enjoined by legislative or
academical decree. It had long been slowly progressing, and its
unequivocal triumph would probably have come to pass sooner but for the
obstruction to the intellectual life of the nation occasioned by twenty
years of civil commotion. The magnitude of this impediment appears from
the fact that all the writings of even so great a scholar and poet as
Milton, produced during this interval, were of a polemical nature. When
at last society found sufficient stability to allow its members to write
for fame, emolument, or the extension of knowledge, it quickly became
manifest how wide a gulf yawned between the men of that day and the men
of twenty years ago. The new influence, indeed, had long been at work. A
comparison, for example, of the last of the old dramatists, Massinger
and Shirley, with their predecessors, evinces how much even in their day
the stage was losing in poetry, in imagination, and in the charm of
musical metre; how rapidly its personages were degenerating from vital
individualities into conventional types; how much, on the other hand,
always excepting Shakespeare's pieces from the comparison, it was
gaining in logic and construction. An examination of other forms of
literature would reveal a similar clarifying process, a steady
discouragement of the quaint affectation which was the bane of
Elizabethan literature, combined, unfortunately, with increasing
sterility of fancy, and growing insensibility to the noble harmonies of
which English prose is capable. An Elizabethan poet, indeed, Samuel
Daniel, had in some of his works almost anticipated the style of the
eighteenth century; in general, however, writers during the period of
the Civil War seem to our apprehension more or less encrusted with the
mellow patina of antiquity, conspicuously absent from nearly everyone
who wrote under Charles II. Hence the accession of this monarch, in
whose person the new taste might be said to be enthroned, is justly
regarded as the commencement of the new era. Charles's personal
influence on letters was not insignificant. 'The king,' says a
contemporary, Burnet, 'had little or no literature, but true and good
sense, and had got a right notion of style, for he was in France at a
time when they were much set on reforming their language. It soon
appeared that he had a true taste. So this helped to raise the value of
these men [Tillotson and others], when the king approved the style their
discourses generally ran in, which was clear, plain, and short.' Burnet,
therefore, had no doubt that correct principles of taste had been
established in England in Charles II.'s time, and partly by the king's
instrumentality--a dictum equivalent to the condemnation of all
preceding English literature as barbarous. Such was also the opinion of
one of the masters of English style in the succeeding century, David

Charles II. was not a man who could under any circumstances have
sympathized greatly with the poetry of Spenser, or the prose of Raleigh
or Hooker. The native bent of his mind was, moreover, strengthened by
contingencies, among which Burnet justly gives a foremost place to his
residence in France. It must be added that this influence coincided with
a movement which, if for the time disadvantageous to English literature,
was, nevertheless, essential if it was to cease to be merely insular.
Until the time of Charles I. this literature, in so far as it owed
anything to external patterns of modern date, had been chiefly dependent
upon Italy. This might have long continued but for the decay of Italian
letters consequent upon the triumph of foreign oppression and spiritual
despotism throughout the peninsula. France stepped into the vacant
place, and developed a literature qualified to impress other nations no
less by its defects than by its virtues, by its want of elevation as
well as by its sprightliness and lucidity. Ere long French ideas of
style had pervaded Europe, and approximation to French modes was the
inevitable qualification for the great mission of human enlightenment
which was to devolve upon Britain in the succeeding century. Up to this
time the literature of England had resembled that of Spain, original and
racy of the soil, grander and more noble than the less dignified
literature whose statutes it was to keep and whose laws it was to
observe for a season, but on this very account comparatively out of
touch with the common needs of men. Had British writers continued to
indite the prose of Hooker and Milton, their ideas would have found no
entrance into the Continent; and grievous as was the declension from the
poetry and music of these great writers to the _sermo pedestris_ of
their successors, this was more than counterbalanced by the acquisition
of lucidity, logic, and cogency. The loss was but temporary, the gain
was everlasting; for the nineteenth century has found it possible to
restore much of the solemn pomp and musical and pictorial charm of
Elizabethan English, without parting with the clearness and coherence
which are indispensable for a literature that would deeply affect the
world. In becoming for a moment French, English literature first became
European--happy that the new influence did not, as elsewhere, penetrate
too far, and that when all of good that the foreigner could proffer had
been assimilated, speech and style regained their nationality. They did
not, however, thus revert to their old channel. 'The Restoration,' says
Matthew Arnold with justice, 'marks the real moment of birth of our
modern English prose.' This prose, indeed, has since been vastly
enriched by recurrence to antique models, but gains from this source
have always been felt to partake of the nature of importation. The vital
point of Restoration practice is accepted by all who do not deliberately
aim at the composition of poems in prose. 'It is,' says Arnold, 'by its
organism--an organism opposed to length and involvement, and enabling us
to be clear, plain, and short--that English style after the Restoration
breaks with the style of the times preceding it, finds the true law of
prose, and becomes modern; becomes, in spite of superficial differences,
the style of our own day.'

This age of metamorphosis, therefore, is one of the most important in
the history of English literature, and if the men of the Restoration
could have beheld themselves in their relation, not only to their
predecessors, but also to their successors, their complacency would not
have been unjustifiable. Their inability to apprehend their true
relation to either was a failing by no means peculiar to them, but it
has exposed them to a double measure of the ridicule of posterity, who
roar with laughter over Pepys's dictum that _A Midsummer Night's Dream_
'seems but a mean thing' after Sir Samuel Tuke's _Adventures of Five
Hours_, and are hardly more merciful to Dryden's conversion of _Paradise
Lost_ into an opera. It must be owned that the conception of poetry as
something awful, spiritual, and divine, became for a time extinct.
Shelley's Defence of Poetry, could such a work have existed, would have
seemed even more absurd to that age than Mr. Pepys's critical
deliverances do to ours. The excuse is that the particular work assigned
to the period was incompatible with a very high standard of poetry. This
work, as we have seen, was the regeneration of English prose by the
elimination of those elements which unfitted it for clear precise
reasoning and practical business, and the making English a tongue in
which Bunyan and Cobbett might be classics equally with Bacon and Sir
Thomas Browne. Such an achievement implies a prosaic age. If the latter
part of the seventeenth century could have produced Miltons, these would
have continued to write as Milton did: it was therefore fortunate for
the language in the long run that supreme genius should have for the
time died out, and have been replaced by a vigorous, terrestrial,
unideal genius that, having no oracle, required no tripod. For a time,
no doubt, the contrast must have seemed very dismal to any who yet
retained a perception of the richness and glory of the Elizabethan
epoch. But we, if we compare, not to say the letters of Cromwell, but
those of Charles I., with the despatches of Wellington, cannot but be
sensible of an enormous advance, not merely in the effectiveness of
speech, but in its dignity and simplicity, and of a great enrichment of
the language by the newly acquired power to deal with common things. For
this the men of the Restoration are to be thanked: and it must be added
that their work could not have been done if they had not thoroughly
believed in it; and that this belief necessitated, except in such
superior minds as Dryden's, contempt for their predecessors and a
genuine preference of their sorry foreign models to Shakespeare. The
revolution which they effected in matters of taste may be compared to
the contemporary revolution in politics. The Restoration government was
a sad decline from the enthusiastic visions of Milton and Vane, or even
from the wise and sturdy sway of Cromwell. Nevertheless the English
nation accepted and maintained it as the best arrangement which the
circumstances of the time admitted. So the new style in literature was
universally accepted because the old style was for a time effete;
because tasks had been imposed and needs had arisen to which it was
unable to respond; because, in short, a prosaic age craved a prosaic
literature. We look, therefore, on the Restoration period as anything
but an ideal epoch, but at the same time as a most momentous one; as one
to which we are indebted for much of our present command over the
resources of our language; and to which Britain owes very much of her
present power over the world. Acquaintance with its leading
representatives also proves that, if less picturesque figures than their
predecessors, they were not inferior in mental power. And, although the
age is justly regarded as in the main an age of prose; yet, as poets
respond most readily to the influences of their time, and are usually in
the van of intellectual revolutions, so the leading figure in the
literary history even of this epoch of prose is a poet--Dryden,
doubtless the most prosaic of all our great poets, but inferior to none
in intellectual force; and one whose poverty and pliability made him the
mirror of the less worthy tendencies of his time on the one hand, while
his higher aspirations and the force of his genius rendered him no less
the representative of its better qualities on the other. With Dryden,
therefore, we commence our survey.



John Dryden was born August 9, 1631, at Aldwinkle All Saints, between
Thrapston and Oundle, in Northamptonshire. He was the grandson of Sir
Erasmus Dryden, baronet, of Canons Ashby, in the same county; and his
father possessed a small landed property, which he transmitted to the
poet. Dryden maintained a connection with his native county all his
life, but it was never close; of the rest of the world, outside London
and Cambridge, he only occasionally saw anything. Few of our great
writers have been so thoroughly identified with the metropolis, of which
he became an inhabitant at an early age by his entry at Westminster
School, the precise date of which is unknown. Locke and South were among
his schoolfellows. He must have distinguished himself, having been
elected to Cambridge in 1650. Before leaving Westminster he had made his
first appearance as an author by the publication of a copy of verses on
the death from smallpox of his schoolfellow Lord Hastings, an
unintentional _reductio ad absurdum_ of the reigning fashion of
extravagant conceits in the style of Marino and Gongora. This
composition, otherwise worthless, foreshadows in a manner the whole of
Dryden's career. He was not one of the writers who themselves form the
taste by which they are ultimately judged, but rather one of those who
achieve fame by doing best what all desire to be done; the
representatives of their age, not its reformers. Little is known of his
career at Cambridge except that he was on one occasion 'discommoned and
gated' for some irregularity, that he took his degree in 1654, and,
though obtaining no fellowship, continued to reside until about 1657,
when he removed to London, with what precise plans or expectations is
uncertain.[1] The general knowledge displayed in his critical writings
(he scarcely ever, says Johnson, appears to want book-learning but when
he mentions books) justifies the conclusion that his time had been
employed in study: how greatly his mind had matured was attested by his
verses on the death of Cromwell (1658), which, if disfigured by some
conceits, exhibit a more sustained elevation than any contemporary
except Milton or Marvell could have attained. They were rivalled by his
congratulatory verses on the Restoration (1660), which naturally exposed
him to the reproach of inconsistency, but, as Johnson remarks, 'If he
changed, he changed with the nation.' There can, indeed, be no doubt
that the establishment of a settled government was approved by the good
sense as well as by the loyalty of the country, and although
circumstances were to make Dryden the most formidable of political
controversialists upon paper, his temperament was not that of a polemic,
and, save when he had committed himself too far to retreat, he was
always ready to acquiesce in what commended itself to the general
sentiment of his countrymen. The Restoration was also a joyful event to
men of letters, if for no other reason than that it re-opened the stage,
which, while as yet the periodical press was not, afforded the best
market and the readiest opportunity for literary talent. Dryden is said
to have had a play ready soon after the Restoration, and it is difficult
to understand, except from a certain inertness in his constitution, ever
most readily responsive to the spur of necessity, why he should have so
long delayed his appearance as a dramatist. The determining motive may
ultimately have been his marriage (not, apparently, a very fortunate
one) to Lady Elizabeth Howard, eldest daughter of the Earl of Berkshire,
in December, 1663; for in that year he produced his first play, _The
Wild Gallant_, and from that time we find him, for many years,
sedulously at work to earn money by a description of literary activity
notoriously uncongenial to him. Only one of his numerous plays, he tells
us, was written to please himself. The long list includes, _The Indian
Emperor_ (1665), in which, instead of reforming the weak blank verse of
his day, which would have been a most important service, he fell in with
the prevalent fashion of rhymed tragedy; _Tyrannic Love_ (1669), and
_The Conquest of Granada_ (1672), in which he carries rhymed bombast as
far as it would go, but at the same time displays surprising energy and
vigour; _Aurengzebe_ (1675), also a rhyming play, but a great
improvement; _All for Love_ (1678), and _Don Sebastian_ (1690), examples
of a purer taste; and _The Spanish Friar_ (1683), and _Amphitryon_
(1690), his best comedies. These pieces, the chief landmarks of his
dramatic career, will be subsequently considered.

Returning to the incidents of Dryden's life, we find little to chronicle
for several years except the births of three children, his elevation to
the laureateship in 1670, and various literary controversies of no
interest at this day except as they served to call forth the admirable
critical prefaces by which he did more for English prose style than his
poetry was at that time effecting for English verse. It is remarkable
how late his genius flowered, and how long he was in discovering his
proper path. He might never have found it at all but for the accidental
coincidence of the political controversies of his time with his official
position as poet laureate. This seemed to impose on Dryden the duty of
coming to the assistance of the Court, and his recognition of the
obligation produced (1681) _Absalom and Achitophel_, which at once gave
him the distinction of the greatest satirist our literature had yet
produced, the most consummate artist in the heroic couplet, and the most
cogent reasoner in rhyme. _The Medal_, occasioned by a medal struck by
the City in honour of the failure of the indictment of Shaftesbury, was
suggested as the subject of a poem by Charles II. The fact has been
doubted, and does not rest upon very strong external authority, but is
confirmed by a letter from Dryden to the Treasurer, Hyde, now in the
British Museum, shown by internal evidence to have been written after
the publication of _Absalom and Achitophel_, and consequently after the
striking of the medal on occasion of Shaftesbury's acquittal. In this,
after speaking of his expense in the education of his children,
complaining of the irregular receipt of his pension, and remarking that
even a quarter in advance 'is but the Jesuits' powder to my disease, the
fit will return a fortnight hence,' he adds, 'I am going to write
somewhat by his Majesty's command, and cannot stir into the country for
my health and studies till I secure my family from want.' This can
hardly have been anything but _The Medal_.[2] The appeal, after some
delay, brought Dryden an addition to his pension and a sinecure office
in the Customs.

This was the most active period of Dryden's life as a poet. A personal
altercation occasioned by an attack on _The Medal_ by Thomas Shadwell
produced _MacFlecknoe_, the bitterest of his satires, and in the same
year of 1682 appeared the second part of _Absalom and Achitophel_,
chiefly by Nahum Tate, but containing upwards of two hundred lines from
Dryden's own pen, dealing with his literary antagonists in a style of
sovereign mastery. Almost simultaneously appeared _Religio Laici_, 'a
serious argument in verse on the credibility of the Christian religion
and the merits of the Anglican form of doctrine and church government.'
Dryden's mastery over metrical ratiocination made the subject
attractive; but the Church of England had hardly done rejoicing in her
champion when she was scandalized by his exodus to the Church of Rome.
It is not likely that he was altogether insincere; but it can hardly be
doubted that the death of a monarch of taste and parts, who valued him
for his genius, and the accession of a successor who valued men only for
their theology, and gently hinted the fact by docking his salary of a
hundred pounds, had more to do with his resolution than he quite
acknowledged to himself. The position of the Protestant laureate of a
Popish sovereign called upon to bid Protestants rejoice over the birth
of a Popish Prince of Wales, generally in that age believed to have been
smuggled into the palace in a warming-pan, would assuredly have
presented difficulties even to those who found none in extolling George
II.'s patronage of the arts. Dryden was too deeply committed to expect
anything from the other side. The apology for his conversion was given
to the world in his _Hind and Panther_ (1687), a poem displaying even
augmented power of reasoning in rhyme, and which might have ranked with
his best but for the absurdity of the machinery. Soon afterwards the
unsoundness of the foundation on which he had built his fortunes was
demonstrated by the Revolution, which deprived him of the laureateship
and swept away all official sources of income. But for his change of
religion he might have taken the oaths to the new government without
censure, but he had broken down the bridges behind him, and seemed for a
moment to have left himself no alternative between want and infamy. A
third nevertheless remained, hard labour for the booksellers. To his
great honour, Dryden grappled with the situation with all the sturdy
tenacity of his lymphatic temperament, and in the same spirit which
Scott afterwards displayed under similar circumstances. He may probably
have reformed his system of living, which can hardly have been other
than extravagant; certain it is that if he could not keep entirely out
of debt, he at least kept out of disgrace, and that the years which
followed his apparent ruin, if not the most brilliant part of his life,
were the most honourable and honoured. It should be added that he
appears to have been largely assisted by the generosity of friends,
especially Dorset.

The work which Dryden now found to do, for which he possessed
extraordinary qualifications, and for which there was a genuine demand
in the age, was that of translation from the Latin classics. The
derivative character of Latin literature was not then recognized, and
Roman authors received the veneration due of right only to the greatest
of the Greeks. No one doubted that they gave unsurpassable models of
style in their respective branches, and not many among Dryden's
contemporaries questioned that he had given a definite and durable form
to English poetry. In 1667, a few days before the publication of
_Paradise Lost_, Pepys had overheard men saying that there would never
be such another English poet as Cowley, and Dryden now stood in Cowley's
place. It seemed then a highly desirable thing to bring these two
classics together, and Dryden was perfectly competent to do whatever was
expected of him. He would hardly have succeeded so well with the Greek
writers, even had his knowledge of the language been more extensive; but
he was well qualified to reproduce the more distinctive qualities of
Roman poetry, its dignity, sometimes rising into majesty, its manly
sense, its vehemence, pregnancy, and terseness. By 1693 he had rendered
all Persius, much of Juvenal (the remainder was supplied by his sons),
considerable portions of Ovid, the first book of Homer, and something
from Theocritus, Horace, and Lucretius. In this year he commenced a more
ambitious work, a complete version of Virgil. Of the merits of these
works we shall speak hereafter; it is sufficient to observe here that
they for a long time prescribed the laws of metrical translation in
English. It is pleasant to notice how many of them were executed at the
country seats of friends, where the old man, discharged from the strife
of faction and the noise and glare of theatres, relieved his
intellectual toil by the simple amusements of a country life. Virgil was
published in 1697, and remained, in the judgment of the age, at the head
of all English translations until Pope's _Homer_ came to dethrone it. It
was immediately succeeded by a greater work still, his _Fables_ from
Chaucer and Boccaccio. Though the representative of the literary taste
of his time, Dryden was by no means the representative of its
prejudices. He saw much more in Chaucer than his contemporaries were
capable of seeing, and, rightly judging that the antiquated style of the
old poet (who, however, appeared to him much more uncouth than he really
was) would effectually keep him out of readers' hands, he determined to
modernize and adapt some of his stories, to which narrative poems
founded on Boccaccio were afterwards added. The undertaking precisely
suited the genius of Dryden, which lay more in expressing and adorning
what he found ready to hand than in original invention, and his
_Fables_, published in 1699, are deservedly placed at the head of his
works. It is of course impossible that they should exhibit the same
intellectual strength as his argumentative and satirical poems, but this
is more than compensated by their superior attractiveness, the
additional scope offered for the display of art, and their comparative
freedom from everything that can repel. The same volume contained his
greatest lyrical effort, the universally known _Alexander's Feast_. He
received forty pounds for it; the Virgil is said to have brought him
twelve hundred; for the _Fables_ he got only three hundred. From a
private letter of about this date it appears that there was some idea of
his receiving assistance from the government, which he seems not
unwilling to accept, provided that it proves to require no sacrifice of
principle. It is not likely that he would have been allowed to die in
want; and indeed, early in 1700, a dramatic performance was got up for
his benefit. He died shortly afterwards (May 1st, 1700) in narrow
pecuniary circumstances, but in the enjoyment of a more unquestioned
literary supremacy among his contemporaries than any Englishman had held
before him. The cause of his death was the mortification of a toe
inflamed by gout. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. The funeral, for
the splendour of which Farquhar vouches in a contemporary letter, is
said to have been accompanied by tumultuary scenes, but the absence of
any reference to these in a malevolent contemporary libel, ascribed to
Thomas Brown, is sufficient evidence that they did not occur.

There are few English writers of eminence whom it is so difficult to
realize satisfactorily to the mind's eye as Dryden. Personal enough in
one respect, his writings are singularly impersonal in another; he never
paints, and seldom reveals himself, and the aid which letters or
reminiscences might have afforded is almost entirely wanting. No one
noted his conversation; his enemies' attacks and his friends' panegyrics
are equally devoid of those traits of character which might have
invested a shadowy outline with life and substance. The nearest approach
to a portrait is Congreve's, which leaves most of the character in the
shade, and even this is somewhat suspicious, for Congreve was Dryden's
debtor for noble praise, and the vindication of Dryden's repute had been
imposed upon him by the poet himself. The qualities, however, which he
commends are such as seem entirely reconcilable with the lymphatic
temperament which, partly on his own authority ('my conversation,' he
says, 'is slow and dull, my humour saturnine and reserved'), we have
seen reason to attribute to Dryden. We are told of his humanity and
compassion, of his readiness to forgive injuries, of a friendship that
exceeded his professions, of his diffidence in general society and
horror of intrusiveness, of his patience in accepting corrections of his
own errors, of which he must be allowed to have given a remarkable
instance in his submission to Jeremy Collier. All these traits give the
impression of one who, though by no means pedantic, was only a wit when
he had the pen in his hand, and entirely correspond with his apparent
aversion to intellectual labour, except under the pressure of want or
the stimulus of Court favour. When at length he did warm to his work, we
know from himself that thoughts crowded so rapidly upon him that his
only difficulty was to decide what to reject. Such a man may well have
appeared a negative character to his contemporaries, and the events of
his life were not of a nature to force his virtues or his failings into
notice. We can only say that there is no proof of his having been a bad
husband; that there is clear evidence of his having been a good father;
and that, although he took the wrong side in the political and religious
controversies of his day, this is no reason why he may not, according to
his light, have been a good citizen. His references to illustrious
predecessors like Shakespeare and Milton, and promising young men like
Congreve, indicate a real generosity of character. The moral defects of
his writings, coarse licentiousness, unmeasured invective, and equally
unmeasured adulation, belong to the age rather than to the man. On the
whole, we may say that he was one whom we should probably have esteemed
if we could have known him; but in whom, apart from his writings, we
should not have discovered the first literary figure of his generation.

Dryden's early poems, the _Heroic Stanzas_ on the death of Cromwell, the
_Astraea Redux_ on the Restoration, the panegyric of Clarendon, and the
verses on the Coronation, are greatly marred for modern readers by
extravagant conceits, but are sobriety itself compared to the exploits
of contemporary poets, especially the Pindaric. In a more important
particular, Dryden, as Scott remarks, has observed a singular and happy
delicacy. The topic of the Civil War is but slightly dwelt on; and,
although Cromwell is extolled, his eulogist abstains from any
reflections against those through whom he cut his way to greatness.
Isolated couplets in the other poems occasionally display that
perfection of condensed and pointed expression which Dryden habitually
attained in his later poems:

    'Spain to your gift alone her Indies owes;
    For what the powerful takes not, he bestows:
    And France, that did an exile's presence fear,
    May justly apprehend you still too near.'--_Astraea Redux._

These early attempts, however, were completely thrown into the shade by
the _Annus Mirabilis_, a poem on the memorable events of 1666, written
at Charlton, near Malmesbury, the seat of Lord Berkeley, where Dryden
and his family had resorted in 1665 to escape the plague, and published
in February, 1667. The author was then thirty-five, and, judged in the
light of his subsequent celebrity, had as yet achieved surprisingly
little either in quantity or quality. Youth is generally the most
affluent season of poetical activity; and those poets whose claim to
inspiration is the most unimpeachable--Spenser, Milton, Wordsworth,
Shelley--have irradiated their early writings with flashes of genius
which their maturer skill hardly enabled them to eclipse. This cannot be
said of Dryden, who of our great poets, unless Pope be an exception,
probably owed least to inspiration and most to pains and practice. Even
Pope at this age had produced _The Rape of the Lock_, _The Temple of
Fame_, _Eloisa to Abelard_, and his translation of the Iliad, enough to
have given him a high place among English poets. The _Annus Mirabilis_
was the first production of Dryden that could have insured him
remembrance with posterity, and even this is sadly disfigured with
conceits. After all, the poet finds only two marvels of his wonderful
year worthy of record--the Dutch war, which had been going on for two
years, and which produced a much greater wonder in the year ensuing,
when the Dutch sailed up to Gravesend and burned the English fleet; and
the Great Fire of London. The treatment of the former is very tedious
and dragging; there are many striking lines, but more conceits like the
following, descriptive of the English attack upon the Dutch East

    'Amidst whole heaps of spices lights a ball,
      And now their odours armed against them fly;
    Some preciously by shattered porcelain fall,
      And some by aromatic splinters die.'

The second part, treating of the Fire of London, is infinitely better.
Dryden exhibits one of the most certain marks of a good writer, he rises
with his subject. Yet there is no lack of absurdities. The Deity
extinguishes the conflagration precisely in the manner in which Dryden
would have put out his own candle:

    'An hollow crystal pyramid he takes,
      In firmamental waters dipt above;
    Of it a broad extinguisher he makes,
      And hoods the flames that to their quarry drove.'

Nothing in Dryden is more amazing than his inequality. This stanza is
succeeded by the following:

    'The vanquished fires withdraw from every place,
      Or, full with feeding, sink into a sleep;
    Each household genius shows again his face,
      And from the hearths the little Lares creep.'

Other quatrains are still better, as, for instance, this on the burning
of St. Paul's:

    'The daring flames peeped in, and saw from far
      The awful beauties of the sacred quire;
    But since it was profaned by civil war,
      Heaven thought it fit to have it purged by fire.'

A thought so striking, that the reader does not pause to reflect that
the celestial sentence would have been equally applicable to every
cathedral in the country. Perhaps the following stanzas compose the
passage of most sustained excellence. In them, as in the apostrophe to
the Royal Society, in an earlier part of the poem, Dryden appears truly
the _vates sacer_, and his poetry becomes prophecy:

    'Methinks already from this chymic flame
      I see a city of more precious mould;
    Rich as the town which gives the Indies name,
      With silver paved, and all divine with gold.

    'Already labouring with a mighty fate
      She shakes the rubbish from her mounting brow,
    And seems to have renewed her charter's date,
      Which heaven will to the death of Time allow.

    'More great than human now, and more august,
      Now deified she from her fires doth rise;
    Her widening streets on new foundations trust,
      And opening into larger parts she flies.

    'Before, she like some shepherdess did show,
      Who sat to bathe her by a river's side;
    Not answering to her fame, but rude and low,
      Nor taught the beauteous arts of modern pride.

    'Now like a Maiden Queen she will behold
      From her high turrets hourly suitors come;
    The East with incense and the West with gold
      Will stand like suppliants to receive her doom.

    'The silver Thames, her own domestic flood,
      Shall bear her vessels like a sweeping train;
    And often wind, as of his mistress proud,
      With longing eyes to meet her face again.

    'The wealthy Tagus, and the wealthier Rhine,
      The glory of their towns no more shall boast;
    And Seine, that would with Belgian rivers join,
      Shall find her lustre stained and traffic lost.

    'The venturous merchant, who designed more far,
      And touches on our hospitable shore,
    Charmed with the splendour of this northern star,
      Shall here unlade him, and depart no more.'

For several years after _Annus Mirabilis_, Dryden produced but little
poetry apart from his dramas. Fashion, Court encouragement, and the
necessity of providing for his family, had bound him to what was then
the most conspicuous and lucrative form of authorship. In one point of
view he committed a great error in addicting himself to the drama. He
was not naturally qualified to excel in it, and could only obtain even a
temporary success by condescending to the prevalent faults of the
contemporary stage, its bombast and its indecency. The latter
transgression was eventually so handsomely confessed by himself that but
little need be said of it. Bombast is natural to two classes of writers,
the ardent and the phlegmatic, and those whose emotions require the most
working up are frequently the worst offenders. Such was Dryden's case,
and his natural proclivity was much enhanced by his adoption of the new
fashion of writing in rhyme, beloved at Court, but affording every
temptation and every facility for straining after effect in the place of
Nature. Mr. Saintsbury justly reminds us that Dryden was not forsaking
the blank verse of Shakespeare and Fletcher, the secret of which had
long been lost; nevertheless, although, as we shall see when we come to
his critical writings, he pleaded very ingeniously for rhyme in 1665,
his adoption of it was condemned by his maturer judgment and practice.
It was, however, fortunate in the long run; his rhyming plays, of which
we shall speak in another place, would not have been great successes in
any metre, while practice in their composition, and the necessity of
expressing the multitude of diverse sentiments required by bustling
scenes and crowds of characters, gradually gave him that command of the
heroic couplet which bestows such strength and brilliancy on his later
writings. His 'fourteen years of dramatic practice,' as Mr. Saintsbury
justly says, 'acted as a filtering reservoir for his poetical powers, so
that the stream, which, when it ran into them, was the turbid and
rubbish-laden current of _Annus Mirabilis_, flowed out as impetuous, as
strong, but clear and without base admixture, in the splendid verse of
_Absalom and Achitophel_.'[3]

This great poem, published in November, 1681, at the height of the
contest over the Exclusion Bill and its consequences, remains to this
day the finest example of political satire in English literature. The
theme was skilfully selected. James II. had not yet convinced the most
sceptical of the justice and wisdom of the Exclusion Bill, and its
advocates laboured under the serious disadvantage of having no strong
claimant for the succession if they prevailed in setting the Duke of
York aside. James's son-in-law, the Prince of Orange, would not, it is
safe to say, ever have been accepted by the nation as king if James's
folly and tyranny had not, years afterwards, given him the opportunity
of presenting himself in the character of Deliverer; and, failing him,
there was no one but the popular but unfortunately illegitimate
Monmouth. The character of Absalom seemed exactly made for this handsome
and foolish prince. The resemblance of his royal father to David, except
in matters akin to the affair of Bathsheba, was not quite so obvious.
Dryden might almost have been suspected of satirizing his master when he

    'When nature prompted, and no law denied
    Promiscuous use of concubine and bride;
    Then Israel's monarch after heaven's own heart
    His vigorous warmth did variously impart
    To wives and slaves; and, wide as his command,
    Scattered his Maker's image through the land.
    Of all the numerous progeny was none
    So beautiful, so brave as Absolon.'

The management of Absalom was a difficult matter. With all his
transgressions, the rebel Monmouth was still beloved by his father, and
Dryden could not have ventured to treat him as his prototype is treated
by Scripture. He has extricated himself from the dilemma with abundant
dexterity, but at some expense to his poem. The catastrophe required by
poetical justice does not come to pass, and the conclusion is tame. All
such defects, however, are forgotten in the splendour of the execution.
The versification is the finest in its style that English literature had
yet seen, the perfection of heroic verse. The sense is weighty and
massive, as befits such an organ of expression, and, whatever may be
thought of Dryden's flatteries of individuals, there is no reason to
doubt the sincerity with which he here expresses his political
convictions. He unquestionably belonged to that class of mankind who
cannot discern principles apart from persons, and his contempt for
abstractions is pointedly expressed in one of his ringing couplets:

    'Thought they might ruin him they could create,
    Or melt him to that golden calf--a state.'

This is not a very high manifestation of the intellect in its
application to political questions, but it bespeaks the class of persons
who provide ballast for the vessel of the state in tempestuous times;
and, on the whole, _Absalom and Achitophel_ is a poem which the patriot
as well as the admirer of genius may read with complacency. The royal
side of the question could not be better put than in these lines placed
in the mouth of David:

    'Thus long have I, by native mercy sway'd,
    My wrongs dissembled, my revenge delay'd;
    So willing to forgive the offending age,
    So much the father did the king assuage.
    But now so far my clemency they slight,
    The offenders question my forgiving right.
    That one was made for many, they contend;
    But 'tis to rule; for that's a monarch's end.
    They call my tenderness of blood, my fear;
    Though manly tempers can the longest bear.
    Yet since they will divert my native course,
    'Tis time to shew I am not good by force.
    Those heap'd affronts, that haughty subjects bring,
    Are burdens for a camel, not a king.
    Kings are the public pillars of the state,
    Born to sustain and prop the nation's weight:
    If my young Sampson will pretend a call
    To shake the column, let him share the fall.
    But oh, that he yet would repent and live!
    How easy 'tis for parents to forgive!
    With how few tears a pardon might be won
    From nature pleading for a darling son!
    Poor, pitied youth, by my paternal care
    Raised up to all the height his frame could bear!
    Had God ordain'd his fate for empire born,
    He would have given his soul another turn:
    Gull'd with a patriot's name, whose modern sense
    Is one that would by law supplant his prince;
    The people's brave, the politician's tool;
    Never was patriot yet, but was a fool.
    Whence comes it, that religion and the laws
    Should more be Absolom's than David's cause?
    His old instructor, ere he lost his place,
    Was never thought endued with so much grace.
    Good heavens, how faction can a patriot paint!
    My rebel ever proves my people's saint.
    Would they impose an heir upon the throne?
    Let Sanhedrims be taught to give their own.
    A king's at least a part of government;
    And mine as requisite as their consent.
    Without my leave a future king to choose,
    Infers a right the present to depose.
    True, they petition me to approve their choice;
    But Esau's hands suit ill with Jacob's voice.
    My pious subjects for my safety pray;
    Which to secure, they take my power away.
    From plots and treasons heaven preserve my years,
    And save me most from my petitioners!'

It will be observed that 'the right the present to depose,' is mentioned
by Dryden as something manifestly preposterous, and the derivation of it
as a logical corollary from the Exclusion Bill is assumed to be a
sufficient _reductio ad absurdum_ of the latter. In the view of the
majority of the nation, this was sound doctrine until the Revolution,
which reduced Dryden's poem from the rank of a powerful political
manifesto to that of a brilliant exercise of fancy and dialectic. As
such, it will never cease to please and to impress. The finest passages
are, no doubt, those descriptive of character, whether carefully studied
portraits or strokes against particular foibles imputed to the poet's
adversaries, such as this mock apology for the parsimonious kitchen of
the Whig sheriff, Slingsby Bethel:

    'Such frugal virtue malice may accuse,
    But sure 'twas necessary to the Jews:
    For towns, once burnt, such magistrates require,
    As dare not tempt God's providence by fire.'

The elaborate and glowing characters of Achitophel (Shaftesbury) and
Zimri (Buckingham) it is needless to transcribe, as they are universally
known. It may be remarked that the character of the turbulent and
adventurous Shaftesbury does not match very well with that of the
Ulyssean Achitophel of Scripture, but Dryden has wisely drawn from what
he had before his eyes.

_The Medal_, which we have seen reason for attributing to the suggestion
of Charles II. himself, appeared in March, 1682. It is a bitter
invective against Shaftesbury, its theme the medal which his partisans
had very naturally struck upon the occasion of his acquittal in the
preceding autumn. It is entirely in a serious vein, and wants the grace
and urbanity of some parts of _Absalom and Achitophel_, but is no way
inferior as a piece of strong, vehement satire. Shaftesbury's conduct as
a minister, before his breach with the Court, is thus described:

    'Behold him now exalted into trust;
    His counsel's oft convenient, seldom just:
    Even in the most sincere advice he gave
    He had a grudging still to be a knave.
    The frauds he learned in his fanatic years
    Made him uneasy in his lawful gears;
    At best, as little honest as he could,
    And, like white witches, mischievously good.'

The second part of _Absalom and Achitophel_ appeared in November, 1682.
It was mainly the work of Nahum Tate, who imitated his master's
versification with success, but has numerous touches from the pen of
Dryden, who inserted a long passage of unparalleled satire against his
adversaries, especially Settle and Shadwell:

    'Who by my means to all succeeding times
    Shall live in spite of their own doggrel rhymes.'

The character of Shadwell (Og) is well known, but it is impossible to
avoid quoting a portion of it:

    'The midwife laid her hand on his thick skull,
    With this prophetic blessing--"Be thou dull;
    Drink, swear and roar; forbear no lewd delight
    Fit for thy bulk; do any thing but write.
    Thou art of lasting make, like thoughtless men,
    A strong nativity--but for the pen;
    Eat opium, mingle arsenic in thy drink,
    Still thou mayst live, avoiding pen and ink."
    I see, I see, 'tis counsel given in vain,
    For treason, botch'd in rhyme, will be thy bane;
    Rhyme is the rock on which thou art to wreck,
    'Tis fatal to thy fame and to thy neck.
    Why should thy metre good King David blast?
    A psalm of his will surely be thy last.
    Darest thou presume in verse to meet thy foes,
    Thou, whom the penny pamphlet foil'd in prose?
    Doeg, whom God for mankind's mirth has made,
    O'ertops thy talent in thy very trade;
    Doeg, to thee, thy paintings are so coarse,
    A poet is, though he's the poet's horse.
    A double noose thou on thy neck dost pull,
    For writing treason, and for writing dull.
    To die for faction is a common evil,
    But to be hang'd for nonsense is the devil.
    Hadst thou the glories of thy king exprest,
    Thy praises had been satire at the best;
    But thou in clumsy verse, unlickt, unpointed,
    Hast shamefully defiled the Lord's anointed.
    I will not rake the dunghill of thy crimes,
    For who would read thy life that reads thy rhymes?
    But of King David's foes, be this the doom,
    May all be like the young man Absolom;
    And, for my foes, may this their blessing be,
    To talk like Doeg, and to write like thee!'

Only a month before the appearance of this annihilating attack, Dryden
had devoted an entire poem to Shadwell, who had justly provoked him by a
scandalous libel. The title of _MacFlecknoe_ is derived from an Irish
priest and, with the exception of some good lines pointed out by Southey
and Lamb, a bad poet, already satirized by Marvell. It is a vigorous
attack, but not equal to the passage in _Absalom and Achitophel_, and
chiefly memorable inasmuch as the machinery evidently suggested that of
Pope's _Dunciad_.

Dryden's next poetical efforts, the dramatic excepted, were of quite
another kind. Simultaneously with the second part of _Absalom and
Achitophel_ appeared _Religio Laici_, an argument for the faith of the
Church of England as a _juste milieu_ between Popery and Deism. In one
respect this takes the highest place among the works of Dryden, for it
is the most perfect example he has given of that reasoning in rhyme of
which he was so great a master. There is not and could not be any
originality in the reasonings themselves, but Pope's famous couplet was
never so finely illustrated, except by Pope himself:

    'True wit is nature to advantage drest;
    What oft was thought, but ne'er so well exprest.'

At the same time the poetry hardly rises to the height which the theme
might have justified. There is little to captivate or astonish, but
perpetual admiration attends upon the masterly conduct of the argument,
and the ease with which dry and difficult propositions melt and glide in
harmonious verse. The execution is singularly equable; but perhaps
hardly maintains the elevation of the fine exordium:

    'Dim as the borrow'd beams of moon and stars
    To lonely, weary, wandering travellers,
    Is reason to the soul: and as, on high,
    Those rolling fires discover but the sky,
    Not light us here; so reason's glimmering ray }
    Was lent, not to assure our doubtful way,     }
    But guide us upwards to a better day.         }
    And as those nightly tapers disappear,
    When day's bright lord ascends our hemisphere;
    So pale grows reason at religion's sight,
    So dies, and so dissolves in supernatural light.
    Some few, whose lamp shone brighter, have been led
    From cause to cause, to nature's sacred head,
    And found that one First Principle must be:
    But what, or who, that universal He;
    Whether some soul, encompassing this ball,
    Unmade, unmoved; yet making, moving all;
    Or various atoms' interfering dance
    Leap'd into form, the noble work of chance;
    Or this great All was from eternity.--    }
    Not even the Stagyrite himself could see, }
    And Epicurus guess'd as well as he.       }
    As blindly groped they for a future state,
    As rashly judged of providence and fate;
    But least of all could their endeavours find
    What most concern'd the good of human kind;
    For happiness was never to be found,
    But vanish'd from them like enchanted ground.
    One thought content the good to be enjoy'd;
    This very little accident destroy'd:
    The wiser madmen did for virtue toil,
    A thorny, or, at best, a barren soil:
    In pleasure some their glutton souls would steep;  }
    But found their line too short, the well too deep, }
    And leaky vessels which no bliss could keep.       }
    Thus anxious thoughts in endless circles roll,
    Without a centre where to fix the soul:
    In this wild maze their vain endeavours end:--
    How can the less the greater comprehend?
    Or finite reason reach infinity?
    For what could fathom God were more than he.'

Dryden's next important poem brought obloquy upon him in his own day,
and must be perused with mingled feelings in this. Between 1682 and
1687, the date of the publication of _The Hind and the Panther_, the
laureate of the Church of England had, as we have seen, become a Roman
Catholic, and most reasonably desired to justify this step to the world.
The Court also expected his pen to be drawn in their service, and hence
the double purpose which runs through the poem, of vindicating his
personal change of conviction and of justifying the political measures
to which James had had recourse for establishing the supremacy of his
church. All this was perfectly natural; the extraordinary thing is that
so great a master of ridicule should have been blind to the ludicrous
character of the machinery which he devised to carry out his purpose.
The comparison of the true church to the milk-white hind, and of the
corrupt church to the beautiful but spotted panther, might have been
employed with propriety as an ornament or illustration of the poem, but
the endeavour to make it the groundwork of the entire piece is pregnant
with absurdity. Animals may very well be introduced as actors in a
fiction upon condition that they behave like animals; and their
faculties may even be expanded to suit the author's purpose so long as
their exercise is confined to visible and concrete things; but the
notion of a pair of quadrupeds discussing the sacraments, tradition, and
the infallibility of the Pope, is only fit for burlesque, and
constitutes, indeed, a running burlesque upon the poem. Dryden probably
took up the idea without sufficient consideration, and when he had made
some progress in his work he may well have been too enamoured with the
beautiful but preposterous exordium to surrender it to common sense.
Perverse and fantastic as is the plan of his poem, none of his works is
richer in beauties of detail. 'In none,' says Macaulay, 'can be found
passages more pathetic and magnificent, greater ductility and energy of
language, or a more pleasing and various music.' The power of reasoning
in rhyme is little inferior to that displayed in _Religio Laici_, and
the narrative character of the piece allows of a diversified variety
excluded by the simply didactic character of its predecessor. The
invective against Calvinists and Socinians, typified by the wolf and the
fox, is an average, and not beyond an average, example of Dryden's
matchless force. Near the end, it will be perceived, he suddenly
bethinks himself that, as the apologist of James's ostensible policy, it
is his business to recommend not persecution but toleration, and he caps
his objurgation with a passage conceived in a widely different spirit,
a severe though unintentional reflection upon the practice of his own

      'O happy pair, how well you have increased!
    What ills in church and state have you redress'd!
    With teeth, untried, and rudiments of claws,
    Your first essay was on your native laws;
    Those having torn with ease, and trampled down, }
    Your fangs you fasten'd on the mitred crown,    }
    And freed from God and monarchy your town.      }
    What though your native kennel still be small,
    Bounded betwixt a puddle and a wall;
    Yet your victorious colonies are sent
    Where the north ocean girds the continent.
    Quicken'd with fire below, your monsters breed
    In fenny Holland, and in fruitful Tweed;
    And, like the first, the last affects to be
    Drawn to the dregs of a democracy.
    As, where in fields the fairy rounds are seen,
    A rank sour herbage rises on the green;
    So, springing where those midnight elves advance,
    Rebellion prints the footsteps of the dance.
    Such are their doctrines, such contempt they show }
    To heaven above, and to their prince below,       }
    As none but traitors and blasphemers know.        }
    God, like the tyrant of the skies, is placed,
    And kings, like slaves, beneath the crowd debased.
    So fulsome is their food, that flocks refuse
    To bite, and only dogs for physic use.
    As, where the lightning runs along the ground,
    No husbandry can heal the blasting wound;
    Nor bladed grass, nor bearded corn succeeds,
    But scales of scurf and putrefaction breeds;
    Such wars, such waste, such fiery tracks of dearth
    Their zeal has left, and such a teemless earth.
    But, as the poisons of the deadliest kind
    Are to their own unhappy coasts confined;
    As only Indian shades of sight deprive,
    And magic plants will but in Colchos thrive
    So presbytery and pestilential zeal
    Can only flourish in a commonweal.
    From Celtic woods is chased the wolfish crew;
    But ah! some pity e'en to brutes is due;
    Their native walks, methinks, they might enjoy,
    Curb'd of their native malice to destroy.
    Of all the tyrannies on human kind,
    The worst is that which persecutes the mind.
    Let us but weigh at what offence we strike;
    'Tis but because we cannot think alike.
    In punishing of this, we overthrow
    The laws of nations and of nature too.
    Beasts are the subjects of tyrannic sway,
    Where still the stronger on the weaker prey;
    Man only of a softer mould is made,
    Not for his fellows' ruin, but their aid;
    Created kind, beneficent and free,
    The noble image of the Deity.'

Dryden produced yet one more poem in the interest of the Court, his
_Britannia Rediviva_, an official panegyric on the birth of the Prince
of Wales, June, 1688. Literature has perhaps no more signal instance of
adulation wasted and prediction falsified. Many lines are spirited, but
others betray Dryden's fatal insensibility to the ridiculous in his own

    'When humbly on the royal babe we gaze,
    The manly lines of a majestic face
    Give awful joy.'

The raptures of the Byzantine courtiers over the imperial infant Protus
were nothing to this. Dryden did not want eloquence or dignity to
celebrate the hero if he could have found him; it was his and our
misfortune that when the hero did at last come to the throne the poet
had disqualified himself from extolling him. The landing in Torbay and
the triumphal march to London; the victory at the Boyne and the defence
of Londonderry were transactions as worthy of epical treatment as any
history records; but the only man in England who could have treated
them epically deemed them rather matter for elegy; and to have indulged
in elegy he must have fled to France. Public events and political and
religious controversy were no longer for him: stripped of his means and
position he betook himself to translation and playwriting as the
readiest means of repairing his shattered fortunes, and it was not until
the mellow sunset of his life that he turned to the compositions which,
of all he ever wrote, have given the most delight and the least offence,
his _Fables_. These, published at the beginning of 1700, include five
adaptations from Chaucer, and three stories told after Boccaccio, as
well as _Alexander's Feast_, and a few other pieces. It would not be too
much to say that this book achieved two things, either of which would
have immortalized a poet: it fixed the standard of narrative poetry,
except of the metrical romance or ballad class, and also that of heroic
versification. The latter, indeed, was thought for a time to have been
transcended by Pope, but modern ears have tired of the balanced seesaw
of the Popian couplet, and crave the ease and variety of Dryden,
restored to literature in Leigh Hunt's _Story of Rimini_, and afterwards
imitated by Keats in _Lamia_. The freedom which so great a master allows
himself in rhyming should be a lesson to modern purists: final sounds so
slightly akin as _guard_ and _prepared_, _placed_ and _last_, are of
continual occurrence. In matters still more important than versification
Dryden is in general equally admirable. He subjected himself to a severe
test in competing with Chaucer--severer than he knew, for Chaucer was
not yet, even by Dryden, valued at his full worth. In some respects
Dryden certainly suffers greatly by the comparison. He is pre-eminently
an intellectual poet, to whom the tree of knowledge had been the tree of
life; there is perhaps scarcely a thought in his writings that charms by
absolute simplicity and pure nature. Wherever, therefore, Chaucer is
transparently simple and unaffected, we find him altered for the worse
in Dryden. The very important part, however, of _The Knight's Tale_
which is concerned with courts, camps, and chivalry is even better in
Dryden than in his model. He might have defined his sphere in the words
of Ariosto, a poet who has many points of contact with him:

    'Le donne, i cavalier, l'arme, gli amori,
    Le cortesie, l'audaci imprese io canto.'

If this is true of portions of _Palamon and Arcite_, it is still truer
of _The Flower and the Leaf_ (then believed to be a genuine work of
Chaucer's), throughout a most brilliant picture of natural beauty and
courtly glitter, painted in language of chastened splendour. The other
pieces modelled after Chaucer are of inferior interest, yet all
excellent in their way. Two of the three tales from Boccaccio are
acknowledged masterpieces, _Cymon and Iphigenia_ and _Theodore and
Honoria_. The interest of the first chiefly consists in the narrative
itself, and that of the second in the way of telling it. The story,
indeed, though striking, is fantastic and hardly pleasing, but Dryden's
treatment of it is perhaps the most perfect specimen in our language of
_l'art de conter_.

An example of Dryden's descriptive power may be given in a passage from
_The Flower and the Leaf_:

      'Thus while I sat intent to see and hear,
    And drew perfumes of more than vital air,
    All suddenly I heard the approaching sound
    Of vocal music, on the enchanted ground:
    An host of saints it seem'd, so full the choir; }
    As if the bless'd above did all conspire        }
    To join their voices, and neglect the lyre.     }
    At length there issued from the grove behind
    A fair assembly of the female kind:
    A train less fair, as ancient fathers tell,
    Seduced the sons of heaven to rebel.
    I pass their forms, and every charming grace;
    Less than an angel would their worth debase:
    But their attire, like liveries of a kind,
    All rich and rare, is fresh within my mind.
    In velvet white as snow the troop was gown'd,
    The seams with sparkling emeralds set around:
    Their hoods and sleeves the same; and purpled o'er
    With diamonds, pearls, and all the shining store
    Of eastern pomp; their long-descending train
    With rubies edged, and sapphires, swept the plain.
    High on their heads, with jewels richly set,
    Each lady wore a radiant coronet.
    Beneath the circles, all the choir was graced
    With chaplets green on their fair foreheads placed;
    Of laurel some, of woodbine many more,
    And wreath of Agnus castus others bore:
    These last, who with those virgin crowns were dress'd,
    Appear'd in higher honour than the rest.
    They danced around; but in the midst was seen            }
    A lady of a more majestic mien;                          }
    By stature, and by beauty, mark'd their sovereign queen. }
      She in the midst began with sober grace;
    Her servants' eyes were fix'd upon her face,
    And as she moved or turn'd, her motions view'd,
    Her measures kept, and step by step pursued.
    Methought she trod the ground with greater grace,
    With more of godhead shining in her face;
    And as in beauty she surpass'd the choir,
    So, nobler than the rest was her attire.
    A crown of ruddy gold inclosed her brow,
    Plain without pomp, and rich without a show:
    A branch of Agnus castus in her hand
    She bore aloft (her sceptre of command;)
    Admired, adored by all the circling crowd,
    For wheresoe'er she turn'd her face, they bow'd.
    And as she danced, a roundelay she sung,
    In honour of the laurel, ever young.
    She raised her voice on high, and sung so clear, }
    The fawns came scudding from the groves to hear, }
    And all the bending forest lent an ear.          }
    At every close she made, the attending throng
    Replied, and bore the burden of the song:
    So just, so small, yet in so sweet a note,
    It seem'd the music melted in the throat.'

One remarkable feature of the principal poets of the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries is the infrequency of the casual visitations of the
Muse. They seem to have hardly ever experienced an unsought lyrical
inspiration, or to have sung merely for singing's sake. Hence Dryden is
permitted to appear only twice in the _Golden Treasury_. His songs, to
be treated of more fully when we consider the lyrical poetry of the
period, though often instinct with true lyrical spirit, seem to have
been deliberately composed for insertion in his plays, and the same is
the case with almost the whole of what he would have called his
occasional poetry. His two chief odes, _Alexander's Feast_ and the
memorial verses to Anne Killigrew, were indubitably commissions; and it
is probable that few of the epistles, elegies, dedications, and
prologues which form so considerable a portion of his poetical works
were composed without some similar inducement. As a whole, this
collection is creditable to his powers of intellect, quickness of wit,
and command of nervous masculine diction. It is frequently the work of a
master, though conceived in the spirit of a journeyman. The adulation of
the patron or the defunct is generally fulsome enough; yet some
compliments are so graceful that it is difficult not to believe them
sincere, as when he apostrophizes the Duchess of Ormond:

    'O daughter of the Rose, whose cheeks unite
    The differing titles of the Red and White!
    Who heaven's alternate beauty well display,
    The blush of morning and the milky way.'

Or the conclusion of his epistle to Kneller:

    'More cannot be by mortal art exprest,
    But venerable age shall add the rest.
    For Time shall with his ready pencil stand,
    Retouch your figures with his ripening hand,
    Mellow your colours, and imbrown the teint,
    Add every grace which Time alone can grant;
    To future ages shall your fame convey,
    And give more beauties than he takes away.'

Or these from the epistle to his kinsman, John Driden, more likely than
any of the others to have been the unbought manifestation of genuine

    'O true descendant of a patriot line!
    Who while thou shar'st their lustre lendest thine!
    Vouchsafe this picture of thy soul to see,
    'Tis so far good as it resembles thee.
    The beauties to the original I owe,
    Which when I miss my own defects I show;
    Nor think the kindred Muses thy disgrace;
    A poet is not born in every race;
    Two of a house few ages can afford,
    One to perform, another to record.
    Praiseworthy actions are by thee embraced,
    And 'tis my praise to make thy praises last.'

The last couplet, excellent in sense, is an example of Dryden's one
metrical defect. He is not sufficiently careful to vary his

       *       *       *       *       *

Dryden's translations alone would give him a conspicuous place in
English literature. The most important, his complete version of Virgil,
has been improved upon in many ways, and yet after all it remains true,
that 'Pitt is quoted, and Dryden read.' Had he never translated Virgil,
his renderings or imitations of Juvenal, Horace, and others, would
suffice to entitle him to no inconsiderable rank among those who have
enriched their native literature from foreign stores. His principle of
translation was correct, and accords with that of the greatest of
English critics. Coleridge assured Wordsworth that there were only two
legitimate systems of metrical translation, strict literality, or
compensation carried to its fullest extent. Dryden most probably had not
sufficient Latin to be literal; but in any case his genius would have
disdained such trammels, not to mention the more prosaic, but not less
potent consideration, that what is written for bread must usually be
written in haste--a fact which weighed with Dryden when he discontinued
rhyme in his tragedies. Thus thrown back on the system of compensation,
he has richly repaid his authors for the beauties of which he has
bereaved them, by the beauties which he has bestowed--or which, as he
maintains, were actually latent in them--and has expressed many of their
thoughts with even enhanced energy. He has, in fact, made them write
very much as they would have written if they had been English poets of
the seventeenth century, and his work is less translation than
transfusion. They necessarily appear much metamorphosed from the
originals, but the fault is less that of Dryden than of his age. Could
he have attempted the same task in our day with equal resources of
genius, and on the same principles of workmanship, he would have
succeeded much better, for he would have enjoyed more comprehension of
the spirit of his originals than was possible in the seventeenth
century. The scholarship of that age had not vivified the information
which it had amassed; the idealized, but still vital conceptions of the
Renaissance had given place to inanimate conventionality; the people of
Greece and Rome appeared to the moderns like people in books; and such
warm, affectionate contact between the souls of the present and the past
as afterwards inspired Shelley's versions from Homer and Euripides was
in that age impossible.

       *       *       *       *       *

So great and versatile were Dryden's powers that, after all that has
been said, his performances as a lyric poet, as a dramatist, and as a
critic remain to be spoken of, and his rank in each has to be recognized
as that of the foremost writer of his country in his own day. These will
be treated in their appropriate places. The present is, perhaps, the
most appropriate for a few words on his position as a poet. It is most
difficult to determine whether he and his successor, Pope, should be
placed at the bottom of the first class, or at the head of the second
class of great English poets. If the very highest gifts of
all--originality, creative imagination, unstudied music, unconscious
inspiration, lofty ideal, the power to interpret nature, are essential
conditions of rank in the first class, then assuredly Dryden and Pope
must be contented with the second. If not positively excluded by the
very nature of the case--if deficiency in the very highest qualities can
be compensated by consummate excellence in all the rest--if intellect
will supply the place of inspiration, and art that of nature--then they
stand so high above the average of the second rank that it seems
injurious not to place them in the first. The principle of exclusion,
logically carried out, might involve the elevation above them of other
writers whom we instinctively feel to be their inferiors; too absolute
an insistence, on the other hand, upon the claims of intellectual power
and perfect execution as qualifications for supreme poetical rank, must
result in preferring Pope to Dryden. Inferior to his successor in both
these respects, Dryden may still justly be preferred to him on the
ground of his more ample endowment with that divine insanity without
which, as Plato truly says, no one can be a poet. But this consideration
cannot be invoked in his favour against Pope without admitting his
inferiority to poets of the very first order; and it may be seriously
questioned whether any poet can belong to the first order who is so
exclusively a town poet as Dryden and Pope, and has so little knowledge
of nature. The resemblances and contrasts between him and Pope have been
frequently discussed; there are two other poets with whom comparison is
less hackneyed and not unprofitable. In fecundity, in versatility, in
energy, in the frequent application of his poetry to public affairs, in
his influence on contemporary literature, position as head of a school,
and incontestable superiority to all the poets around him, no less,
unfortunately, in bombast and incomprehensible breaches of good taste,
he strongly reminds us of Victor Hugo. Hugo, undoubtedly, was a much
greater lyrical poet than Dryden, and was enkindled by spontaneous
inspirations which never visited Dryden; yet the two are essentially of
the same genus; the differences between them are rather characteristic
of their eras than of themselves; and while Hugo's imagination would
have pined in the seventeenth century, Dryden's intellect and Dryden's
modesty would have been highly serviceable to Hugo in the nineteenth.
Another poet, whose talent and career offer many analogies to Dryden's,
is one whom Dryden himself disparages upon metrical grounds. Claudian,
like Dryden, is a remarkable instance of a poet owing a large portion of
his fame to his dexterous treatment of occasional subjects. As Dryden
drew material for his most powerful writings from the political and
religious controversies of his day, so Claudian found his themes in the
exploits of Stilicho and the misdeeds of Rufinus. Both have made
uninteresting subjects attractive by admirable treatment; both are
greatly indebted to art and little to nature; both in their latter
days[4] sought relief from politics in more ideal compositions, Dryden
in his _Fables_, Claudian in his _Rape of Proserpine_, a poem imbued
with the characteristic qualities of Dryden.

Among the greatest services which Dryden rendered to our language and
literature are to be reckoned his improvements in heroic versification,
of which he has left an unsurpassed model.

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

His changes, nevertheless, were not always improvements. He is too
uniform, though not absolutely uniform, in confining the sense to the
couplet; and, in adding dignity to Chaucer's verse, he has lost
something of its sweetness. Leigh Hunt well observes: 'Though Dryden's
versification is noble, beautiful, and so complete of its kind that to
an ear uninstructed in the metre of the old poet all comparison between
the two in this respect seems out of the question and even ludicrous,
yet the measure in which Dryden wrote not only originated, but attained
to a considerable degree of its beauty in Chaucer; and the old poet's
immeasurable superiority in sentiment and imagination, not only to
Dryden, but to all, up to a very late period, who have written in the
same form of verse, left him in possession of beauties, even in
versification, which it remains for some future poet to amalgamate with
Dryden's in a manner worthy of both, and so carry England's noble heroic
rhyme to its pitch of perfection.' It need not be said that Pope's
magnificent eulogy solely respects Dryden as a rhyming poet. His blank
verse, though in general good enough for the stage, and better than that
of most of his contemporaries, is utterly destitute of the sweetness and
variety of the Elizabethans.

Dryden's works were edited with exemplary zeal and fidelity by Sir
Walter Scott. The standard modern edition is Mr. Saintsbury's; the one
most convenient for general use, Mr. Christie's.


[1] He was an ungrateful son of his _alma mater_, having pointedly
declared his preference for Oxford. Perhaps this disloyalty may be
connected with the appearance at Cambridge of a pamphlet against him, in
the form of a mock defence against "the censure of the Rota," in the
same year (1673).

[2] Malone thinks that it was the translation of _The History of the
League_, but Dryden can have hardly deemed country retirement necessary
for a work of this nature.

[3] It is perhaps worth remarking that, although not yet a Roman
Catholic, Dryden in this name employs the orthography, not of the
authorized English version, but of the Vulgate.

[4] In his dedication to the second book of _De Raptu Proserpinae_,
Claudian says:

                  'Tu mea plectra moves,
    Antraque Musarum longo torpentia somno
      Excutis et placito ducis ab ore sonos.'



[Sidenote: Oldham (1653-1683).]

The contemporary of Dryden who approached him most nearly in satiric
force, and, generally speaking, in the borderland between poetry and
prose, was John Oldham (1653-1683). Not much is known of his life. The
son of a Nonconformist minister, he nevertheless obtained a university
education, but after leaving college was glad to accept the position of
usher in Archbishop Whitgift's free school at Croydon. Coming to town he
filled the post of tutor in various families, and by his _Satires upon
the Jesuits_ (1681) gained the acquaintance of Dryden and other men of
letters and the patronage of the Earl of Kingston, who seemed likely to
provide for him, but at whose seat in Nottinghamshire he died of the
smallpox, December, 1683.

Oldham's poems consist partly of odes, formal and elaborate
compositions, and partly of the satires which in his age in some measure
supplied the place of the modern journal and review. A secret and
unconscious harmony pervades all branches of the contemporary art of
every epoch; and in the stately and somewhat stilted lyrics of Oldham
and his compeers we discern the counterpart of the elaborate
frontispieces with temples and triumphal arches, chariots and
cornucopias, tritons and nereids, which the engravers of the age
prefixed to its literature. The engraving is hardly art, and the verse
is hardly poetry; we are nevertheless conscious of a vigour and a
substance which command respect. The work is compact and solid at any
rate, and displays much of the force of the Giants, if little of the
inspiration of the Gods. Oldham would fain be extravagant in praise of
wine; but there is not the least trace of genuine Bacchic frenzy in his
laboured dithyramb. The epicedion on his friend Mouvent is a serious
composition indeed, forty-two mortal stanzas, with, nevertheless,
sufficient good things to justify the praise bestowed on it by Pope. The
ode to Ben Jonson is remarkable as expressing the feelings of the men of
the Restoration towards the poet who they really thought had reformed
the stage, and delivered it from the reprehensible licentiousness of
Shakespeare. Like Oldham's other lyrical compositions, it abounds with
most dissonant lines, but has also some noble ones, as these, for

    'Let meaner spirits stoop to low precarious fame,
      Content on gross and coarse applause to live
      And what the dull and senseless rabble give;
      Thou didst it still with noble scorn contemn,
      Nor wouldst that wretched alms receive,
    The poor subsistence of some bankrupt, sordid name:
      Thine was no empty vapour, raised beneath,
          And formed of common breath,
      The false and foolish fire, that's whisked about
    By popular air, and glares awhile, and then goes out;
    But 'twas a solid, whole, and perfect globe of light,
      That shone all over, was all over bright,
    And dared all sullying clouds, and feared no darkening night.'

Oldham's principal celebrity, however, is derived from his satires. He
had the knack of stinging invective, and has been not unjustly compared
to Churchill. His _Satires on the Jesuits_ exactly suited the time of
the Popish Plot, at present they repel by their one-sidedness. All
satire, except that inspired by fancy, is apt to become repulsive by
its natural tendency to dwell upon the meanest and lowest aspects of
human nature; and this is pre-eminently the case with Oldham, who is
always ridiculing or denouncing, always drawing his illustrations from
the base and offensive, and seldom diversifies his low matter with an
ennobling thought. Yet he evinces so much manly sense, and his style is
so nervous, that it is impossible not to admire his vigour, and wish him
a more inviting subject. His metre and rhyme frequently stand in need of
Dryden's generous apology:

    'O early ripe! to thy abundant store
    What could advancing age have added more?
    It might, what Nature never gives the young,
    Have taught the smoothness of thy native tongue.
    But satire needs not these, and wit will shine
    Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line.'

All this notwithstanding, Oldham had the root of the matter in him, and
has described, as only a poet could, the ambition, the toil, and the
triumph of a poet:

      ''Tis endless, Sir, to tell the many ways
    Wherein my poor deluded self I please:
    How, when the fancy lab'ring for a birth,
    With unfelt throes, brings its rude issue forth:
    How, after, when imperfect, shapeless thought
    Is, by the judgment, into fashion wrought:
    When at first search, I traverse o'er my mind,
    None, but a dark and empty void I find:
    Some little hints, at length, like sparks break thence,
    And glimm'ring thoughts, just dawning into sense:
    Confus'd, awhile, the mixt ideas lie
    With nought of mark to be discover'd by;
    Like colours undistinguish'd in the night,
    Till the dusk images mov'd to the light,
    Teach the discerning faculty to choose,
    Which it had best adopt, and which refuse.
    Here rougher strokes, touch'd with a careless dash,
    Resemble the first setting of a face:
    There finish'd draughts in form more full appear,
    And in their justness ask no further care,
    Meanwhile, with inward joy, I proud am grown,
    To see the work successfully go on;
    And prize myself in a creating-power,
    That could make something, what was nought before.
      Sometimes a stiff unwieldy thought I meet,
    Which to my laws, will scarce be made submit:
    But when, after expense of pains and time,
    'Tis manag'd well, and taught to yoke in rhime,
    In triumph, more than joyful warriors would,
    Had they some stout and hardy foe subdu'd:
    And idly think, less goes to their command,
    That makes arm'd troops in well-placed order stand,
    Than to the conduct of my words, when they
    March in due ranks, are set in just array.
      Sometimes on wings of thought I seem on high, }
    As men in sleep, tho' motionless they lie,      }
    Hedg'd by a dream, believe they mount and fly:  }
    So witches some inchanted wand bestride,      }
    And think they thro' the airy regions ride,   }
    Where fancy is both trav'ller, way and guide: }
    Then straight I grow a strange exalted thing,
    And equal in conceit at least a king:
    As the poor drunkard, when wine stums his brains,
    Anointed with that liquor, thinks he reigns;
    Bewitch'd by these delusions, 'tis I write,
    (The tricks some pleasant devil plays in spite)
    And when I'm in the freakish trance, which I,
    Fond silly wretch, mistake for ecstacy,
    I find all former resolutions vain,
    And thus recant them, and make new again.
      "What was't I rashly vow'd? shall ever I
    Quit my beloved mistress, Poetry?
    Thou sweet beguiler of my lonely hours,
    Which thus glide unperceiv'd, with silent course:
    Thou gentle spell, which undisturb'd dost keep
    My breast, and charm intruding care asleep:
    They say thou'rt poor, and un-endow'd, what tho'?
    For thee, I this vain, worthless world forego:
    Let wealth and honour be for fortune's slaves,
    The alms of fools, and prize of crafty knaves:
    To me thou art, whate'er th'ambitious crave,
    And all that greedy misers want or have.
    In youth or age, in travel or at home;
    Here, or in town, at London, or at Rome;
    Rich, or a beggar, free, or in the Fleet,
    What'er my fate is, 'tis my fate to write."'

Oldham's talent, depending upon masculine sense and vigour of expression
rather than upon the more ethereal graces of poetry, was of the kind to
expand and mellow by age and practice. Had he lived longer he would
undoubtedly have left a name conspicuous in English literature. As it
is, he can only be regarded as a bright satellite revolving at a
respectful distance around the all-illumining orb of Dryden. Before
passing to Marvell and Butler, the only two really original poets after
Dryden besides the veterans Cowley and Waller, who belong to the
preceding period, it will be convenient to despatch a group of minor
bards, whose inclusion in the standard collections of poetry, involving
memoirs by a master of biography, has given them more celebrity than
they in most instances deserve.

[Sidenote: Lord Rochester (1647-1680).]

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647-1680), is principally known to
posterity by his vices and his repentance. The latter has helped to
preserve the memory of the former, which have also left abiding traces
in a number of poems not included in his works, and some of which, it
may be hoped, are wrongly attributed to him. For a number of years
Rochester obtained notoriety as, after Buckingham, the most dissolute
character of a dissolute age; but at the same time a critic and a wit,
potent to make or mar the fortunes of men of letters. 'Sure,' says Mr.
Saintsbury, 'to play some monkey trick or other on those who were
unfortunate enough to be his intimates.' Many a literary cabal was
instigated by him, many a libel and lampoon flowed from his pen, among
others, _The Session of the Poets_, correctly characterized by Johnson
as 'merciless insolence.' Worn out by a life of excess, he died at
thirty-three, and his penitence, largely due to the arguments and
exhortations of Burnet, afforded the latter material for a narrative
which Johnson, entirely opposed as he was to the author's political and
ecclesiastical principles, declares that 'the critic ought to read for
its elegance, the philosopher for its arguments, and the saint for its

Rochester's acknowledged poems fall into two divisions of unequal merit.
The lyrical and amatory are in general very insipid. The more serious
pieces, especially when expressing the discomfort of a sated votary of
pleasure, frequently want neither force nor weight. Four particularly
fine lines, quoted without indication of authorship in Goethe's
_Wahrheit und Dichtung_, have frequently occasioned speculation as to
their origin. They come from Rochester's _Satyr against Mankind_, and

    'Then Old Age and Experience, hand in hand,
    Lead him to Death, and make him understand,
    After a search so painful and so long,
    That all his life he has been in the wrong.'

Goldsmith's 'best-natured man, with the worst-natured muse,' is
purloined from Rochester, who is also the propounder of the paradox,
'All men would be cowards if they durst.' Some of his songs are not
devoid of merit. After all, however, nothing of his is so well known as
the anticipatory epitaph on Charles II., ascribed sometimes to him,
sometimes to Buckingham, and very likely due to neither:

    'Here lies our mutton-eating king,
      Whose word no man relies on;
    Who never said a foolish thing,
      And never did a wise one.'

Wentworth Dillon, Earl of Roscommon (1633?-1684), was a very different
character, both as a man and as a poet. He is accused of no fault but a
love of gaming, and the purity of his Muse merited the well-known

              'In all Charles's days
    Roscommon only boasts unsullied bays.'

But he has nothing of the salt and savour of Rochester's more serious
poetry, and is at best an elegant versifier, who, in his only
considerable original poem, the _Essay on Translated Verse_, thinks
justly, reasons clearly, and expresses himself with considerable spirit
when the subject requires. The most original feature of his literary
character is his preference in a rhyming age for blank verse, which he
enforces in theory, but is far from recommending by his practice. In his
rhymed pieces he is a better versifier than poet, and in his blank verse
the contrary. Milton's eyes were just closed; Shakespeare and Fletcher
were still acted; but the secret of beautiful versification, apart from
rhyme, seems to have been entirely lost.

[Sidenote: John Sheffield, Duke of Buckinghamshire (1649-1721).]

Poetry afforded a subject for verse to another noble writer, John
Sheffield, successively Earl of Mulgrave, Marquis of Normanby, and Duke
of Buckinghamshire (1649-1721), who achieved real if moderate
distinction as soldier, statesman, and scholar. As a poet his reputation
rests entirely upon his _Essay on Poetry_, which contains many just
thoughts expressed in pleasing numbers, although the author's deference
to the conventional dicta of criticism leads him into idolatry, not only
of Homer and Virgil, but of Bossu. To have fostered the genius of Pope
by judicious praise is the highest distinction of 'Granville the polite
and knowing Walsh.' Congreve, to be treated more fully as a dramatist,
stands somewhat higher than these as an inditer of heroic couplets; but
a severer criticism must be passed, if any criticism is needed, upon
Pomfret, Duke, Stepney, and the other versifiers of the day who have
burrowed their way into the stock collections of poetry.

[Sidenote: Andrew Marvell (1621-1678).]

Andrew Marvell was a virtuous man whose good qualities contrast so
forcibly with the characteristic failings of his age, that he appears by
contrast even more virtuous than he actually was. His integrity made him
the hero of legend, for, although the Court would no doubt have been
glad to gain him, it is hardly credible that the prime minister should
by the king's order have personally waited upon him 'up two pair of
stairs in a little court in the Strand.' But the apocryphal anecdote
attests the real veneration inspired by his independence in a venal age.
Born in the neighbourhood of Hull on March 31st, 1621, he studied at
Cambridge, travelled for some years on the Continent, and settled down
about 1650 as tutor to the daughter of Lord Fairfax. At this period he
wrote his exquisite poem, _The Garden_, and other pieces of a similar
character. He also wrote in 1650 the poem on Cromwell's return from
Ireland, which may have gained for him in 1653 the appointment of tutor
to Cromwell's ward, William Dutton. Other pieces of a like description
followed, and in 1657 Marvell became joint Latin secretary with Milton,
an office for which Milton had recommended him four years previously.
His poem on the Protector's death in the following year is justly
declared by Mr. Firth to be 'the only one distinguished by an accent of
sincerity and personal affection.' He was elected for Hull to Richard
Cromwell's Parliament, and continued to sit for the remainder of his
life. He was the last Member of Parliament who received a salary from
his constituents, to whose interests he in return attended so diligently
that upwards of three hundred letters from him upon their concerns and
general politics are extant in the Hull archives.

Marvell could scarcely be called a republican. He had been devoted to
the Protectorate, and would probably have been easily reconciled to the
Restoration if the government had been ably and honestly conducted. In
wrath at the general maladministration he betook himself to satires,
which circulated in manuscript. At first he attacked Clarendon, but
eventually concluded that the only remedy would be the final expulsion
of the house of Stuart. In 1672 and 1673 he appeared in print as a prose
controversialist with _The Rehearsal Transprosed_, a witty attack on a
work by Parker, Bishop of Oxford, wherein, in the author's own words,
'the mischiefs and inconveniences of toleration were represented, and
all pretences pleaded in behalf of liberty of conscience fully
answered.' He silenced his opponent, and escaped being himself silenced
through the interposition of Charles II., whose native good sense and
easiness of temper inclined him to toleration, and who promoted the
freedom of Nonconformists as a means of obtaining liberty for the Church
of Rome. Marvell, however, was not to be reconciled, and in 1677 put
forth an anonymous pamphlet to prove, what was but too true, that a
design had long been on foot to establish absolute monarchy and subvert
the Protestant religion. His sudden death on August 18th, 1678, was
attributed to poison, but, according to a physician who wrote some years
afterwards, was occasioned by that prejudice of the faculty against
Peruvian bark which is recorded by Temple and Evelyn.

As a writer of prose, Marvell is both powerful and humorous, but is not
a Junius or a Pascal to impart permanent interest to transitory themes,
and make the topics of the day topics for all time. As a poet he ranks
with those who have been said to be stars alike of evening and of
morning. His earliest and most truly poetical compositions belong in
spirit to the period of Charles I., when the strains of the Elizabethan
lyric were yet lingering. After passing through a transition stage of
manly verse still breathing a truly poetical spirit, but mainly
concerned with public affairs, he settles down as a satirist endowed
with all the vigour, but, at the same time, with all the prosaic
hardness of the Restoration. His most inspired poem, _Thoughts in a
Garden_, written under the Commonwealth, and originally composed in
Latin, nevertheless rings like a voice from beyond the Civil Wars. Here
are the three loveliest of nine lovely stanzas:

    'What wondrous life is this I lead!
    Ripe apples drop about my head;
    The luscious clusters of the vine
    Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
    The nectarine and curious peach
    Into my hands themselves do reach;
    Stumbling on melons as I pass,
    Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass.

    'Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
    Withdraws into its happiness;
    The mind, that ocean where each kind
    Does straight its own resemblance find;
    Yet it creates, transcending these,
    Far other worlds, and other seas;
    Annihilating all that's made
    To a green thought in a green shade.

    'Here at the fountain's sliding foot,
    Or at some fruit-tree's mossy root,
    Casting the body's vest aside
    My soul into the boughs does glide:
    There, like a bird, it sits and sings,
    There whets and claps its silver wings,
    And, till prepared for longer flight,
    Waves in its plumes the various light.'

'These wonderful verses,' says Mr. Palgrave of the entire poem, 'may be
regarded as a test of any reader's insight into the most poetical
aspects of poetry.'

As a satirist it is Marvell's error to confound satire with lampoon. He
has the _saeva indignatio_ which makes the avenger, but spends too much
of it upon individuals. Occasionally some fine personification gives
promise of better things, but the poet soon relapses into mere
personalities. This may be attributed in great measure to the
circumstances under which these compositions appeared. They could only
be circulated clandestinely, and the writer may be excused if he did not
labour to exalt what he himself regarded as mere fugitive poetry. The
most celebrated of these pieces are the series of _Advices to a
Painter_, in which the persons and events of the day are described to an
imaginary artist for delineation in fitting, and therefore by no means
flattering, colours. It is to Marvell's honour that he succeeds best
with a fine subject. When, in his poems on the events of the
Commonwealth, he escapes from mere sarcasm and negation, and speaks
nobly upon really noble themes, he soars far above the Marvell of the
Restoration, though even here his verse is marred by lapses into the
commonplace, and by his besetting infirmity of an inability to finish
with effect, leaving off like a speaker who sits down rather from the
failure of his voice than the exhaustion of his theme. The panegyric on
Cromwell's anniversary, and the poem on his death, abound nevertheless
with fine, though faulty passages, of which the following may serve as
an example:

    'O human glory vain! O Death! O wings!
    O worthless world! O transitory things!
    Yet dwelt that greatness in his shape decayed,
    That still, though dead, greater than death he laid,
    And in his altered face you something feign
    That threatens Death he yet will live again.
    Not much unlike the sacred oak which shoots
    To heaven its branches, and through earth its roots,
    Whose spacious boughs are hung with trophies round,
    And honoured wreaths have oft the victor crowned,
    When angry Jove darts lightning through the air
    At mortal sins, nor his own plant will spare,
    It groans and bruises all below, that stood
    So many years the shelter of the wood.
    The tree, erewhile foreshortened to our view,
    When fallen shows taller yet than as it grew;
    So shall his praise to after times increase,
    When truth shall be allowed, and faction cease;
    And his own shadows with him fall; the eye
    Detracts from objects than itself more high;
    But when Death takes from them that envied state,
    Seeing how little, we confess how great.'

Marvell's position as the satirist of his era from the Puritan and
Republican point of view, was filled upon the Cavalier side by Samuel
Butler, who, if general reputation and excellence in his own walk of
verse are to be allowed as criterions, may claim to be the third poet of
the age after Milton and Dryden. It is true that Butler, though endowed
with abundance of fancy, was, strictly speaking, no poet; that he is
entirely destitute of the dignity and tenderness which Marvell can
display with a congenial theme; and that he possesses nothing of
Dryden's power of exalting unpromising subjects into poetry. But he
infinitely surpasses Marvell when they meet on the common ground of
satire; and though he cannot be said to surpass Dryden, their methods
are so different that no proper comparison can be drawn. When writing in
Dryden's manner Butler is respectable, but he has the field of
burlesque epic entirely to himself. Supremacy in a low style of
composition is a surer passport to fame than moderate merit in a high
one. With all the defects of Restoration literature, it had a faculty
for producing masterpieces, and it must be admitted that Butler's
_Hudibras_ stands as decidedly at the head of its class as _Paradise
Lost_, or _Absalom and Achitophel_, or _Pilgrim's Progress_, or Pepys's
_Diary_ at the head of theirs.

[Sidenote: Samuel Butler (1612-1680).]

Samuel Butler was born near Worcester in 1612. His father, a small
farmer, procured him a good education at the Worcester Grammar School.
His first employment was that of clerk to a country justice named
Jefferys. He afterwards entered the household of Elizabeth, Countess of
Kent, at Wrest, in Bedfordshire, and subsequently acted as clerk to
various justices of the peace, one of whom, Sir Samuel Luke, of Cople
Hoo, near Bedford, served as the original of Hudibras. It is curious to
reflect that John Bunyan was at the same time going through his
spiritual conflicts in the same county. He seems to have also travelled
in France and Holland. He published nothing until 1659, when an
anonymous tract in favour of the restoration of the monarchy, entitled
_Mola Asinaria_, appeared from his pen. The service was recompensed by
the appointment of secretary to the Earl of Carbury, Lord President of
Wales, who made him steward of Ludlow Castle, where _Comus_ had been
performed nearly thirty years before. He resigned this charge upon
contracting what seemed a wealthy marriage, but the lady's money was
lost, and, notwithstanding the great literary success _Hudibras_, the
remainder of the author's life was spent in poverty. The first part of
_Hudibras_, stated in the title to have been written during the Civil
War, and if so at least fifteen years old, was published in 1663. Its
success was instantaneous, though neither the Puritans nor Mr. Pepys
could quite see the joke. The merit of the performance, however, was
fully apparent to a better and more influential judge, the king, who
encouraged the author by giving numerous copies away, though history
does not say at whose expense. But this was all he gave, and the poet
who had rendered such essential service to the royalist cause by his
writings was as completely neglected by the Court as if he had been John
Milton. It is indeed said that he was in receipt of a pension of £100 at
his death; but this seems contradicted by the letter, already quoted, of
Dryden to the Lord High Treasurer within two years after Butler's death,
where he says: ''Tis enough for one age to have neglected Mr. Cowley and
starved Mr. Butler.'[5] Oldham's lines, written at the same time, are
still more emphatic:

      'On Butler who can think without just rage,
    The glory and the scandal of the age?
    Fair stood his hopes when first he came to town,
    Met everywhere with welcomes of renown,
    Courted and loved by all, with wonder read,
    And promises of princely favour fed;
    But what reward for all had he at last,
    After a life of dull expectance passed?
    The wretch at summing up his misspent days
    Found nothing left but poverty and praise;
    Of all his gains by verse he could not save
    Enough to purchase flannel and a grave;
    Reduced to want, he in due time fell sick,
    Was fain to die, and be interred on tick;
    And well might bless the fever that was sent
    To rid him hence, and his worse fate prevent.'

These spirited verses are certainly exaggerated. Butler, though, as his
biographer says, 'personally known to few,' partook on the same
authority of the munificence of Dorset, and dying on September 25th,
1680, was buried on September 27th in the churchyard of St. Paul's,
Covent Garden, at the expense of another friend, William Longueville,
bencher of the Inner Temple, who had previously endeavoured to obtain
his interment in Westminster Abbey, where, Atterbury being dean, a tardy
monument was erected to him in 1721 by Alderman Barber. Very little is
known of the latter years of his life, except that he lived in Rose
Street, Covent Garden, and that he suffered much from the gout. He had
published a second part of _Hudibras_ in 1664, and a third in 1678,
containing many allusions to events much later than the Civil War. He
bequeathed his posthumous papers to Longueville, by whom they were
carefully preserved, and a large portion eventually came to be published
in 1759. They will be treated of in another place. Not much is known of
Butler's personal character and habits. He must evidently have been a
man of extensive reading, and versed in several languages and
literatures. It seems natural to attribute the neglect of so popular an
author to some infirmity in his own temper, but the little testimony we
have makes the other way. Wood describes him as 'a boon and witty
companion;' and Aubrey says, 'A severe and sound judgment, a good
fellow.' It must be remembered that he was forty-eight at the
Restoration, and had spent almost all his life in the country; we shall
also find reason to believe that he was neither enough of a churchman
nor enough of a loyalist to be entirely agreeable to his own party.

The defect in _Hudibras_ pointed out by Dr. Johnson, the want of logical
sequence in the action, undoubtedly exists, but is almost inherent in
the conception of such a performance. A more serious drawback, the
disproportion between the hero's deeds and his words, probably arises
from the poem having been written at different periods of the author's
life. When he began to write his invention was lively and vigorous, but
it naturally flagged after middle age, although his wit remained
unimpaired. In the first and part of the second canto disquisition and
adventure are so evenly blended that each supports the other; in the
latter part of the poem the burden falls almost entirely upon the
former. Hence the picturesque and cleverly varied incident of the
bear-baiting, with the varied characters it brings upon the scene, will
always be the favourite passage of the poem, unless an exception be made
for the portraits of Hudibras and Ralpho. There is, however,
considerable inconsistency in the character of Hudibras. He is
represented as a fool, yet half the good things of the book are, from
sheer necessity, put into his mouth. We are to suppose him a coward, yet
he takes and deals cuffs and bangs in the spirit of a pugilist; and his
attack upon the seven champions of bear-baiting, one of them an Amazon,
is so far from cowardice, that it more resembles temerity. The more
odious traits of his character hardly seem properly to belong to it; and
in fact Butler probably commenced his poem without too curiously
considering how he was to conduct it, or rather where it was to conduct
him, and scribbled away in the spirit of his own maxim--

    'One for sense, and one for rhyme,
    Is quite sufficient at one time'--

trusting to the humour ever springing up under his pen to redeem his
verse from the imputation of doggrel. This it certainly did; for
although _Hudibras_ as a whole is rambling, ill-compacted, and wordy,
the terseness of many individual passages is as remarkable as their

                          'A tool
    That knaves do work with, called a fool.'

    'Cerberus himself pronounce
    A leash of languages at once.'

    'Hudibras wore but one spur,
    As wisely knowing, could he stir
    To active trot one side of 's horse
    The other would not hang.'

    'For as on land there is no beast,
    But in some fish at sea's exprest;
    So in the wicked there's no vice
    Of which the saints have not a spice.'

    'Quoth she, There are no bargains driven,
    Nor marriages clapped up in heaven,
    And that's the reason, as some guess,
    There is no heaven in marriages.'

Butler's _Hudibras_ may perhaps be best defined as a metrical parody
upon _Don Quixote_, with a spice of allusion to the _Faerie Queene_, in
which the nobility and pathos of the originals are designedly
obliterated, and the humour exaggerated into farce to suit the author's
polemic purpose. His design is to kill Presbyterianism and Independency
by ridicule, and he is consequently compelled to shut his eyes to
everything in them except their occasional tendency to baseness, and
their perpetual liability to cant. This is the constant Nemesis of the
satirist; but Butler is even more of a caricaturist than the situation
called for. The endurance of his poem to our own times, however, is
sufficient proof that, although a caricature, it was not a libel, and
amid the enthusiastic reaction of the Restoration it may well have
passed for a fair portrait. The machinery is closely modelled upon _Don
Quixote_. Presbyterianism is incarnated in the doughty justice of the
peace, Sir Hudibras; Independency and new light sectarianism in general
in his squire, Ralpho; and the two sally forth in quest of adventure
quite in the style of Don Quixote and Sancho, except that the Don's
great aim is to deliver damsels, and Hudibras's to imprison them. Though
the scene appears to be laid in the west of England, there is no reason
to doubt the tradition that the prototype of Hudibras's satire was
Butler's master, the Bedfordshire magistrate, Sir Samuel Luke, who is
evidently alluded to where a rhyme to _Mameluke_ is left blank to be
supplied by the reader's ingenuity. If, as is more than probable, this
worthy justice was given to suppressing bear-baitings, Butler would need
no more material for his burlesque; and the first part of the poem, at
all events, may well have been written while he was in Sir Samuel's
employment. It seems, from internal evidence, to have been composed
before Cromwell had ejected the Long Parliament, and its general
atmosphere almost precludes the idea of its having been written after
the execution of Charles I. The second part has many allusions to later
events. The description of Hudibras, mind and body, is so vivid and
precise as to present internal evidence of having been drawn from a
living model, while Ralpho is in comparison vague. Soon after sallying
forth the pair find themselves at odds with a crowd about to revel in
the amusement of bear-baiting, which they proceed to interrupt; not, as
has been remarked, out of compassion to the bear, but out of grudge to
the public. This brings on a fight, most amusingly described, but at
somewhat too great length; the 'fatal facility' of the octosyllabic
couplet being nowhere more conspicuous than in Butler's humorous
doggrel. After various turns of fortune, the knight and squire find
themselves in the stocks, where they sit until Hudibras's lady-love, a
frolicsome widow with a jointure, appears to the rescue:

      'No sooner did the Knight perceive her,
    But straight he fell into a fever,
    Inflam'd all over with disgrace,
    To be seen by her in such a place;
    Which made him hang his head, and scowl,
    And wink, and goggle like an owl.
    He felt his brains begin to swim,
    When thus the Dame accosted him,
      This place (quoth she) they say's enchanted,
    And with delinquent spirits haunted,
    That here are tied in chains, and scourged,
    Until their guilty crimes be purged:
    Look, there are two of them appear
    Like persons I have seen somewhere.
    Some have mistaken blocks and posts
    For spectres, apparitions, ghosts,
    With saucer-eyes, and horns, and some
    Have heard the Devil beat a drum:
    But if our eyes are not false glasses,
    That give a wrong account of faces,
    That beard and I should be acquainted,
    Before 'twas conjur'd and enchanted;
    For tho' it be disfigured somewhat,
    As if 't had lately been in combat,
    It did belong t' a worthy Knight,
    Howe'er this goblin is come by it.
      When Hudibras the lady heard,
    Discoursing thus upon his beard,
    And speak with such respect and honour,
    Both of the beard, and the beard's owner;
    He thought it best to set as good
    A face upon it as he cou'd,
    And thus he spoke: Lady, your bright
    And radiant eyes are in the right;
    The beard's th' identic beard you knew,
    The same numerically true:
    Nor is it worn by fiend or elf,
    But its proprietor himself.
      Oh Heav'ns! quoth she, can that be true?
    I do begin to fear 'tis you;
    Not by your individual whiskers,
    But by your dialect and discourse,
    That never spoke to man or beast
    In notions vulgarly exprest.
    But what malignant star, alas!
    Has brought you both to this sad pass?
      Quoth he, The fortune of the war,
    Which I am less afflicted for,
    Than to be seen with beard and face
    By you in such a homely case.
      Quoth she, Those need not be asham'd
    For being honourably maim'd;
    If he that is in battle conquer'd,
    Have any title to his own beard,
    Tho' yours be sorely lugg'd and torn,
    It does your visage more adorn,
    Than if 'twere prun'd, and starch'd and lander'd,
    And cut square by the Russian standard.
    A torn beard's like a tatter'd ensign,
    That's bravest which there are most rents in,
    That petticoat about your shoulders
    Does not so well become a soldier's,
    And I'm afraid they are worse handled,
    Although i' th' rear, your beard the van led;
    And those uneasy bruises make
    My heart for company to ache,
    To see so worshipful a friend
    I' th' pill'ry set at the wrong end.'

The mischievous lady, nevertheless, only consents to liberate Hudibras
upon condition that he shall administer a sound flogging to himself.
Hudibras willingly promises this, and is released, but next day he
thinks better of it, and consults Ralpho whether he is actually bound by
his oath. Ralpho's reply abounds with the pithy couplets so frequent in
_Hudibras_, which have become a part of the language:

    'Oaths were not purposed, more than law,
    To keep the good and just in awe,
    But to confine the bad and sinful,
    Like moral cattle in a pinfold.'

    'The Rabbins write, when any Jew
    Did make to God or man a vow
    Which afterward he found untoward
    And stubborn to be kept, or too hard;
    Any three other Jews of the nation
    Might free him from his obligation.
    And have not two saints power to use
    A greater privilege than three Jews?'

    'Does not in Chancery every man swear
    What makes best for him in his answer?'

    'He that imposes an oath makes it,
    Not he that for convenience takes it;
    Then how can any man be said
    To break an oath he never made?'

    'That sinners may supply the place
    Of suff'ring saints is a plain case.
    Justice gives sentence many times
    On one man for another's crimes.
    Our brethren of New England use
    Choice malefactors to excuse,
    And hang the guiltless in their stead,
    Of whom the churches have less need:
    As lately 't happened in a town,
    There liv'd a cobler, and but one,
    That out of doctrine could cut use,
    And mend men's lives as well as shoes.
    This precious brother having slain,
    In times of peace, an Indian,
    (Not out of malice, but mere zeal,
    Because he was an infidel)
    The mighty Tottipottymoy
    Sent to our elders an envoy;
    Complaining sorely of the breach
    Of league, held forth by brother Patch,
    Against the articles in force
    Between both churches, his and ours,
    For which he crav'd the saints to render
    Into his hands, or hang th' offender:
    But they maturely having weigh'd
    They had no more but him o' th' trade,
    (A man that serv'd them in a double
    Capacity, to teach and cobble,)
    Resolv'd to spare him; yet to do
    The Indian Hoghgan Moghgan too
    Impartial justice, in his stead did
    Hang an old weaver that was bed-rid.'

Hudibras, however, is but half convinced, or rather, doubts whether
conviction can be brought to the minds of others. He bethinks himself of
a middle course, and suggests that the whipping shall be inflicted by
proxy, and that Ralpho shall be the proxy. To this Ralpho demurs, and an
impending rupture is only averted by a new adventure, which seems
invented for the purpose. When it is over Hudibras has profited by the
interval of reflection to resolve to consult the wizard Sidrophel, who
is apparently intended for Lilly. The scene affords Butler an
opportunity of venting the dislike to physical science which he shared
with so many other literary men, and to which he gave more definite
expression in _The Elephant in the Moon_. The interview terminates in a
scuffle, in which Hudibras overthrows Sidrophel, and, thinking he has
killed him, makes off, leaving Ralpho, as he deems, to bear the brunt.
The trusty squire, however, has already gone to the lady with the tale
of Hudibras's perjury, which insures the knight a warm reception. Here
the action of the story ends, the remainder of the poem being chiefly
occupied by 'heroical epistles' between the parties, which do not help
it on, and by a digression on the downfall of the Rump, chiefly
remarkable for allusions to politics of later date.

One of the most noticeable phenomena in Butler is, that after all this
Cavalier poet is little of a Cavalier, and this assailant of Puritanism
little of a Churchman. His loyalty is but hatred of anarchy, and his
religion but hatred of cant. The genuineness of both these feelings is
attested by the detached thoughts found among his papers; otherwise it
might fairly have been doubted whether his motive for espousing the
royalist cause had been any other than the infinitely greater scope
which Puritanism and Republicanism offered to the shafts of a satirist.
The follies of the Cavalier party proved that things may be absurd
without being ridiculous; those of their opponents demonstrated that
ridicule may justly attach to things not intrinsically absurd. It is
clear, notwithstanding, from Butler's prose remains, that he was
constitutionally hostile to liberty in politics and to the inward light
in religion, and that he obeyed his own sincere conviction in attacking
them. But it is equally clear that his preference for monarchy was
solely utilitarian, and that his preferences in religion were determined
simply by taste. The ground of his acquiescence in the Church of England
is thus frankly stated by himself in one of his detached thoughts:

     'Men ought to do in religion as they do in war. When a man of
     honour is overpowered, and must of necessity surrender himself
     up a prisoner, such are always wont to endeavour to do it to
     some person of command and quality, and not to a mere
     scoundrel. So, since all men are obliged to be of some church,
     it is more honourable, if there were nothing else in it, to be
     of that which has some reputation, than such a one as is
     contemptible, and justly despised by all the best of men.'

This is not the language of a very fervent churchman; and Butler's
royalism is like his religion, a _pis aller_. Nowhere does his aversion
for Puritanism kindle into enthusiasm for its contrary, any more than
his humour ever rises into poetry. In his verse he is a satirist; in his
prose a sceptic; and his satire and his scepticism are alike rooted in a
low opinion of human nature, and a disbelief that things can ever be
much better than they are. He is a strong spirit, but of the earth,
earthy. At the same time he is not one of the satirists who make their
readers cynics; on the contrary, his hearty geniality puts the reader
into good humour with mankind, and suggests that if there is not much to
admire there is also but little to condemn. It is unnecessary to dilate
on his peculiar merits, which are of universal notoriety. Few have
enriched the language with so many familiar quotations; few have so much
fancy along with a total absence of sentiment; few have been so fertile
in odd rhymes and quaint illustrations and comparisons; few have so
thoroughly combined the characters of wit and humorist.

In 1759 a quantity of MS. compositions of Butler's, which had remained
unpublished during his life, and had come into the possession of his
friend Longueville, were edited by R. Thyer, librarian of the Chetham
Library at Manchester. The most important, his characters in the manner
of Theophrastus, and detached thoughts in prose, will be noticed along
with the prose essayists. Of the metrical compositions, the most
elaborate is _The Elephant in the Moon_, a satire on the appetite for
marvels displayed by some of the members of the then infant Royal
Society, which exists in two recensions, one in Hudibrastic, the other
in heroic verse. The other pieces are also for the most part satirical,
with a strong affinity to _Hudibras_, except where they parody the style
of some poet of the day. They are always clever, sometimes very humorous
and pointed, and, with Marvell's satires, form a transition from the
unpolished quaintness of Donne to the weight and splendour of Dryden.
Butler in one instance appears a downright plagiarist; in another he
would seem, were the thing possible, to have been copied by a later and
more illustrious writer. In his satire against rhyme, he writes:

    'When I would praise an author, the untoward
    Damned sense says Virgil, but the rhyme says Howard.'

This is undoubtedly Boileau's 'La raison dit Virgile, et la rime
Quinault.' In _Cat and Puss_, on the other hand, an amusing parody of
the rhyming tragedy of his day, he observes of the feline Lothario:

    'At once his passion was both false and true,
    And the more false, the more in earnest grew.'

Can Tennyson, who borrowed and improved so much, have been to Butler for

    'His honour rooted in dishonour stood,
    And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true'?


[5] Mr. Churton Collins, by a clerical error, prints _Waller_.



It is entirely in keeping with the solid and terrestrial character of
Restoration literature in general, that no description of poetry should
manifest so grievous a lapse from the standard of the preceding age as
the lyrical. The decline of the drama has attracted more attention,
partly from the violent contrast of two schools which had hardly one
principle or one method in common, partly because our own age had but
imperfectly realized the exceeding wealth in song of the Elizabethan and
Jacobean periods, until Mr. Arthur Bullen showed what unsuspected
treasures of poetry were hidden in old music books. Whatever else an
Elizabethan or Jacobean lyric may be, it is almost certain to be
melodious. The average Restoration lyric is correct enough in scansion,
but the melody is conventional, poor and thin. Here and there, and
especially in Dryden, we are surprised by a fine exception; but as a
rule the Restoration song is deficient alike in the simple spontaneity
which inspired such pieces as _Come live with me and be my love_, and in
the more intricate harmonies of its predecessors. It was as though a
blight had suddenly fallen upon the nation, and men's ears had become
incapable of distinguishing between sweetness and smoothness. So,
indeed, they had as respected the music of verse; but how little
technical music, whether vocal or instrumental, was neglected, even in
private circles, we may learn from Pepys's _Diary_, and it is a
remarkable proof how little this music and the music of poetry have to
do with each other, that this age of degeneracy in the one produced the
greatest of all English masters, Purcell, in the other; while the still
more hopelessly unmelodious age of the first Georges was the age of
Handel. Poetry makes melody, not melody poetry; and the only explanation
is, that the age preceding that of the Restoration was poetical, and the
Restoration age was prosaic. It could not well have been otherwise if,
as all critics agree, the special literary mission of the Restoration
period was to prune the luxuriance of English prose, and by introducing
conciseness, perspicuity, and logical order, to render it a fit
instrument for narrative, reasoning, and the despatch of business.

Such lyric as the age possessed is almost entirely comprehended in
Dryden; for Marvell, of whom we must nevertheless speak, belongs in
spirit to a former age. The songs in Dryden's plays, to be mentioned
shortly, prove that he was by no means destitute of spontaneous lyrical
feeling; but he no doubt succeeded best when, having first penetrated
himself with a theme sufficiently stirring to generate the enthusiastic
mood which finds its natural expression in song, he sat down to frame a
fitting accompaniment by the aid of all the resources of metrical art.
The principal examples of this lyrical magnificence which he has given
us are the elegy on Anne Killigrew and the two odes on St. Cecilia's
Day. Of the first of these two latter, Johnson says that 'it is lost in
the splendour of the second,' and such is the fact; but had Dryden
produced no other lyric, he would still have ranked as a fine lyrical
poet. Of the second ode, better known as _Alexander's Feast_, it is
needless to say anything, for all readers of poetry have it by heart,
and all recognize its claim to rank among the greatest odes in the
language--the greatest, perhaps, until Wordsworth and Shelley wrote, and
little, if at all, behind even them. Johnson, indeed, prefers the
memorial ode on Anne Killigrew, and if all the stanzas equalled the
first he would be right; but this is impossible; as he himself remarks,
'An imperial crown cannot be one continued diamond.' The inevitable
falling off, nevertheless, would have been less apparent if Dryden had
shown more judgment in the selection of his topics, or at least more
tact in handling them. The morals of the age were, indeed, bad enough,
as he well knew who had helped to make them so; but such frank treatment
of a disagreeable theme jars exceedingly with an ode devoted to the
celebration of chastity and virtue. Notwithstanding this flaw, the
entire ode deserves Mr. Saintsbury's eulogy, 'As a piece of concerted
music in verse it has not a superior.' The hyperbolical praise of Anne
Killigrew's now forgotten poems is explained, and in some measure
excused, by the fact that it was written to be prefixed to them. The
first stanza, appropriate to thousands beside its ostensible subject,
appeals to the general human heart, and indicates the high-water mark of
Restoration poetry:

    'Thou youngest virgin-daughter of the skies,
        Made in the last promotion of the blest,
        Whose palms, new-plucked from Paradise,
    In spreading branches more sublimely rise,
        Rich with immortal green above the rest:
    Whether, adopted to some neighbouring star,
    Thou roll'st above us in thy wandering race,
        Or in procession fixed and regular
        Mov'st with the heavens' majestic pace;
        Or, called to more superior bliss,
    Thou tread'st with seraphims the vast abyss:
    Whatever happy region is thy place,
    Cease thy celestial song a little space;
    Thou wilt have time enough for hymns divine,
        Since Heaven's eternal year is thine.
    Hear then a mortal Muse thy praise rehearse
          In no ignoble verse;
    But such as thy own voice did practise here,
    When thy first fruits of Poesy were given,
    To make thyself a welcome inmate there
        While yet a young probationer
          And candidate of heaven.'

The poet who so excelled in majestic artificial harmonies was also the
one poet of his day who could occasionally sing as the bird sings.
Dryden has never received sufficient praise for his songs, inasmuch as
these are mostly hidden away in his dramas, and not always adapted for
quotation. The following, with a manifest political meaning, is a good
example of his simple ease and melody:

    'A choir of bright beauties in spring did appear
    To choose a May-lady to govern the year;
    All the nymphs were in white, and the shepherds in green;
    The garland was given, and Phyllis was queen:
    But Phyllis refused it, and sighing did say,
    I'll not wear a garland while Pan is away.

    'While Pan and fair Syrinx are fled from our shore,
    The Graces are vanished, and Love is no more:
    The soft God of Pleasure that warmed our desires,
    Has broken his bow and extinguished his fires;
    And vows that himself and his mother will mourn
    Till Pan and fair Syrinx in triumph return.

    'Forbear your addresses and court us no more,
    For we will perform what the Deity swore;
    But if you dare think of deserving our charms,
    Away with your sheep-hooks, and take to your arms;
    Then laurels and myrtles your brows shall adorn
    When Pan and his son and fair Syrinx return.'

The following song is from _The Mock Astrologer_:

    'You charmed me not with that fair face,
      Though it was all divine;
    To be another's is the grace
      That makes me wish you mine.
    The gods and fortune take their part
      Who like young monarchs fight,
    And boldly dare invade that heart
      Which is another's right.
    First, mad with hope, we undertake
      To pull up every bar;
    But, once possessed, we feebly make
      A dull defensive war.
    Now every friend is turned a foe,
      In hope to get our store:
    And passion makes us cowards grow
      Which made us brave before.'

The Muse who could mourn to such purpose for Anne Killigrew might have
been expected to soar high in celebrating and lamenting Charles II.,
parts of whose history and character certainly lent themselves to
poetry. Whether from haste, indifference, or whatever reason, Dryden was
clearly unable to penetrate himself with the subject, and it is perhaps
to his honour that his composition should so little simulate an
inspiration he was evidently far from feeling. The choice of subjects is
judicious, but the treatment is in general inanimate and perfunctory,
except when the poet is going to say something absurd, and then his
motto is _Pecca fortiter_. There is, perhaps, nothing nearer burlesque
in all Dryden's rhyming plays than this couplet:

        'Ere a prince is to perfection brought,
    He costs Omnipotence a second thought.'

The poet is also weighted by having to flatter Charles and his successor
at the same time. The concluding lines, however, eulogizing James's care
for the navy, will always echo in the heart of Britain:

    'Behold even the remoter shores
    A conquering navy proudly spread:
    The British cannon formidably roars,
    While, starting from his oozy bed,
    The asserted Ocean rears his reverend head
    To view and recognize his ancient Lord again,
    And with a willing hand restores
    The fasces of the main.'

This latter fine phrase had occurred already in _Astraea Redux_ and
_Annus Mirabilis_.

Andrew Marvell, though unequal, is an excellent lyric poet. His best
song, _Where the remote Bermudas ride_, is such a household word that we
select a less known piece:

    'Ye living lamps, by whose dear light
      The nightingale does sit so late,
    And studying all the summer night,
      Her matchless songs does meditate;

    'Ye country comets, that portend
      No war nor prince's funeral,
    Shining unto no other end
      Than to presage the grass's fall;

    'Ye glowworms, whose officious flame
      To wandering mowers shows the way,
    That in the night have lost their aim,
      And after foolish fires do stray;

    'Your courteous lights in vain you waste,
      Since Juliana here is come;
    For she my mind hath so displaced,
      That I shall never find my home.'

In fancy as in melody this and Marvell's other gems belong to the age of
Charles I. Apart from Dryden, the Restoration has little to show beside
three songs of genuine inspiration in the plays of Crowne, to be
mentioned in his place as a middling dramatist; Sir Charles Sedley's
charming verses to Chloris; others, mostly from the same hand Motteux,
and, strange to say, the Dryasdust Rymer, which have found a harbour in
Mr. Arthur Bullen's _Musa Proterva_; a few songs of Rochester's and
Aphra Behn's; some few carols in Mr. Ebsworth's collections; and the
elegant and animated _To all you ladies now at land_ of Charles
Sackville, Earl of Dorset (1637-1706), less known for his occasional
verses, these excepted, than as the arbiter of taste and the benefactor
of needy men of letters.

It was but natural that the lyrists, like the dramatists, should
endeavour to make up in bombastic extravagance for their deficiencies in
simplicity and truth to nature. An appropriate instrument was at hand in
the Pindaric ode, the miscreation of a true poet, Cowley. So little were
the genuine characteristics of Pindaric versification then understood
even by scholars, that it is no wonder that Cowley should have conceived
them to be equivalent to absolute irregularity. His own compositions are
not within our province; but it may be remarked that they are
distinguished from the Pindarics of Charles II.'s time by the
preponderance of what was then called wit, which we should describe as a
perverse ingenuity in discovering superficial resemblances between
dissimilar things. It is impossible not to admire in a measure some of
the feats of this kind performed by Cowley, Crashaw, and Donne; but
common sense intimates that the real criterion of the merit of a
comparison is its justice. The movement, nevertheless, had considerable
significance as indicating the exhaustion of the old forms of poetry. It
had triumphed in Italy and in Spain in the persons of Marino and
Gongora, with most disastrous effects on the literature of those
countries. Fortunate it was for England that this fashion arrived late,
and before it could take much root was dislodged by the saner methods of
France. Pindarics, however, went on existing, but with comparatively
little wit, and even less poetry. Sprat, of whom we shall have to speak
as the historian of the Royal Society, was perhaps the most conspicuous
practitioner. The following lines on Prometheus are a bright example of
his amalgam of poetry and wit:

      'Along he brought the sparkling coal
      From some celestial chimney[6] stole;
      Quickly the plundered stars he left,
        And as he hastened down,
    With the robbed flames his hands still shone,
    And seemed as if they were burnt for the theft.'

Congreve is equally absurd in his personification of Sleep:

        'An ancient sigh he sits upon,
    Whose memory of sound is long since gone,
    And purposely annihilated for his throne.'

This poet, nevertheless, who, as pointed out by Dr. Johnson and Mr.
Gosse, has the critical merit of having given the English Pindaric a
regular structure, was capable of much better things. The opening of the
ode which yields the above choice _morceau_ (_To Mrs. Arabella Hunt,
Singing_) is in a fine strain of poetry:

    'Let all be hushed, each softest motion cease,
    Be every loud tumultuous thought at peace,
    And every ruder gasp of breath
    Be calm, as in the arms of death:
    And then, most fickle, most uneasy part,
    Thou restless wanderer, my heart,
    Be still; gently, ah gently, leave,
    Thou busy, idle thing, to heave:
    Stir not a pulse; and let my blood,
    That turbulent unruly flood,
    Be softly staid:
    Let me be all, but my attention, dead.
    Go, rest, unnecessary springs of life,
    Leave your officious toil and strife;
    For I would hear her voice, and try
    If it be possible to die.'


[6] It should be noted that this word is not so absurd as it may appear
to the modern reader. Chimney (Fr. _cheminée_) here means the fireplace,
not the flue. 'The mantle of the _chimney_ in his hall.'--WALTON, _Life
of George Herbert_.



Dryden occupies an unique position as by far the most important
representative of a department of literature for which, on his own
showing, he had little natural qualification, and in which he had little
ambition to excel. Only one of his numerous plays, he tells us, was
written to please himself. But he wanted reputation, money, and Court
favour, and these inducements directed him to the most popular and
lucrative department of the Muses' province. Here, as elsewhere, his
progress was slow. His first play, _The Wild Gallant_ (1663), has come
down to us in an amended version; in its original form it is pronounced
by Pepys 'as poor a thing as I ever saw in my life.' Dryden might long
have remained an unsuccessful dramatist but for the invention of rhyming
tragedy, which, though in itself an objectionable form, suited his
talent to perfection. The management of the heroic couplet was and
always continued the strongest of all his strong points, and his genius
for rhetoric was stimulated to the utmost by the facilities afforded by
this sonorous form of metre. Hence _The Indian Emperor_ (1665) was a
great success, and determined the main course of Dryden's dramatic
activity for some years. It necessarily brought him nearer to the French
drama, and gave a French character to the drama of the day, not really
in harmony with the taste of the English public, and from which Dryden
ultimately freed himself. The opinion of the day was prepared to go in
the direction of classicism as far as Jonson, but not as far as
Corneille. The French traveller Sorbière having in 1663 censured the
irregularity of the English stage, was answered by Sprat, who asserts
the superiority of his countrymen, and points out the fundamental
difference in the taste of the two nations. 'The French,' he says, 'for
the most part take only one or two great men, and chiefly insist upon
some one remarkable accident of their story; to this end they admit no
more persons than will serve to adorn that: and they manage all in
rhyme, with long speeches, almost in the way of dialogues, in making
high ideas of honour, and in speaking noble things. The English on their
side make their chief plot to consist in a greater variety of actions,
and, besides the main design, add many little contrivances. By this
means their scenes are shorter, their stage fuller, many more persons of
different humours are introduced. And in carrying on of this they
generally do only confine themselves to blank verse.' Sprat then
proceeds to point out the advantages of the English method; and it is
evident that neither he nor the public imagined themselves to be on the
eve of such serious modifications of the national drama as actually took
place--modifications to be chiefly attributed to the taste of the Court,
and the more easily effected from the paucity of theatres.

The inferiority of the Restoration drama to the Elizabethan is one of
the commonplaces of criticism, perhaps even one of its platitudes, and
cannot be admitted without some qualification. Yet, as the broad general
statement of a fact, it is undeniable, and the fact is a proof that the
elements which preserve a play as literature for posterity are not those
which fit it for the contemporary stage. In every play of serious
purpose there is, or should be, an earthly part and a spiritual,
dramatic craftsmanship and poetical inspiration. In the former
particular the Restoration dramatists compare not unfavourably with
their predecessors, always excepting Shakespeare; they fail not as
dramatists, but as poets. The whole Elizabethan drama is steeped in an
atmosphere of poetry. To say nothing of its chief representatives, take
up such satires as _The Return from Parnassus_, or such merely
occasional pieces as the academical play on _Timon_ which preceded
Shakespeare's, and you will not doubt that you are reading the work of a
poet. Read through, on the other hand, the best plays of the
representative dramatists of the Restoration, and you will generally
find the poetical element concentrated in a few brilliant passages. In
the Elizabethan age, it is evident, men lived at such a height of heroic
and romantic sentiment that the purveyors of public entertainment could
not but be poets. In the Restoration era, on the other hand, men
habitually lived, breathed, and wrote prose; and when the dramatist
would be a poet, he had to set himself to the task. To convince
ourselves that the distinction between poetry and prose is not
artificial, as Carlyle seemed to think, but essential, we have only to
consider the widely different influence of Elizabethan and Restoration
drama upon the after world. Both, excepting the works of Shakespeare,
are virtually dead as acted drama. But in losing the stage the
Restoration drama has lost everything, while the Elizabethan is yet a
living and working force. It powerfully co-operated in the splendid
revival of English poetry at the end of last century; it is at this
moment an inspirer and a nurse of young genius. It is inconceivable that
the Restoration drama as a whole should inspire anyone, or that it
should count for anything as a factor in future developments of
literature. One is a perennial plant, which may die down to the root in
ungenial seasons, but will assuredly put forth new flowers; the other
is a fossil, curious and in some measure beautiful, but devoid of vital
force. And for this, the merely intellectual merits of both being so
considerable, no reason can be given but that one is on the whole
poetical, and therefore living, the other on the whole prosaic, and
therefore inert. Hence we may prophesy of the success of the endeavour
of Ibsen, and other men of distinguished talent, to produce dramas
conceived in an entirely realistic spirit, and entirely devoted to the
problems of modern society. Such competitions will be valuable _pièces
justificatives_ for the intellectual history of the nineteenth century,
but they will be extinct as literary forces long ere the end of the

This, nevertheless, is to be said for the Restoration dramatists, that
their art is not an imitation of an extinct form of the drama, but is at
least something new, really expressive of the sentiments of their
generation. The imitation of Shakespeare could only have produced gross
unreality, which must have degenerated still further into mere inanity.
The playwrights did what the contemporary painters should have done,
they fell back, in a measure, upon realism when high imagination was no
longer possible. If they had gone further in this direction their works
would have possessed more intrinsic merit, and have claimed a more
important place in the history of culture. Their tragedies would not so
often have been rendered unnatural by the employment of rhyme, and their
comedies would have exhibited the manners and the morals of the English
nation, and not merely of the playgoing part of it. It cannot be
believed that the comedy of that age affords anything like so faithful a
picture of the seventeenth century as Fielding's novels do of the
eighteenth. The realistic tendency was chiefly conspicuous in the closer
approach to the language of common life, and in the more logical
character even of appeals to emotion. The extravagant transports of
heroes and heroines only betray that true imagination had grown cold;
but the manly nervous sense and the almost forensic reasoning so often
found in their company show that a new stratum had really been touched.

Another consideration should not be overlooked in the comparison between
the Elizabethan and the Restoration drama, that the debasement of the
latter is exaggerated from the seeming abruptness of the metamorphosis
undergone by the former. Passing from the stage of Shakespeare to the
stage of Dryden, we appear to have suddenly entered a new world. The
representatives of the drama seem instantaneously transformed by some
Circean potion into beings of a lower type. We do not immediately
remember that the gradual development which would have interpreted the
apparent prodigy was rudely interrupted by the Civil War and the
Commonwealth. If the interval between Shirley and Dryden had been
continuously occupied by popular dramatists, we should have observed the
change slowly coming on, and have watched the older form shading off
into the newer by gradations not more violent than those by which the
latter subsequently passed into the drama of the eighteenth century. As
it is, the poets of Charles II.'s time seem the authors of a revolution
of which they were merely the instruments. The younger portion of their
audiences, on whose suffrages they had mainly to rely, had scarcely so
much as seen a play. The spells of authority and tradition were broken,
or at least so grievously impaired as to be unable to withstand the
seduction of French example. Honest Samuel Pepys would not have so
easily pronounced the _Midsummer Night's Dream_ 'a mean thing' if the
romantic drama had not been absolutely extinct for him. And, taking a
broad view of the revolution in popular taste, we must admit that,
however deplorable in itself, it had some good sides. It tended to bring
England more into harmony with the general current of European taste and
thought, and repressed the tendency of our noble literature to fanciful
and eccentric insularity. In the long run, moreover, it was serviceable
to the English drama by providing a substitute, however inferior, for
the old vein now unproductive. The want of such a resource killed the
drama of Spain. Spanish dramatists, until the nineteenth century, were
unable to accommodate themselves to any dramatic form but the national
one, every phase of which had been completely exemplified before the end
of the seventeenth century. In consequence, the Spanish theatre of the
eighteenth century did not produce a single tolerable piece until, near
the termination of the epoch, a playwright arose who was capable of
profiting by French example.

Another extenuation of the departure of the Restoration dramatists from
the better traditions of the English stage is the strength as well as
the suddenness of the new influence to which they were subjected. It
came from the Court, and the Court dispensed the playwright's daily
bread. There is sufficient evidence that even Shakespeare was by no
means indifferent to the good opinion of Elizabeth and James, but
neither of these sovereigns was sufficiently the drama's patron to be
the drama's legislator. It was otherwise with Charles II., a man of wit,
taste, and polish, inaccessible to the deeper emotions of humanity, and
without a grain of poetry in his composition. Such a man must have found
the Elizabethan drama intolerable. He no doubt honestly agreed with his
laureate, who coolly says: 'At his return he found a nation lost as much
in barbarism as in rebellion; and, as the excellency of his nature
forgave the one, so the excellency of his manners reformed the other.
The desire of imitating so great a pattern first awakened the dull and
heavy spirits of the English from their natural reservedness.' With
every allowance for adulation, there can be no doubt that Dryden in a
considerable measure believed himself a reformer. Charles had his
Paladins in the field of letters. 'The favour,' says Dryden elsewhere,
'which heroic plays have lately found upon our theatres has been wholly
derived to them from the countenance and approbation they have received
at Court.' We may well feel thankful that the experiment of Gallicizing
the native genius of England should have been tried so fairly, and have
broken down so utterly, under such patronage as Charles's and in such
hands as Dryden's. We have not quite seen the last of it, but where
Corneille and Molière failed Goncourt and Zola are not likely to

This may at least be said for Dryden, that the romantic drama was for a
time in a state of suspended animation, and that the only question was
what successor should fill its place. For a short time two foreign
schools seemed contending for the prize. Dryden's own allegiance in his
first piece, _The Wild Gallant_, was given to the Spanish drama, a form
exceedingly attractive from its brisk action, sudden vicissitudes, and
dexterous development of intrigue. But the Spanish drama cannot be
naturalized in England for two reasons, one creditable to English
genius, the other the reverse. A play of intrigue is necessarily a play
of incident, and allows little room for the development of character;
but Englishmen are 'humoursome,' and enjoy the discrimination of
character to the nicest shades. If we judged the two nations solely by
their dramas, we should say that all Spaniards were exactly alike, and
no two Englishmen. The other reason is that Englishmen do not
particularly excel in the contrivance of incident, and that few even of
our best dramatists could rival the ingenuity of third-rate Spanish
playwrights. The Anglo-Spanish drama soon disappeared, and its place in
serious dramatic literature was taken by a _genre_ most intimately
associated with the name of Dryden, its most brilliant practitioner, and
upon whose desertion it crumbled into dust.

Dryden himself has told us in few words what he understands by an heroic
play, and the definition exempts him from much of the criticism to which
he might otherwise have been held liable: 'An heroic play ought to be an
imitation, in little, of an heroic poem.' In other words, it must have
an epical element as well as a dramatic. The experiment was worth
making, as it proved that neither branch of the poetic art gained
anything by invading the other's territory. Compared with the art of
Shakespeare or of Sophocles, the art of Dryden in this department seems
a tawdry caricature. All the higher qualities of the dramatist are
absent, being, in fact, inconsistent with the demands of epic poetry,
while epic dignity is equally sacrificed to the exigencies of drama.
Without constant hurry and bustle, such pieces would be intolerable.
They require, as Dryden tacitly admits by the quotation from Ariosto,
which he adduces as expressive of his guiding principle, a constant
succession of adventures. Such incessant agitation leaves no place for
the development of character; the actors come on the stage ready
labelled; or if, like Nourmahal in _Aurengzebe_, they disclose a new
trait, the sudden novelty produces the effect of complete metamorphosis.
The pieces could only be regarded as splendid puppet-shows, were not the
failings of the dramatist so frequently redeemed by the poet. It so
chanced that the Coryphæus of this unnatural style was the most splendid
poetical declaimer (unless Byron be excepted) that England ever
produced, and his pieces resound with tirades not merely brilliant in
diction and sonorous in versification, but now fiery with mettlesome
spirit, now weighty with manly sense. And these qualities were aided by
the otherwise objectionable form selected by the poet. His blank-verse
plays, far superior as works of art, contain few such eloquent passages
as his rhyming tragedies. Rhyme helped him on, as a riderless runaway
horse is spurred by the thunder of his own hoofs. Even where his thought
is poor, its poverty is veiled by the brilliancy of the diction--a
brilliancy which he could hardly have attained by the use of any other
form; and if the employment of rhyme seems, as it is, unnatural, the
form at least harmonizes with the substance, and they produce between
them an illusive effect of a species of art which may possibly be
legitimate, as the ordinary rules evidently do not apply. We must also
remember how this subornation of the judgment, not imperceptible or
ineffective in the closet, was aided on the stage by the most potent
appeals to the senses.

_Tyrannic Love_, Dryden's first considerable attempt in 'heroic
tragedy,' is very remarkable as a proof of to what extraordinary
absurdities a vigorous intellect may be liable, and also how these may
be dignified by energy of expression. 'The rants of Maximin,' says
Johnson, 'have long been the sport of criticism;' but so spirited and
sonorous is the diction, that, inconsistent as seems the alliance of
admiration with derision, such actually is the mingled feeling which
they excite in the quiet of the closet. On the stage they must have
passed off much better by the aid of scenery, costume, and emphatic
declamation; and success on the boards, it must be remembered, was
invariably Dryden's first object. The same consideration which explains,
though it does not excuse, his indecency, palliates his bombast. He
wrote to live, and could not afford to produce unactable dramas. A much
more interesting performance than _Tyrannic Love_ is his _Conquest of
Granada_ (1669-1670). It is a touchstone of 'heroic tragedy,' a crucial
test of what it can and what it cannot do. It renounces all pretence to
nature, reason, and probability; on the other hand, it delights with a
crowd of striking sentiments and images, and enchains the attention with
perpetual bustle and variety. It is to one of Shakespeare's plays as a
bit of shining glass is to a plant of which every fibre is the creation
of a natural law. Yet the glass is not a displeasing object, neither is
the play.

The worst offence of _The Conquest of Granada_, after all, is not its
bombast, but its bathos. It is true that both spring from the same root,
that want of genuine creative imagination which in attempting the great
only achieves the big, which a small oversight easily converts into the
laughable. But apart from this failing, which Dryden shares with most
epic poets of the second rank, it is difficult to acquit him of a
singular insensibility to the ridiculous. This is evinced among other
things by the entire conception of one of his most serious and elaborate
works, _The Hind and the Panther_, and it requires all the gravity and
obvious conviction of his preface to _The Conquest of Granada_ to
convince us that he did not occasionally mean to burlesque his own
principles. The rapid changes of fortune, the constant fallings into and
out of love, the odd predicaments in which heroes and heroines
continually find themselves, frequently produce the effect of the
broadest comedy--an effect much assisted by the extraordinary rants of
the principal speakers; as when Lyndaraxa desires the personage who has
first stabbed her and then himself to

    'Die for us both, I have not leisure now;'

or Almahide threatens to send her ghost to fetch back Almanzor's scarf,
as if she and her ghost were different beings; or Almanzor's astounding
menace to his mother's spirit:

    'I'll squeeze thee like a bladder there,
    And make thee groan thyself away in air.'

So unequal is Dryden's genius that the second of these monstrosities
occurs in close proximity to the exquisite verses:

            'What precious drops are those
    Which silently each other's track pursue,
    Bright as young diamonds in their infant dew?'

and the burlesque threat to the ghost is immediately succeeded by the
noble couplet:

    'I am the ghost of her who gave thee birth,
    The airy shadow of her mouldering earth.'

The beauties which are thickly sown throughout _The Conquest of Granada_
owe, perhaps, something of their effect as poetry to the utter want of
nature in the characters and of reason in the conduct of the play. In a
drama aiming at the delineation of real men and women they would
frequently have appeared absurdly inappropriate, but when it is once
understood that the personages are the puppets and mouthpieces of the
author, the question of dramatic propriety becomes irrelevant. Yet _The
Conquest of Granada_ is something more than a heap of glittering morsels
of sentiment and wit. It possesses a unity of feeling which serves as
cement for these scattered jewels. The 'kind of generous and noble
spirit animating it,' to employ Mr. Saintsbury's just description,
maintains the reader at a level above the pitch of ordinary life. When
he opens the book he rises, as he closes it he descends. He may laugh,
but his amusement is unmingled with contempt; and ever and anon he
comes upon the genuine heroic, unsuspected of sham, unspoiled by
bombast. The soul of chivalry inspires the lines quoted with just
applause by both Scott and Saintsbury:

                        'Fair though you are
    As summer mornings, and your eyes more bright
    Than stars that twinkle on a winter's night;
    Though you have eloquence to warm and move
    Cold age and fasting hermits into love;
    Though Almahide with scorn rewards my care;
    Yet than to change 'tis nobler to despair.
    My love's my soul, and that from fate is free,
    'Tis that unchanged and deathless part of me.'

_Aurengzebe_ (1675), Mr. Saintsbury considers 'in some respects a very
noble play.' We should rather have called it an indifferent play with
some noble passages more remarkable for eloquence than dramatic
propriety. The characters, though by no means subtle or even natural,
are better discriminated than in _The Conquest of Granada_; there is
much less rant and bustle, yet quite enough to make one cordially echo
Indamora's naïve inquiry:

    'Are there yet more Morats, more fighting kings?'

Nor are choice examples of bathos wanting. Aurengzebe finely says:

    'I need not haste the end of life to meet,
    The precipice is just beneath my feet.'

Nourmahal replies:

    'Think not my sense of virtue is so small,
    I'll rather leap down first and break your fall.'

The first act opens with a striking couplet:

    'The night seems doubled with the fear she brings,
    And o'er the citadel now spreads her wings.'

To which immediately succeeds:

    'The morning, as mistaken, turns about,
    And all her early fires again go out.'

Dryden was probably betrayed into these lapses, not so much by mere
haste and carelessness, as by the trick of the heroic metre, which in
dialogue almost enforces balanced antithesis.

Nearly all _Aurengzebe_ is composed in this brilliant snip-snap, where
the ball of a fine sentiment, tossed from one character to another,
comes back in a retort, to be returned in a repartee. Of dramatic art as
Shakespeare or the Greeks understood it there is not a trace; the pivot
of the action is the property, fitter for a fairy tale than a tragedy,
possessed by Indamora, of compelling every one who sees her to fall in
love with her. Neither pity nor terror can be excited on such terms; if
Aristotle's criterion be sound, _Aurengzebe_ is no tragedy at all. If,
however, we are content to regard it as a medley of fine things, a model
of spirited declamation and sonorous versification, it claims high
praise. Great must have been the intellectual strength which could thus
thunder and dazzle through five acts of unabated energy: and the
sentiments, considered merely as such, lose nothing of their effect from
being placed in the mouths of puppets, and misplaced even there. Take,
for instance, the most famous passage in the play, one of the finest in
all Dryden:

    'When I consider life, 'tis all a cheat;
    Yet, fooled with hope, men favour the deceit;
    Trust on, and think to-morrow will repay;
    To-morrow's falser than the former day;
    Lies worse, and while it says, we shall be blest
    With some new joys, cuts off what we possest.
    Strange cozenage! None would live past years again,
    Yet all hope pleasure in what yet remain;
    And from the dregs of life think to receive
    What the first sprightly runnings could not give.'

This potent quintessence of the experience of age is ill assigned to
Aurengzebe, a young prince at the outset of a splendid career; but the
word remains while the lip is forgotten, and has taken its place among
the treasures of English poetry. Among other claims to notice,
_Aurengzebe_ is remarkable as one of the few English dramas in which a
living foreign potentate is brought upon the stage, and, less
exceptionally, for its entire perversion of the truth of history. The
generous and filial part here ascribed to the unnatural and cold-blooded
Aurengzebe was really performed by his unfortunate brother Dara. To have
crowned Dara, however, would have involved an equal violation of
historical truth, to have killed him a violation of what the dramatists
of Dryden's day considered more important, poetical justice.

_Marriage à la Mode_ (1673), the first fair example of Dryden's comedy,
is a more satisfactory exhibition of his power as a dramatist, if a
piece adding little to his fame as a poet. Mr. Saintsbury justly remarks
that 'Scott's general undervaluing of Dryden's comic pieces is very
evident' in his prefatory notice. Mr. Saintsbury himself, though warmly
appreciative of 'Dryden's only original excursion into the realms of the
higher comedy,' might, we think, have said even more in its favour. The
situation of the spouses, fancying themselves tired of each other while
their affection only needs the fillip of jealousy, is comic in a high
degree, and the brisk intricacy of the action, with only four actors to
sustain it, manifests great ingenuity and deftness in dramatic
construction. The serious section of the play is certainly much less
meritorious than the comic, to which it is a mere appendage. Written in
most slovenly blank verse, it entirely wants the fire and energy of
Dryden's heroic plays. Its fault is rather sterility than extravagance;
with some exceptions, it appears tame and bald. But these exceptions are
very fine. The scene between Leonidas and Palmyra (act ii., sc. 1) is
like a morsel of Theocritus, allying the charm of pastoral innocence to
the wit and point of an accomplished court-poet. It is remarkable how
surely, at this period of his career, Dryden rises when he resorts to
rhyme; but even the careless blank verse of this play, in general merely
a foil to the comic part, sometimes sparkles with strokes worthy of a
great poet:

    '_Pol._ He is a prince, and you are meanly born.

    _Leon._ Love either finds equality, or makes it.'

            'For this glory, after I have seen
    The canopy of state spread wide above
    In the abyss of heaven, the court of stars,
    The blushing morning, and the rising sun,
    What greater can I see?'

--a thought borrowed from Menander.

Continuing our survey of Dryden's plays, rather according to subject
than to chronological order, we arrive at the tragi-comedy of _The
Spanish Friar_ (1681), one of the most esteemed of his lighter pieces,
but whose praise, we must agree with Mr. Saintsbury, has outstripped its
desert. The comic portion is certainly very drastic, but it is not
comedy of a high order. It exhibits a distinct declension from _Marriage
à la Mode_, where the quartette of _Mitschuldiger_ are well
individualized personages. The sinners in _The Spanish Friar_ are of the
most ordinary type--a stage rake, a stage coquette, a stage miser, and a
stage friar. Dominick is, indeed, exceedingly amusing, but is more
farcical than truly comic. He is painted in broad, staring colours,
without delicacy of gradation, with the same brush as the author's
Morats and Almanzors, only dipped into a different paint. Like so many
of Dryden's personages, he is better adapted for the stage than the
closet. Every word and gesture would tell in the hands of a good actor,
and in Dryden's time the stage was richer in first-class performers than
it ever was before, and probably than it has ever been since. Dryden
himself, it must be recorded, attached a high value to his piece, and
Dryden was an excellent critic of himself as well as of others. The
merit on which he lays chief stress, however, is the ingenious blending
of the tragic and comic action. 'The tragic part,' says Mr. Churton
Collins, 'helps out the comic, and the comic relieves naturally and
appropriately the tragic. In this work, tragi-comedy, from an artistic
point of view, has achieved perhaps its highest success.' This, however,
is the achievement of a playwright; in one passage alone do we find the
poet. It is the highly imaginative series of descriptions of the distant
noises from the Moorish camp, boding assault to the beleaguered city, of
the panic in the city itself, and of the far-off, uncertain battle:

      'From the Moorish camp, an hour and more,
    There has been heard a distant humming noise,
    Like bees disturbed, and arming in their hives.'

    'Never was known a night of such distraction;
    Noise so confused and dreadful, jostling crowds,
    That run, and know not whither; torches gliding,
    Like meteors, by each other in the streets.'

    'From the Moors' camp the noise grows louder still:
    Rattling of armour, trumpets, drums, and atabals;
    And sometimes peals of shouts that rend the heavens,
    Like victory; then groans again, and howlings,
    Like those of vanquished men, but every echo
    Goes fainter off, and dies in distant sounds.'

The next play of Dryden's which it is necessary to notice here might
have ranked among his masterpieces if it had been entirely or even
principally his own. It is sufficient praise for him to have followed
Plautus and Molière with no unequal steps, and while borrowing, as he
could not help, the substance of his piece from them, to have enriched
their groundwork with original conceptions of his own. The plot of
_Amphitryon_ may be considered common property. A better subject for the
comic theatre cannot be conceived than the equivocations occasioned by
Jupiter's assumption of Amphitryon's appearance, doubled, and, as it
were, parodied over again by the comic poet's happy thought of
introducing Mercury in the disguise of Amphitryon's valet. It is
surprising that the theme should not have attracted the best poets of
the Athenian Middle Comedy. So far as we know, however, it was only
treated by a single author, and he not one of the highest reputation,
Archippus. How far Plautus translated Archippus must remain a question,
but considering that the Greek play attained no especial reputation,
while the Latin is one of the best we have, it is only fair to give
Plautus credit for having introduced a good deal of his own. His comedy
has unfortunately reached us in a mutilated condition, wanting,
probably, not less than three hundred verses in the fourth act, but
enough remains to show how the action was conducted. Molière, the
greatest of comic poets, could not fail to improve upon his model. The
substance of the piece admitted of no material alteration, but Molière
has greatly enriched and embellished it--first by the happy idea of the
prologue between Mercury and Night, for which, however, he is as much
indebted to Lucian as he is to Plautus for the rest--and even more by
the amusing scene between Sosia and Cleanthis. His play, unlike most of
his other performances, is written in a lyrical metre, and the language
is a model of elegance, harmony, and polish. Dryden, writing in prose or
negligent blank verse, could not rival Molière in this respect; but
while losing nothing of the _vis comica_ of either of his predecessors,
he has heightened the humour of the piece by a still further elaboration
of the hints given by Molière. He was himself well acquainted with
Lucian, from whom he has borrowed several additional strokes; and he has
doubled the entertainment of the situation between Sosia and Cleanthis
by the creation of Phædra, whose intrigue with Mercury makes the comedy
of errors absolutely complete.

We have now to consider the two plays of Dryden's on which his fame as a
dramatist principally rests, and which, if in some respects less
interesting than his other dramatic writings, as less intensely
characteristic of the man and his age, are for that very reason better
equipped for competition for a place among the dramas of all time.

_All for Love_ (1678) is, Dryden tells us, the only play he wrote
entirely to please his own taste, and composed professedly in imitation
of 'the divine Shakespeare.' He did not, as in his unfortunate
alteration of _Troilus and Cressida_, select a piece of Shakespeare's
which, not understanding, he rashly thought himself able to improve,
but, in a spirit of true reverence, set himself to copy one which he
held in high esteem. It should be remembered, to the honour of Dryden's
critical judgment, that the two plays of Shakespeare's most warmly
commended by him, _Antony and Cleopatra_ and _Richard the Second_, were
generally underrated even by Shakespeare's most devoted worshippers,
until Coleridge taught us better. In _All for Love_ he found a subject
suitable to his genius, and, in our opinion, achieved very decidedly his
best play. It is, indeed, almost as good as a play on the French model
can be, inferior to its prototypes only from the lack of brilliant
declamation, scarcely practicable without rhyme, but more than
compensating this inferiority by the greater freedom and flexibility of
its blank verse. Its defects are mainly those of its species, and would
be less apparent if it did not so directly court comparison with one of
the greatest examples of Shakespeare's art. It would have been
impossible for a greater genius than Dryden to have done justice to his
theme within the confines prescribed by the classical drama. The
demeanour of Antony during the period of his downfall, as recorded by
history, is below the dignity of tragedy. Some weakness may be forgiven
in a hero, but the heroism of the real Antony is swallowed up in
weakness. We can but pity, and pity is largely leavened with contempt.
There is but one remedy, to create a Cleopatra so wondrous and
fascinating as fairly to counterbalance the empire which Antony throws
away for her sake. Shakespeare's art is equal to the occasion; his
Cleopatra is dæmonic, and at the same time so intensely feminine that
the purest and meekest of her sex may see much of themselves in her. She
is at once an epitome and an encyclopædia, and the reader can hardly
despise Antony for being the slave of a spell which he feels so strongly
himself. Dryden's Cleopatra wants this character of universality, which,
indeed, none but Shakespeare could have given, and Shakespeare himself
could not have given if in bondage to the unities. She is a fine,
passionate, sensuous woman, a kind of Mary Stuart, interesting, but not
to the point at which it could be felt that the world were well lost for
her. The inferiority of Cleopatra reacts grievously upon Antony.
Shakespeare's Cleopatra is so grand that her lover is exalted by the
admiration which, in spite of her perfidies, she manifestly feels for
him. The beloved of such a woman must be heroic, an impression skilfully
assisted by the effect Antony produces upon the prudent and politic
Augustus. Dryden's Cleopatra can bestow no such patent of distinction.
By so much as the chief personages are inferior to their exemplars, by
so much also is the puny, starved action of Dryden's tragedy, restricted
to one day and seven characters, inferior to the opulence of
Shakespeare's, ranging over the Roman world, crowded with personages,
and gathering up every trait from Plutarch that could contribute
picturesqueness to its prodigality of incident and sentiment. Nor is
Dryden entirely successful in the conduct of his plot. The introduction
of Octavia is a happy idea, but she appears at too late a period of
Antony's history. The implication that his return to her could have
availed him in so desperate an extremity is more contrary to historical
truth and common reason than any of the anachronisms for which Dryden
derides Elizabethan poets. The intrigue by which Dolabella is made to
excite Antony's jealousy is more worthy of comedy than of heroic
tragedy, besides being inconsistent with the manly character of its
promoter, Ventidius. This gallant veteran is indeed a fine creation; too
fine, for he sometimes seems to eclipse Antony and Cleopatra both, and
assumes more prominence in the action than Shakespeare would have
allowed him. Alexas is the hasty and much marred outline of a character
which might have been hardly less impressive had Dryden been at the
pains to work out the conception adumbrated in the first act. When all
these imperfections are admitted, and they should not be passed over in
silence after Scott's ill-judged parallel of Dryden's performance with
Shakespeare's, it remains true that _All for Love_ is a very fine play,
energetic, passionate, and steeped in that atmosphere of nobility which
half redeems the literary defects of _The Conquest of Granada_. The
poetry is frequently very fine, as in Octavia's speech to Antony,
remarkable as perhaps the sole instance of genuine pathos throughout the
entire range of Dryden's dramatic writings:

                          'Look on these;
    Are they not yours? or stand they thus neglected
    As they are mine? Go to him, children, go;
    Kneel to him, take him by the hand, speak to him;
    For you may speak, and he may own you, too,
    Without a blush; and so he cannot all
    His children. Go, I say, and pull him to me,
    And pull him to yourselves, from that bad woman.
    You, Agrippina, hang upon his arms;
    And you, Antonia, clasp about his waist:
    If he will shake you off, if he will dash you
    Against the pavement, you must bear it, children,
    For you are mine, and I was born to suffer.'

Antony's sarcasms upon Augustus reveal the ripening satirist of _Absalom
and Achitophel_:

    '_Ant._ Octavius is the minion of blind chance,
    But holds from virtue nothing.

    _Vent._ Has he courage?

    _Ant._ But just enough to season him from coward.
    O, 'tis the coldest youth upon a charge,
    The most deliberate fighter! if he ventures,
    (As in Illyria once, they say, he did,
    To storm a town) 'tis when he cannot choose;
    When all the world have fixt their eyes upon him;
    And then he lives on that for seven years after;
    But, at a close revenge he never fails.

    _Vent._ I heard you challenged him.

    _Ant._ I did, Ventidius.
    What think'st thou was his answer? 'Twas so tame!--
    He said, he had more ways than one to die;
    I had not.

    _Vent._ Poor!

    _Ant._ He has more ways than one;
    But he would choose them all before that one.

    _Vent._ He first would choose an ague, or a fever.

    _Ant._ No; it must be an ague, not a fever;
    He has not warmth enough to die by that.

    _Vent._ Or old age and a bed.

    _Ant._ Ay, there's his choice.
    He would live, like a lamp, to the last wink,
    And crawl upon the utmost verge of life.
    O, Hercules! Why should a man like this,
    Who dares not trust his fate for one great action,
    Be all the care of heaven? Why should he lord it
    O'er fourscore thousand men, of whom each one
    Is braver than himself?

    _Vent._ You conquer'd for him:
    Philippi knows it; there you shared with him
    That empire, which your sword made all your own.

    _Ant._ Fool that I was, upon my eagle's wings
    I bore this wren, till I was tired with soaring,
    And now he mounts above me.
    Good heavens, is this,--is this the man who braves me?
    Who bids my age make way? drives me before him
    To the world's ridge, and sweeps me off like rubbish?'

_Don Sebastian_ (1690) is generally regarded as Dryden's dramatic
masterpiece. It did not please upon its first appearance, owing to its
excessive length. Dryden ingenuously confesses that he was obliged to
sacrifice twelve hundred lines, which he restored when the play was
printed. Mr. Saintsbury more than hints a preference for _All for Love_,
which we entirely share. Were even the serious part of the respective
dramas of equal merit, the scale would be turned in favour of _All for
Love_ by the wretchedness of the comic scenes which constitute so large
a portion of the rival drama. They are at best indifferent farce, and
cannot be even called excrescences on the main action, inasmuch as they
do not grow out of it at all. In unity of action, therefore, and
uniformity of literary merit, _All for Love_ excels its competitor, and
its personages are more truthful and more interesting. Sebastian,
though a gallant, chivalrous figure, takes no such hold on the
imagination as Antony and Ventidius; and Almeyda, one of the least
interesting of Dryden's heroines, is a sorry exchange for Cleopatra.
Muley Moloch and Benducar are wholly stagey. Nothing, then, remains but
Dorax, and his capabilities are chiefly evinced in one great scene. Even
this is in some respects inartificially conducted. The spectator is
insufficiently prepared for it. The special ground of Dorax's resentment
comes upon us as a surprise; and his repentance is too hasty and sudden.
A similar defect may be alleged against the whole of the tragic action.
The centre of interest is gradually shifted, not intentionally, but from
the author's omission to foreshadow the events to come after the fashion
of a masterpiece he must have studied, the _Oedipus Tyrannus_. At
first all our interest is enlisted for Sebastian's life, and it is with
a sort of puzzlement that we feel ourselves at last listening to a story
of incest. Muley Moloch and Benducar have disappeared, and their place
is occupied by a new character, Alvarez. In every respect, therefore,
regarded as a work of art, _Don Sebastian_ fails to sustain comparison
with _All for Love_, and there is no countervailing superiority in the
diction, whose general nobility and spirit occasionally swell into
bombast. The worst fault remains to be told: Dorax's ludicrous escape
from death by reason of being poisoned by two enemies at once. If either
the Emperor or the Mufti would have let him alone he would never have
lived to be reconciled to Sebastian, but the fiery drug of the one is
neutralized by the icy bane of the other, and _vice versâ_. Dryden
thinks it sufficient excuse that a similar incident is vouched for by
Ausonius, but really there is nothing so farcical in the _Rehearsal_. On
the whole, we cannot but consider _Don Sebastian_ a very imperfect play,
redeemed from mediocrity by the general vigour and animation of the
diction, and the loftiness of soul which seldom forsakes Dryden, except
when he wilfully panders to the popular taste.

But little space can here be devoted to Dryden's other plays. Some are
not worth criticism. _The Mock Astrologer_, largely borrowed from French
and Spanish sources, contains some of his best lyrics. Many parts of
_Cleomenes_ are very noble, but it is somewhat heavy as a whole. _King
Arthur_, a musical and spectacular drama, is an excellent specimen of
its class. Dryden's portion of _Oedipus_, written in conjunction with
Lee, shows how finely he, like his model Lucan, could deal with the
supernatural. This is by no means the case with his _State of Innocence
and Fall of Man_, which is, nevertheless, one of his pieces most worthy
of perusal. It measures the prodigious fall from the age of Cromwell to
the age of Charles; while Dryden yet displays such fine poetical gifts
as to command respect amid all the absurdities of his unintentional
burlesque of Milton.

Dryden undeniably took up the profession of playwright without an
effectual call. He became a dramatist, as clever men in our day become
journalists, discerning in the stage the shortest literary cut to fame
and fortune. He can hardly be said to have possessed any strictly
dramatic gift in any exceptional degree, but he had enough of all to
make a tolerable figure on the stage, and was besides a great poet and
an admirable critic. His poetry redeems the defects of his serious
plays, if we except such a mere _pièce de circonstance_ as _Amboyna_.
The best of them have very bad faults, but even the worst are impressed
with the stamp of genius. It is only in comedy that his failure is
sometimes utter and irretrievable; yet a perception of the humorous
cannot be denied to the author of _Amphitryon_. But we nowhere find
evidence of any supreme dramatic faculty, anything that would have
constrained him to write plays if plays had not happened to be in
fashion. As he was not born a dramatic poet he had to be made one, and
he became one mainly in virtue of his eminent critical endowment. His
prefaces are a most interesting study. They exhibit the steady advance
of a slow, strong, sure mind from rudimentary conceptions to as just
views of the requisites of dramatic poetry as could well be attained in
an age encumbered with venerable fallacies. Dryden's manly sense, homely
sagacity, and piercing shrewdness, break through many trammels, as when,
in the preface to _All for Love_, he vindicates his breach of the
conventions of the French stage. In that to _Troilus and Cressida_ he
compares Shakespeare with Fletcher, and pronounces decidedly in favour
of the former, a preference far from universal in his day. The preface
to _The Spanish Friar_ is the most remarkable of any, and shows how much
he had learned and unlearned. We shall, nevertheless, find his special
glory in his character as the most truly representative dramatist of his
time. Otway might have been an Elizabethan, Dryden never could. If we
seek for the dramatic author to whom he is on the whole nearest of kin,
we may perhaps find him in Byron. Byron had no more genuine dramatic
vocation than Dryden had, but, like Dryden, produced memorable works by
force and flexibility of genius. From the theatrical point of view
Dryden's plays are greatly superior to Byron's; if the latter's rank
higher as literature the main cause is the existence of more favourable
conditions. Dryden's worst faults would have been impossible in the
nineteenth century; and his treatment of the supernatural, his frequent
visitations of speculation, and the lofty tone of his heroic passages,
prove that he could have drawn a Manfred, a Cain, or a Myrrha, if he had
lived like Byron in a renovated age.



After Dryden, the metrical dramatists of the Restoration, as of other
epochs, may be accurately divided into two classes, the poets and the
playwrights. As was to be expected in an age when even genuine poetry
drooped earthward, and prose seldom kindled into poetry, the latter
class was largely in the majority. Only three dramatists can justly
challenge the title of poet--Dryden, Otway, and Lee. In Dryden a mighty
fire, half choked with its own fuel, struggles gallantly against
extinction, and eventually evolves nearly as much flame as smoke. In
Otway a pure and delicate flame hovers fitfully over a morass; in Lee
the smothered fire breaks out, as Pope said of Lucan and Statius, 'in
sudden, brief, and interrupted flashes.' Dryden was incomparably the
most vigorous of the three, but Otway was the only born dramatist, and
the little of genuine dramatic excellence that he has wrought claims a
higher place than the more dazzling productions of his contemporary.

[Sidenote: Otway (1651-1685).]

Thomas Otway, son of the vicar of Woolbeding, was born at Trotton, near
Midhurst, in Sussex, March 3rd, 1651. He was educated at Winchester and
Christchurch, but (perhaps driven by necessity, for he says in the
dedication to _Venice Preserved_, 'A steady faith, and loyalty to my
prince was all the inheritance my father left me') forsook the latter
ere his academical course was half completed to try his fortune as a
performer on the stage, where he entirely failed. His first play,
_Alcibiades_ (1675), a poor piece, served to introduce him to Rochester
and other patrons; and in the following year _Don Carlos_, founded upon
the novel by Saint Réal, obtained, partly by the support of Rochester,
with whom Otway soon quarrelled, a striking success, and is said to have
produced more than any previous play. Two translations from the French
followed; next (1678) came the unsuccessful comedy of _Friendship in
Fashion_, and in 1680 _Caius Marius_, an audacious plagiarism from
_Romeo and Juliet_. In the interim Otway had made trial of a military
career, but the regiment in which he had obtained a commission was
speedily disbanded, his pay was withheld, and he had to support himself
by plundering Shakespeare. In the same year in which he had stooped so
low he proved his superiority to all contemporary dramatists by his
tragedy of _The Orphan_, in which he first displayed the pathos by which
he has merited the character of the English Euripides. Johnson remarks
that Otway 'conceived forcibly, and drew originally, by consulting
nature in his own breast;' and it is known that he experienced the pangs
of a seven years' unrequited passion for the beautiful actress, Mrs.
Barry. In 1681 he produced _The Soldier's Fortune_, a comedy chiefly
interesting for its allusions to his own military experiences. According
to Downes, its success was extraordinary, and brought both profit and
reputation to the theatre. If it brought any of the former to the
author, this must have been soon exhausted, since in the dedication to
_Venice Preserved_ (1682) he speaks of himself as only rescued from the
direst want by the generosity of the Duchess of Portsmouth. For this
great play, as well as for _The Orphan_, he is said to have received a
hundred pounds. _The Atheist_, a second part of _The Soldier's Fortune_
(1684), was probably unproductive; and in April, 1685, Otway died on
Tower Hill, undoubtedly in distress, although, of the two accounts of
his death, that which ascribes it to a fever caught in pursuing an
assassin, is better authenticated than the more usual one which
represents him as choked by a loaf which he was devouring in a state of
ravenous hunger. Such a story, nevertheless, could not have obtained
credit if his circumstances had not been known to have been desperate.
It is not likely that he had much conduct or economy in his affairs, or
was endowed in any degree with the severer virtues. The tone of his
letters to Mrs. Barry, however, and the constancy of his seven years'
affection for her, seem to indicate a natural refinement of feeling, and
if there is truth in the dictum,

    'He best can paint them, who can feel them most,'

the creator of Monimia and Belvidera must have been endowed with a heart
tender in no common degree. 'He was,' we are told, 'of middle size,
inclinable to corpulency, had thoughtful, yet lively, and as it were
speaking eyes.'

Otway's reputation rests entirely on his two great performances, _The
Orphan_ and _Venice Preserved_. His other plays deserve no special
notice, although _Don Carlos_, which is said to have for many years
attracted larger audiences than either of his masterpieces, might have
been a good play if it had not been written in rhyme. The action is
highly dramatic, and the characters, though artless, are not
ineffective; but the pathos in which the poet excelled is continually
disturbed by the bombastic couplets, ever trembling on the brink of the
ridiculous. The remorse of Philip after the murder of his wife and son
is as grotesque an instance of the forcible feeble as could easily be
found, and is a melancholy instance indeed of the declension of the
English drama, when contrasted with the demeanour of Othello in similar
circumstances. Otway, however, was yet to show that his faults were
rather his age's than his own. The fashion of rhyme must have had much
to do with the bombast of _Don Carlos_, for in _The Orphan_, his next
effort in serious tragedy, there is hardly any rant, even when the
situation might have seemed to have excused the exaggerated expression
of emotion. The central incident of this admirable tragedy--the
deception of a maiden beloved by two brothers, through the personation
of the favoured one by his rival--seems now to be held to exclude it
from the stage. The objection would probably prove to be imaginary, for
the play was performed as late as 1819, when no less an actress than
Miss O'Neill represented Monimia, and the diction is in general of quite
exemplary propriety for a play of the period. Its principal defect as a
work of art is that the pathos springs almost solely from the situation,
and that the personages have hardly any hold upon our sympathies except
as sufferers from an unhappy fatality. So powerful is the situation,
nevertheless, that the sorrows of Castalio and Monimia can never fail to
move; the poet's language, too, is at its best, simpler and more remote
from extravagance than even in _Venice Preserved_. The description of
the old hag is justly celebrated:

    'I spied a wrinkled hag, with age grown double,
    Picking dry sticks, and mumbling to herself;
    Her eyes with scalding rheum were galled and red;
    Cold palsy shook her head, her hands seemed withered,
    And on her crooked shoulders had she wrapt
    The tattered remnant of an old striped hanging,
    Which served to keep her carcase from the cold;
    So there was nothing of a piece about her;
    Her lower weeds were all o'er coarsely patched
    With different coloured rags, black, red, white, yellow,
    And seemed to speak variety of wretchedness.'

There are also delightful touches of poetry:

                      'Oh, thou art tender all:
    Gentle and kind as sympathizing nature!
    When a sad story has been told, I've seen
    Thy little breasts, with soft compassion swelled,
    Shove up and down and heave like dying birds.'

The opening speech of act iv., sc. 2, also reveals a feeling for nature
unusual in Restoration poetry, and may be taken to symbolize Otway's
regrets for the country. The items of the description are in no way
conventional, and would not have occurred to one without experience of
rural life:

    'Wished morning's come! And now upon the plains
    And distant mountains, where they feed their flocks,
    The happy shepherds leave their homely huts,
    And with their pipes proclaim the new-born day.
    The lusty swain comes with his well-filled scrip
    Of healthful viands, which, when hunger calls,
    With much content and appetite he eats,
    To follow in the fields his daily toil,
    And dress the grateful glebe that yields him fruits.
    The beasts that under the warm hedges slept,
    And weathered out the cold bleak night, are up,
    And looking towards the neighbouring pastures, raise
    Their voice, and bid their fellow-brutes good-morrow.
    The cheerful birds, too, on the tops of trees
    Assemble all in quires, and with their notes
    Salute and welcome up the rising sun.
    There's no condition here so cursed as mine.'

_Venice Preserved_, Otway's most memorable work, though inferior in mere
poetry and unstudied simplicity to _The Orphan_, surpasses it in tragic
grandeur, in variety of action, and in intensity of interest. It has the
further great advantage that the interest does not entirely arise from
the situation, but that at least one of the characters is a skilful
piece of painting from the life, and very probably from the author. In
Jaffier we have a vivid portrait of the man who is entirely governed by
the affections, and who sways from ardent resolution to a weakness
hardly distinguishable from treachery, as friendship and love
alternately incline him. The little we know of Otway warrants the
impression that he was such a man, and assuredly he could not have
excited such warm interest in a character so feeble in his offence, so
abject in his repentance, and in general so perilously verging on the
despicable, without a keen sympathy with the subject of his portrait.
_Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner._ Pierre, though an imposing
figure, is much less subtly painted than his friend; and Belvidera, her
husband's evil genius, interests only through her sorrows. The
'despicable scenes of low farce' which eke the drama out, are a grievous
blot upon it. M. Taine may be right in deeming some comic relief
allowable, but such trash is neither relief nor comedy. The language of
the serious portion of the play, however, is in general dignified and
tragic. Perhaps the best conducted, as it is the best known, is that in
which Pierre spurns the remorseful Jaffier:

    '_Jaff._ I must be heard, I must have leave to speak.
    Thou hast disgraced me, Pierre, by a vile blow:
    Had not a dagger done thee nobler justice?
    But use me as thou wilt, thou canst not wrong me,
    For I am fallen beneath the basest injuries;
    Yet look upon me with an eye of mercy,
    With pity and with charity behold me;
    Shut not thy heart against a friend's repentance,
    But, as there dwells a godlike nature in thee,
    Listen with mildness to my supplications.

    _Pier._ What whining monk art thou? what holy cheat,
    That wouldst encroach upon my credulous ears,
    But cant'st thus vilely? Hence! I know thee not.
    Dissemble and be nasty: leave me, hypocrite.

    _Jaff._ Not know me, Pierre?

    _Pier._ No, know thee not: what art thou?

    _Jaff._ Jaffier, thy friend, thy once loved, valued friend,
    Though now deservedly scorned, and used most hardly.

    _Pier._ Thou Jaffier! thou my once loved, valued friend?
    By Heavens, thou liest! The man so called, my friend,
    Was generous, honest, faithful, just, and valiant,
    Noble in mind, and in his person lovely,
    Dear to my eyes and tender to my heart:
    But thou, a wretched, base, false, worthless coward,
    Poor even in soul, and loathsome in thy aspect;
    All eyes must shun thee, and all hearts detest thee.
    Pr'ythee avoid, nor longer cling thus round me,
    Like something baneful, that my nature's chilled at.

    _Jaff._ I have not wronged thee, by these tears I have not,
    But still am honest, true, and hope, too, valiant;
    My mind still full of thee: therefore still noble.
    Let not thy eyes then shun me, nor thy heart
    Detest me utterly: oh, look upon me,
    Look back and see my sad, sincere submission!
    How my heart swells, as even 'twould burst my bosom,
    Fond of its goal, and labouring to be at thee!
    What shall I do--what say to make thee hear me?

    _Pier._ Hast thou not wronged me? Dar'st thou call thyself
    Jaffier, that once loved, valued friend of mine,
    And swear thou hast not wronged me? Whence these chains?
    Whence the vile death which I may meet this moment?
    Whence this dishonour, but from thee, thou false one?

    _Jaff._ All's true, yet grant one thing, and I've done asking.

    _Pier._ What's that?

    _Jaff._ To take thy life on such conditions
    The Council have proposed: thou and thy friends
    May yet live long, and to be better treated.

    _Pier._ Life! ask my life? confess! record myself
    A villain, for the privilege to breathe,
    And carry up and down this cursèd city
    A discontented and repining spirit,
    Burthensome to itself, a few years longer,
    To lose it, may be, at last in a lewd quarrel
    For some new friend, treacherous and false as thou art!
    No, this vile world and I have long been jangling,
    And cannot part on better terms than now,
    When only men like thee are fit to live in't.

    _Jaff._ By all that's just--

    _Pier._ Swear by some other powers,
    For thou hast broke that sacred oath too lately.

    _Jaff._ Then, by that hell I merit, I'll not leave thee,
    Till to thyself, at least, thou'rt reconciled,
    However thy resentments deal with me.

    _Pier._ Not leave me!

    _Jaff._ No; thou shalt not force me from thee.
    Use me reproachfully, and like a slave;
    Tread on me, buffet me, heap wrongs on wrongs
    On my poor head; I'll bear it all with patience,
    Shall weary out thy most unfriendly cruelty:
    Lie at thy feet and kiss them, though they spurn me,
    Till, wounded by my sufferings, thou relent,
    And raise me to thy arms with dear forgiveness.

    _Pier._ Art thou not--

    _Jaff._ What?

    _Pier._ A traitor?

    _Jaff._ Yes.

    _Pier._ A villain?

    _Jaff._ Granted.

    _Pier._ A coward, a most scandalous coward,
    Spiritless, void of honour, one who has sold
    Thy everlasting fame for shameless life?

    _Jaff._ All, all, and more, much more: my faults are numberless.

    _Pier._ And wouldst thou have me live on terms like thine?
    Base as thou'rt false--

    _Jaff._ No; 'tis to me that's granted.
    The safety of thy life was all I aimed at,
    In recompense for faith and trust so broken.

    _Pier._ I scorn it more, because preserved by thee:
    And as when first my foolish heart took pity
    On thy misfortunes, sought thee in thy miseries,
    Relieved thy wants, and raised thee from thy state
    Of wretchedness in which thy fate had plunged thee,
    To rank thee in my list of noble friends,
    All I received in surety for thy truth
    Were unregarded oaths; and this, this dagger,
    Given with a worthless pledge thou since hast stolen,
    So I restore it back to thee again;
    Swearing by all those powers which thou hast violated,
    Never from this cursed hour to hold communion,
    Friendship, or interest with thee, though our years
    Were to exceed those limited the world.
    Take it--farewell!--for now I owe thee nothing.

    _Jaff._ Say thou wilt live then.

    _Pier._ For my life, dispose it
    Just as thou wilt, because 'tis what I'm tired with.

    _Jaff._ O Pierre!

    _Pier._ No more.

    _Jaff._ My eyes won't lose the sight of thee,
    But languish after thine, and ache with gazing.

    _Pier._ Leave me.--Nay, then thus, thus I throw thee from me,
    And curses, great as is thy falsehood, catch thee!'

[Sidenote: Nathaniel Lee (1653-1691).]

The only tragic dramatist of the age, after Dryden and Otway, who had
any pretension to rank as a poet, was Nathaniel Lee, and his claims are
not very high. Notwithstanding his absurd rants, however, there are fire
and passion in his verse which lift him out of the class of mere
playwrights. After receiving a Cambridge education, Lee came up to town
to seek his fortune. Thrown on the world, it is said, by the failure of
the Duke of Ormond to redeem his promises of patronage, Lee became an
actor, but obtained no success, although celebrated for the beauty of
his elocution as a dramatic reader. The transition from actor to author
was easy. Lee produced three bad rhyming plays in the taste of the time,
and in 1677 did himself more justice in _The Rival Queens_, a tragedy
on the history of Alexander the Great, which kept the stage for nearly a
century and a half. _Mithridates_ (1678) was also successful, and Dryden
thought sufficiently well of Lee to combine with him in the production
of an _Oedipus_, which continued to be acted until 1778, when the
situation, rather than the diction, was found unendurable. Kemble wished
to revive it so late as 1802, but was prevented by the reluctance of
Mrs. Siddons. It is true that on a modern stage the piece must want the
religious consecration which accompanied it on the Greek. Lee wrote on,
enjoying the notoriety of the prohibition by authority of his _Lucius
Junius Brutus_, in which allusions, merely imaginary, to the vices of
Charles II., were discovered by the Court, and regaining his lost favour
by the tragedy of _The Duke of Guise_ (1682), a play full of political
allusions, in which also Dryden had a hand. In 1684 he was disabled by
an attack of insanity, brought on, it is alleged, by his intemperate
habits; and although he recovered sufficiently to be released from
confinement, he wrote no more, his last two published plays being
compositions of an earlier date. He died miserably in returning from the
tavern on a winter's night, fallen down and stifled in the snow.

That Lee was a poet, a passage quoted by Mr. Saintsbury would prove, had
he written nothing else:

                          'Thou coward! yet
    Art living? canst not, wilt not, find the road
    To the great palace of magnificent death,
    Though thousand ways lead to his thousand doors,
    Which day and night are still unbarred for all?'

A variation of this thought in Lee's _Theodosius_ might well have
inspired Beckford with the conception of his Hall of Eblis, nor would it
be difficult to find other impressive passages. Lee's rants of mere
sound and fury are unfortunately much more frequent, and his
pre-eminence above all competitors in this line is so indisputable, that
it is no wonder if he is remembered by his gigantic faults rather than
by his comparatively tame and temperate merits. The following speech of
Roxana in _The Rival Queens_, for instance, is quite an average specimen
of her conversation:

    'And shall the daughter of Darius hold him?
    That puny girl? that ape of my ambition,
    That cried for milk when I was nursed in blood?
    Shall she, made up of watery element,
    Ascend, shall she embrace my proper God,
    While I am cast like lightning from his hand?
    No, I must scorn to prey on common things.
    Though hurled to earth by this disdainful Jove,
    I will rebound to my own orb of fire,
    And with the wrack of all the heavens expire.'

Even when the thought is dignified and noble, it frequently loses
dramatic propriety from want of keeping with the speaker or the

                              'Therefore, my friend,
    Let us despise the torrent of the world,
    Fortune, I mean, and dam her up with fences,
    Banks, bulwarks, all the fortresses which virtue,
    Resolved and manned like ours, can raise against her:
    That, if she does o'erflow, she may at least
    Bring but half ruin to our great designs;
    That being at last ashamed of her own weakness,
    Like a low-baséd flood, she may retire
    To her own bounds, and we with pride o'erlook her.'

Into what Cato's mouth has Lee put this deliverance of Stoic dignity?
Truly, into Cæsar Borgia's. Machiavelli having been privy to all
Borgia's villainies, is selected to pronounce the moral of the play:

    'No power is safe, nor no religion good,
    Whose principles of growth are laid in blood.'

A proposition supposed to have been irrefragably established by five
acts full of poniards and poisons. This childish want of nature Lee
shares with most of the tragic dramatists of the Restoration period. He
is mainly glare and gewgaw, and seldom succeeds but in those scenes of
passion and frenzy where extravagant declamation seems a natural
language. There is little to remark on his dramatic economy, which is
that of the French classical drama. His characters are boldly outlined
and strongly coloured, but transferred direct from history to the stage,
or wholly conventional. His merit is to have been really a poet. 'There
is an infinite fire in his works,' says Addison, 'but so involved in
smoke that it does not appear in half its lustre.' The following scene
from _Mithridates_ is a fair example of the mingled beauties and
blemishes of his tragic style:

    '_Ziph._ Farewell, Semandra; O, if my father should
    Fall back from virtue, ('tis an impious thought!)
    Yet I must ask you, could you in my absence,
    Solicited by power and charming empire,
    And threaten'd too by death, forget your vows?
    Could you, I say, abandon poor Ziphares,
    Who midst of wounds and death would think on you;
    And whatsoe'er calamity should come,
    Would keep his love sacred to his Semandra,
    Like balm, to heal the heaviest misfortune?

    _Sem._ Your cruel question tears my very soul:
    Ah, can you doubt me, Prince? a faith, like mine,
    The softest passion that e'er woman wept;
    But as resolv'd as ever man could boast:
    Alas, why will you then suspect my truth?
    Yet since it shews the fearfulness of love,
    'Tis just I should endeavour to convince you:
    Make bare your sword, my noble father, draw.

    _Arch._ What would'st thou now?

    _Sem._ I swear upon it, oh,
    Be witness, Heav'n, and all avenging pow'rs,
    Of the true love I give the Prince Ziphares:
    When I in thought forsake my plighted faith,
    Much less in act, for empire change my love;
    May this keen sword by my own father's hand
    Be guided to my heart, rip veins and arteries;
    And cut my faithless limbs from this hack'd body,
    To feast the ravenous birds, and beasts of prey.

    _Arch._ Now, by my sword, 'twas a good hearty wish;
    And, if thou play'st him false, this faithful hand
    As heartily shall make thy wishes good.

    _Ziph._ O hear mine too. If e'er I fail in aught
    That love requires in strictest, nicest kind;
    May I not only be proclaim'd a coward,
    But be indeed that most detested thing.
    May I, in this most glorious war I make,
    Be beaten basely, ev'n by Glabrio's slaves,
    And for a punishment lose both these eyes;
    Yet live and never more behold Semandra. [_Trumpets._

    _Arch._ Come, no more wishing; hark, the trumpets call.

    _Sem._ Preserve him, Gods, preserve his innocence;
    The noblest image of your perfect selves:
    Farewell; I'm lost in tears. Where are you, Sir?

    _Arch._ He's gone. Away, my lord, you'll never part.

    _Ziph._ I go; but must turn back for one last look:
    Remember, O remember, dear Semandra,
    That on thy virtue all my fortune hangs;
    Semandra is the business of the war,
    Semandra makes the fight, draws every sword;
    Semandra sounds the trumpets; gives the word.
    So the moon charms her watery world below;
    Wakes the still seas, and makes 'em ebb and flow.'

[Sidenote: John Crowne (1640-1703?).]

The remaining dramatists of the Restoration, with the exception of the
brilliant group of comic authors near the end of the century, who demand
a separate notice, undoubtedly belong to the class of playwrights. The
most characteristic playwright of all, taking the term in the sense of a
steady competent workman destitute of originality, was perhaps John
Crowne. Crowne was the man to supply the playhouses with a regular
output of respectable work, and, as he had no other object than to suit
his market, we perhaps learn better from him and his like than from
writers of genius what the public of the day required. It seems rather
extraordinary that such heavy tragedies as Crowne's should have been
marketable in any age; but it must be considered that the tragic stage
had to be kept going for the sake of the actors, and that if people
would not have Shakespeare they must take what they could get.
Indifferent plays, moreover, may make fine spectacles; and Crowne's
Julianas, Reguluses, and Caligulas served the purpose of habitual
playgoers, that is, of playgoers from the force of habit, as well as
better pieces.[7] The success of Crowne's comedies is less difficult to
understand. Here he really gave the public a fair reflection of itself,
and exhibited contemporary manners with truth, if with no great
brilliancy. On one occasion he soared higher, and (1685) created a real
type in the exquisite coxcomb, Sir Courtly Nice. The rest of the play is
partly imitated from the Spanish, but the character of Nice is Crowne's
own. The humour is considerably overdone, but is still a genuine piece
of comedy, which culminates at the end, when the infuriated fop rushes
from the stage, vowing to be avenged, 'as far as my sword and my wit can
go.' _The English Friar_ (1689), a satire on the Tartufes of the Roman
Catholic persuasion, is also a remarkable piece, the parent of a long
line of imitations. In _City Politics_ (1673), Crowne's first comedy,
the Whig party in the City is held up to obloquy in the transparent
disguise of a Neapolitan rabble, and the satire is keen and vivid. _The
Married Beau_ (1694) is remarkable as a reversion towards the style of
Fletcher and Shirley. _Calisto_ is an interesting attempt to revive the
ancient masque. The only one of Crowne's serious dramas entitled to much
attention is _Darius_, where the poetry is frequently fine, but the
characters are tame. Not much is known of his life. He appears to have
been taken in youth to America, and to have returned by 1665, when he
published a romance entitled _Pandion and Amphigenia_. His connection
with the stage commenced in 1671 with _Juliana_, and terminated with
_Caligula_ in 1698. He would seem to have been a precise and
matter-of-fact man, and is ridiculed by Rochester as 'Little starch
Johnny Crowne with his ironed cravat.' He was fond of accompanying his
plays with long prefaces and dedications, which throw some light on his
opinions and private history, and, so far as they go, exhibit his
disposition in an advantageous light. From one of them it appears that
he suffered in his latter days from 'a distemper seated in my head.' His
tantalizing gleams of talent as a lyrist have been already mentioned.

[Sidenote: Thomas Southern (1660-1746).]

Thomas Southern undoubtedly belonged to the genus playwright, and has
none of the flashes of poetry which occasionally seem to exalt Crowne to
a higher rank. His distinction rather arises from the financial success
of his pieces, which was such that he died 'the richest of all our
poets, a very few excepted.' For this, however, he is said to have been
indebted not so much to the actual vogue of his pieces as to his
assiduity in soliciting tickets. It is to be wished that he had been
equally assiduous in collecting facts about Shakespeare, if, as is
somewhat doubtfully asserted, his father came from Stratford-on-Avon. He
was born at Dublin in 1660, and is said to have been a servitor at
Oxford and a student at the Middle Temple. This he forsook for the army,
but his service cannot have been of long duration. His first play, _The
Loyal Brother_ (1682), was designed to compliment the Duke of York upon
the failure of the Exclusion Bill. He was not a very industrious writer,
producing only ten plays down to 1726, and of these only two, _The Fatal
Marriage_ (1694) and _Oroonoko_ (1696), had any considerable reputation
even in his own day. Both, however, kept the stage until an advanced
period of the nineteenth century. The diction of both pieces, though
never rising into poetry, and interlarded with dull scenes intended to
be comic, is by no means contemptible; the main strength, however,
consists in the situations, which are really powerful, and in the
writer's art in arousing an interest both in his innocent and his mixed
characters. Respected as a relic of the past, a decorous church-goer
with silver hair, Southern lived far into the eighteenth century, and
came sufficiently under its influence to repent of his mingling of
tragic and comic action in the same piece; which indeed he had reason to
regret, not because he had done it, but because he had not done it

[Sidenote: Thomas Shadwell (1640-1692).]

Thomas Shadwell is remarkable as the leading Whig votary of _belles
lettres_ after the death of Marvell, a distinction which secured him the
laureateship upon the cashiering of Dryden. To call him poet would be a
gross misapplication of the term, and Dryden's withering couplet might
seem justified if he had nothing but his serious verse to rely upon:

    'With all his bulk, there's nothing lost in Og,
    For every inch that is not fool is rogue.'

His title to recollection, however, rests upon things as remote from
poetry as possible--his coarsely indecent, but humorous comedies, which
are undoubtedly of value as reflecting the manners of the time.
Shadwell, in imitation of Ben Jonson, laid himself out to study
'humours,' so well defined by Ben himself:

                'When some peculiar quality
    Doth so possess a man that it doth draw
    All his affects, his spirits, and his powers
    From their complexions all to run one way,
    This may be truly said to be a humour.'

We have seen the like in Dickens, who, possessing little delicacy of
psychological observation, laid himself out to study obvious
eccentricities of character, the more grotesque the better, and
frequently made the entire man the incarnation of an attribute. This is
certainly not very high art, but has recommendations for the stage which
it lacks in the novel; it is easy to write, easy to act, and gives
genuine entertainment to the crowd of spectators. Shadwell valued
himself so much upon his performances in this way as to declare in his
preface to _The Virtuoso_ that he trusted never to have less than four
new humours in any comedy. Shadwell's plays, though poorly written,
might still be read for their humour, were it not for their obscenity;
his chief merit, however, is to bring the society of his time nearer to
us than any other writer. No other records such minute points of
manners, or enables us to view the actual daily life of the age with so
much clearness. This is especially the case in his _Epsom Wells_
(1675), _Squire of Alsatia_ (1688), and _Volunteers_ (1692). From
Dryden's satire, which must have had a basis of truth, he would seem to
have been just the boisterous corpulent _bon vivant_ we might expect.
'If,' said Rochester, 'Shadwell would burn all he writes and print all
he says, he would have more wit and humour than anybody.' His friend,
Dr. Nicholas Brady, vouches for the openness and friendliness of his
temper; and further describes him as 'a complete gentleman.' But this
was in a funeral sermon. The regard for Otway, imputed to him by
Rochester, is creditable to him.

The violent death of Archbishop Abbot's gamekeeper would have passed
unnoticed if the poor man had been shot by anybody but the archbishop
himself; and Elkanah Settle (1648-1724) would have slipped away in the
crowd of poetasters if Rochester had not taken it into his head to pit
him against Dryden. In the sense in which the mysterious W. H. was 'the
only begetter of Shakespeare's sonnets,' he may hence claim to be the
parent of one of the most scathing pieces of invective in the language.
Although, however, Doeg is undoubtedly Settle, Settle is not wholly
Doeg. Miserable as his lampoons are, a line here and there is not
destitute of piquancy; and if his _Empress of Morocco_ (1673) has no
literary pretensions, it is important in literary history for having so
moved the wrath of Dryden, and in the history of the drama for having
been issued with plates which contribute greatly to our knowledge of the
internal arrangements of the Restoration Theatre. By a singular irony of
fortune, his fate bears some analogy to that of his mighty antagonist.
Settle lost caste by changing his politics at the wrong time, as Dryden
his religion; but while Dryden bore up against the storm of adversity,
Settle sunk into obscurity, and ultimately into the Charter House. Of
his twenty plays none but _The Empress of Morocco_ is now ever
mentioned, unless an exception be made in favour of _Ibrahim, the
Illustrious Bassa_ (1676), noticeable, as Professor Ward remarks, for
being founded upon one of the voluminous French romances of the day.

Some other playwrights would deserve extended notice in a history of the
drama, but are only entitled to the barest mention in a general literary
survey. Among these are Sir Robert Howard, Dryden's brother-in-law, and
joint-author with him of _The Indian Queen_, the most important of whose
plays is _The Committee_ (printed 1665), a satire on the Commonwealth,
described by Sir Roger de Coverley as 'a good old Church of England
comedy:' John Wilson, Recorder of Londonderry, author of three comedies
and a tragedy of more than average merit; Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery;
Sir Charles Sedley, Major Thomas Porter, and John Lacy, all very
mediocre as dramatists; Thomas D'Urfey, better known than any of the
above, but not by his writings, which are below mediocrity. The ten
plays of Edward Ravenscroft procured him no other reputation than that
of a plagiarist. Some female dramatists will be mentioned in another

Before passing to the opulent comedy of the latter part of the century,
two writers remain to be mentioned, one of whom stands alone in the
drama of the period, while the other forms the transition to the comedy
of Wycherley and Congreve. In describing George Villiers, second Duke of
Buckingham, as one standing apart, we refer to the character of his
solitary work, and not to his share in it; for, though passing solely
under his name, there can be little doubt that it was the production of
a junto of wits, of whom he was not the wittiest. Butler, Sprat, and
Martin Clifford are named as his coadjutors. Buckingham, who must be
credited with a keen sense of the ridiculous, had already resolved to
satirize rhyming heroic plays in the person of Sir Robert Howard, when
the latter's retirement diverted the blow to Dryden, whom Butler, as we
shall see, did not greatly relish, and against whose device of rhyme,
Sprat, as we have seen, had committed himself by anticipation. The play
chiefly selected for parody is _The Conquest of Granada_, which
certainly invited it. Dryden appears as Bayes, in allusion to his
laureateship; and, although his perpetual use of 'egad' seems derived
from the usage by one of his _dramatis personae_ rather than his own, we
cannot doubt that his peculiarities of speech and gesture were mostly
copied to the life. Within a week the town were unanimously laughing at
what they had been unanimously applauding; and, scurrilous and ill-bred
as the mockery of _The Rehearsal_ was, it must be allowed to have been
neither uncalled for nor unuseful. The machinery of the piece is
sufficiently indicated by its title. Bayes entertains the dissembling
Johnson and the unsympathetic Smith with a rehearsal of _The Two Kings
of Brentford_, commenting meanwhile and explaining, vaunting beauties
and extenuating miscarriages with a verve that still amuses,
notwithstanding the far superior treatment of the same theme in
Sheridan's _Critic_. Some of the scenes are highly farcical; and some of
the passages are very fair hits at the bombast and other extravagances
of the writers of heroic plays, for Dryden is by no means the sole
object of satire:

    'The blackest ink of fate was sure my lot,
    And when she writ my name, she made a blot.'

    'Durst any of the Gods be so uncivil,
    I'd make that God subscribe himself a Devil.'

    'The army's at the door, and in disguise
    Demands a word with both your majesties.'

     'Yes, I think, for a dead person, it is a good way enough of
     making love, for being divested of her terrestrial part, and
     all that, she is only capable of these little, pretty, amorous
     designs that are innocent, and yet passionate.'

One of Bayes's precepts may be commended to the attention of any who may
think of reviving rhyming tragedy. It also shows the cramped condition
of the theatre in Dryden's day:

     _'Bayes._ Gentlemen, I must desire you to remove a little, for
     I must fill the stage.

     _Smith._ Why fill the stage?

     _Bayes._ O sir, because your heroic verse never sounds well but
     when the stage is full.'

[Sidenote: Sir George Etheredge (1634-1691).]

Sir George Etheredge is neither an edifying nor an attractive writer of
comedy, but his plays are of considerable historical importance as
prototypes of the comedy of manners afterwards so brilliantly developed
by Congreve. They are _Love in a Tub_ (1664), _She Would if She Could_
(1668), and _The Man of Mode_ (1676). The last is celebrated for the
character of Sir Fopling Flutter, who is said to have been the image of
the author, though it is added on the same authority that his intention
had been to depict himself in the character of the heartless rake
Dorimant, whom others took for Rochester. All the plays suffer from a
deficiency of plot, a deficiency of wit, and a superfluity of
naughtiness, but cannot be denied to possess a light airy grace, and to
have imbibed something of the manner, though little of the humour, of
Molière. By his own account the author was lazy, careless, and a
gamester. Little, except that 'he was knighted for marrying a fortune,'
is known of his history until 1685, when, unexpectedly to himself, he
was appointed envoy to Ratisbon, and details become copious from the
accidental preservation of his letter-book, now in the British Museum.
The general tone of his correspondence is good-natured and easy; he
seems to have made just the kind of ambassador to be expected from an
idle man of fashion without diplomatic experience; while he may well
have merited his friends' description of him as 'gentle George,' and his
repute as easy and generous. The Revolution deprived him of his post; he
seems to have refused allegiance to William, and to have died at Paris
in 1691.


[7] Crowne himself assigns another reason, which may have had weight in
some quarters: 'I presume your ladyship nauseates comedies. They are so
ill-bred, and saucy with quality, and always crammed with our odious
sex. At tragedies the house is all lined with beauty, and then a
gentleman may endure it,'--a confirmation of the statement that modest
women avoided the comic theatre, or went masked.



Etheredge's comedies serve to introduce one of the most brilliant
schools of English comic writing--faulty, in that so far from correcting
the manners of its age, it did not even portray them, but eminent above
the English comedy of every other period for wit. So great is the family
likeness between its chief representatives, that it will be advisable to
consider their lives and their writings together. The connecting link
among them all is that all were fine gentlemen whose code was the
fashionable morality of the day. Any conclusions as to the state of
contemporary manners which may be deduced from their writings must be
confined to this small, though conspicuous section of English society.

[Sidenote: William Wycherley (1640-1715).]

William Wycherley was the son of a Shropshire gentleman of good estate.
His father, disliking the management of public schools under the
Commonwealth, sent the youth to France, where he became a Roman
Catholic, but recanted upon his return. He entered at the Temple, and
for some years led the life of a gay young man about town. According to
his own statement, all his four comedies were written about this period,
but Macaulay has shown clearly that they must have, at all events,
undergone very considerable revision, and that it is not probable that
any but _Love in a Wood_ were in existence when this was acted in 1672.
_The Gentleman Dancing Master_, _The Country Wife_, and _The Plain
Dealer_, appeared in 1673, 1675, and 1677 respectively; and the last of
these was the termination of the author's brief and brilliant career as
a dramatist. It was also the term of his prosperity. A secret marriage
with a lady of rank offended the king, by whom Wycherley had been
entrusted with the tuition of one of his natural children, and
eventually involved him in debt. He was thrown into the Fleet, where he
remained several years. At last James II., chancing to witness a
representation of _The Plain Dealer_, was led to inquire for the author,
and, a piece of munificence towards letters most unusual with him, to
pay his debts and grant him a pension of two hundred a year, which, as
Wycherley straightway reverted to the Roman Catholic faith, was probably
withdrawn by William. He had, however, come into possession of the
family estate, and existed for the rest of his life respectably as
regarded his means of subsistence, though much the reverse as regards
the licentious verses which he went on writing, and published at the age
of sixty-four. Macaulay and Mr. Gosse, however, attribute to him a tract
in defence of the stage against Jeremy Collier, not devoid of merit; and
his later poems enjoyed the advantage of revision by Pope, whose hand,
Macaulay thinks, is everywhere discernible. Comedy he never essayed
again. He died in 1715, having ten days before his death married a young
girl to injure his nephew. This Macaulay considers the worst of his
actions; but we do not know that the nephew did not deserve to be
injured. A contemporary poet dubs the uncle, "generous Wycherley."

[Sidenote: William Congreve (1670-1729).]

William Congreve, a scion of a good Staffordshire family, was born at
Bardsey, near Leeds, in 1670. His father, an officer in the army,
obtained a command in Ireland, where a branch of the family is still
settled, and Congreve received his education at Kilkenny and at Trinity
College, Dublin. In 1691 he came to London, and at once found admission
to the best literary circles. A novel by him, _Incognita_, was published
anonymously at the beginning of 1692. Later in the year he co-operated
in a translation of Juvenal by various hands, and submitted his _Old
Bachelor_ to Dryden, who declared that he had never seen such a first
play, and lent his aid in adapting it for the stage. It was produced
with great success in January, 1693. In November of the same year _The
Double-Dealer_ appeared, but, though preferred by the judicious, was
less popular with the town. It was published with an elegant preface by
the author, and a noble panegyric from Dryden. 'Perhaps,' says Mr.
Gosse, 'there is no other example of such full and generous praise of a
young colleague by a great old poet.' Dryden's notions of architecture,
indeed, seem borrowed from the churches of his time, where we not
uncommonly see a spire in one style clapped upon a body in another:

    'Fine Doric pillars found your solid base,
    The fair Corinthian crowns the higher space,
    Thus all below is strength and all above is grace.'

But the lines in which he adjures Congreve to protect his own memory are
an unparalleled blending of pathos and compliment:

    'Be kind to my remains, and O, defend,
    Against your judgment, your departed friend,
    Let not the insulting foe my fame pursue,
    But shade those laurels which descend to you.'

Shortly after the performance of _The Double Dealer_, dissensions broke
out between the patentees of the Theatre Royal and their _corps
dramatique_, and the majority of the latter seceded to Lincoln's Inn
Fields. Congreve followed them, and, in consideration of receiving a
stipulated share of the profits, agreed to write for them a play
annually, should his health permit. In pursuance of this agreement,
_Love for Love_, generally considered the best of his comedies, was
brought out in April, 1695. It was a signal success; as was Congreve's
solitary tragedy, _The Mourning Bride_, produced in 1697, which, indeed,
is believed to have produced him more than any of his comedies. The
last, and, in the opinion of some, the best of these, _The Way of the
World_, appeared in 1700, and its failure disgusted Congreve with the
stage. He had always rather affected to condescend to be a dramatist, as
Monsieur Jourdain condescended to be a haberdasher; and he was probably
hurt at the rough handling he had received from Jeremy Collier, to whose
_Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the Stage_ he had
unsuccessfully endeavoured to reply. Collier's victory, indeed, proved
that the licentiousness of the stage was a mere fashion, rather
tolerated than approved by the majority of the playgoing public, and
Congreve may have felt that his wings would be clipped by the
reformation which public opinion was evidently about to demand. Whatever
the cause, he was lost to the stage at thirty, and his occasional
poetical productions, the most important of which have been already
noticed, were far from qualifying him to sit in the seat of Dryden. He
enjoyed, nevertheless, supremacy of another kind. Regarded as an extinct
volcano, he gave umbrage to no rivals; his urbane and undemonstrative
temper kept him out of literary feuds; all agreed to adore so benign and
inoffensive a deity, and the general respect of the lettered world fitly
culminated in Pope's dedication of his _Homer_ to him, the most splendid
literary tribute the age could bestow. Sinecure Government places made
his circumstances more than easy, but he suffered continually from
gout, the effect of free living, and he became blind, or nearly so, in
his latter years. His death (1729) was hastened by a carriage accident.
He had a splendid funeral in Westminster Abbey, and a monument erected
by the Duchess of Marlborough (Marlborough's daughter, not his widow),
whom he had capriciously made his principal legatee.

It is, as Mr. Gosse remarks, difficult to form any very distinct notion
of Congreve as a man. We must be content with knowing that he was a fine
gentleman before all things, convivial in his habits, witty in
conversation, extremely sensitive to criticism, otherwise placid; able
to keep on good terms with both Pope and Dennis throughout his life; and
that Pope thought him, Garth, and Vanbrugh, 'the three most
honest-hearted real good men of the poetical members of the Kit-cat

[Sidenote: Sir John Vanbrugh (1664-1726).]

Sir John Vanbrugh, the next of the quartette of illustrious comic
writers, occupies a remarkable position in literature. Few other
distinguished architects have gained renown in elegant letters, and
these have not attempted the drama. As, however, Angelo is more
celebrated for St. Peter's than for his sonnets, so Vanbrugh is better
remembered by Blenheim, which most have beheld, than by his plays, which
are never seen on the stage, and yet connoisseurs have found infinitely
more to censure in the former. The faults of the plays are those of the
author's age and his school; the faults imputed to his buildings, if
they exist, which is a question for architects, are personal to the
Fleming, who shared his countryman Rubens's taste for the massive and
substantial, and whose epitaph was couched in the adjuration:

    'Lie heavy on him, earth, for he
    Laid many a heavy load on thee.'

Though born an English subject, Vanbrugh was of Flemish descent. His
first profession was the army. His _début_ as a dramatist was made in
1697 by two sparkling comedies, _The Relapse_ and _The Provoked Wife_,
followed by _The False Friend_ (1702), _The Confederacy_, and _The
Mistake_ (1705), some imitations of the French, and an unfinished play,
_A Journey to London_, completed by Cibber, and produced in 1728 as _The
Provoked Husband_. All these plays seem to have been successful;
certainly none were in any peril of damnation on the ground apprehended
by Orrery:

    'This play, I'm horribly afraid, can't last;
    Allow it pretty, 'tis confounded chaste,
    And contradicts too much the present taste.'

Latterly he became somewhat careless in the composition of his plays,
which may be reasonably attributed to the demands made upon him by the
laborious profession of architecture, which he took up, apparently
without a regular education, about the end of the seventeenth century,
and which he may have been the more inclined to pursue on account of the
serious loss entailed upon him by his dramatic speculations. Interest or
ability made him successful; he was entrusted with no less a task than
the erection of Blenheim; and Castle Howard and other celebrated country
mansions were built after his designs. He died in 1726. The little known
of his personal character is to his credit.

[Sidenote: George Farquhar (1678-1707).]

George Farquhar was born at Londonderry in 1678, and is believed to have
been the son of an Irish clergyman. He forsook Trinity College for the
stage, where he made some figure, but renounced his calling out of
compunction for having accidentally wounded a fellow-actor. Coming to
London with ten guineas lent to him by the manager, he achieved renown
by his comedy of _Love and a Bottle_ (1699). _The Constant Couple_
(1701) was even more successful. Other plays followed, and from
allusions in one of the principal, _The Recruiting Officer_ (1706), as
well as reminiscences and traditions, he is believed to have held a
commission in the army. According to tradition, he was induced to sell
his commission to pay his debts by the Duke of Ormond's promise to
procure him another, and the disappointment of this expectation so
deeply mortified him as to occasion his death. His last and best comedy,
_The Beaux' Stratagem_, was written on his deathbed. He is a sympathetic
figure among the literary men of the day, gallant and witty, nor
incapable of serious feeling. According to his own account he was, like
Liston and others who have contributed to the mirth of mankind, by
nature a melancholy man. 'As to the mind, which in most men wears as
many changes as their body, so in me 'tis generally drest like my
person, in black. Melancholy is its everyday apparel, and it has
hitherto found few holidays to make it change its clothes.' He adds: 'I
am seldom troubled by what the world calls airs and caprices; and I
think 'tis an idiot's excuse for a foolish action to say, 'twas my
humour. I hate all little malicious tricks of vexing people; and I can't
relish the jest that vexes another in earnest. If ever I do a wilful
injury, it must be a very great one. I have so natural a propensity to
ease, that I cannot cheerfully fix to any study which bears not a
pleasure in the application; which makes me inclinable to poetry above
anything else. I have very little estate but what lies under the
circumference of my hat; and should I by mischance come to lose my head,
I should not be worth a groat; but I ought to thank Providence that I
can by three hours' study live one-and-twenty with satisfaction to
myself, and contribute to the maintenance of more families than some who
have thousands a year. I have something in my outward behaviour which
gives strangers a worse opinion of me than I deserve; but I am more than
recompensed by the opinion of my acquaintance, which is as much above my

This, which is only part of a much longer character, addressed to a
lady, is remarkable as the most detailed self-estimate of any man of
letters of the period we possess, until we come to Steele.

Although there are undoubtedly considerable distinctions between the
works of these four dramatists, such a fundamental unity nevertheless
prevails among them that they may be advantageously considered together.
They may be compared to a jewel with four facets, each casting a
separate ray, but with little diversity in their cold brilliant glitter.
Wit, gaiety, heartlessness, and profligacy are the common notes of them
all, save that Congreve has tragic power, and, as well as Farquhar, real
feeling. How far they painted, or intended to paint, the manners of
their age, is a difficult question. Lamb thought that the world they
depict was merely conventional, a Lampsacene Arcadia. Not even the
indulgent Leigh Hunt, much less the austere Macaulay, can concur in this
judgment, which is assuredly much too absolute. Yet it is indisputable
that the manners they portray were not those of a nation that devoured
_Pilgrim's Progress_, brought up children and domestics by the _Whole
Duty of Man_, and deposed a king who meddled with the Church. Were they
even the manners of the gay world? To some extent this is true; but
there is evidence enough that even fashionable men thought of something
else than seducing their neighbours' wives and daughters; that the slips
even of fashionable women were by no means inordinately frequent or
mere matters of course; and that the standard of personal honour was
much higher than would appear from the comedies. We may be assisted to
comprehend the real state of the matter by observing the condition of
the French literature of fiction at this very moment. Anyone who should
form his opinion of French people entirely from their novels could come
to no other conclusion than that they were entirely given up to the
pursuit of illicit love, and deemed nothing else worthy of the attention
of a rational creature. Yet we know that as a matter of fact the French
nation does think of very different things; that a ridiculously small
corner of actual life is conventionally made to stand for the whole of
it; that the novels which profess to depict manners, while accurate in
their delineation of certain characters and certain phases, would
entirely mislead those whose notions should be solely derived from them.
It would be nearer the truth, though still erroneous, to take the
reverse view, and maintain that works composed for the sake of amusement
are more likely to usher the reader into an ideal world than to weary
him with familiar scenes and incidents. So far as this is the case, the
English society of the seventeenth century must be acquitted at the
expense of the dramatists, who incur the obloquy of missing both the two
great ends of comedy, for they neither delineate nor correct it.
Possibly the unsatisfactory position which writers of so much wit and
sense thus came to occupy may be partly accounted for by the influence
of Ben Jonson. We have seen Dryden almost hesitating to avow his
preference for Shakespeare to Jonson, we shall see that Butler has no
hesitation in asserting the superiority of Jonson to Shakespeare as an
obvious thing; nor could it well be otherwise in so essentially prosaic
an age. This implies the triumph of the comedy of types over the comedy
of nature. Jonson, like Menander, impersonates particular
characteristics, or situations in life; Shakespeare paints human nature
as large as it really is. We have seen how the exhibition of these
so-called 'humours' forms the staple of the comedy of Shadwell. The
handling of Congreve and his associates, who had the example of Molière
before them, is far superior, but the principle is at bottom the same. A
characteristic is incarnated in a personage, and often indicated by his
very name. Instead of the names bestowed by fancy, or borrowed from
romance, the Benedicts, Rosalinds, Imogens, Mirandas, we have Witwoulds,
Maskwells, Millamants, and Gibbets. Each character being thus more or
less conventional, the _tout ensemble_ is necessarily conventional too;
and to this extent the world of these dramatists may be fairly regarded
as ideal; while it is not true that they had any definite purpose of
creating such a world, or that it was so dissimilar to actual society as
to interfere with the appreciation of the audience. Their works may be
compared to the novels of Mr. George Meredith, who would have been a
great comic writer if he had lived in the days of Congreve. No one would
call Mr. Meredith's novels unnatural; yet his works will convey but
little notion of the English society of the nineteenth century to
posterity, who will only need to turn to George Eliot and Anthony
Trollope to realize it as no bygone age was ever realized before.

Wycherley has been characterized by Professor Ward as the Timon of his
stage, and the description is excellent, if not understood of one
animated by moral indignation at its immorality, but of one impelled by
temperament to insist upon and exaggerate its most disagreeable
features. The two most important of his plays, _The Country Wife_ and
_The Plain Dealer_, are rather tragi-comedies than comedies, especially
the latter, of which Professor Ward justly observes, 'Working within the
limits of his own horizon, with nothing perceptible to him but a vicious
world hateful on account of the palpable grossness of its outward
pretences, Wycherley must be allowed to have worked with vigour and
effect, and to have produced what is indisputably one of the most
powerful dramas of its age.' Its unpardonable sin is to be to a great
extent an adaptation of Molière's _Misanthrope_, and to pervert and
brutalize whatever is most admirable in that masterpiece. _Love in a
Wood_ and _The Gentleman Dancing Master_ are comparatively slight
performances, but there is great humour in the representation in the
latter of the disguised lover helped out of all his scrapes by the
self-complacent credulity of the young lady's father and his own rival,
whose business it is to detect him. The delineation of the father as a
merchant returned from long residence in Spain, enamoured of Spanish
manners, and quoting the language at every second sentence, is one of
those which justify Aubrey's remark that the dramatists of his age would
be soon forgotten, because their ephemeral 'humours' would have ceased
to be intelligible. The character, if still possible in Wycherley's
time, ceased to be so very soon afterwards. It must, however, have been
popular if it gave or helped to give the nickname of Don Diego to the
Spaniards, which survives to this day in 'dago,' the familiar
appellation of South Americans in the United States. One characteristic
of all Wycherley's comedies should be mentioned, their length, which
confirms the impression that he composed with slowness. 'When,' says
Hazlitt, 'he got hold of a good thing, or sometimes even of a bad one,
he was determined to make the most of it, and might have said with
Dogberry, "Had I the tediousness of a king, I could find it in my heart
to bestow it all upon your worships."'

If Wycherley is the satirist of Restoration comedy, Congreve is its wit;
but at the same time he betrays a vein of much deeper feeling than
Wycherley, and, notwithstanding the contrary opinion of Hazlitt, his
characters appear to us more easily appreciated and more readily
remembered. His insight into women in particular is so considerable that
it is a real loss that he never attempted to paint a noble one, who
would indeed have looked strangely amid the crowd of his heartless, or
frivolous, or absurd people, but whom he might have rendered a true
dramatic success. Both _The Double Dealer_ and _The Way of the World_
border upon tragedy, and suggest how much finer things Congreve might
have written had the taste of his time allowed of tragedy in prose; or
if, by treating ordinary domestic life in a serious spirit, even though
in verse, he could have taken the step that was afterwards taken by
Lillo. He evidently felt conscious of innate tragic power, and essayed
heroic tragedy in _The Mourning Bride_, where, hampered by the
conventionalities he dared not transgress, he broke down with a romantic
plot, romantic characters, and stilted blank verse, all things most
repugnant to his genius. Johnson's praise of a passage in this play as
'the most poetical paragraph in the whole mass of English poetry,' and
which is actually fine enough to survive such extravagant laudation, is
well known. It will be instructive to set it side by side with a still
finer passage in a modern tragedy, as examples of the classic and
romantic schools of composition. It is the strength and weakness of
Congreve that his thoughts are such as would naturally have occurred to
any one in the situation of his personages, and that his sole part is to
afford them dignified expression; while Beddoes' thoughts are the
thoughts of a poet, and as such might well appear fantastic and
overstrained to an average audience:

    '_Almeria._ It is a fancied noise, for all is hushed.

    _Leonora._ It bore the accent of a human voice.

    _Almeria._ It was thy fear, or else some transient wind
    Whistling through hollows of this vaulted aisle.
    We'll listen.

    _Leonora._ Hark!

    _Almeria._ No, all is hushed and still as death. 'Tis dreadful.
    How reverend is the face of this tall pile,
    Whose ancient pillars rear their marble heads
    To bear aloft its arched and ponderous roof,
    By its own weight made steadfast and immovable,
    Looking tranquillity! It strikes an awe
    And terror on my aching sight; the tombs
    And monumental caves of death look cold,
    And shoot a chillness to my trembling heart.
    Give me thy hand!
    Oh, speak to me! nay, speak! and let me hear
    Thy voice; my own affrights me with its echoes.'

        _Mourning Bride_, act ii., sc. 3.

    '_Duke._ Deceived and disappointed vain desires!
    Why laugh I not, and ridicule myself?
    'Tis still, and cold, and nothing in the air
    But an old grey twilight, or of eve or morn
    I know not which, dim as futurity,
    And sad and hoary as the ghostly past
    Fills up the space. Hush! not a wind is there,
    Not a cloud sails over the battlements,
    Not a bell tolls the hour. Is there an hour?
    Or is not all gone by which here did hive
    Of men and their life's ways? Could I but hear
    The ticking of a clock, or someone breathing,
    Or e'en a cricket's chirping, or the grating
    Of the old gates amid the marble tombs,
    I should be sure that this was still the world.
    Hark! Hark! Doth nothing stir?
    No light, and still no light, besides this ghost
    That mocks the dawn, unaltered? Still no sound?
    No voice of man? No cry of beast? No rustle
    Of any moving creature? And sure I feel
    That I remain the same: no more round blood drops
    Roll joyously along my pulseless veins:
    The air I seem to breathe is still the same:
    And the great dreadful thought that now comes o'er me
    Must remain ever as it is, unchanged.
    This moment doth endure for evermore;
    Eternity hath overshadowed time;
    And I alone am left of all that lived.'

        _Death's Jest Book_, act iii., sc. 3.

The writer of these lines might have been a great tragic poet, if he
could have achieved the construction of a coherent plot. Congreve might
have been a greater, but for the conventions of an age that required his
_dramatis personae_ to be remote by a thousand years or a thousand

The dazzle of Congreve's wit has perhaps blinded critics to his more
serious powers, and it may be that its brilliancy has been even
exaggerated. What is chiefly admirable is perhaps not so much the
occasional flashes and strokes, felicitous as they are, as the
unflagging verve, energy, and gaiety. His plays are not of the kind that
keep the audience in a roar from first to last, but they never cease to
stimulate the spirits; the fire does not always blaze, but it never
burns low: there is not a dull scene, or a tiresome or useless
character. The general tone of good breeding, if it does not purify the
pervading atmosphere of profligacy, at any rate prevents it from
becoming offensive. In verbal impropriety and _double entendre_ Congreve
is even worse than Wycherley, but his plays are far from giving the same
impression of a thoroughly obnoxious state of society. It is true that
the pursuit of women seems the sole business of the men, and the pursuit
of men the business of half the women; but the universal passion is so
pleasantly variegated with extraneous humours and oddities that it is
far from producing the monotony of a modern French novel. Thus, there
is an amourette between Brisk and Lady Froth in _The Double Dealer_, but
the pair are æsthetic as well as amorous, and the blue-stocking is more
conspicuous than the unfaithful wife. The scene where Brisk corrects
Lady Froth's poetry, imitated but not servilely copied from one in _Les
Femmes Savantes_, is a good specimen of the humour and sparkle of
Congreve's dialogue:

     '_Lady Froth._ Then you think that episode between Susan, the
     dairy-maid, and our coachman, is not amiss; you know I may
     suppose the dairy in town as well as in the country.

     _Brisk._ Incomparable, let me perish!--But then being an heroic
     poem, had not you better call him a charioteer? charioteer
     sounds great; besides, your ladyship's coachman having a red
     face, and you comparing him to the sun; and you know the sun is
     called heaven's charioteer.

     _Lady Froth._ Oh, infinitely better! I am extremely beholden to
     you for the hint; stay, we'll read over those half a score
     lines again. [_Pulls out a paper._] Let me see here, you know
     what goes before,--the comparison, you know.


         For as the sun shines every day,
         So, of our coachman I may say--

     _Brisk._ I'm afraid that simile won't do in wet
     weather;--because you say the sun shines every day.

     _Lady Froth._ No, for the sun it won't, but it will do for the
     coachman; for you know there's more occasion for a coach in wet

     _Brisk._ Right, right, that saves all.

     _Lady Froth._ Then, I don't say the sun shines all the day, but
     that he peeps now and then; yet he does shine all the day too,
     you know, though we don't see him.

     _Brisk._ Right, but the vulgar will never comprehend that.

     _Lady Froth._ Well, you shall hear.--Let me see.


         For as the sun shines every day,
         So, of our coachman I may say,
         He shows his drunken fiery face,
         Just as the sun does, more or less.

     _Brisk._ That's right, all's well, all's well!--More or less.

     _Lady Froth._ [_Reads._]

         And when at night his labour's done,
         Then too, like heaven's charioteer the sun--

     Ay, charioteer does better.

         Into the dairy he descends,
         And there his whipping and his driving ends;
         There's he's secure from danger of a bilk,
         His fare is paid him, and he sets in milk.

     For Susan, you know, is Thetis, and so--

     _Brisk._ Incomparably well and proper, egad!--But I have one
     exception to make:--don't you think _bilk_ (I know it's good
     rhyme), but don't you think _bilk_ and _fare_ too like a

     _Lady Froth._ I swear and vow, I am afraid so.--And yet our
     Jehu was a hackney-coachman when my lord took him.

     _Brisk._ Was he? I'm answered, if Jehu was a
     hackney-coachman.--You may put that in the marginal notes
     though, to prevent criticism.--Only mark it with a small
     asterism, and say, Jehu was formerly a hackney-coachman.

     _Lady Froth._ I will; you'd oblige me extremely to write notes
     to the whole poem.

     _Brisk._ With all my heart and soul, and proud of the vast
     honour, let me perish!'

Congreve excels not only in dialogue, but in painting a character by a
single speech. How thoroughly we realize the inward and outward man of
old Foresight the omen-monger, from a single passage in _Love for Love_:

     '_Nurse._ Pray heaven send your worship good luck! marry and
     amen with all my heart; for you have put on one stocking with
     the wrong side outward.

     _Fore._ Ha! hm? faith and troth I'm glad of it. And so I have;
     that may be good luck in troth, in troth it may, very good
     luck: nay I have had some omens: I got out of bed backwards
     too this morning, without premeditation; pretty good that too;
     but then I stumbled coming down stairs, and met a weasel; bad
     omens these, some bad, some good, our lives are chequered;
     mirth and sorrow, want and plenty, night and day, make up our
     time. But in troth I am pleased at my stocking; very well
     pleased at my stocking.'

Or Mr. Bluffe, the _miles gloriosus_ of _The Old Bachelor_:

     'You must know, sir, I was resident in Flanders the last
     campaign, had a small part there, but no matter for that.
     Perhaps, sir, there was scarce anything of moment done but an
     humble servant of yours that shall be nameless, was an
     eye-witness of--I won't say had the greatest share in it;
     though I might say that too, since I name nobody, you know.
     Well, Mr. Sharper, would you think it? in all this time this
     rascally gazette writer never so much as once mentioned me--not
     once, by the wars!--took no more notice than as if Nol. Bluffe
     had not been in the land of the living!

     _Sharper._ Strange!

     _Bluffe._ Ay, ay, no matter.--You see, Mr. Sharper, that after
     all I am content to retire--live a private person--Scipio and
     others have done it.'

Vanbrugh has less individuality than his eminent contemporaries, and has
consequently produced less impression than they upon the public mind,
has added fewer typical characters to comedy, and stands some steps
nigher to oblivion. Yet he is their equal in _vis comica_, and their
superior in stage workmanship. 'He is no writer at all,' says Hazlitt,
'as to mere authorship; but he makes up for it by a prodigious fund of
comic invention and ludicrous description, bordering upon caricature. He
has none of Congreve's graceful refinement, and as little of Wycherley's
serious manner and studious insight into the springs of character; but
his exhibition of it in dramatic contrast and unlooked-for situations,
where the different parties play upon one another's failings, and into
one another's hands, keeping up the jest like a game of battledore and
shuttlecock, and urging it to the utmost verge of breathless
extravagance, in the mere eagerness of the fray, is beyond that of any
other of our writers.' In Hazlitt's opinion, Vanbrugh did not bestow
much pains upon the construction of his pieces, and their excellent
dramatic effect is mainly to be attributed to his promptness in seizing
upon the hints for powerful situations which continually arose as he
went along. He has nothing of the passion which sometimes raises
Congreve so near to the confines of tragedy, nor has he the airy gaiety
of Farquhar; but his animal spirits are abundant and unforced, and his
humour has a true Flemish exuberance. His characters are always lively
and well discriminated, but the only type he can be said to have created
is the model fop, Lord Foppington in _The Relapse_, and even he is
partly borrowed from Etheredge's Sir Fopling Flutter. He is nevertheless
a most perfect portrait, and gives real literary distinction to what
would otherwise have been a mere comedy of intrigue. The powerful though
disagreeable character of Sir John Brute lends force to _The Provoked
Wife_; and the unfinished _Journey to London_ is grounded on an idea
which might have been very fruitful, the country senator who has gone
into Parliament as a speculation, but who, upon taking up his residence
in London, finds that he loses more by the extravagance of his wife than
he can gain by the prostitution of his vote. Vanbrugh's other plays are
mere comedies of intrigue, written without moral or immoral purpose for
the sake of amusement, of which they are abundantly prolific for readers
not repelled by a disregard of virtue so open and unblushing that, being
too gay for cynicism, it almost seems innocence. The scene between
Flippanta and her pupil in _The Confederacy_ is an excellent specimen
of Vanbrugh's spirited comedy. It might be headed, _Malitia supplet

     '_Flip._ Nay, if you can bear it so, you are not to be pitied
     so much as I thought.

     _Cor._ Not pitied! Why, is it not a miserable thing for such a
     young creature as I am should be kept in perpetual solitude,
     with no other company but a parcel of old fumbling masters, to
     teach me geography, arithmetic, philosophy, and a thousand
     useless things? Fine entertainment, indeed, for a young maid at
     sixteen! Methinks one's time might be better employed.

     _Flip._ Those things will improve your wit.

     _Cor._ Fiddle, faddle! han't I wit enough already? My
     mother-in-law has learned none of this trumpery, and is not she
     as happy as the day is long?

     _Flip._ Then you envy her I find?

     _Cor._ And well I may. Does she not do what she has a mind to,
     in spite of her husband's teeth?

     _Flip._ [_Aside._] Look you there now! If she has not already
     conceived that as the supreme blessing of life!

     _Cor._ I'll tell you what, Flippanta; if my mother-in-law would
     but stand by me a little, and encourage me, and let me keep her
     company, I'd rebel against my father to-morrow, and throw all
     my books in the fire. Why, he can't touch a groat of my
     portion; do you know that, Flippanta!

     _Flip._ [_Aside._] So--I shall spoil her! Pray Heaven the girl
     don't debauch me!

     _Cor._ Look you: in short, he may think what he pleases, he may
     think himself wise; but thoughts are free, and I may think in
     my turn. I'm but a girl, 'tis true, and a fool too, if you'll
     believe him; but let him know, a foolish girl may make a wise
     man's heart ache; so he had as good be quiet.--Now it's out.

     _Flip._ Very well, I love to see a young woman have spirit,
     it's a sign she'll come to something.

     _Cor._ Ah, Flippanta! if you would but encourage me, you'd find
     me quite another thing. I'm a devilish girl in the bottom; I
     wish you'd but let me make one amongst you.

     _Flip._ That never can be till you are married. Come, examine
     your strength a little. Do you think you durst venture upon a

     _Cor._ A husband! Why, a--if you would but encourage me. Come,
     Flippanta, be a true friend now. I'll give you advice when I
     have got a little more experience. Do you in your conscience
     and soul think I am old enough to be married?

     _Flip._ Old enough! why, you are sixteen, are you not?

     _Cor._ Sixteen! I am sixteen, two months, and odd days, woman.
     I keep an exact account.

     _Flip._ The deuce you are!

     _Cor._ Why, do you then truly and sincerely think I am old

     _Flip._ I do, upon my faith, child.

     _Cor._ Why, then, to deal as fairly with you, Flippanta, as you
     do with me, I have thought so any time these three years.

     _Flip._ Now I find you have more wit than ever I thought you
     had; and to show you what an opinion I have of your discretion,
     I'll show you a thing I thought to have thrown in the fire.

     _Cor._ What is it, for Jupiter's sake?

     _Flip._ Something will make your heart chuck within you.

     _Cor._ My dear Flippanta!

     _Flip._ What do you think it is?

     _Cor._ I don't know, nor I don't care, but I'm mad to have it.

     _Flip._ It's a four-cornered thing.

     _Cor._ What, like a cardinal's cap?

     _Flip._ No, 'tis worth a whole conclave of 'em. How do you like

         [_Showing the letter._

     _Cor._ O Lard, a letter! Is there ever a token in it?

     _Flip._ Yes, and a precious one too. There's a handsome young
     gentleman's heart.

     _Cor._ A handsome young gentleman's heart! [_Aside._] Nay,
     then, it's time to look grave.

     _Flip._ There.

     _Cor._ I shan't touch it.

     _Flip._ What's the matter now?

     _Cor._ I shan't receive it.

     _Flip._ Sure you jest.

     _Cor._ You'll find I don't. I understand myself better than to
     take letters when I don't know who they are from.

     _Flip._ I'm afraid I commended your wit too soon.

     _Cor._ 'Tis all one, I shan't touch it, unless I know who it
     comes from.

     _Flip._ Heyday, open it and you'll see.

     _Cor._ Indeed I shall not.

     _Flip._ Well--then I must return it where I had it.

     _Cor._ That won't serve your turn, madam. My father must have
     an account of this.

     _Flip._ Sure you are not in earnest?

     _Cor._ You'll find I am.

     _Flip._ So, here's fine work! This 'tis to deal with girls
     before they come to know the distinction of sexes!

     _Cor._ Confess who you had it from, and perhaps, for this once,
     I mayn't tell my father.

     _Flip._ Why then, since it must out, 'twas the Colonel. But why
     are you so scrupulous, madam?

     _Cor._ Because if it had come from anybody else--I would not
     have given a farthing for it.

         [_Snatching it eagerly out of her hand._'

Farquhar has what Vanbrugh wants--individuality. He seems to identify
himself with his favourite characters, the heedless, dissolute, but
gentlemanly and good-hearted sparks about town whom he so delights to
portray, and hence wins a firmer place in our affections than his
wittier and in every way stronger rival, who might have been a comic
automaton for any idea of his personality that we are able to form.
Whether the inevitable conception of Farquhar is really correct may be
doubted; it is not in harmony with the few particulars which we possess
of his manners and personal appearance. While reading him, nevertheless,
one feels no doubt of the applicability to the author of the character
of his Sir Harry Wildair, 'entertaining to others, and easy to himself,
turning all passion into gaiety of humour.' The plays answer the
description of the personage; they are lively, rattling, entertaining,
and the humour is certainly much in excess of the passion. Serjeant
Kite, in _The Recruiting Officer_, has become proverbial, otherwise no
character has been recognized as an absolute creation, though almost all
are natural and unaffected. _The Beaux' Stratagem_, his last play, is by
common consent his best; it is assuredly admirable, from the truth and
variety of the characters, and the pervading atmosphere of adventurous
gaiety. The separation between Mr. and Mrs. Sullen is a good specimen of
Farquhar's _vis comica_:

     '_Mrs. Sul._ Hold, gentlemen, all things here must move by
     consent, compulsion would spoil us; let my dear and I talk the
     matter over, and you shall judge it between us.

     _Squire Sul._ Let me know first who are to be our judges. Pray,
     sir, who are you?

     _Sir Chas._ I am Sir Charles Freeman, come to take away your

     _Squire Sul._ And you, good sir?

     _Aim._ Charles Viscount Aimwell, come to take away your sister.

     _Squire Sul._ And you, pray, sir?

     _Arch._ Francis Archer, esquire, come----

     _Squire Sul._ To take away my mother, I hope. Gentlemen, you're
     heartily welcome. I never met with three more obliging people
     since I was born!--And now, my dear, if you please, you shall
     have the first word.

     _Arch._ And the last, for five pound!

     _Mrs. Sul._ Spouse!

     _Squire Sul._ Rib!

     _Mrs. Sul._ How long have we been married?

     _Squire Sul._ By the almanac, fourteen months; but by my
     account, fourteen years.

     _Mrs. Sul._ 'Tis thereabout by my reckoning.

     _Count Bel._ Garzoon, their account will agree.

     _Mrs. Sul._ Pray, spouse, what did you marry for?

     _Squire Sul._ To get an heir to my estate.

     _Sir Chas._ And have you succeeded?

     _Squire Sul._ No.

     _Arch._ The condition fails of his side.--Pray, madam, what did
     you marry for?

     _Mrs. Sul._ To support the weakness of my sex by the strength
     of his, and to enjoy the pleasures of an agreeable society.

     _Sir Chas._ Are your expectations answered?

     _Mrs. Sul._ No.

     _Count Bel._ A clear case! a clear case!

     _Sir Chas._ What are the bars to your mutual contentment?

     _Mrs. Sul._ In the first place, I can't drink ale with him.

     _Squire Sul._ Nor can I drink tea with her.

     _Mrs. Sul._ I can't hunt with you.

     _Squire Sul._ Nor can I dance with you.

     _Mrs. Sul._ I hate cocking and racing.

     _Squire Sul._ And I abhor ombre and piquet.

     _Mrs. Sul._ Your silence is intolerable.

     _Squire Sul._ Your prating is worse.

     _Mrs. Sul._ Have we not been a perpetual offence to each other?
     a gnawing vulture at the heart?

     _Squire Sul._ A frightful goblin to the sight?

     _Mrs. Sul._ A porcupine to the feeling?

     _Squire Sul._ Perpetual wormwood to the taste?

     _Mrs. Sul._ Is there on earth a thing we could agree in?

     _Squire Sul._ Yes--to part.

     _Mrs. Sul._ With all my heart.

     _Squire Sul._ Your hand.

     _Mrs. Sul._ Here.

     _Squire Sul._ These hands joined us, these shall part

     _Mrs. Sul._ North.

     _Squire Sul._ South.

     _Mrs. Sul._ East.

     _Squire Sul._ West--far as the poles asunder.

     _Count Bel._ Begar, the ceremony be vera pretty!'

Farquhar is fuller of allusions to contemporary events and humours than
any of the other dramatists, and these are sometimes very happy; as when
a promising scheme is said to be in danger of 'going souse into the
water, like the Eddystone lighthouse,' or when an alarm is given by
shouting, 'Thieves! thieves! murder! _popery!_' Another peculiarity of
all these dramatists, but especially Farquhar, is the constant use in
serious passages of a broken blank verse, which continually seems upon
the point of becoming regular ten-syllabled iambic, but never maintains
this elevation for any considerable space. The extremely powerful scene
between the two Fainalls, in Congreve's _Love for Love_, for example,
which borders closely upon tragedy, is all but regular blank verse,
which, if perfectly finished, would be much better than the verse of
_The Mourning Bride_. It is difficult to determine whether this was
intentional or accidental. Possibly the exigencies of the performers had
something to do with it. It is by no means unlikely that prose, as well
as verse, was then declaimed with more attention to rhythm than is now
the custom. In estimating the merits of these dramas it must never be
forgotten, as a point in their favour, that they were written for the
stage, and that success in the closet was quite a secondary
consideration with the authors; on the other hand, that they had the
advantage of being produced when the histrionic art of England was
probably at its zenith.

This notice of the later Restoration comedy may be completed by the
mention of three ladies who cultivated it with success during the latter
part of the seventeenth century. How much of this success, in the case
of one of them, was due to merit, and how much to indecency, is a
difficult, though not in every sense of the term a nice or delicate
question. Despite the offensiveness of her writings, Aphra Behn
(1640-1689), whose maiden name was Johnson, is personally a sympathetic
figure. She was born in 1640, and as a girl went out with her family to
Surinam, then an English possession. She there made the acquaintance of
the Indian chief Oroonoko and his bride Imoinda, afterwards celebrated
in the novel by her upon which Southern founded his popular play.
Returning to England, she married a Dutch merchant of the name of Behn,
and after his death was sent as a spy to Antwerp. A young Dutchman to
whom she was engaged died; she was wrecked and nearly drowned upon her
return to England; and, probably from necessity, as the English
government appears to have refused to recompense or even to reimburse
her, turned novelist and playwright. Her novels will be noticed in
another place; her eighteen plays have, with few exceptions, sufficient
merit to entitle her to a respectable place among the dramatists of her
age, and sufficient indelicacy to be unreadable in this. It may well be
believed, on the authority of a female friend, that the authoress 'had
wit, humour, good-nature, and judgment; was mistress of all the pleasing
arts of conversation; was a woman of sense, and _consequently_ a woman
of pleasure.' She was buried in Westminster Abbey, but not in Poets'
Corner. The plays of Mrs. Manley (1672-1724), though moderately
successful, need not detain us here, but we shall have to speak of her
as a writer of fiction. She was the daughter of a Cavalier knight, but
became the mistress of Alderman Barber, and was concerned in several
doubtful transactions. Swift, nevertheless, speaks of her as a good
person 'for one of her sort'--fat and forty, it seems, but _not_ fair.
Mrs. Susannah Centlivre (1667-1723) appears to have had her share of
adventures in her youth, but survived to contract one of the most
respectable unions imaginable, namely, with the queen's cook. She was a
wholesale adapter from the French, and her lively comedies possess
little literary merit, but so much dramatic instinct that three of them,
_The Busy Body_, _The Wonder_, and _A Bold Stroke for a Wife_, remained
long upon the list of acting plays, and might be represented even now.



The age of the Restoration possessed many men qualified to shine in
criticism, but their acumen is in general only indicated by casual
remarks, and, setting aside the metrical prolusions of Roscommon and
Sheffield, nearly all the serious criticism it has bequeathed to us
proceeds from the pen of Dryden. No other of our poets except Coleridge
and Wordsworth has given us anything so critically valuable, but
Dryden's principal service is one which they could not render; for, even
if their style had equalled his--and this would be too much to say even
of Wordsworth's--it could not have exerted the same wide and salutary
influence. Dryden is entitled to be considered as the great reformer of
English prose, the writer in whom the sound principles of the
Restoration were above all others impersonated, and who above all others
led the way to that clear, sane, and balanced method of writing which it
was the especial mission of Restoration literature to introduce. We need
only compare his style with Milton's to be sensible of the enormous
progress in the direction of perspicuity and general utility. Milton is
a far more eloquent writer, but his style is totally unfit for the close
reasoning and accurate investigation which the pressure of politics and
the development of science and philosophy were soon to require, and the
rest of the prosaists of the time are, with few exceptions, either too
pedantic or too commonplace. Dryden is lucid, easy, familiar, yet he can
be august and splendid on occasion, and if he does not emulate Milton's
dithyrambic, the dignity of English prose loses nothing in his hands.
Take the opening of his _Dialogue on Dramatic Poesy_:

     'It was that memorable day, in the first summer of the late
     war, when our navy engaged the Dutch; a day wherein the two
     most mighty and best appointed fleets which any age had ever
     seen, disputed the command of the greater half of the globe,
     the commerce of nations, and the riches of the universe: while
     these vast floating bodies, on either side, moved against each
     other in parallel lines, and our countrymen, under the happy
     conduct of his royal highness, went breaking, by little and
     little, into the line of the enemies; the noise of the cannon
     from both navies reached our ears about the city, so that all
     men being alarmed with it, and in a dreadful suspense of the
     event, which they knew was then deciding, every one went
     following the sound as his fancy led him; and leaving the town
     almost empty, some took towards the park, some across the
     river, others down it; all seeking the noise in the depth of

     'Amongst the rest, it was the fortune of Eugenius, Crites,
     Lisideius, and Neander, to be in company together; three of
     them persons whom their wit and quality have made known to all
     the town; and whom I have chose to hide under these borrowed
     names, that they may not suffer by so ill a relation as I am
     going to make of their discourse.

     'Taking then a barge, which a servant of Lisideius had provided
     for them, they made haste to shoot the bridge, and left behind
     them that great fall of waters which hindered them from hearing
     what they desired: after which, having disengaged themselves
     from many vessels which rode at anchor in the Thames, and
     almost blocked up the passage towards Greenwich, they ordered
     the watermen to let fall their oars more gently, and then,
     every one favouring his own curiosity with a strict silence, it
     was not long ere they perceived the air to break about them
     like the noise of distant thunder, or of swallows in a
     chimney:[8] those little undulations of sound, though almost
     vanishing before they reached them, yet still seeming to retain
     somewhat of their first horror, which they had betwixt the
     fleets. After they had attentively listened till such time as
     the sound by little and little went from them, Eugenius,
     lifting up his head, and taking notice of it, was the first who
     congratulated to the rest that happy omen of our nation's
     victory: adding, that we had but this to desire in confirmation
     of it, that we might hear no more of that noise, which was now
     leaving the English coast.'

This fine induction can hardly have formed part of the original essay,
which, Dryden tells us, was written in the country in 1665, since the
naval battle, which was fought on June 3rd, 1665, is described as having
taken place in 'the first summer of the late war.' One extraordinary
passage must have been left uncorrected by oversight, at least we cannot
well suppose that Dryden would have printed 'Blank verse is acknowledged
to be too low for a poem' after the appearance of _Paradise Lost_, which
was published on the day after the conclusion of the Peace of Breda, not
then known in England. The essay has two objects not very compatible: to
defend the English stage against the French, and to advocate the use of
rhyme in tragedy, which necessarily gives the piece a French air, and
makes it appear imitative, when it is in truth original. Dryden points
out with considerable force the restrictions which French dramatists of
the classical school impose upon themselves by servile adherence to the
unities of time and place, and in a well-known passage which does honour
to his taste sets Shakespeare above Ben Jonson. His criticism of
_Troilus and Cressida_, in his essay on _The Grounds of Criticism in
Tragedy_ (1679), is instructive as illustrating by force of contrast
that enlarged view of Shakespeare for which we are indebted to Goethe
and Coleridge. He justly censures _Troilus and Cressida_ as a play; it
does not occur to him that Shakespeare may have intended a satire. All
his essays, which consist principally of prefaces and dedications to his
own works, are worth reading; none more so than his defence of Virgil in
the dedication to his translation of his poems, and the remarks on
Horace and Juvenal in his _Essay on Satire_. Everywhere we must admire
his sanity, penetration, and massive common sense; his chief defects are
conventional prejudice, negligence (as when he ascribes the invention of
blank verse to Shakespeare), and the parade of second-hand learning. It
may be said of his criticisms, as truly as of his poems or plays, that
his merits are his own, his faults those of his age.

Another critic of the stage only deserves notice in this capacity from
his connection with Dryden. Thomas Rymer (1639-1714) will be mentioned
again as a meritorious antiquary. As a critic he is remarkable for
having by his _Tragedies of the Last Age_ (1673) drawn some judicious
remarks from Dryden, and for having analyzed _Othello_ as a pattern of a
bad play. He has consequently been unanimously hooted by his countrymen,
for it passes belief that Pope should have praised him to Spence, though
Spence affirms it. It was his misfortune to be an Englishman; in France
at the time his views would have been thought very correct; in fact, he
criticises Shakespeare much in the style of Voltaire. He is a votary of
decorum and dignity, and would no more than Voltaire have let a mouse
into a tragedy. He discusses with imperturbable gravity, 'Who and who
may kill one another with decency?' and decides, 'In poetry no woman is
to kill a man, except her quality gives her the advantage above him.
Poetical decency will not suffer death to be dealt to each other by
such persons, whom the laws of duel allow not to enter the lists
together.' And Rymer would have been content to have dwelt in such
decencies for ever.

Jeremy Collier, a Nonjuring clergyman (1650-1726), attained fame, not as
the advocate of decencies, but of decency. His _Short View of the
Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage_ (1698) occasioned a
great sensation, and was efficacious in abating the evils against which
it was directed, although it is probable that Addison's mild rebuke and
better example accomplished even more. As the adversary of men of wit
and genius, Collier has become obnoxious to their representatives, and
has been unfairly reviled as a sour fanatic. In fact he is very
moderate, admits that the stage may be a valuable medium of instruction,
and only denounces its abuse. Scott and Macaulay have done him justice,
and Mr. Gosse gives an excellent analysis of his work in his biography
of Congreve. His wit is as unquestionable as his zeal, but his argument
is not everywhere equally cogent. On the chapter of profaneness he is
fantastic and straitlaced, and so tender of dignities that he will not
allow even the god Apis to be disrespectfully mentioned. On that of
immorality he is unanswerable, and unless the incriminated dramatists
were prepared to say, 'Evil, be thou my good,' they could but own

                'Pudet haec opprobria nobis
    Et dici potuisse, et non potuisse refelli.'

Congreve and Vanbrugh attempted to reply, but to little purpose. Dryden
kissed the rod. Collier's volume is said to have been 'conceived,
disposed, transcribed, and printed in a month.' He had previously
achieved notoriety as a Jacobite pamphleteer, and in his old age became
the official head of the decaying sect of the Nonjurors.

Although Richard Bentley (1662-1743) belongs mainly to the eighteenth
century, his dissertation upon the _Epistles of Phalaris_ (1699) falls
within the seventeenth, and an account of the literary criticism of this
age would be incomplete without some mention of the one epoch-making
critical work it produced. There is no need to tell again the story of
the Bentley-Boyle controversy, so admirably narrated by Macaulay and
Jebb; but it may be observed here that it marks an era in criticism as
the first example of the testimony of antiquity being irretrievably
overthrown by internal evidence. It was not the first time that the
genuineness of attested ancient writings had been disputed. Valla had
waged war upon the forged donation of Constantine, but his case was so
very clear that he had not been answered, but as far as possible
ignored. Phalaris had found defenders, and this controversy was perhaps
the first in which tradition and authority were fairly vanquished in a
pitched battle. Bentley's extraordinary powers of mind were almost
equally evinced in his _Boyle Lectures_, also a production of the
seventeenth century, which will be noticed in their place.


[8] An instance of the observation of nature as unusual with Dryden as
chimneys of the size required are unusual with us.



From the criticism of books we pass, by no violent transition, to the
criticism of principles--moral science. The latter half of the
seventeenth century is a distinguished period in the history of English
philosophy, for in it the most distinctively national of all systems
which have obtained currency in this country was fully formulated. It is
remarkable that while both empirical and transcendental views in
philosophy found supporters, the champions of the latter comprised
several illustrious names, and that of the former only one, while
nevertheless empiricism obtained as complete a triumph as has ever been
recorded in the history of opinion. The principal reason, no doubt, is
the natural attractiveness to the solid homely understanding of the
Englishman of conclusions based on experience and common sense;[9] but
partly also to the fact that the illustrious man by whom the empirical
philosophy was mainly upheld carried his speculations into practical
life, and became foremost among the defenders of civil and religious
liberty. If Locke, like his forerunner Hobbes, had employed his
acuteness in defence of absolute power, he would, like Hobbes, have
been caressed by the court, but his doctrines would have been slighted
by the nation.

[Sidenote: John Locke (1632-1704).]

John Locke was born at Wrington in the north of Somerset, August 29
(N.S.), 1632, the same year that gave birth to Spinoza. His father, an
attorney, was a man of independent character and strong principle, which
he proved by accepting a commission in a Parliamentary regiment. Locke
was elected to a foundation scholarship at Westminster in 1647, and to a
studentship at Christ Church in 1652. He became M.A. in June, 1658, was
appointed Greek Lecturer in 1660, and held other college offices. He
wrote about this time two treatises as yet unpublished, one upon the
Roman commonwealth, the other on the right of the civil magistrate to
regulate indifferent matters touching the exercise of religion, which,
under the influence of the hopes which moderate men entertained of the
Restoration government, he was at the time inclined to allow. Having
determined to study medicine, he obtained in 1666 a dispensation to
enable him to hold his studentship, and in the same year the decisive
bias was given to his life by his acquaintance with Shaftesbury, of
whose family he became virtually a member in the following year.
Shaftesbury was as yet neither the Shaftesbury of the Cabal nor the
Shaftesbury of the Popish Plot, and there was no reason why Locke should
hesitate in attaching himself to a statesman, who, whatever his
astuteness and versatility, possessed by far the most enlightened and
comprehensive mind of any public man of his day. The main bond which
united the two was their agreement on the principle of toleration, for
which Chillingworth had been denounced and Roger Williams persecuted,
and which scarcely any one would then have subscribed as an abstract
proposition, though Cromwell had gone a long way towards reducing it to
practice. Influenced probably by Shaftesbury, Locke drew up in 1667 an
_Essay on Toleration_, the first draft of his subsequent celebrated
work, and which has itself been retrieved from oblivion by Mr. Fox
Bourne. Considering the circumstances of the times, it can excite
neither surprise nor censure that he should have argued in favour of
denying the privileges of toleration to those who denied them to others,
_i.e._, to Roman Catholics. Two years later he drew up, at Shaftesbury's
instance, a constitution for the colony of Carolina, in which
Shaftesbury was largely interested. His medical skill was exerted in
relieving Shaftesbury from the effects of a serious complaint; and he
acquitted himself successfully in a yet more delicate undertaking, the
choosing a wife for his son. He also attended professionally at the
birth of Shaftesbury's grandson, the future author of _Characteristics_.
These services were fitly recompensed by secretaryships, both at the
Great Seal and at the Board of Trade, but there is not the slightest
proof of his having participated in any of his patron's plots; while it
is not too much to say that the steady regard entertained for
Shaftesbury by a man like Locke affords the strongest of all
presumptions that this enigmatical personage was, after all, a patriot.
During three and a half stormy years Locke was in France for the benefit
of his health, making observations on the culture of the vine and olive,
and noting, under the external splendour of Louis XIV.'s reign, symptoms
of that distress among the industrial classes which was to issue in the
Revolution. Returning, he found his patron just liberated from the
Tower, and their intimate relations continued until Shaftesbury's flight
to Holland in November, 1682, followed by his death in the succeeding
January. Locke was thus a mark for the suspicions and animosities of the
triumphant Court party. His usual place of residence was now Oxford,
where he still enjoyed his Christ Church studentship, and curious
letters are extant from Dean Prideaux, avowing practices akin to
espionage, but admitting that John Locke is so close a man, and his
servant such a phoenix of discretion, that nothing can be made out.
Locke wisely withdrew to Holland about the autumn of 1683, and in
November, 1684, was arbitrarily ejected from his studentship by a royal
mandate. He employed his exile in forming friendships with Limborch, Le
Clerc, and other distinguished men, in composing his famous _Letter on
Toleration_, published anonymously in 1689, and in active communication
with William and Mary when the Deliverer's expedition was finally
determined upon. He came to England with Mary in 1689, and received the
most flattering offers of important diplomatic posts, which he declined
on account of the weakness of his health. He accepted, however, a small
appointment, but his principal public services were rendered as a
referee on the various important questions submitted to him by
Government; and as a man of letters, having nearly reached the age of
sixty without publishing anything of importance, he produced within ten
years the series of unadorned tracts which have made him, alike in the
regions of philosophy and of politics, the most conspicuous
representative of masculine, unimaginative, English common sense.

The _Letter on Toleration_, as already mentioned, had appeared
anonymously in Holland in 1689. In 1690 the _Essay on the Human
Understanding_ was published, and also the two _Treatises on
Government_; the first, a reply to Filmer, the advocate of divine right,
composed, in Professor Fowler's opinion, between 1680 and 1685; the
second written during the last years of Locke's residence in Holland.
The _Letter on Toleration_, the authorship of which was not acknowledged
during Locke's lifetime, was followed by three defences against
assailants, two of which appeared respectively in 1690 and 1692, the
third was posthumous. The _Essay on the Human Understanding_, adopted
from the first as a text-book at Trinity College, Dublin, but
ineffectually proscribed in the writer's own university, called forth
criticisms from Norris of Bemerton, to which Locke replied in two essays
allowed to remain unpublished during his life, 'for,' he said, 'I love
not controversy.' He could not, however, avoid a controversy with John
Edwards and Bishop Stillingfleet, on his _Reasonableness of
Christianity_ (1695). After writing five pamphlets, Locke ultimately
remained in possession of the field, the drift of opinion being entirely
in his favour, though few of the official ministers of religion ventured
to come forward openly in his defence. The _Treatise on Education_
(1693), written at the request of William Molyneux, excited
comparatively little controversy. Another very important class of the
productions of his affluent maturity were those on trade and finance, by
which he rendered the utmost service to the state. By his
_Considerations on the Value of Money_ (1691), and other tracts, he
contributed largely to the reform of the currency, the condition of
which had become intolerable, but was in great danger of being corrected
by remedies worse than the disease. Several other publications
contributed to disseminate enlightened views on trade, manufactures, and
the interest of money. He could not always be right; it is both painful
and ludicrous to find so wise and good a man obliged _ex officio_ as a
Commissioner of Trade to find reasons for discouraging the woollen
manufacture in Ireland; which Swift seems to ridicule in describing the
Laputan philosophers who had devised means to remove the wool from a
sheep's back, and hoped shortly to propagate the breed of naked sheep
over the kingdom. This, nevertheless, is but a slight inconsistency with
the general tenor of Locke's views on economical subjects, which, no
less than his political and religious convictions, tended irresistibly
towards unrestricted freedom. In 1700 he was released from public life,
and spent his few remaining years undisturbed by controversy, in the
society of the amiable family of Sir Francis Masham, of High Laver,
Essex, of whose house he had long been an inmate. Lady Masham,
singularly enough, was the daughter of Ralph Cudworth, the great English
champion of the ideal school of philosophy, and therefore as far removed
as possible from Locke in opinion. He died on October 28, 1704.

Locke's intellectual character must be considered along with his
writings; of his moral character it may justly be said, that no English
writer of equal eminence stands so high. Butler and Berkeley may have
been equally faultless, and the latter, no doubt, possessed more of the
spell of personal fascination; but neither was, like Locke, exposed to
the storms of a corrupt and factious age; neither was called upon to
encounter such perils and make such sacrifices; neither had the same
opportunity of exercising fortitude in adversity and moderation in
success. Whether as public patriot or private friend, Locke appears 'a
spirit without spot,' and his resolute temper, his intellectual ardour,
and his brilliant achievements, effectually preserve him from the
insipidity which so frequently mars the moral physiognomies of good men.
His countenance, indeed, is not illumined by the spirituality of a
Channing; but the robuster virtues stand forth in even bolder relief,
and his apparent exemption from the minor failings which beset even a
Newton, is the more remarkable as he wanted neither for enemies nor

Locke's great work as a philosopher is the _Essay on the Human
Understanding_, 'the best chart of the human mind,' says Hallam, one of
the great representative books of the world. In Locke, as in his
predecessor Hobbes, were united two endowments rarely combined, the
sturdy prosaic common sense of the man of the world and the dexterity
and subtlety of the practised logician. In his utter antipathy to
everything in the slightest degree illumined, or, as he would have
thought, distorted, by the glamour of imagination or fancy, Locke was
the true representative of his age, and no subsequent change of mental
attitude, as the world sweeps on into new and more genial climates of
thought, can deprive his work of its representative historical
importance. Nor is this all. Locke's treatise was almost the first
investigation of the mind which took note of facts, and was not purely
metaphysical. It was also the first in which this study took a leading
place. 'The science which we now call Psychology, or the study of mind,'
says Dr. Fowler, 'had hitherto, amongst modern writers, been almost
exclusively subordinated to other branches of speculation. Locke was the
first of modern writers to attempt at once an independent and a complete
treatment of the phenomena of the human mind, of their mutual relations,
of their causes and limits. This task he undertakes, not in the dogmatic
spirit of his predecessors, but in the critical spirit which he may be
said almost to have inaugurated. And the effect of his candour on his
first readers must have been enhanced by the fact, not always favourable
to his precision, that, as far as he can, he throws aside the technical
terminology of the schools, and employs the language current in the
better kinds of ordinary literature and the well-bred society of his
time.' In fact, as was said of Socrates, he brought philosophy down from
heaven to earth; and this service, and the great influence which his
work produced upon the future development of philosophy, are perhaps
stronger claims to permanent distinction than the merits of a theory
which can never be overlooked, but can never again command the almost
universal assent which it received in its own day. For the application
of physiology to psychological research, implicitly, at all events,
advocated by Locke, has produced results of which neither he nor his
opponents dreamed. The central point of his philosophy is the denial of
innate ideas; the mind is to him a _tabula rasa_, a sheet of blank
paper, and all the ideas which have been thought inherent in it are the
result of experience. In a sense we now know this to be true; but we
also know this experience not to be the experience of the individual,
but of the race, or rather say of sentient existence for ages
inconceivably remote. It follows that although Locke may be abstractedly
right in denying the possibility of the acquisition of ideas except
through experience, yet practically everyone comes into the world with a
host of ideas derived from his ancestors, connate if not innate; and
that, so far from the human mind resembling a sheet of blank paper, it
is more like a palimpsest inscribed and reinscribed _ad infinitum_. It
also follows that the discrepancies of mankind respecting points of
morality do not, as Locke thought, disprove the existence of an ideal
rule of right, for everyone must necessarily be born with inherited
instincts by which such a rule is more or less deflected or obscured. In
fact, Locke and his adversaries were both partly right and partly
wrong--one party in denying intuition, the other in defining it. Neither
had found, or at that period could have found, the real key to the
difficulty; but it is to the immortal honour of Locke that all real
advance in psychology has been effected by working in his spirit of
observation and induction, rather than by the _à priori_ method of his
opponents. The third and fourth books of the essay, _On Words_ and _On
Knowledge_, contain but little controversial matter, and are chiefly
devoted to illustrating the imperfection of human faculties, especially
language, the necessity for clear and definite conceptions, and the
countless impediments in the way of truth.

Three others among Locke's writings are regarded as classical: _On the
Reasonableness of Christianity_, and _On Education_, and his _Letters on
Toleration_. _The Reasonableness of Christianity_ (1695) is from one
point of view an endeavour to render Christianity reasonable by
eliminating its corruptions; from another an attempt to establish it on
the basis of fulfilled prophecy and miracle. In both respects it was
admirably adapted to the prevalent sentiment of Locke's own day, and,
although warmly attacked by Stillingfleet, exerted a great influence
upon the theology of the eighteenth century. In our time the point of
view has shifted so far as to expose Locke to the full weight of Dr.
Martineau's terse criticism, 'The affidavit has become the brief.' Its
historical importance, however, can never be impaired, any more than
that of the admirable _Letters on Toleration_, which seem commonplace
because they are now esteemed irrefragable. It was otherwise in his own
time, and for long afterwards. Their principal literary defects are that
they are too polemical, and too long. Of all Locke's works, _Some
Thoughts concerning Education_ is perhaps the most universally approved,
and it is in truth a golden treatise, the very incarnation of good sense
and right feeling; and more useful in its own time than it can be now
that the errors which Locke especially assailed have become contrary,
instead of congenial, to the general spirit of the age. The prevailing
tone, the confidence in human nature rightly treated, the abhorrence of
the merely arbitrary and despotic, render the work an epoch in the
history of culture, and, compared with the coarse maxims of a Defoe, or
even the _Whole Duty of Man_'s exclusive reliance upon authority, show
how greatly Locke was beyond his contemporaries in enlightenment and the
genuine spirit of humanity. The insight and penetration into children's
characters are surprising in a man who had no children of his own, or
much direct concern with the education of the children of others. They
prove that Locke must have been a most careful and accurate observer. If
there is a fault in the treatise, it is that the range of view is not
always sufficiently wide, and that the author's precepts are too
exclusively propounded with reference to the individual, and too little
with a view to the general advantage of society. The disuse of Latin
composition, for example, would have done little personal harm to the
majority of the individual boys of whom Locke is thinking; but, in his
day at all events, would have lowered the standard of culture throughout
Europe. In general, however, Locke's remarks are characterized by the
soundest common sense; and there is perhaps no other production of the
age so thoroughly in harmony with its pervading spirit.

In sharp contrast to Locke and his school stand the small knot of
Cambridge Platonists and their allies--Cudworth, Henry More, Culverwell,
Cumberland, Glanvil, and Whichcote, which last may indeed be regarded as
a connecting link between the rival thinkers. His place is rather with
the divines, and Henry More (1614-1657) belongs more properly to the
period of Vaughan in virtue of his poetry, though continuing to write to
a late date. Culverwell and Cumberland scarcely rank in a literary
history; so that the school is chiefly represented by Ralph Cudworth
(1617-1688). Cudworth's life was uneventful. One of those moderate men
whom the excesses of party provoke to opposition, he sided mainly with
the Puritans during the Civil War, but was no Puritan himself, and
protested energetically against Puritan disparagement of sweetness and
light. He had no difficulty in conforming to the Restoration, and
accepting a living from Archbishop Sheldon, but his life was mainly
spent in his study, in the production of vast folios, where the ingots
of philosophy lay stored while Locke's current coin passed nimbly from
hand to hand. The contrast between the men and the systems is complete
at every point; and it is assuredly one of the strangest ironies of fate
that Cudworth's daughter should have become the good angel of Locke's
old age. Cudworth is no doubt by much the more attractive figure to
imaginative minds; but it must be conceded as an indisputable truth that
his way of thinking could not possibly have produced nearly so much
good, have so profoundly leavened men's ideas on legislation and
education, or have so contributed to build up the national character for
sound common sense. This admitted, Cudworth may be heartily praised as a
sublime and refined thinker, epithets inappropriate to Locke. His great
work is _The Intellectual System_, published in 1678, only the first
part of which ever appeared. A _Treatise on Immutable Morality_ remained
in manuscript until 1731. Cudworth's purpose may briefly be defined as
the expulsion of all materialistic and mechanical notions from theology,
metaphysics, and ethics. He wages war upon atheism, fatalism,
utilitarianism, whatsoever is opposed to elevating and poetical
conceptions of the order of things. His erudition is only too extensive,
and he is very candid. Dryden thought that he had stated the atheistic
objections more powerfully than he had answered them; and his doctrine
of plastic force in nature verges upon Pantheism, as indeed religious
philosophies usually do. He is finely analyzed in the _Types of Ethical
Theory_ of Dr. Martineau, who says of his philosophy:

     'Embodied as it is in unfinished books, and buried in massive
     erudition, it has been distantly respected rather than closely
     studied; and has left upon few readers an adequate impression
     of the depth of the author's penetration, the comprehensiveness
     of his grasp, the subtlety of his analysis, and the happy
     flashes of expression by which he flings light upon real though
     unsuspected relations.'

[Sidenote: Joseph Glanvil (1636-1680).]

Joseph Glanvil, although an Oxford man, practically belonged to the
group of Cambridge Platonists, and was especially connected with Henry
More. He is the author of two very dissimilar books, _The Vanity of
Dogmatizing_ (1660), and _Saducismus Triumphatus_ (1681), published
after his death with additions by More, Horneck, and others. The former
book, though containing no evidence of original power of thought, is
remarkable as an evidence of the influence of Bacon in overthrowing the
authority of Aristotle; for its idolatry of Descartes; for its many
curious anticipations (not originating with Glanvil) of modern
discoveries; above all, for its testimony of the ardent scientific
curiosity then fermenting in England, and about to issue in the
establishment of the Royal Society. 'Methinks,' Glanvil says, 'this age
seems resolved to bequeath posterity something to remember it.' The
following is a remarkable passage to have been written six years before
Newton's great discovery: 'That heavy bodies descend by gravity, is no
better an account than we might expect from a rustic; and again, that
gravity is a quality whereby a heavy body descends, is an impertinent
circle, and teacheth nothing.' The other and much more celebrated work,
on the other hand, is a most melancholy example of superstitious
credulity, but full of striking stories of the supernatural. The
contrast between the styles of the two books is instructive; the earlier
might have been written in the days of James I.; the later, though still
antiquated, is much nearer modern English prose.


[9] Coleridge told Crabb Robinson that he 'considered Locke as having
led to the destruction of metaphysical science, by encouraging the
unlearned public to think that with mere common sense they might
dispense with disciplined study.'



The hinge of the controversies on government which agitated England in
the seventeenth century, and produced the great treatises of Locke and
Algernon Sidney, was a feeble book by Sir Robert Filmer, a Cavalier,
written about the end of the Civil War, but published at a period which
brings it within the scope of this volume. Filmer, though not a man of
conspicuous mental power, was able to discern that the right of the
nation to resist the arbitrary encroachments of Charles I. could not
well be disputed so long as it continued to be held that 'Mankind is
naturally endowed and born with freedom from all subjection, and at
liberty to choose what form of government it please, and that the power
which any one man hath over others was at first bestowed according to
the discretion of the multitude.' This opinion, which he admits to be
that generally held, he endeavours to overthrow by the argument that no
man was ever born in a state of freedom, for everyone comes into the
world subject to the authority of his parents. 'Not only Adam, but the
succeeding patriarchs had, by right of fatherhood, royal authority over
their children.' How they came to have royal authority over the children
of other patriarchs Filmer does not explain; and it seems obvious on his
own showing that either this latter authority does not exist, in which
case there must be as many monarchies as families, or that it exists in
virtue of a mutual contract among individual families; so that royal
authority derives from the people after all. Illogical, however, as
Filmer might be, his views were too agreeable to the Court and to the
supporters of absolute power not to find much encouragement, and men of
first-rate powers found it necessary to take the field against them.
Seldom indeed has a writer of such slender abilities made so much stir,
or unintentionally laid the cause of liberty and reason under such deep
obligations. As a measure of his own qualifications, it is sufficient to
state that he seriously takes Samuel's dissuasion of the Israelites from
setting up a monarchy on the ground of the oppressions to which they
would subject themselves, for a luminous exposition of the rights of the
sovereign and the duties of the subject.

Filmer was answered by three writers of great distinction--Locke,
Algernon Sidney, and the Rev. George Johnson, a memorable pamphleteer
who scarcely vindicates a place for himself in literature. The merit of
their polemic, and the obligation under which it has placed posterity,
must of necessity be ill appreciated by an age which finds it difficult
to believe that Filmer could ever be thought to require an answer. The
propositions that the first man was invested by Heaven with monarchical
privileges, and that these privileges had in some manner devolved on
King Charles I., seem to us so palpably absurd that Locke himself
appears chargeable with folly for having spent his time in refuting
them. The steady intellectual upheaval which has been going on ever
since the revival of letters has lifted us into a region where the
conceptions of divine right and non-resistance cannot live; and we are
inclined to attribute to the improvement of our understandings what
really proceeds from the alteration of our environment. Ideas as
baseless as Filmer's are now daily advanced, and daily combated by
opponents whose services will one day be requited by the neglect that
has overtaken Locke. Had Locke been a wit, he might indeed have
immortalized himself and his antagonist together; but although he can
and does make the latter ridiculous, he cannot make him amusing. There
is more vitality in the second of his two _Tracts on Government_, for
this in part deals with speculative questions regarding the origin of
civil society as yet unsettled, and therefore not as yet commonplace.
Locke deduces the mutual relations and obligations of rulers and ruled
from a contract which he supposes to have been entered into in the
infancy of society. The theory was highly salutary for the age,
abolishing all superstitious notions of divine right, and providing
sufficient justification for popular resistance to evil rulers. It must
be owned, however, that it lacked the only safe basis of theory, the
historical; the constitutions of uncivilized man were little known in
Locke's day, and the better known they have become the less affinity
they have seemed to present to the parliament which his imagination
transported back from Westminster to Shinar. His essay nevertheless
represents a necessary phase in the development of opinion, and exerted
the most beneficial influence in generating the enlightened political
sentiment of the eighteenth century. It is amusing to remark that, in
spite of the Israelites, Locke stoutly refuses his imaginary society the
right to contract itself out of its freedom by establishing an absolute
monarchy, the only form of government which, according to his opponents,
could be legitimate in any sense.

Algernon Sidney's _Discourse on Government_ has attracted less attention
than Locke's, mainly because it claims more. So elaborate and ambitious
a work was not required to crush Filmer, who had in fact been crushed by
Locke some years before the appearance of Sidney's belated refutation.
It is nevertheless a more interesting work than Locke's, partly from the
fineness of the style, a noble specimen of dignified though vehement
English prose, partly from the reflection of the striking personality of
the author, 'a Roman in un-Roman times.' Though a patrician both on the
father's and the mother's side, Sidney was theoretically a republican.
Born in 1622, second son of the Earl of Leicester, he had served the
Commonwealth in the Civil War, and distinguished himself afterwards by
his resistance to what he deemed the usurpation of Cromwell. The
Restoration found him envoy to the northern courts. Exchanging embassy
for exile, he remained abroad until 1677, when he returned under an
engagement to live quietly. Whether he had any actual concern in the Rye
House plot is one of the problems of history; certain it is that no good
evidence was produced, and that he was iniquitously condemned on the
testimony of one witness of infamous character, and of papers in his
handwriting written years before. These seem to have formed part of a
brief reply to Filmer, never published; the stately work that has come
down to us was written after the publication of Filmer's manuscript in
1680, and was evidently prompted by the debates on the Exclusion Bill.
The style precisely corresponds to the author's character, haughty,
fiery, and arrogant; but thrilling with conviction, and meriting the
highest praise as a specimen of masculine, nervous, and at the same time
polished English. Much additional zest is imparted to the author's
argument by his continual strokes at the political abuses and the
unworthy characters of his own day, from Charles II. downwards. He had
the advantage of writing under the stimulus of fiery indignation kindled
and maintained by the actual existence of a tyranny. He is thus never
tame, and depicts himself as one of that remarkable class of men of
whom Alfieri is perhaps the most characteristic type--aristocrats by
temperament, champions of democracy by intellectual conviction.[10]
Although the controversy in which he engaged now belongs entirely to the
past, he is often modern in sentiment as well as in style; sometimes we
are reminded of Shelley, at other times, and more frequently, of Landor.
It certainly indicates some want of good sense to have written so
grandiose a reply to a tract so diminutive in every point of view, and
most will be contented with his biographer's, Miss Blackburne's,
excellent analysis. As a fine writer, however, Sidney has a right to a
place in any collection of Restoration prose:

     'No man can be my judge, unless he be my superior; and he
     cannot be my superior, who is not so by my consent, nor to any
     other purpose than I consent to. This cannot be the case of a
     nation, which can have no equal within itself. Controversies
     may arise with other nations, the decision of which may be left
     to judges chosen by mutual agreement; but this relates not to
     our question. A nation, and especially one that is powerful,
     cannot recede from its own right, as a private man, from the
     knowledge of his own weakness, and inability to defend himself,
     must come under the protection of a greater power than his own.
     The strength of a nation is not in the magistrate, but the
     strength of the magistrate is in the nation. The wisdom,
     industry, and valour of a prince may add to the glory and
     greatness of a nation, but the foundation and substance will
     always be in itself. If the magistrate and people were upon
     equal terms, as Caius and Sejus, receiving equal and mutual
     advantages from each other, no man could be judge of their
     differences, but such as they should set up for that end. This
     has been done by many nations. The ancient Germans referred the
     decision of the most difficult matters to their priests; the
     Gauls and Britons to the Druids; the Mahometans for some ages
     to the caliphs of Babylon; the Saxons in England, when they had
     embraced the Christian religion, to their clergy. Whilst all
     Europe lay under the popish superstition, the decision of such
     matters was frequently assumed by the pope: men often submitted
     to his judgment, and the princes that resisted were for the
     most part excommunicated, deposed and destroyed. All this was
     done for the same reasons. These men were accounted holy and
     inspired, and the sentence pronounced by them was usually
     reverenced as the judgment of God, who was thought to direct
     them; and all those who refused to submit were esteemed
     execrable. But no man or number of men, as I think, at the
     institution of a magistrate, did ever say, if any difference
     happen between you or your successors and us, it shall be
     determined by yourself, or by them, whether they be men, women,
     children, mad, foolish, or vicious. Nay, if any such thing had
     been, the folly, turpitude, and madness of such a sanction or
     stipulation must necessarily have destroyed it. But if no such
     thing was ever known, or could have no effect, if it had been
     in any place, it is most absurd to impose it upon all. The
     people therefore cannot be deprived of their natural rights
     upon a frivolous pretence to that which never was, and never
     can be. They who create magistracies, and give to them such
     name, form, and power, as they think fit, do only know, whether
     the end for which they were created be performed or not. They
     who give a being to the power which had none can only judge,
     whether it be employed to their welfare, or turned to their
     ruin. They do not set up one or a few men, that they and their
     posterity may live in splendour and greatness, but that justice
     may be administered, virtue established, and provision made for
     the public safety. No wise man will think this can be done, if
     those who set themselves to overthrow the law are to be their
     own judges.'

Sir William Temple, in an essay on government written in 1672, arrives
at substantially the same conclusion as Sidney by a different path.
Fletcher of Saltoun, the illustrious Scottish patriot, wrote _An
Account of a Conversation for a right Regulation of Governments_ (1704).

The development of the English periodical press during the Restoration
epoch is a matter of such moment that the two men principally connected
with it cannot be left unnoticed, although, at least in one instance,
their claim to rank as men of letters is very slender. Marchamont
Needham (1620-1678) had scarcely any other character than that of a
pamphleteer who only escaped the designation of hired scribbler by his
political infidelities and a certain rough effectiveness in his
ephemeral writings. This 'most seditious, mutable, and railing author's'
position in the history of the press is nevertheless important; for if
not the first strictly professional journalist, he is the first whose
name has descended to posterity. Having from 1641 to 1647 made war
against the king in his _Mercurius Britannicus_, he changed sides and
wrote as a royalist in _Mercurius Pragmaticus_, recanted again and
supported Cromwell as the conductor of _Mercurius Politicus_; and, after
a short exile, ultimately made his peace with the Restoration. He had
already excited the animosity of the stricter Puritans, one of whom thus
anticipated and refuted the best plea that could be made for him: 'He is
a man of parts, and hath a notable vein of writing. Doubtless so hath
the Devil; must therefore the Devil be made use of?' He subsequently
made war upon schoolmasters and physicians, and died suddenly as he was
about returning to his old trade of political pamphleteer. Roger
L'Estrange (1616-1704) was a man of much higher character, being a
consistent royalist. His connection with the periodical press in Charles
II.'s day was brief, lasting only from 1663 to 1666, when his
_Intelligencer_ and _News_ were extinguished by the appearance of an
official journal, the _Oxford_, afterwards the _London Gazette_. But he
has a permanent place in history as the first 'able editor,' who not
only made his journal the vehicle for political discussions, and availed
himself of regular news-letters, but employed a regular staff of
assistants to collect news. He was no friend to his own trade, for he
says in a prospectus: 'Supposing the press in order, the people in their
right wits, and news or no news to be the question, a public Mercury
should never have my vote, because I think it makes the multitude too
familiar with the actions and counsels of their superiors, too
pragmatical and censorious, and gives them not only a wish but a kind of
colourable right and licence to the meddling with the government.' A man
who thought thus must have seemed admirably qualified for the office of
licenser of the press, which he held from 1663 to the Revolution, and in
the discharge of which he inevitably accumulated the odium which even
now somewhat undeservedly rests upon his memory. In 1681 he returned to
newspaper editing, and successfully carried on _Heraclitus Ridens_ and
_The Observator_ until March, 1687, when James II., who was enacting
liberty of conscience to serve his own ends, silenced the old Cavalier
just as the latter was demonstrating this liberty to be 'a paradox
against law, reason, nature, and religion.' L'Estrange's prose style is
bad, but he was the author of several useful translations, of which
those from Æsop, Josephus, Quevedo, and Erasmus are the best known. He
was a courtly and well-bred man, of considerable culture, and would be
mentioned with more respect if he had not exercised a function
detestable to the entire republic of letters. Dr. Johnson regarded him
as the first writer upon record who regularly enlisted himself under the
banners of a party for pay, and fought for it through right and wrong.
This is probably correct as a mere statement of fact, but unjust if it
was intended to imply any doubt of the purity of L'Estrange's motives
in serving the high monarchical party, or of the sincerity of his
advocacy of its principles.

The _Political Arithmetic_ of Sir William Petty (1623-1687), and the
_Discourse of Trade_ of Sir Josiah Child (1630-1699), take high rank
among economic publications, but can scarcely be regarded as


[10] Sidney and his friends are frequently taxed with having accepted
money from France. It is worth noting that their conduct in so doing is
vindicated by so powerful and, in this instance, so unprejudiced a
reasoner as Warburton, in an unpublished letter to Balguy now before us.



History is one of the departments of literature in which it is easiest
to approach the unsurpassable perfection of antiquity. Poets must in
general be accepted as inspiring influences rather than as models; but
the methods of historians may be studied and even copied without undue
servility. This was soon perceived by the Latin races, and by the middle
of the seventeenth century the vernacular literatures of Italy, Spain,
and Portugal possessed many truly classical historians. It is difficult
to understand why England should have been so backward. The Restoration
found its historical literature in an intermediate stage, half way
between the artless old chroniclers and the consummate examples of
historical style and construction which the next century was to produce.
It left historical composition, however, much more advanced than it had
found it. The chief history of the age, though far from perfect, at all
events was a history and not a chronicle. Clarendon's great work, it is
true, belongs to the preceding generation in everything but the date of
its composition; and will, accordingly, be found to be treated in a
previous section of this history. His successor, Burnet, on the other
hand, was in literary matters a perfect representative of his own day, a
man of his times; and their works taken together, while illustrating
the mutations of taste and the gradual popularization of culture, may be
regarded as the Iliad and Odyssey of the period, the former a high
epical treatment of a tragic theme, decreed by the Fates and directed by
the Gods; the second a bustling tragi-comedy true to human nature and
crowded with domestic incident. The writers, moreover, have these things
in common: that both are men of original and marked character, whose
personality is vividly embodied in their productions; that both had been
busy actors in many of the events which they detail; that both,
therefore, had unusual means of information, and the narrative of
neither could miss the liveliness imparted by actual contact with the
transactions they relate. Both were inevitably prejudiced, but both were
high-minded and conscientious; and the bias against which they vainly
contended is too visible and too much a matter of course to detract
seriously from the value of their histories.

Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, was born at Edinburgh, September
18th, 1643. By the wish of his father he selected the Church as his
profession, which placed him in the invidious position of an
Episcopalian ministering amid a nation of Presbyterians. His moderation,
nevertheless, gained the confidence of the dissidents, and his great
influence with Lauderdale, the ruler of Scotland, was exerted in favour
of the most conciliatory measures and the widest toleration possible.
When at length Lauderdale had become hopelessly committed to a violent
course, Burnet withdrew from Scotland, and settled in London as preacher
at the Rolls and at St. Clement Danes. During Charles's reign, though an
object of great suspicion to the court, he maintained his ground, but at
the accession of James found it expedient to go abroad. After travelling
in France, and proceeding as far as Rome, he settled in Holland,
returning with William III. in 1688. William's proclamation was drafted
by him, and he drew up the engagement signed by the nobility who joined
the prince. These and many other services were rewarded by the bishopric
of Salisbury, where, by the confession of his adversaries, he proved as
charitable and exemplary a prelate as the Church had ever seen. He is
especially memorable in this capacity as the author of the scheme for
the augmentation of poor livings commonly known as Queen Anne's Bounty.
He died in 1715. His moral character was of the highest; his
intellectual character was disfigured by some foibles, unimportant in
themselves, but which, not being of the kind usually found in
conjunction with first-rate abilities, have occasioned his powers to be
considerably undervalued. The man, however, who was respected by the
cynical Charles and trusted by the jealous William, cannot have been of
ordinary mould; nor can it be said of many authors that they have
produced three books which, after the lapse of two centuries, are still
regarded as standard authorities. The _History of the Reformation_ was
published in 1679-1714; the _Exposition of the Articles_ in 1699; the
_History of his Own Times_ in 1723-34.

Burnet's _History of his Own Times_ actually deserves the character
which Clarendon incorrectly gives of his own; it is rather the material
for history than history itself. This is not a consequence of crude
treatment, for all is well arranged and lively, nor from the encumbrance
of original documents, of which it is nearly destitute. It arises rather
from the predominance of the autobiographic tone, much more marked than
in Clarendon, though Clarendon also relates as an eyewitness, which
almost brings the book down to the level of personal memoirs. It must
nevertheless be classed with histories, and, if not one of the most
dignified, it is undoubtedly one of the most entertaining. Burnet's deep
interest in the events in which he had taken so large a share insures
vivacious and effective treatment; his personages breathe and move, and
impress themselves indelibly upon the reader's imagination, though he
usually abstains from set efforts at the depicting of character. The
defects of his method are no less apparent; in relating what he has not
himself heard or seen, he relies upon hearsay, and sinks into a gossip.
The extent, nevertheless, to which he speaks as an eyewitness, renders
his work very valuable. Well acquainted with Charles and James, admitted
to the favour of William and the full confidence of Mary, he is able to
introduce us into their presence, and summon them as it were from the
dead. His point of view, being so largely personal, is inevitably
partial; he can tell us, for example, of the defects in Shaftesbury's
character, which he discovered from actual acquaintance, but nothing of
the surprising enlightenment of the statesman, which could only be
learned from speeches which he never heard and documents which he never
saw. Impartiality is the last virtue to be expected from a busy actor in
a troubled age, but Burnet approaches it as nearly as can with any
reason be demanded. It is hardly in human nature that he should be
entirely fair to adversaries by whom he had himself been maligned, but
his intention of being so is very apparent. The most impartial and
generally the most valuable portion of his work is his narrative up to
the Revolution. When he wrote this, animosities had become mellowed by
time; when he lived it his contact with affairs had been more intimate
as the political agent than afterwards as the spiritual peer.
Disappointment with the course of events colours his account of Anne's
reign, and renders him splenetic and querulous. His perspicuous and
animated diction does not always attain the dignity of history; he
hardly ever attempts eloquence, except in the noble and deeply-felt
conclusion of his work, a portion of which must be cited, although it is
no fair example of his ordinary style:

     'So that by religion I mean, such a sense of divine truth as
     enters into a man, and becomes a spring of a new nature within
     him; reforming his thoughts and designs, purifying his heart,
     and sanctifying him, and governing his whole deportment, his
     words as well as his actions; convincing him that it is not
     enough, not to be scandalously vicious, or to be innocent in
     his conversation, but that he must be entirely, uniformly, and
     constantly, pure and virtuous, animating him with a zeal to be
     still better and better, more eminently good and exemplary,
     using prayers and all outward devotions, as solemn acts
     testifying what he is inwardly and at heart, and as methods
     instituted by God, to be still advancing in the use of them
     further and further into a more refined and spiritual sense of
     divine matters. This is true religion, which is the perfection
     of human nature, and the joy and delight of every one that
     feels it active and strong within him: it is true, this is not
     arrived at all at once; and it will have an unhappy alloy,
     hanging long even about a good man; but, as those ill mixtures
     are the perpetual grief of his soul, so it is his chief care to
     watch over and to mortify them; he will be in a continual
     progress, still gaining ground upon himself; and as he attains
     to a good degree of purity, he will find a noble flame of life
     and joy growing upon him. Of this I write with the more concern
     and emotion, because I have felt this the true, and indeed the
     only joy which runs through a man's heart and life: it is that
     which has been for many years my greatest support; I rejoice
     daily in it: I feel from it the earnest of that supreme joy
     which I pant and long for; I am sure there is nothing else can
     afford any true or complete happiness. I have, considering my
     sphere, seen a great deal of all that is most shining and
     tempting in this world: the pleasures of sense I did soon
     nauseate; intrigues of state, and the conduct of affairs, have
     something in them that is most specious; and I was for some
     years, deeply immersed in these, but still with hopes of
     reforming the world, and of making mankind wiser and better:
     but I have found that which is crooked cannot be made straight.
     I acquainted myself with knowledge and learning, and that in a
     great variety, and with more compass than depth: but though
     wisdom excelleth folly as much as light does darkness, yet as
     it is a sore travail, so it is so very defective, that what is
     wanting to complete it cannot be numbered. I have seen that two
     were better than one, and that a threefold cord is not easily
     loosed; and have therefore cultivated friendship with much zeal
     and a disinterested tenderness; but I have found this was also
     vanity and vexation of spirit, though it be of the best and
     noblest sort. So that, upon great and long experience, I could
     enlarge on the preacher's text, "Vanity of vanities, and all is
     vanity," but I must also conclude with him; Fear God, and keep
     his commandments, for this is the all of man, the whole, both
     of his duty and of his happiness. I do therefore end all in the
     words of David, of the truth of which, upon great experience
     and a long observation, I am so fully assured, that I leave
     these as my last words to posterity: "Come, ye children,
     hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What
     man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may
     see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking
     guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue
     it. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears
     are open to their cry; but the face of the Lord is against them
     that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the
     earth. The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth and delivereth
     them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that
     are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite

Burnet's reputation as an historian also rests in considerable measure
upon another important work, his _History of the Reformation in
England_, published in 1679. This great subject, frequently, variously,
and never successfully handled, may some day make a first-class
reputation for an historian as yet concealed in the future. That a
satisfactory history of it should be written in Burnet's day was
impossible, and it was equally impossible that his work should either
exhibit the liveliness, or possess the unique value of his _History of
his Own Times_. The theme is one for a graver and more eloquent
historian than he, capable of rising to greater heights, and wielding
far more absolute command over the resources of language. Nor can his
laborious collections from state papers and former historians rival the
importance of his narrative of transactions in which he was a busy
actor, full of particulars only to be obtained from himself. With all
these inevitable imperfections, his _History of the Reformation_ is
still an excellent book, eminently readable, just and accurate in its
broad views, however needing correction on points of detail; and,
considering that it was the work of a Scotch Protestant writing in the
thick of the Popish Plot, surprisingly candid and impartial. It is of
course the work of a partisan, but he who does not feel sufficient
interest in the Reformation to be a partisan on one side or the other is
not likely to write its history at all, and had better not. Probably no
history of the English Reformation has since been written that does not
exhibit more party feeling than Burnet's, or that can reasonably claim
to supersede it.

Burnet's _History of his Times_, as we have seen, may be regarded as a
connecting link between history and _mémoires pour servir_. The age of
Charles II. was favourable to this latter class of composition, which
is, indeed, the form which the narrators of public transactions in which
they themselves have borne a leading part, naturally fall. The period
was still more fertile in the diary, which may be defined as the
autobiographic memoir in a rudimentary stage. One writer of the day,
Samuel Pepys, has placed himself for all time at the head of this class
of composition, by an achievement little likely to be repeated. Among
memoir-writers proper the most important is Edmund Ludlow, the Cato of
the Commonwealth (1617-1692).

Ludlow, the son of a Wiltshire knight of extreme political views,
enlisted at the commencement of the Civil War in the bodyguard of the
Earl of Essex, and afterwards highly distinguished himself by his
obstinate, though unsuccessful defence of Wardour Castle, in his native
county. He was made prisoner, exchanged, and took part in several
encounters in the West of England. Elected member for Wiltshire, he
sided with the more extreme party, and was one of the king's judges. He
became a member of the Council of State, and at the beginning of 1651
was sent to Ireland as second in authority to Ireton, whom he assisted
in completing the subjugation of the country, and subsequently filled
the same position under Fleetwood. Bitterly opposed to Cromwell's
Protectorate, he resigned his civil appointment, but contrived to retain
his military position until 1655, when, coming over to England, he was
arrested and imprisoned in Beaumaris Castle. When at length he was
admitted to an audience of Cromwell, 'What,' asked the Protector, 'can
you desire more than you have?' 'That which we fought for,' replied
Ludlow, 'that the nation might be governed by its own consent'--words
which recall Augereau's repartee to Napoleon on the re-establishment of
Roman Catholicism in France. Ludlow was kept under surveillance until
the death of Cromwell, when he became exceedingly active, and upon the
abdication of Richard Cromwell was sent again to Ireland in a position
of authority. Returning, he sought in vain to mediate between the
Parliament and the army, and distinguished himself in the Convention
Parliament by a vain protest against the Restoration. He fled the
country to avoid the vengeance of the new government, and took refuge in
Switzerland, where he composed his memoirs, and abode in comfortable
circumstances, although occasionally molested by plots against his life
or liberty, until his death in 1692. The Revolution of 1688 had brought
him back to England for an instant, but the public feeling against
regicides was still too strong, and, returning to his refuge at Vevay,
he carved over his door:

     'Omne solum forti patria quia Patris.'

Ludlow was not one of the greatest or wisest characters of his time, but
is one of the most estimable in virtue of his sturdy honesty. He was one
of that hopelessly inconsistent class of persons, the believers in the
divine right of a republic as the sole form of political institution
consistent with reason, who in the same breath assert and take away the
nation's right to choose its own form of government by forbidding its
exercise unless the form has the allowance of a theory impersonated in
themselves. On the principle of popular sovereignty, no form of
government could be more legitimate than the Restoration monarchy,
which, nevertheless, Ludlow was always seeking to overthrow. Cromwell's
title was by no means so clear, and Ludlow's firm resistance to the
Protector at the height of his power, if proving his inability to
'swallow formulas,' and look solely to the public good, is nevertheless
most honourable to his courage and fortitude. If inaccessible to reason,
he was even more so to self-interest. The historical value of his
memoirs is very great, especially for the troubled interval between
Cromwell's death and the Restoration. Carlyle, Guizot, and Firth unite
in following him with implicit confidence when he speaks as an
eyewitness, when he relies upon others he is frequently inaccurate and
confused. The _Memoirs_ virtually commence with the outbreak of the
Civil War, and extend to 1672. The interest of the latter years is of
course mainly personal. The style is clear and unadorned. The following
passage is a good example of the writer's power of conveying antipathy
by sarcasm:

     'Different were the effects that the death of Cromwell produced
     in the nation: those men who had been sharers with him in the
     usurped authority were exceedingly troubled, whilst all other
     parties rejoiced at it: each of them hoping that this
     alteration would prove advantageous to their affairs. The
     Commonwealthsmen were so charitable to believe that the
     soldiery being delivered from their servitude to the General,
     to which they were willing to attribute their former
     compliance, would now open their eyes and join with them, as
     the only means left to preserve themselves and the people.
     Neither were the Cavaliers without great hopes that new
     divisions might arise, and give them an opportunity of
     advancing their minion, who had been long endeavouring to unite
     all the corrupt interests of the nation to his party. But
     neither the sense of their duty, nor the care of their own
     safety, nor the just apprehensions of being overcome by their
     irreconcilable enemy, could prevail with the army to return to
     their proper station. So that having tasted of sovereignty
     under the shadow of their late master, they resolved against
     the restitution of the Parliament. And in order to this it was
     agreed to proclaim Richard Cromwell, eldest son of Oliver,
     Protector of the Commonwealth, in hopes that he, who by
     following his pleasures had rendered himself unfit for public
     business, would not fail to place the administration of the
     government in the hands of those who were most powerful in the
     army. Accordingly the proclamation was published in
     Westminster, at Temple-Bar, and at the Old Exchange, with as
     few expressions of joy as had ever been observed on the like
     occasion. This being done, the Council issued out orders to the
     officers of civil justice to act by virtue of their old
     commissions till new ones could be sent to them: and that
     nothing might be omitted to fortify the new government, various
     means were used to procure addresses from all parts, which were
     brought in great numbers from the several counties in England,
     Scotland, and Ireland, as also from divers regiments of the
     army. One of the first acts of the new government was, to
     order the funeral of the late usurper; and the Council having
     resolved that it should be very magnificent, the care of it was
     referred to a committee of them, who sending for Mr.
     Kinnersley, master of the wardrobe, desired him to find out
     some precedent, by which they might govern themselves in this
     important affair. After examination of his books and papers,
     Mr. Kinnersley, who was suspected to be inclined to popery,
     recommended to them the solemnities used upon the like occasion
     for Philip the Second, king of Spain, who had been represented
     to be in purgatory for about two months. In the like manner was
     the body of this great reformer laid in Somerset House: the
     apartment was hung with black, the daylight was excluded, and
     no other but that of wax tapers to be seen. This scene of
     purgatory continued till the first of November, which being the
     day preceding that commonly called All Souls, he was removed
     into the great hall of the said house, and represented in
     effigy, standing on a bed of crimson velvet covered with a gown
     of the like coloured velvet, a sceptre in his hand, and a crown
     on his head. That part of the hall wherein the bed stood was
     railed in, and the rails and ground within them covered with
     crimson velvet. Four or five hundred candles set in flat
     shining candlesticks were so placed round near the roof of the
     hall, that the light they gave seemed like the rays of the sun:
     by all which he was represented to be now in a state of glory.
     This folly and profusion so far provoked the people, that they
     threw dirt in the night on his escutcheon that was placed over
     the great gate of Somerset House. I purposely omit the rest of
     the pageantry, the great number of persons that attended on the
     body, the procession to Westminster, the vast expense in
     mourning, the state and magnificence of the monument erected
     for him, with many other things that I care not to remember.'

William Lilly, the astrologer (1602-1682), to be discussed more fully
among the writers of personal memoirs, claims a few words here as the
author of an account of Charles I. whose justice and liveliness would
have met more general recognition, but for the author's character as a
fortune-teller, and if it had not been mingled with the apparently
serious exposition of idle prophecies respecting the White King. So
long as he keeps clear of the occult, Lilly is a shrewd and
discriminating, as well as a highly entertaining writer. His enumeration
of individual traits in Charles's character is correct and instructive,
and free from any misleading bias. He was in fact a time-server, whose
main purpose was to stand well with the powers that were, and whose
sketch of Charles would have worn another aspect if he had written after
the Restoration; but this frame of mind, at all events, exempts him from
political passion, nor does his complacency carry him to the length of
misrepresentation, much less calumny. He is destitute of the literary
power which would have enabled him to fuse single traits into an
harmonious character; but he has supplied others with very valuable
material towards such an undertaking. One merit the book certainly
possesses in an eminent measure, it is one of the most readable in the
language. The following passage indicates the author's real insight into
Charles's attractive, but infirm character; and, adversary as he is, his
remarkable agreement with Clarendon, of whose work he had no knowledge:

     'He had much of self-ends in all that he did, and a most
     difficult thing it was to hold him close to his own promise or
     word: he was apt to recede, unless something therein appeared
     compliable, either unto his own will, profit, or judgment; so
     that some foreign princes bestowed on him the character of a
     most false prince, and one that never kept his word, unless for
     his own advantage. Had his judgment been as sound, as his
     conception was quick and nimble, he had been a most
     accomplished gentleman: and though in most dangerous results,
     and extraordinary serious consultations, and very material,
     either for state or commonwealth, he would himself give the
     most solid advice, and sound reasons, why such or such a thing
     should be so, or not so; yet was he most easily withdrawn from
     his own most wholesome and sound advice or resolutions; and
     with as much facility drawn on, inclined, to embrace a far
     more unsafe, and nothing so wholesome a counsel. He would argue
     logically, and frame his arguments artificially; yet never
     almost had the happiness to conclude or drive on a design in
     his own sense, but was ever baffled with meaner capacities. He
     feared nothing in this world, or disdained any thing more than
     the convention of a Parliament; the very name was a bugbear
     unto him. He was ever refractory against the summoning of a
     Parliament, and as willingly would embrace an opportunity to
     break it off. This his averseness being well known to some
     grave members, they contrived at last by wit, and the necessity
     of the times, that his hands were fast tied up in granting a
     triennial sitting, or a perpetuity as it were unto this present
     Parliament, a thing he often blamed himself for subscribing
     unto, and as often those who importuned him thereunto.'

Bulstrode Whitelocke (1605-1676) has few pretensions to rank as a man of
letters; but his _Memorials_ are far too valuable a source of historical
information to be omitted from a survey of the literature of the period.
The author, a barrister and a Templar, was elected to the Long
Parliament in 1641, and appointed chairman of the committee for drawing
up the charges against Strafford. He held various offices under the
Parliament, and was employed in negotiations with Charles, of whose
execution he disapproved. He was subsequently a member of the Council of
State, and one of the commissioners of the Great Seal. In 1653 he was
sent on an embassy to Sweden, which he has described in a valuable work.
During the confused period between the death of Cromwell and the
Restoration he was successively a commissioner of the Great Seal and a
member of the Council of State. He had some difficulty in obtaining
pardon at the Restoration; but ultimately Charles II. admitted him to
his presence, and received him graciously, with a speech which
Whitelocke's biographer thinks extraordinary, but which appears very
sensible: 'Mr. Whitelocke, go into the country; don't trouble yourself
any more about state affairs; and take care of your wife and your
sixteen children.' Whitelocke profited by the royal admonition, and died
at a good old age. His _Memorials_ extend from 1625 to 1659, and are a
valuable body of material, being for most of the time a diurnal record
of all occurrences of importance. They are the student of history's
indispensable companion for the period, but aim at no more exalted
position in literature than that of a matter-of-fact register.

Another diarist of a similar description to Whitelocke, but not, like
him, a busy actor in the scenes which he describes, is Narcissus
Luttrell (1657-1732), a scion of the well-known family of Luttrell of
Dunster, Somersetshire. Luttrell, who was a man of literary and
antiquarian tastes, and the collector of the Luttrell Ballads, now in
the British Museum, kept a diary from 1675 to 1714, which attracted
little attention until Macaulay's frequent references to the MS. induced
the University of Oxford to publish it in 1857.

Leaving diarists out of account, the most important writer of historical
memoirs after Ludlow is Sir William Temple (1628-1699), whose memoirs
treat of his own political career from 1672 to 1680. Temple, the son of
an Irish judge, entered the diplomatic service after the Restoration
under the auspices of Arlington, and soon found himself minister at
Brussels. While occupying that post it was his good fortune to perform
one of the most creditable diplomatic achievements on record, the
negotiation of the triple alliance between England, Holland, and Sweden,
which checked the conquests of Louis XIV., and, but for the venality and
faithlessness of Charles II., would have long secured peace to Europe.
When Temple's work was undone he retired into private life, but the
failure of Charles's disgraceful policy brought him again into
diplomacy, and his memoirs down to 1679 are occupied with foreign
affairs. In 1677 he had rendered his country one of the greatest
services that any man ever did, by bringing about, in conjunction with
Danby, the marriage of William of Orange with the Princess Mary; and in
1679 he found himself, to his discomfort and dismay--for if wise as a
serpent he was timid as a dove--charged with the mission of reconciling
king and people, who, from the discovery of Charles's baseness in
accepting a pension from France, seemed on the verge of entire
estrangement. Temple attempted to attain this end by the creation of a
council of thirty advisers, as a perpetual check upon the king's
actions. The scheme might have succeeded if thirty disinterested
politicians had been forthcoming; but the entire kingdom could barely
have furnished the number requisite for the redemption of Sodom.
Temple's memoirs give a lively picture of the mortifications he
underwent as he gradually dwindled into a cipher; but the modern reader
will prefer to study the story in Macaulay's famous essay, which, if
exaggerated in his expression of scorn for Temple's irresolution, is not
unfair as a statement of fact. At length he escaped to his books and
gardens, and spent the rest of his life in the enjoyment of a character
for consummate statesmanship, which he took care never to bring to the
test. Wisdom and virtue he certainly did possess, but both with him were
too much of the self-regarding order. His claims to rank as a restorer
of English prose are better founded, though these, too, have been
exaggerated. Johnson's assertion that Temple was the first writer who
attended to cadence in English prose merely evinces how completely the
power of appreciating the grand harmonies of the Elizabethan period had
died out in the eighteenth century. He must, notwithstanding, be allowed
an honourable place among those who have rendered English prose lucid,
symmetrical, and adapted for business; and Macaulay has justly pointed
out that the apparent length of his sentences is mainly a matter of
punctuation. The elegance of the writer, and the egotistic caution of
the man, are excellently represented by the concluding passage of his

     'Upon the survey of all these circumstances, conjunctions, and
     dispositions, both at home and abroad, I concluded in cold
     blood, that I could be of no further use or service to the king
     my master, and my country, whose true interests I always
     thought were the same, and would be both in danger when they
     came to be divided, and for that reason had ever endeavoured
     the uniting them; and had compassed it, if the passions of some
     few men had not lain fatally in the way, so as to raise
     difficulties that I saw plainly were never to be surmounted.
     Therefore, upon the whole, I took that firm resolution, in the
     end of the year 1680, and the interval between the Westminster
     and Oxford parliaments, never to charge myself more with any
     public employments; but retiring wholly to a private life, in
     that posture take my fortune with my country, whatever it
     should prove: which as no man can judge, in the variety of
     accidents that attend human affairs, and the chances of every
     day, to which the greatest lives as well as actions are
     subject; so I shall not trouble myself so much as to
     conjecture: _fata viam inveniant_.

     'Besides all these public circumstances, I considered myself in
     my own humour, temper, and dispositions, which a man may
     disguise to others, though very hardly, but cannot to himself.
     I had learned by living long in courts and public affairs, that
     I was fit to live no longer in either. I found the arts of a
     court were contrary to the frankness and openness of my nature;
     and the constraints of public business too great for the
     liberty of my humour and my life. The common and proper ends of
     both are the advancement of men's fortunes; and that I never
     minded, having as much as I needed, and, which is more, as I
     desired. The talent of gaining riches I ever despised, as
     observing it to belong to the most despisable men in other
     kinds: and I had the occasions of it so often in my way, if I
     would have made use of them, that I grew to disdain them, as a
     man does meat that he has always before him. Therefore, I never
     could go to service for nothing but wages, nor endure to be
     fettered in business when I thought it was to no purpose. I
     knew very well the arts of a court are, to talk the present
     language, to serve the present turn, and to follow the present
     humour of the prince, whatever it is: of all these I found
     myself so incapable, that I could not talk a language I did not
     mean, nor serve a turn I did not like, nor follow any man's
     humour wholly against my own. Besides, I have had, in twenty
     years experience, enough of the uncertainty of princes, the
     caprices of fortune, the corruption of ministers, the violence
     of factions, the unsteadiness of counsels, the infidelity of
     friends; nor do I think the rest of my life enough to make any
     new experiments.

     'For the ease of my own life, if I know myself, it will be
     infinitely more in the retired, than it has been in the busy
     scene: for no good man can, with any satisfaction, take part in
     the divisions of his country, that knows and considers, as I
     do, what they have cost Athens, Rome, Constantinople, Florence,
     Germany, France and England: nor can the wisest man foresee how
     ours will end, or what they are like to cost the rest of
     Christendom as well as ourselves. I never had but two aims in
     public affairs; one, to see the king great as he may be by the
     hearts of his people, without which I know not how he can be
     great by the constitutions of this kingdom: the other, in case
     our factions must last, yet to see a revenue established for
     the constant maintaining a fleet of fifty men of war, at sea or
     in harbour, and the seamen in constant pay; which would be at
     least our safety from abroad, and make the crown still
     considered in any foreign alliances, whether the king and his
     parliaments should agree or not in undertaking any great or
     national war. And such an establishment I was in hopes the last
     parliament at Westminster might have agreed in with the king,
     by adding so much of a new fund to three hundred thousand
     pounds a year out of the present customs. But these have both
     failed, and I am content to have failed with them.

     'And so I take leave of all those airy visions which have so
     long busied my head about mending the world; and at the same
     time, of all those shining toys or follies that employ the
     thoughts of busy men: and shall turn mine wholly to mend
     myself; and, as far as consists with a private condition, still
     pursuing that old and excellent counsel of Pythagoras, that we
     are, with all the cares and endeavours of our lives, to avoid
     diseases in the body, perturbations in the mind, luxury in
     diet, factions in the house, and seditions in the state.'



Two private diarists, whose autobiographic records remained unknown to
their contemporaries, have justly obtained classic rank by the
publication of their records in the nineteenth century. One of these,
Samuel Pepys, stands incontestably at the head of the world's literature
in his own department. John Evelyn, possessing neither the humour, the
_naïveté_, the shrewdness, or the uncompromising frankness of his rival
and friend, occupies a much lower place as an autobiographer, though
more highly endowed as a scholar and a man of letters. Born in 1620 of a
prosperous county family, whose fortune had been made by the manufacture
of gunpowder, he found himself an idle young Templar at the outbreak of
the Civil War. Three days' service in the royal army sufficed him, and
in 1643 he obtained the king's permission to travel. This does not seem
very heroic conduct, but the family estate, lying at Wotton, near
Dorking, was probably in the actual occupation of the Parliamentarians.
He remained abroad until 1647, and his notes on art and antiquity are
among the most valuable portions of his diary. Study and gardening were
his chief occupations under the Commonwealth, varied with some cautious
intriguing on behalf of the exiled king. Under the Restoration he was in
great favour, and, although taking no part in politics, filled several
honourable public offices. A sincere Churchman, he was greatly alarmed
by James II.'s illegalities, and acquiesced in the Revolution as a
necessary evil. In 1695 he was appointed treasurer to Greenwich
Hospital. He died in 1706. The general view of his character is that
expressed by Mr. Leslie Stephen, who describes him as 'the typical
instance of the accomplished and public-spirited gentleman of the
Restoration.' The chief dissentient from this favourable estimate is a
person of weight, De Quincey, who, in a conversation with Woodhouse,
violently attacks Evelyn's _Diary_, three years after its publication,
as 'a weak, good-for-nothing little book, much praised by weak people,'
and abuses the author as 'a shallow, empty, cowardly, vain, assuming
coxcomb,' 'a mere literary fribble, a fop, and a smatterer affecting
natural history and polite learning.' There is just this much of truth
in this splenetic onslaught, that Evelyn was an amateur in authorship,
and that his high character and influential friendships no doubt
contributed much to the esteem with which the works published in his
lifetime were regarded in his day. The _Diary_ stands on a different
footing; it appealed to a remote and impartial public, and the appeal
has been justified by edition after edition.

Evelyn's claims to literary distinction rest principally upon his
_Diary_ and his _Sylva_, which will be noticed in another place. The
chief literary merits of the _Diary_ are its unassuming simplicity and
perfect perspicuity of style and phrase. Infinitely less interesting
than Pepys's, it has the advantage of covering a much more extensive
period, and faithfully reflecting the feelings of a loyal, pious,
sensible Englishman at various important crises of public affairs.
Unlike Pepys, whose estimates of men and things are very fluctuating,
Evelyn is consistent, and we may feel sure that any modification of
sentiment that may be observed in him faithfully represents the
inevitable influence of circumstances upon a man of independent
judgment. His personal loyalty to the house of Stuart is manifestly
cooled, though not chilled, by the scandals of Charles II.'s reign; but
it is not until Church and King come into open conflict in the reign of
James II. that Evelyn gives any countenance to a violent change of
government, which it is clear he would most willingly have avoided. The
extreme caution and moderation of his language lend weight to his
disapprobation, and indicate more forcibly than any vigour of
declamation how completely James had alienated his true friends.
Evelyn's position was that of one who could neither lift a hand against
the Government or stretch one out to defend it. His unaffected style
almost rises into poetry as he succinctly enumerates the omens which
heralded the downfall of James:

     '_October 14._ The King's birthday. No guns from the Tower as
     usual. The sun eclipsed at its rising. This day signal for the
     victory of William the Conqueror against Harold, near Battel,
     in Sussex. The wind, which had been hitherto west, was east all
     this day. Wonderful expectation of the Dutch fleet. Public
     prayers ordered to be read in the churches against invasion.'

The interest of the early part of the _Diary_ is of a different kind. It
is occupied with the author's continental travels, and shows what was
thought best worth seeing in that age, with many curious incidental
traits of manners, and examples of the hardships and perils with which
wayfarers were then beset. As always, we have to lament that the
traveller was in that day so much of a mere sightseer, and took so
little pains to acquaint himself with the moral, intellectual, or
industrial life of the nations he visited. This was the universal
failing of the age, and of all preceding ages; not until the eighteenth
century do we meet with a really philosophical traveller. Evelyn,
however, is not insensible to humanity when it is thrust upon his
attention; and his study of painting in his youth, and the taste for
arboriculture which produced his _Sylva_, qualify him beyond most of his
contemporaries for the description of the aspects of nature. The feeling
for nature and the feeling for humanity are well combined in the
following passage:

     'We went then to visit the galleys, being about twenty-five in
     number; the Capitaine of the Galley Royal gave us most
     courteous entertainment in his cabin, the slaves in the interim
     playing both loud and soft music very rarely. Then he showed
     how he commanded their motions with a nod, and his whistle
     making them row out. The spectacle was to me new and strange,
     to see so many hundreds of miserably naked persons, their heads
     being shaven close and having only high red bonnets, a pair of
     coarse canvass drawers, their whole backs and legs naked,
     doubly chained about their middle and legs, in couples, and
     made fast to their seats, and all commanded in a trice by an
     imperious and cruel seaman. One Turk amongst the rest he much
     favoured, who waited on him in his cabin, but with no other
     dress than the rest, and a chain locked about his leg, but not
     coupled. This galley was richly carved and gilded, and most of
     the rest were very beautiful. After bestowing something on the
     slaves, the capitaine sent a band of them to give us music at
     dinner where we lodged. I was amazed to contemplate how these
     miserable caitiffs lie in their galley crowded together; yet
     there was hardly one but had some occupation, by which, as
     leisure and calms permitted, they got some little money,
     insomuch as some of them have, after many years cruel
     servitude, been able to purchase their liberty. The
     rising-forward and falling-back at their oar, is a miserable
     spectacle, and the noise of their chains, with the roaring of
     the beaten waters, has something of strange and fearful in it
     to one unaccustomed to it. They are ruled and chastised by
     strokes on their backs and soles of their feet, on the least
     disorder, and without the least humanity, yet are they cheerful
     and full of knavery.'

Evelyn's _Diary_, however, with all its desert, sinks into
insignificance beside the _Diary_ of Samuel Pepys, but the same remark
applies to almost every diary in the world. Pepys's _Diary_ has been
frequently compared with Boswell's _Life of Johnson_, and with justice
in so far as the charm of each arises from the inimitable _naïveté_ of
the author's self-revelations. Boswell had a much greater character than
his own to draw, but Pepys had to be his own Johnson. It is giving him
no excessive praise to say that he makes himself as interesting as
Johnson and Boswell together. There cannot be a stronger proof of the
infinite interest and importance of humanity that when we for once get a
fellow-creature to depict himself as he really is, the most trivial
details become matters of serious concern. We sympathize with Pepys as
we sympathize with Ulysses, and are for the time much more anxious about
the liquidation of his tailor's bill, or the adjustment of his
misunderstandings with his wife, than 'what the Swede intends or what
the French.' The only drawback is that the Pepys in whom we are so
deeply interested is, after all, not altogether the true Pepys; not the
distinguished civil servant or the intelligent promoter of science; not
the man as he appeared to his friends and contemporaries, but an
incarnation of whatever was petty, or ludicrous, or self-seeking in a
man of no inconsiderable official and intellectual distinction. 'A very
worthy, industrious, and curious person,' says Evelyn, 'universally
beloved, hospitable, generous, learned in many things, skilled in music,
a very great cherisher of learned men, of whom he had the conversation.'
All these traits are abundantly confirmed by passages in the _Diary_,
and yet, so infinitely more vivid is the delineation of the writer's
foibles, that one attempting to draw his character from the _Diary_
would hardly have noticed them.

Pepys's life is chiefly remarkable for the extraordinary good fortune
which raised him from an humble and precarious position to one in which
he was enabled to render great service to his country. The son of a
London tailor, whose family came from Brampton in Huntingdonshire, he
had the good fortune to be distantly related to Sir Edward Montagu,
afterwards Earl of Sandwich, one of the chief agents in the Restoration,
to whose patronage he owed everything. A sizar and scholar at Cambridge,
he married somewhat early and imprudently, accompanied his patron when
he went as admiral to the Sound in 1658, and upon his return appears to
have filled an inferior clerkship in the Exchequer. The Restoration
brought him into the Admiralty, and for long after his history is one of
rapid rise and increasing wealth, mainly acquired by means which would
now be thought most reprehensible in a civil servant, but which the lax
official morality of his day absolved or but faintly condemned. In 1669
the weakness of his eyes compelled him to discontinue his _Diary_ and to
solicit leave of absence from official duty on a tour in France and
Holland. Shortly after his return he lost his wife, whose leaning to the
Roman Catholic religion gave colour to a charge against himself of being
a concealed Romanist, the object of which was to invalidate his election
to Parliament for Aldborough. These proceedings failed, but in 1679 he
was imprisoned for a short time on an accusation of being concerned in
the Popish Plot, and, notwithstanding the absurdity of the charge, found
it advisable to withdraw for a while from the Admiralty. He was
reinstated in 1684, having in the interim made a voyage to Tangier on
public business. Under James II., who understood naval affairs and knew
the worth of Pepys, he attained to great influence, and the navy to
this day is deeply indebted to him for the improvements he introduced
into its administration. He lost his employments at the Revolution, and
retired to a life of scholarly leisure, dying in 1703. In 1684 he had
become President of the Royal Society, of which he had been one of the
earliest members, and long after his retirement the members continued to
meet at his house.

Pepys bequeathed his library to Magdalen College, Cambridge, where it is
preserved in exactly the same condition as he left it. The immortal
_Diary_ was among the books, but attracted no notice until about 1811.
It was shortly afterwards deciphered by the Rev. J. Smith, and published
in 1825 by Lord Braybrooke, who omitted much of the most racy and
characteristic part as below the dignity of history. These omissions
were principally supplied in the edition of the Rev. Mynors Bright,
1875; and Mr. Henry Wheatley is now publishing an edition absolutely
complete, with the exception of some few passages positively

No work of the kind in the world's literature can for a moment be
compared to Pepys's _Diary_; but many circumstances must combine ere the
existence of such a book is possible. It is characteristic of Pepys to
be at once a very extraordinary and a very ordinary person. In one point
of view he is the most perfect representative imaginable of the
bourgeois type of humanity, worthy, sensible, indispensable, and at the
same time dull, prosaic, and narrow-minded. Yet this solid citizen has a
dash of the Gil Blas in him too; and his little rogueries and
servilities appear the more amusing by contrast with the really
estimable and respectable background of his character. These qualities
combined make a perfect hero of autobiography; his ordinary qualities
awaken a fellow-feeling for so characteristic a specimen of average
humanity, and his deviations from the straight path communicate the
piquancy of comedy, sometimes the exuberance of farce. Extraordinary he
is too, for assuredly no one ever recorded his thoughts and actions with
such absolute sincerity; or if anyone ever did, his thoughts and actions
were not worthy of record. Those of Pepys, somehow, always seem worthy
of being perpetuated. However trivial they may sometimes be, they are
saved by the writer's admirable manner, and the contagious earnestness
of his conviction that they are in truth of deep concern. The reader,
moreover, is continually exercised by the problem whether his author is
really aware of the display he is making of himself. If he is, he is a
miracle of courage; if not, his obtuseness is equally extraordinary. The
_Diary_, besides, is no less admirable as a delineation of the macrocosm
than of the microcosm. It paints the official and private circles in
which the author moved, the course of public affairs, the humours of
social life, with no less truth and frankness than it reveals the author
himself. It is by far the most valuable document extant for the
understanding of the times; better than all the histories and all the
comedies. It seems an unequalled piece of irony that the supreme piece
of workmanship in its way and the most lucid mirror of its age should be
the performance of an ordinary citizen who had not the least idea that
he was doing anything remarkable; who expected celebrity, if he expected
it at all, from his official tasks and scientific recreations; who
shrouded his work in shorthand lest the world should profit by it; and
who would have been dismayed beyond measure if he had foreseen that it
would be published after his death. Many chances have conspired for its
preservation; it is wonderful that the writer should not have destroyed
it; beyond expectation that he should have bequeathed it to Magdalen
College; fortunate, to say the least, that it should have been so well
preserved there, and have attracted attention at last. We shall never be
able to determine whether we have more reason to be thankful that it was
carried on so long, and so fortunately preserved, or to lament that it
was not continued throughout the periods of the Popish Plot and the Rye
House Plot, of Monmouth's rising, and of the Revolution.

The _Diary_ extends from January 1st, 1660, to May 31st, 1669, when
Pepys writes, 'And thus ends all that I doubt I shall ever be able to do
with my own eyes in the keeping of my journal.' He recovered his sight,
at least to a great extent, but the habit was broken, and never resumed.
He had in the interim seen and described the Restoration, the Great
Plague, the Great Fire, and the great disaster of 1667, when the Dutch
burned the English fleet in the Medway. During this time he had seen
continually and been on terms more or less intimate with Charles II.,
the Duke of York, Monk, Clarendon, Sandwich, Shaftesbury, Sir William
Coventry, and a multitude of persons of lower degree of almost every
class of society except the Puritans, who are only represented by his
worthy predecessor in office, Mr. Blackburne. He has displayed himself
to us in almost every possible attitude, attending to accounts, drafting
state papers, measuring the timber in the dockyards, giving and taking
bribes, defending himself before the House of Commons, alternately a
Mercury and a Mentor to his patron, dissipating at the theatre, flirting
and something more with actresses and pretty servants, helping to set
the Royal Society going, sitting for his portrait, practising music,
buying and binding books, a perfect Proteus, yet always the same Pepys,
a true type of his age in its peculiar idiosyncrasies, and of human
nature in its essential sameness, heroic in no respect, yet admirable in
many, and, with many meannesses, by no means despicable, as good an
example as can be found of the truth of Goethe's dictum:

    'Ein guter Mensch in seinem dunkeln Drange
    Ist sich des rechten Weges wohl bewusst.'

It is impossible to pass over so unique a work as the _Diary_ without
extract, yet extracts can only convey the impression of bricks from a
building. The following have been selected chiefly with reference to
their incomparable quaintness and raciness, the one grace which our
literature has forfeited without hope of recovery.

     '_July 18, 1660._ Thence to my Lord about business, and being
     in talk in comes one with half a buck from Hinchinbroke, and it
     smelling a little strong my Lord did give it to me. I did carry
     it to my mother.

     '_July 8, 1661._ But, above all, our trouble is to find that
     his estate appears nothing as we expected, and as all the world
     believes; nor his papers so well sorted as I would have had
     them, but all in confusion, that break my brains to understand
     them. We missed also the surrenders of his copyhold land,
     without which the land would not come to us, but to the
     heir-at-law, so that what with this, and the badness of the
     drink, and the ill opinion I have of the meat, and the biting
     of the gnats by night, and my disappointment in getting home
     this week, and the trouble of sorting all the papers, I am
     almost out of my wits with trouble, only I appear the more
     contented, because I would not have my father troubled.

     '_Feb. 19, 1665._ In the evening comes Mr. Andrews, and we sung
     together, and at supper hearing by accident of my maids their
     letting in a roguing Scotch woman that haunts the office, to
     help them to wash and scour in our house, and that very lately,
     I fell mightily out, and made my wife, to the disturbance of
     the house and neighbours, to beat our little girl, and then we
     shut her down into the cellars, and there she lay all night.

     '_July 12, 1667._ Thence after dinner home, and there find my
     wife in a dogged humour for my not dining at home, and I did
     give her a pull by the nose and some ill words, which she
     provoked me to by something she spoke, that we fell
     extraordinarily out, insomuch that, I going to the office to
     avoid further anger, she followed me in a devilish manner
     thither, and with much ado I got her into the garden out of
     hearing, to prevent shame, and so home, and by degrees I find
     it necessary to calm her, and did, and then to the office,
     where pretty late, and then to walk with her in the garden, and
     pretty good friends, and so to bed with my mind quiet.

     '_Aug. 18, 1667._ I walked towards White Hall, but, being
     weary, turned into St. Dunstan's Church, where I heard an able
     sermon of the minister of the place; and stood by a pretty,
     modest maid, whom I did labour to take by the hand; but she
     would not, but got further and further from me; and at last I
     could perceive her to take pins out of her pocket to prick me
     if I should touch her again; which seeing I did forbear, and
     was glad I did spy her design. And then I fell to gaze upon
     another pretty maid in a pew close to me, and she on me; and I
     did go about to take her by the hand, which she suffered a
     little and then withdrew. So the sermon ended, and the church
     broke up, and my amours also.

     '_Oct. 4, 1667._ To see Sir W. Batten. He is asleep, and so I
     could not see him; but in an hour after word is brought me that
     he is so ill that it is believed he cannot live till to-morrow,
     which troubles me and my wife mightily, partly out of kindness,
     he being a good neighbour, and partly out of the money he owes
     me, upon our bargain of the late prize.'

The _naïveté_ of these passages, and of hundreds more like them, remains
unequalled in literature. Novelists, as Le Sage in _Gil Blas_ and
Thackeray in _Barry Lyndon_, have striven hard to make their personages
paint themselves as they really are, but their art is far excelled by
Pepys's nature. If, as Carlyle deems, speech and hearing were
principally bestowed upon us that 'our brother might impart to us truly
how it stands with him in that inner man of his,' no man has turned the
former of these gifts to better account than Pepys. The same sincerity
renders him a truthful mirror of public sentiment; and his very
limitations, intellectual and moral, enhance the value of his testimony.
He has no bias to interfere with the veracity of his delineation; he
simply reports what people around him are saying and thinking; he can
show us how the stream goes, because he is borne along with it himself.
The lively description which we are about to quote of the consternation
caused by the Dutch irruption into the Thames in 1667, is an admirable
example of his power of reproducing the atmosphere around him:

     'June 13th. No sooner up but hear the sad news confirmed of the
     Royal Charles being taken by them, and now in fitting by them,
     which Pett should have carried up higher by our several orders,
     and deserves, therefore, to be hanged for not doing it, and
     burning several others; and that another fleet is come up into
     the Hope. Upon which news the King and Duke of York have been
     below since four o'clock in the morning, to command the sinking
     of ships at Barking-Creek, and other places, to stop their
     coming up higher: which put me into such a fear, that I
     presently resolved of my father's and wife's going into the
     country; and, at two hours' warning, they did go by the coach
     this day, with about £1,300 in gold in their night-bag. Pray
     God give them good passage, and good care to hide it when they
     come home! but my heart is full of fear. They gone, I continued
     in fright and fear what to do with the rest. W. Hewer hath been
     at the banker's, and hath got £500 out of Backewell's hands of
     his own money; but they are so called upon that they will be
     all broke, hundreds coming to them for money: and they answer
     him, "It is payable at twenty days--when the days are out, we
     will pay you;" and those that are not so, they make tell over
     their money, and make their bags false, on purpose to give
     cause to retell it, and so spend time. I cannot have my 200
     pieces of gold again for silver, all being bought up last night
     that were to be had, and sold for 24 and 25/ a-piece. So I must
     keep the silver by me, which sometimes I think to fling into
     the house of office, and then again know not how I shall come
     by it, if we be made to leave the office. Every minute some one
     or other calls for this or that order; and so I forced to be at
     the office most of the day about the fire-ships which are to
     be suddenly fitted out; and it's a most strange thing that we
     hear nothing from any of my brethren at Chatham: so that we are
     wholly in the dark, various being the reports of what is done
     there; insomuch that I sent Mr. Clapham express thither to see
     how matters go. I did, about noon, resolve to send Mr. Gibson
     away after my wife with another 1,000 pieces, under colour of
     an express to Sir Jeremy Smith; who is, as I hear, with some
     ships at Newcastle; which I did really send to him, and may,
     possibly, prove of good use to the King; for it is possible, in
     the hurry of business, they may not think of it at Court, and
     the charge of an express is not considerable to the King. The
     King and Duke of York up and down all the day here and there;
     sometime on Tower Hill, where the City militia was; where the
     King did make a speech to them, that they should venture
     themselves no further than he would himself. I also sent, my
     mind being in pain, Saunders after my wife and father, to
     overtake them at their night's lodging, to see how matters go
     with them. In the evening, I sent for my cousin Sarah and her
     husband, who come; and I did deliver them my chest of writings
     about Brampton, and my brother Tom's papers, and my journals,
     which I value much; and did send my two silver flagons to Kate
     Joyce's: that so, being scattered what I have, something might
     be saved. I have also made a girdle, by which, with some
     trouble, I do carry about me £300 in gold about my body, that I
     may not be without something in case I should be surprised: for
     I think, in any nation but our's, people that appear, for we
     are not indeed so, so faulty as we, would have their throats

     'July 14th (Lord's day). Up, and my wife, a little before four,
     and to make us ready; and by and by Mrs. Turner come to us, by
     agreement, and she and I staid talking below, while my wife
     dressed herself, which vexed me that she was so long about it,
     keeping us till past five o'clock before she was ready. She
     ready; and, taking some bottles of wine, and beer, and some
     cold fowl with us into the coach, we took coach and four
     horses, which I had provided last night, and so away. A very
     fine day, and so towards Epsom, talking all the way pleasantly,
     and particularly of the pride and ignorance of Mrs. Lowther, in
     having of her train carried up. The country very fine, only the
     way very dusty. To Epsom, by eight o'clock, to the well; where
     much company, and I drank the water: they did not, but I did
     drink four pints. And to the town, to the King's Head; and hear
     that my Lord Buckhurst and Nelly are lodged at the next house,
     and Sir Charles Sedley with them: and keep a merry house. Poor
     girl! I pity her; but more the loss of her at the King's house.
     W. Hewer rode with us, and I left him and the women, and myself
     walked to church, where few people to what I expected, and none
     I knew, but all the Houblons, brothers, and them after sermon I
     did salute, and walk with towards my inn.... Then I carried
     them to see my cousin Pepys's house, and 'light, and walked
     round about it, and they like it, as indeed it deserves, very
     well, and is a pretty place; and then I walked them to the wood
     hard by, and there got them in the thickets till they had lost
     themselves, and I could not find the way into any of the walks
     in the wood, which indeed are very pleasant, if I could have
     found them. At last got out of the wood again; and I, by
     leaping down the little bank, coming out of the wood, did
     sprain my right foot, which brought me great present pain, but
     presently, with walking, it went away for the present, and so
     the women and W. Hewer and I walked upon the Downs, where a
     flock of sheep was; and the most pleasant and innocent sight
     that ever I saw in my life. We found a shepherd and his little
     boy reading, far from any houses or sight of people, the Bible
     to him; so I made the boy read to me, which he did, with the
     forced tone that children do usually read, that was mighty
     pretty, and then I did give him something, and went to the
     father, and talked with him; and I find he had been a servant
     in my cousin Pepys's house, and told me what was become of
     their old servants. He did content himself mightily in my
     liking his boy's reading, and did bless God for him, the most
     like one of the old patriarchs that ever I saw in my life, and
     it brought those thoughts of the old age of the world in my
     mind for two or three days after. We took notice of his woollen
     knit stockings of two colours mixed, and of his shoes shod with
     iron, both at the toe and heels, and with great nails in the
     soles of his feet, which was mighty pretty: and, taking notice
     of them, why, says the poor man, the downs, you see, are full
     of stones, and we are fain to shoe ourselves thus; and these,
     says he, will make the stones fly till they ring before me. I
     did give the poor man something, for which he was mighty
     thankful, and I tried to cast stones with his horn crook. He
     values his dog mightily, that would turn a sheep any way which
     he would have him, when he goes to fold them: told me there was
     about eighteen score sheep in his flock, and that he hath four
     shillings a week the year round for keeping of them: and Mrs.
     Turner, in the common fields here, did gather one of the
     prettiest nosegays that ever I saw in my life. So to our coach,
     and through Mr. Minnes's wood, and looked upon Mr. Evelyn's
     house; and so over the common, and through Epsom town to our
     inn, in the way stopping a poor woman with her milk-pail, and
     in one of my gilt tumblers did drink our bellyfuls of milk,
     better than any cream; and so to our inn, and there had a dish
     of cream, but it was sour, and so had no pleasure in it; and so
     paid our reckoning, and took coach, it being about seven at
     night, and passed and saw the people walking with their wives
     and children to take the air, and we set out for home, the sun
     by and by going down, and we in the cool of the evening all the
     way with much pleasure home, talking and pleasing ourselves
     with the pleasure of this day's work. Mrs. Turner mightily
     pleased with my resolution, which, I tell her, is never to keep
     a country-house, but to keep a coach, and with my wife on the
     Saturday to go sometimes for a day to this place, and then quit
     to another place; and there is more variety and as little
     charge, and no trouble, as there is in a country-house. Anon it
     grew dark, and we had the pleasure to see several glow-worms,
     which was mighty pretty, but my foot begins more and more to
     pain me, which Mrs. Turner, by keeping her warm hand upon it,
     did much ease; but so that when we come home, which was just at
     eleven at night, I was not able to walk from the lane's end to
     my house without being helped. So to bed, and there had a
     cere-cloth laid to my feet, but in great pain all night long.'

Pepys's correspondence forms a useful adjunct to his diary. Some of the
letters addressed to him are very entertaining, especially that from Sir
Samuel Morland on his matrimonial misadventures. His own letters are
usually couched in a formal full-dress style, contrasting strongly with
the careless ease of the _Diary_. Numerous letters and other documents
from Pepys's pen on Admiralty affairs are extant in various
repositories, and should be collected and published. He is also the
author of an anonymous work on the deposition of Alphonso VI. of
Portugal, entitled _The Portugal History, or a Relation of the Troubles
that happened in the Court of Portugal in the years 1667 and 1668_
(published in 1677), which deserves more notice than it has received. It
is a curious history of a palace revolution, which must have been
written to order by the help of official documents, and is the more
remarkable from the close family connection of the Portuguese and
English Courts, which latter must have approved, if it did not instigate
the publication.

Much space has here been given to Pepys, and not unreasonably, for his
will be to all ages the classical model of the diary, and a model to
which not only no one ever will attain, but to which no one will
endeavour to attain. Such transparent candour and artless _naïveté_ will
hardly in any future age of the world be found united to his parts and
knowledge. He is as supreme in his own sphere as Milton in his; and
another Milton is more likely to appear than another Pepys.

Another diarist, who, though far inferior to Pepys, deserves to be named
along with him, is Sir John Reresby (1634-89), a Yorkshire baronet, of
Thrybergh Hall, in the West Riding, a person of great influence by his
standing and property in the county. His objects in writing, he informs
us, were 'to instruct posterity how long it has pleased Providence to
continue us Reresbys in the same name and place; to save the labour of
turning over a great many obscure papers; and to preserve memorials of
some things of use as well as of curiosity.' This seems like the
prelude to a family history; the really important part of the book,
however, is not the introductory sketch of Reresby's ancestors, but a
diary with very wide gaps devoted in the main to setting forth the
writer's relations with the Court and his neighbours. To the latter he
is the grand seigneur; towards the former his attitude is not unlike
that of Pepys; he aims to provide as well for himself as possible
without dipping too deeply into corruption or absolutely selling himself
to promote the designs of arbitrary power. He attaches himself to Danby,
whose leading maxim was to build upon the support of the country gentry;
successively follows him and Halifax with some misgivings; and, though a
devoted servant of James II., his enumeration of that monarch's
tyrannical acts is so honest, that, if every document of the age had
perished except his diary, enough might be deduced from this to justify
the Revolution. At this time he was Governor of York, where he was
surprised and imprisoned; and death overtook him shortly afterwards
hesitating between the old king and the new. His memoirs, imperfectly
published in 1734, were edited from the original MS. by Mr. Cartwright
in 1875.

Rich as the age was in the diaries of private men and memoirs of public
transactions, it did not produce many narratives of private lives in
strictly autobiographic form. The most important was that of William
Lilly the astrologer, whose character of Charles I. has been already
noticed. If, as most think, an astrologer must be either a fool or a
knave, there can be no doubt under which class to range this
entertaining author. Born (1601) at Diseworth in Leicestershire, 'a town
of great rudeness,' he was indebted for his grammar-school education to
his father's decayed estate, which made the farm not worth following,
and for his transfer to London to his total unfitness for all
agricultural work. He walked up to London by the side of the carrier's
waggon, got a place in London as general servant, where 'I saw and ate
good white bread, contrary to our diet in Leicestershire;' but, on the
other hand, 'sometimes helped to carry eighteen tubs of water from the
Thames in one morning.' Within a few years he made his fortune by
marrying his master's widow, and devoted himself for the rest of his
life to mathematical and astrological pursuits. He died, in good
circumstances, in 1681, and was honourably interred at the expense of
Elias Ashmole, to whom his autobiography is addressed. His numerous
astrological writings do not concern us here; his memoirs are no less
valuable than entertaining for the glimpses they afford into bygone
manners and contemporary feeling on public affairs, and particularly for
the lively portrayal of the singular characters with whom Lilly was
professionally brought into connection, prototypes of the spiritualistic
mediums of a later day, and not unfairly represented by William Hodges,
'whose angels were Raphael, Gabriel, and Uriel; his life answered not in
holiness and sanctity to what it should, having to deal with those holy
angels.' The following description of a Welsh conjuror is a
characteristic example of Lilly's graphic touch:

     'It happened on one Sunday 1632, as myself and a Justice of
     Peace's clerk were, before service, discoursing of many things,
     he chanced to say, that such a person was a great scholar, nay,
     so learned, that he could make an almanack, which to me then
     was strange: One speech begot another, till, at last, he said,
     he could bring me acquainted with one Evans in
     Gun-Powder-Alley, who had formerly lived in Staffordshire, that
     was an excellent wise man, and studied the black art. The same
     week after we went to see Mr. Evans. When we come to his house,
     he having been drunk the night before, was upon his bed, if it
     be lawful to call that a bed whereon he then lay; he roused up
     himself, and, after some compliments, he was content to
     instruct me in astrology. I attended his best opportunities for
     seven or eight weeks, in which time I could set a figure
     perfectly: Books he had not any, except Haly de judiciis
     Astrorum, and Origanus's Ephemerides; so that as often as I
     entered his house, I thought I was in the Wilderness. Now
     something of the man: He was by birth a Welshman, a Master of
     Arts, and in sacred orders; he had formerly had a cure of souls
     in Staffordshire, but now was come to try his fortunes at
     London, being in a manner enforced to fly for some offences
     very scandalous committed by him in these parts where he had
     lately lived; for he gave judgment upon things lost, the only
     shame of astrology: He was the most saturnine person my eyes
     ever beheld, either before I practised or since; of a middle
     stature, broad forehead, beetle-browed, thick shoulders,
     flat-nosed, full lips, down-looked, black curling stiff hair,
     splay-footed; to give him his right, he had the most piercing
     judgment naturally upon a figure of theft, and many other
     questions, that I ever met withal; yet for money he would
     willingly give contrary judgments, was much addicted to
     debauchery, and then very abusive and quarrelsome, seldom
     without a black eye, or one mischief or other: This is the same
     Evans who made so many antimonial cups, upon the sale whereof
     he principally subsisted; he understood Latin very well, the
     Greek tongue not at all: He had some arts above, and beyond
     astrology, for he was well versed in the nature of spirits, and
     had many times used the circular way of invocating, as in the
     time of our familiarity he told me.'

Considering the fertility of the age in personal memoirs, its barrenness
in biography is remarkable. Apart from the lives by Mrs. Hutchinson and
Izaak Walton, to be noticed presently, and a few brief accounts of
celebrated men prefixed to their writings, almost the only example is
the cluster of valuable and entertaining family histories for which we
are indebted to Roger North (1653-1734), and one of these is an
autobiography. Roger North, brother of Francis, Lord Guilford, Chief
Justice of the Common Pleas and Jeffreys's predecessor in the Great
Seal, was a barrister, and a man of sound, though hardly shining parts,
who owed his extensive practice at the bar to the influence of his
relative. It fell off under the malevolent discouragement of Jeffreys,
and, at the Revolution, Roger, unable to take the oaths to the new
government, retired to his country estate in Norfolk, where he spent a
vigorous old age in gardening, building, vindicating the memory of his
brothers, writing his own biography, and 'cheerfully communicating to
all, without fee or reward, his great knowledge of the law'--virtuous
behaviour, but unprofessional. Two of the Norths were men of unusual
ability, the Lord Keeper and Sir Dudley, the eminent Turkey merchant,
who returned from a prosperous career at Constantinople to pack juries,
as his enemies alleged, in the storms of the Exclusion Bill agitation,
and to signalize himself as an authority on questions of trade and
finance. The Norths, a jovial race, full of sap and substance, were
staunch Cavaliers, and Roger's biographies of his brothers grew out of a
vindication of the Lord Keeper against the attacks of Bishop White
Kennett. His apologetic _Examen_, not published until after his death,
though important for the history of the time, can hardly rank as
literature. The biographies and autobiography, on the other hand, are
very good literature, though Dr. Jessopp is hardly warranted in styling
them English classics. They are neither planned with classic symmetry
nor executed with classic elegance; but are charming from their artless
loquacity and the atmosphere of fraternal affection in which they are
steeped, as well as most entertaining from their wealth of anecdote and
their portraits, partial, but not intentionally unfair, of remarkable
men. Two elements in these books are sharply contrasted, the political
and the anecdotic. The former affords a melancholy but useful
representation of the factious unreason of political parties in that
age, especially Roger's, and of the prejudices which kept Englishmen
apart until they learned toleration from Locke and Hoadly. It is to
Roger's credit that, although he had done his best to put it into James
II.'s power to overthrow the Church and trample on the laws, he recoiled
when the crisis came. A page or two after expressing his opinion that
good citizens never resist arbitrary power, he is found inconsistently,
though very rightly, lauding his brother Dudley for refusing, under the
strongest pressure from James, to mortgage his vote in Parliament; and
the whole tenor of his memoirs shows that, although his principles would
not allow him to acquiesce openly in the Revolution, he was at the
bottom of his heart by no means sorry for it. His antipathy to Jeffreys,
who had enacted towards his brother the part which Laud had formerly
performed towards Abbot, may have had something to do with this
attitude. His portraits of eminent lawyers, such as Hale, Saunders, and
Maynard, though sometimes disfigured by party feeling, have signal
value. The anecdotic part of the memoirs, on the other hand, is
delightful reading, being full of good-natured fun, shrewd observation,
and interesting glimpses of the manners of the times, sometimes well
worth noting, as, for example, this testimony to the popularity of the
Church of England in Wales in Charles II.'s time: 'I remember the
doctor' (Roger's brother John, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge)
'told us that when he came to his parish, he found the humour of the
people very different from what, on like occasions, was often found in
England. For, instead of grumbling at and affronting a new tithe-monger
came down amongst them, too often known in English villages, the
parishioners came about him and hugged him, calling him their pastor,
and telling him they were his sheep.' There are two especial
repositories of anecdotes in North's volumes, that of stories of
circuits and eminent lawyers in his memoir of the Lord Keeper and his
own autobiography, and the Turkish and Levantine sketches in the life of
his brother Dudley. The latter gives a most curious picture of the
relations of Mussulmans and Christians in the days when this was the
fashion in which unbelievers were noticed by sultans:

     'The great officers about the Grand Signor, with whom he
     [Dudley North] had transacted and familiarly conversed, told
     his majesty that there was now in the city of Constantinople an
     extraordinary _gower_ [Giaour], as well for person as abilities
     to transact the greatest affairs. The Grand Signor declared
     that he would see this extraordinary _gower_: and accordingly
     the merchant was told of it; and at the time appointed an
     officer conducted him into the seraglio, and carried him about
     till he came to a little garden, and there two other men took
     him by the two arms and led him to a place where he saw the
     Grand Signor sitting against a large window open in a chamber
     not very high from the ground; the men that were his
     conductors, holding each an arm, put their hands upon his neck
     and bowed him down till his forehead touched the ground; and
     this was done more than once, and is the very same forced
     obeisance of ambassadors at their audiences. After this he
     stood bolt upright as long as the Grand Signor thought fit to
     look at him; and then, upon a sign given, he was taken away and
     set free again by himself to reflect on this his romantic

This 'extraordinary _gower_' appears to have been the perfect ideal of
an orientalized John Bull. Having, as his brother assures us, 'an
uncommon disposition to truth,' it is surprising to find him actively
concerned in the subornation of perjury in Turkish law-courts, but this
Roger considers a demonstration of the strength of his mind:

     'One must have a strong power of thought to abstract the
     prejudices of our domestic education and plant ourselves in a
     way of negotiating in heathen remote countries.'

[Sidenote: Mrs. Hutchinson's _Life of Col. Hutchinson_.]

Another biography of the time unknown to the age which produced it, but
a standard work and general favourite since its republication early in
the nineteenth century, is the life of Colonel Hutchinson, by his widow.
Lucy Hutchinson, third daughter of Sir Allen Apsley, Governor of the
Tower, was born in 1620, and in 1638 married Colonel John Hutchinson, of
a good Nottinghamshire family, who, after having taken an active part on
the parliamentary side during the Civil War, acted as one of the king's
judges, and retired into private life rather than accept employment
under Cromwell. He escaped prosecution at the Restoration, but
afterwards, upon suspicion of engaging in plots, was imprisoned in Deal
Castle, where he died from the unwholesomeness of his quarters. His
widow wrote his life between 1664 and 1670, but it was not published
until 1806. It is naturally an unqualified panegyric upon her husband,
redeemed from insipidity by the conjugal affection and devotion which
inspire it, and the elegant simplicity of the style. In panegyrizing her
husband, Mrs. Hutchinson unwittingly extols herself; she has no doubt
that he was among the wisest as well as the best men of his time, and
her simple conviction is so touching, that the reader is almost
persuaded to think so too. One of the most high-minded he certainly was,
but his independence verged upon impracticability. The strictly
historical value of the work is small, except as regards incidents of
the Civil War in Nottinghamshire. Mrs. Hutchinson was a highly
accomplished woman, and made a metrical translation of Lucretius, which
is extant in MS. in the British Museum. The time of her death is not

[Sidenote: Religious Biography: Izaak Walton, 1593-1683.]

The most important ecclesiastical biography by a contemporary writer is
the life of Archbishop Williams, by Bishop Hacket (1592-1670), the
munificent restorer of Lichfield Cathedral, which, although first
published in 1693, was completed in 1657, and will be more fitly noticed
under the pre-Restoration period. This, though more intrinsically
valuable, is much less known than a series of little religious
biographies which owe their fame partly to the superior attractiveness
of the characters depicted, partly to their more manageable compass, and
partly to the charm of a tender and pious spirit, rather than of style.
Singularly enough, the author owes a still larger measure of fame to
another book composed in a similar spirit, but on a subject at first
sight (were it not for the profession of St. Peter) wide as the poles
asunder from ecclesiastical biography. Izaak Walton, biographer of
Donne, and author of _The Complete Angler_, was born at Stafford in
1593, and died at Winchester in 1683. He appears to have settled in
London as a draper about 1616, in a little shop over the Exchange,
'seven feet long and five feet wide.' In 1624 he was established in
Fleet Street, near the south-west corner of Chancery Lane. In 1643,
having secured a competency by trade, and probably finding that his
churchmanship and royalism exposed him to annoyance in London, he gave
up business and withdrew into the country, living, Wood says, 'mostly in
the families of the eminent clergymen of England,' unquiet habitations
in those times, one would imagine. He had, during his residence in
London, greatly ingratiated himself with the dignified clergy, and
distinguished himself as the biographer of one of the most eminent among
them, though this seems to have been a mere accident, Sir Henry Wotton
having requested him to collect materials for a life of Donne, which he
intended to have written himself. Wotton dying without having performed
his purpose, his mantle fell upon Walton, whose memoir, prefixed to an
edition of Donne's sermons, published in 1640, obtained so much success
that he was requested to write the life of Wotton himself. This was
completed in 1644, and appeared in 1651 along with the _Reliquiae
Wottonianae_, a collection edited by Walton. The lives of Hooker and
Herbert (the former a commission from Archbishop Sheldon) were written
shortly after the Restoration, under the roof of Morley, Bishop of
Winchester; the life of Bishop Sanderson was written as late as 1675.
Meanwhile the _Complete Angler, or Contemplative Man's Recreation_, the
book on which Walton's fame after all principally rests, had appeared in
1653, with copies of complimentary verse prefixed which seem to prove
that it was ready for the press in 1650. One of these effusions, by
Thomas Weaver, dated 1649, is a poem of unusual merit, much in the style
of Marvell. Walton, who had married a sister of Bishop Ken, died in the
house of his son-in-law, Prebendary Hawkins of Winchester, in 1683. His
will, which he had himself drawn up a short time previously, shows the
undiminished vigour of his faculties, and the endurance of his
connection with his native county. His character may be read in every
page of his writings, and is such as to prove that with him angling was
indeed the recreation of a contemplative man.

The maxim _noscitur a sociis_ is entirely in Walton's favour, for his
ecclesiastical heroes are the flower of the Church of England of his
day. His treatment is in general very satisfactory, entirely
sympathetic, the first qualification of biography, and much less marred
by prejudice and party spirit than was to have been expected from the
agitated character of the times. The simple unaffected style almost
verges upon garrulity. Though not a scholar, Walton seems to have
possessed sufficient acquaintance with theology to avoid
misrepresentation of eminent divines; while the chief value of his work
consists in its portrayal of almost ideal charity, meekness, and
learning; and in the curious anecdotes embedded in it, such as Pope
Clement VIII.'s high appreciation of Hooker, James I.'s influence upon
the composition of Sarpi's _History of the Council of Trent_, Charles
I.'s translation of Sanderson (unfortunately lost), and his infatuated
regret expressed to the same divine for having consented to the
abolition of episcopacy in Scotland. Walton, into whose composition
mirth entered, but not humour, records this with the same gravity with
which he chronicles Charles's injunction to the Merry Monarch to be
above all things diligent in the study of Richard Hooker. Some light may
possibly be thrown upon the vexed question of the interpolation of the
last three books of the _Ecclesiastical Polity_, by the statement of
Hoole, a contemporary schoolmaster, when exhorting his scholars to good
penmanship, that many of Hooker's sermons had been destroyed after his
death from the impossibility of deciphering his handwriting.



[Sidenote: The Pulpit in the Restoration epoch.]

Passing from the biographers of divines to the divines themselves, we
observe that, with the signal exception of _Pilgrim's Progress_, nearly
all the writers in this department whose productions have established a
claim to rank among English classics belong to 'the company of the
preachers.' This is not in itself surprising; preaching stimulates
eloquence, and the homilist enjoys a much greater freedom of range, and
a fuller exemption from restraint, than the writer upon strictly
technical or professional subjects. It does, however, at first sight
seem remarkable, that an age so generally decried for immorality as the
Restoration should, with the decade immediately preceding, have been the
golden age of the English pulpit. In fact, as we have implied when
treating of the drama, the apparent licence of the age did not really
extend much beyond gay and fashionable circles, which could not greatly
affect the pulpit except to its advantage, by furnishing it with
impressive topics. Even in these circles immorality was far from
necessarily implying irreligion; and the sober citizens who crowded
churches and meeting-houses, and the universities, whose routine
afforded so many opportunities for the delivery of discourses from the
pulpit, were much as heretofore. In the rudimentary condition of the
press as an organ of public information and education, and when the
meeting was hardly an institution as yet, the spoken word possessed a
power of which the newspaper has since gone far to deprive it. In times
of public disquiet, such as the days of the Exclusion Bill or those
which preceded the Revolution, churches and chapels were crowded with
people seeking guidance, popular sermons went through edition after
edition, and popular divines were almost tribunes of the people.
Theological considerations moulded political opinion to a degree now
hardly conceivable; the storm of pamphlets on both sides called forth by
the resipiscence or tergiversation of a leading divine like Sherlock
shows what importance attached to his conduct upon either view of it.
The age, moreover, was in the stage of literary development most
favourable for pulpit eloquence. As a huge glacier takes longer to melt
than a small one, the quaint and involved periods of the Elizabethan
pulpit stood out longer than ordinary prose against the disintegrating
influence of seventeenth century taste, and while the new movement was
triumphant in most branches of literature, it in general only affected
the style of the sermon so far as to chasten and mellow it, leaving it
still that sonorous dignity and that flavour of the antique with which
stately and impressive eloquence can rarely dispense. The two greatest
preachers, Barrow and South, stand just upon this culminating point of
excellence, uniting the majesty of the old style to the ease and
clearness of the new. Tillotson, going a step further, and bringing the
pulpit down to the level of ordinary educated society, performed indeed
a most useful work, but inevitably prepared the way for the sensible but
unimpressive preaching of the next century.

[Sidenote: Isaac Barrow (1630-1677).]

Isaac Barrow, Master of Trinity College, was the son of a respectable
tradesman, linendraper to Charles I. His royalist and Arminian opinions
kept him back under the Commonwealth, but after the Restoration he was
acknowledged as the first mathematician of his country, except, as he
was the first to allow, another Isaac whose surname was Newton. Newton,
who had been Barrow's pupil, revised his lectures on optics (1669), an
epoch-making work, but composed in Latin, as were his scarcely less
celebrated lectures on geometry. His reputation as an English classic
rests upon two great theological works, his _Treatise on the Pope's
Supremacy_ (edited, after his death, by Tillotson) and his _Exposition
of the Creed_, and upon his sermons, which do not seem to have been
extremely popular in his own day, though gaining the suffrage of such
dissimilar men as Locke and Charles II., who called Barrow 'an unfair
preacher, because he exhausted every topic, and left no room for
anything to be said by anyone who came after him.' It may be reasonably
conjectured that when Barrow preached before Charles he did not indulge
in the inordinate expansiveness, it was not prolixity, that sometimes
drove away his congregation. It is to the king's honour that his
bestowal of the mastership of Trinity upon Barrow was entirely his own

[Sidenote: Robert South (1633-1716).]

Robert South, on the whole perhaps the greatest preacher of his age, was
born in 1633, and educated at Westminster and Christ Church. He is
accused by Antony Wood, the principal authority for his life, of having
been a time-server, who sided successively with the Independents, the
Presbyterians, and the Church of England in the days of their power.
Wood seems, however, to have had some private grievance against him; and
if South was really at the same time so pliant and so able, it seems
strange that he should have attained no higher preferment than stalls at
Christ Church and Westminster. Quarrelsome he certainly was, and he
entered into a most acrimonious controversy with Sherlock, which it
required a royal proclamation to compose. He died in 1716.

[Sidenote: John Tillotson (1630-1694).]

Unlike South's, the character of John Tillotson is no matter for
controversy. With the possible exception of Archbishop Herring,[11] he
was the most amiable man that ever filled the see of Canterbury, and was
pronounced by the discerning and experienced William III. the best
friend he had ever had and the best man he had ever known. To the
meekness of the pastor Tillotson added the qualities of the statesman,
and happy was it for the Church of England that such a man could be
found to fill the primacy at such a time. As a master of oratory he is
greatly inferior in eloquence to both Barrow and South, but historically
is more important than either, for Addison was influenced by him, and
his discourses long gave the tone to the English pulpit, affording the
almost universally accepted model throughout the greater part of the
eighteenth century.

Of these three great preachers South is certainly the greatest as
respects eloquence and energy of diction. Almost every sentence is
striking, and at the same time in perfect good taste. By so much,
however, as he surpasses his rivals in purely literary qualities, does
he fall below them in others even more essential to the preacher. His
judgment is often greatly at fault, he commits himself to plainly
untenable propositions, and enforces them with the confidence of one
displaying self-evident truths. After a few experiences of this kind the
reader begins to look upon him as a rhetorician, and to prefer the more
cautious, but still vivid and vigorous ratiocination of Barrow; or the
'sweet reasonableness' of Tillotson, inferior to Barrow, as he to South,
in the gifts of the consummate orator, but more truly persuasive in the
gentleness of his expostulation and his transparent candour.

Edward Stillingfleet, Bishop of Worcester (1635-1699), though a fine
preacher, is less remembered in this capacity than for his unsuccessful
controversy with Locke and his _Origines Sacrae_, a work of great
learning in defence of the Church of England, which Coleridge in his
_Notes on Books_ emphatically prefers to the corresponding labours of
Chillingworth. Coleridge was naturally prejudiced in favour of the
antagonist of Locke, whose graces of mind and person, however, are
attested by a dispassionate witness, Pepys.

Theology, apart from eloquence, is hardly entitled to a place in
literary history; yet some of the theologians of the period were too
illustrious to be passed over without mention. John Pearson, Bishop of
Chester (1612-1686), ranks among the Fathers of the Church of England by
his standard work on the Creed. 'Pearson's very dust,' says Bentley, 'is
gold.' Barrow's great controversial treatise has been mentioned. George
Bull, Bishop of St. David's (1634-1710), achieved even more, for he
extorted the thanks of the clergy of France by his _Nicaenae Fidei
Defensio_ (1685), written in Latin, but afterwards translated into
English. The author's object was to prove the orthodoxy of the
Ante-Nicene Fathers, which had been disputed by several Protestant
divines; the cost of publication was borne by the munificent Bishop
Fell. The French prelates further paid Bull the equivocal compliment of
wondering why in the world so excellent a man did not join the Church of
Rome. _Talis cum sis, utinam noster esses._ Bull expounded his
difficulties in a treatise on the corruptions of that church, the most
popular of his works at home, but which, being written in English,
failed to vindicate his position in the eyes of the Frenchmen. Next to
these giants of learning may be named a very dissimilar person, Richard
Baxter (1615-1691), whom moderate men had designated for a bishopric at
the Restoration, but whom the Bartholomew's Day of 1662 made a
Nonconformist. He wrote one hundred and sixty-eight books, two of which
have survived, _A Call to the Unconverted_ and _The Saints' Everlasting
Rest_. The latter Professor Minto calls 'a volume of pious thoughts that
have a peculiar interest when we view them as the aspirations of an
infirm man turning wearily from the distractions of a time utterly out
of joint.' The writings of George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, mostly
belong to a previous period; but the _No Cross, no Crown_ of William
Penn (1644-1718) falls within Restoration literature. A far more
important work is the _Apology_ of Robert Barclay (1648-1690). This
remarkable book, which has been recommended by bishops to theological
students as the best available for many purposes, is the standard
exposition of Quakerism, and undoubtedly ranks among the classics of its
period. Mr. Leslie Stephen describes it as 'one of the most impressive
theological writings of the century: grave, logical, and often marked by
the eloquence of lofty moral convictions.' 'The St. Paul of the
Quakers,' says Coleridge of the author. Barclay, the descendant of an
old Scotch family, became a Quaker in 1667, following the example of his
father. He underwent some persecution, but was in the main shielded by
the favour of James II. His works were collected by Penn in 1692.

Two devotional writings of the age, besides Baxter's, obtained
sufficient currency to merit a place in the history of literature. _The
Whole Duty of Man_, first published in 1658, is an excellent
representative of the sobriety and sound sense characteristic of the
Church of England. At the same time it must be confessed that it has
more reason than unction, and seeks rather to menace and upbraid than to
allure men into the religious life. At the present day it would be
pronounced grievously deficient in fervour, servile in its political
teachings, and too exclusive in its appeals to prudential and
self-interested motives; but its adaptation to a positive and prosaic
age was sufficiently evinced by a circulation enormous for the period.
The authorship is involved in mystery: it is usually attributed to
Archbishop Sterne or Lady Pakington; but Sterne can hardly have had time
to write the seven other treatises ascribed, apparently with good
ground, to the same author; and it is clearly not the composition of a
woman. Evelyn attributes it on the authority of Archbishop Tenison to a
Dr. Chaplin, of University College, Oxford, who cannot be traced. Lately
Mr. Dobie, in the _Academy_, has ascribed it and its companions on
strong grounds to Richard Allestree, Provost of Eton, an intimate friend
of Bishop Fell. The Bishop appears to have copied some of them in his
own hand, and certainly was acquainted with the authorship. The most
important of the other works ascribed to the writer of _The Whole Duty
of Man_ are _The Causes of the Decay of Christian Piety_, _The Gentleman
and Ladies' Calling_, and _The Government of the Tongue_.

Another work of edification, which almost rivalled the popularity of
_The Whole Duty of Man_, was the _Practical Discourse concerning Death_
(1689), by William Sherlock (1641-1707), Master of the Temple and Dean
of St. Paul's, the divine whose tergiversations respecting the oath of
allegiance to William and Mary are so amusingly detailed by Macaulay. It
is a model of clear and forcible writing, but on the lowest plane of
unspiritual selfishness. 'How unreasonable is it for us to trouble
ourselves about this world longer than we are like to continue in it!'
exclaims Sherlock, with the air of one apologizing for enunciating a

[Sidenote: John Ray (1628-1705).]

Natural theology had a representative of much higher moral calibre than
professional theology found in Sherlock in John Ray (1628-1705). Ray, a
Cambridge man, prevented by scruples from ministering in the Church of
England after the fatal legislation of 1662, but substantially accepting
her doctrines, was the first English naturalist of eminence, and wrote
chiefly in Latin, but composed his treatise on _The Wisdom of God in the
Creation_ in his mother-tongue. The anthropomorphism of this earnest,
lucid, and ingenious book, the prototype of Paley's, is a defect hardly
to be avoided in an age when the Deity was almost universally conceived
as an artificer; and yet Ray comes very near indeed to the conception of
a power immanent in Nature. His style is limpid and persuasive; his
reasoning cogent; his good sense is apparent in his discussion of
spontaneous generation and the stories related in its support, although
the caution and modesty of his temper sometimes incline him to defer too
much to authority. He has no mercy, for example, on frogs rained from
the sky, but will not, in the face of the testimony of eye-witnesses,
carry scepticism to the point of disputing that they may have been
occasionally found immured in the middle of stones.

Ray's teleology had allies in Derham (1657-1735), an observant
naturalist and author of _Astro-Theology_, and in the Hon. Robert Boyle,
the best of men in disposition, and an admirable natural philosopher,
but feeble and diffuse as a natural theologian.

[Sidenote: Thomas Burnet (1635?-1715).]

Thomas Burnet, Master of the Charter House, is the reverse of Boyle in
most respects; a visionary as natural theologian and natural
philosopher, but the only writer of his day, the great preachers
excepted, who attained to sublimity in prose. A Cambridge man and a
pupil of Tillotson, Burnet was elected Master of the Charter House in
1685, and signalized himself by his courage in resisting James II.'s
attempted intrusion of Roman Catholics into the foundation. He became
Clerk of the Closet to William III., which post he was obliged to resign
from the freedom of his criticism of the Mosaic narrative, but retained
his mastership unmolested to his death. He left behind him two
theological works in Latin, privately printed, but soon afterwards
published, _De Fide et officiis Christianorum_ and _De Statu mortuorum
et resurgentium_, in which he carried the liberty of speculation very
far. The book on which his fame rests, _The Sacred Theory of the Earth_,
was also originally composed in Latin, to which circumstance it is
probably indebted for much of its exceptional dignity of style. It was
intended by the author as sober natural philosophy, but to a scientific
age appears a poetical vision of the former immersion and future
conflagration of the earth, justly compared by Mr. Gosse to the gorgeous
apocalyptic imaginings of Danby and Martin. According to Burnet the
earth was originally an egg both in shape and smoothness, enclosing the
waters in an 'antediluvian abyss.' At the universal deluge the earth
sank into this internal cavity. Upon the subsidence of the waters the
land partly emerged in the confused shapes into which it had been
tumbled by the crash, partly remained beneath the sea. The argument is
very ingenious and entertaining, and instructive also, for it exhibits
to perfection two of the most ordinary causes of fallacy, the assuming
imaginary data as unquestionable premises and the enthusiast's adoption
of sublimity as the standard of truth. Burnet's mind was the mind of a
poet; he had just enough science to misguide him, and more than enough
learning to gloss over the vagaries of his science. He is quite as much
at home in expounding the catastrophe of the future, the final
conflagration, as the watery catastrophe of which he believes the traces
to be visible everywhere around him. At the same time he has a strong
affinity to the rationalizing divines, even more visible in his strictly
theological writings, and would not for the world propound anything of
whose reasonableness he has not first convinced himself. As a writer he
stands high, combining the splendour and melody of a former age with the
ease and lucidity of his own. The following is a fair average specimen
of his picturesque imagination and impassioned diction:

     'Thus the Flood came to its height; and 'tis not easy to
     represent to ourselves this strange scene of things, when the
     Deluge was in its fury and extremity; when the earth was broken
     and swallowed up in the abyss, whose raging waters rose higher
     than the mountains, and filled the air with broken waves, with
     an universal mist, and with thick darkness, so as nature seemed
     to be in a second chaos; and upon this chaos rid the distrest
     Ark, that bore the small remains of mankind. No sea was ever so
     tumultuous, as this, nor is there anything in present nature to
     be compared with the disorder of these waters; all the poetry,
     and all the hyperboles that are used in the description of
     storms and raging seas, were literally true in this, if not
     beneath it. The Ark was really carried to the tops of the
     highest mountains, and into the places of the clouds, and
     thrown down again into the deepest gulfs; and to this very
     state of the Deluge and of the Ark, which was a type of the
     Church in this world, David seems to have alluded in the name
     of the Church, Psalm xlii. 7, Abyss calls upon abyss at the
     noise of thy cataracts or waterspouts; all thy waves and
     billows have gone over me. It was no doubt an extraordinary and
     miraculous providence, that could make a vessel, so ill manned,
     live upon such a sea; that kept it from being dashed against
     the hills, or overwhelmed in the deeps. That abyss which had
     devoured and swallowed up whole forests of woods, cities, and
     provinces, nay the whole earth, when it had conquered all, and
     triumphed over all, could not destroy this single ship. I
     remember in the story of the Argonautics, Dion. Argonaut. l.
     i., v. 47, when Jason set out to fetch the Golden Fleece, the
     poet saith, all the gods that day looked down from Heaven to
     view the ship, and the nymphs stood upon the mountain-tops to
     see the noble youth of Thessaly pulling at the oars; we may
     with more reason suppose the good angels to have looked down
     upon this ship of Noah's; and that not out of curiosity, as
     idle spectators, but with a passionate concern for its safety
     and deliverance. A ship, whose cargo was no less than a whole
     world; that carried the fortune and hopes of all posterity, and
     if this had perished, the earth for any thing we know had been
     nothing but a desert, a great ruin, a dead heap of rubbish,
     from the Deluge to the conflagration. But death and hell, the
     grave, and destruction have their bounds. We may entertain
     ourselves with the consideration of the face of the Deluge, and
     of the broken and drowned earth, in this scheme, with the
     floating Ark, and the guardian angels.'

The most eminent natural theologian of the time after Ray, and one who
would have surpassed Ray in importance if his labours in this department
had been more than a brief episode in a busy career, was Richard
Bentley, whose power of destructive criticism in other fields proved how
formidable a champion he could be on the negative side of any question.
Bentley's massive intelligence, however, aptitude for broad commonsense
views, and impatience of niceties and subtleties, entirely qualified him
to embrace and expound the form in which natural theology commended
itself to the vast majority of the thinkers of his day. He dealt solely
with the materialism of Hobbes, 'there may be some Spinosists beyond
seas,' he says, but to him _de non existentibus, et de non apparentibus,
eadem est ratio_. The questions and the answers of a Goethe would have
been equally unintelligible to him; if Newman would certainly have
thought him shallow, he would as certainly have thought Newman
whimsical. He must be judged from the standpoint of his own day, and
from this his argument, delivered as the Boyle lecture for 1691 and
1692, must be pronounced a splendid and cogent piece of reasoning. It is
particularly remarkable for its absolute reliance on the doctrines of
Newton's _Principia_, when Newton had hardly a disciple out of England.


[11] On the flyleaf of a copy of Birch's _Life of Tillotson_ in the
British Museum is a transcript of a letter from Archbishop Herring to
the author, in which, acknowledging his dedication, he says: "I think
myself extremely honoured in having my inconsiderable name connected
with that of the best of my predecessors. I feel the disparity of the
characters, and must submit to the censure which will arise from a
comparison so infinitely to my disadvantage. But, as posterity, when the
real object is out of sight, may imagine from your picture that there
might be some distant shadow of a resemblance, I think I may, I think I
ought to enjoy the contemplation." The resemblance was closer than the
good archbishop's modesty would admit.



[Sidenote: John Bunyan (1628-1688).]

So great an endowment is genius, that neither the effect produced nor
the fame achieved by all the eloquent and learned divines of Charles
II.'s age can be for an instant compared to the achievement of a poor
and almost illiterate mechanic, whom Macaulay classes with Milton as one
of the only two men of that period--he might have excepted Thomas
Burnet--to whom had been vouchsafed any considerable measure of
imagination. John Bunyan, the one man who has attained to write a
successful prose allegory on a large scale, and to infuse true emotion
into an exercise of ingenuity, and who probably owed less to study and
training than any other of the great authors of the modern world, was
born at Elstow, a village in the neighbourhood of Bedford, in November,
1628. He is usually described as a 'tinker,' but, as he was not an
itinerant, 'brazier' would be a more correct appellation. The trade was
his father's, who was also a very small freeholder. Bunyan probably
received some instruction at Bedford grammar school, and his narrative
of his boyhood shows that he must have had considerable knowledge of the
Bible, which impressed his imaginative temper more than he knew at the
time. According to his own account he was wild and profane in his youth,
but nothing very definite can be extracted from these self-accusations,
and it would rather appear that it was only for a short time that he
could even be described as careless. In 1644, partly perhaps from grief
at the death of his mother and dissatisfaction with his father's speedy
re-marriage, he enlisted into the army, doubtless the Parliamentary
force, though he strangely or prudently leaves the point uncertain.
About the end of 1648 he married, and through the influence of his wife,
whose name he does not tell us, and by the aid of two religious books
which she brought him among her scanty possessions, he accomplished what
he afterwards came to consider a merely outward reformation. The attempt
to subjugate the inward man involved him for several years in the most
distressing spiritual conflicts, described with extreme power in his
_Grace Abounding_. They conducted him eventually to peace, and into the
Baptist congregation of Mr. Gifford, who had been helpful to him. In
1655 he became a preacher, and in the following year produced his first
book, _Some Gospel Truths Opened_, to which was prefixed a
recommendatory letter by John Burton, who says, 'This man is not chosen
out of an earthly, but out of the heavenly university.'

In 1660 the revival under the Restoration government of obsolete
enactments against conventicles, with no endeavour to discriminate
between seditious conspirators like the Fifth Monarchy men and harmless
worshippers like the Baptists, compelled the reluctant Bedford
magistrates to arrest and imprison Bunyan as an unlicensed preacher. He
might have escaped, or have obtained release by a trifling submission,
but with the spirit of a Christian martyr he disdained either course,
and abode contentedly in prison for nearly twelve years. His captivity
in the commodious county gaol was by no means oppressive; indeed, in the
first part of it he enjoyed a large measure of liberty, afterwards
withdrawn. He supported himself by making tagged laces, as well as by
the publication of some books, of which _Grace Abounding_ (1666) is the
most important. The first part of _Pilgrim's Progress_ was also written
in prison, but, as Bunyan's best biographer, Dr. John Brown, almost
proves, during a second and comparatively brief confinement in 1676. In
1672 Bunyan published his _Defence of Justification by Faith_, a coarse
and violent attack on the _Design of Christianity_, by Dr., afterwards
Bishop Fowler, one of the most tolerant divines of the age, but who was
provoked to reply with almost equal acrimony. In the same year Charles
II.'s merciful but entirely illegal suspension of all statutes against
Papists and Nonconformists liberated Bunyan, who even obtained a licence
to preach, and became stated minister of the Baptist congregation at
Bedford, then meeting in a barn in an orchard. Notwithstanding some few
molestations, of which the second imprisonment in 1675-76 was the chief,
the remainder of his life was in general tranquil and prosperous. The
first part of _Pilgrim's Progress_ appeared in 1678, and, though not
half-a-dozen copies of it are now known to exist, immediately attained
the highest popularity. Edition followed edition, the first two or three
with remarkable additions and improvements. Bunyan frequently visited
London, where he became a popular preacher; his influence was courted,
though unsuccessfully, by the government itself, and in 1688, the year
of his death, he had become in some sort chaplain to the Lord Mayor, 'an
Anabaptist, a very odd ignorant person,' says Evelyn. His principal
works in the interval had been: _The Life and Death of Mr. Badman_,
1680; _The Holy War_, 1682; the second part of the _Pilgrim's Progress_,
1684; _The Jerusalem Sinner Saved_, 1688. His death, on August 31st,
1688, took place in London, and was occasioned by cold contracted on a
journey which he had undertaken to reconcile a father with his son.

Of Bunyan's character there can be but one opinion, he was a truly
Apostolic man. As no one's diction is more forcible, unadulterated
Saxon, so no life has better expressed the sturdy, sterling virtues of
the Englishman. A wider culture would have enriched both his mind and
his writings, but with the probable result of turning a remarkable man
into an ordinary one. His good sense and his humility are illustrated by
a charming anecdote. 'Ah, Mr. Bunyan,' said a grateful hearer, 'that was
a sweet sermon!' 'You need not tell me that,' replied Bunyan, 'the devil
whispered it to me before I was well out of the pulpit.'

It is unnecessary to dwell at any great length upon the characteristics
of so famous and universally known a book as _Pilgrim's Progress_.
Though professedly a vision, and treating of spiritual things, it ranks
with _Robinson Crusoe_ and _Gulliver's Travels_ as one of the great
realistic books of the English language. All three are examples of the
possibility of rendering scenes wholly imaginary, and in fact
impossible, truer to the apprehension than experience itself by the
narrator's own air of absolute conviction, and by unswerving fidelity to
truth of detail. In Bunyan's case the triumph is the more remarkable, as
his personages are not even imaginary men and women, but mere
embodiments of moral or theological qualities. Yet Faithful and Hopeful
are as real as Crusoe and Friday. Before he began to write he must have
realized what he wished to describe with a vividness only conceivable by
regarding it as an outward expression of his own spiritual experience.
He had himself been Christian and Faithful and the captive in Doubting
Castle; he had gazed on Vanity Fair, and passed through the Valley of
the Shadow of Death. The fact that his allegory is in truth an
autobiography explains what Macaulay calls the characteristic
peculiarity of _Pilgrim's Progress_: 'it is the only work of its kind
which possesses a strong human interest. Other allegories only amuse the
fancy. The allegory of Bunyan has been read by many thousands with
tears.' Elsewhere he says, '_Pilgrim's Progress_ is perhaps the only
book about which, after the lapse of a hundred years, the educated
minority has come over to the opinion of the common people.' It may be
added that _Pilgrim's Progress_, unlike other celebrated works, is a
_bona fide_ and unmistakable allegory. _Don Quixote_ may have a much
deeper purpose than that of satirizing chivalric romances, but not one
reader in a hundred cares to fathom it. Spenser undoubtedly intended to
shadow forth Elizabeth in Gloriana; but the perception of the poet's
purpose contributes nothing to the enjoyment of his poem. In Bunyan,
however, the allegory is the book, too plain to be overlooked by the
most careless reader; and all the minor allegories that combine to
enrich the main action are equally apparent for what they are, and yet
the obvious invention has all the force of reality. 'Bunyan,' says
Macaulay, 'is almost the only writer who ever gave to the abstract the
interest of the concrete. In the works of many celebrated authors men
are mere personifications. The mind of Bunyan, on the other hand, was so
imaginative that personifications, when he dealt with them, became men.
A dialogue between two qualities, in his dream, has more dramatic effect
than a dialogue between two human beings in most plays.' Macaulay
proceeds to compare Bunyan in this particular with Shelley, and the
comparison is just; but it is surprising that neither he nor Mr. Froude
should have dwelt on Bunyan's deeper affinity to a great predecessor of
whom he assuredly never read a line--Dante. Dante's personifications,
indeed, are feeble compared to Bunyan's; it is doubtful whether some of
them are even intended as such. The might of his imagination, however,
like Bunyan's, is shown in his power of reconciling us to its wildest
flights by the intensity of his realism; and the chief distinction is
that while Bunyan's materials are necessarily drawn from the only worlds
he knew, the narrow and prosaic world of Bedford and the sublime world
of the Bible, Dante disposed of all his age could give in philosophy,
political life, human learning, the influence of art and the scrutiny of
nature. Bunyan is hence a very contracted and terrestrial Dante, but so
far as he goes he is a true Dante; he cannot soar with his great
predecessor, but if Dante had succeeded him he would not have disdained
to have built upon his massive groundwork. Both suffer from the
inevitable progress of mankind beyond the conceptions which in their day
were accepted as matters of course. Dante's _Inferno_ now seems rather
grotesque than terrible. Christian's forsaking his kindred in the City
of Destruction, which to Bunyan appeared a duty, now seems selfishness.
That the fame of both should have survived such profound modifications
of belief is one of the most striking evidences of their greatness. One
great advantage Bunyan possessed: the Bible had prepared the way for
him. There is probably no other such instance of the assimilation of one
literature by another as the domestication of the Bible in England. The
Greek and Hebrew authors of the Scriptures were better known to the
public that Bunyan principally addressed than the majority of their own
writers, and he had no need, like other men of original genius, to
painfully create the taste by which he was ultimately to be judged. From
the first _Pilgrim's Progress_ took rank as a classic; well might Dr.
Arnold call it 'a complete reflection of Scripture.' Its chief blemish,
the somewhat prosaic and self-seeking character of its piety, harmonized
entirely with the current teaching of the pulpit, and offered no
stumbling-block to a generation which had not so much as heard of
'other-worldliness.' Its popularity soon received the usual attestation
of piracies, spurious continuations, and imitations in all languages.
The question whether Bunyan was indebted for his allegory to any
predecessor is hardly worth discussing. Some general resemblance must
necessarily exist between books treating of pilgrimages, and here the
resemblance is no more than general. The second part was published in
1684. Its inferiority to the first part is universally admitted, but is
less than is usually entailed by the endeavour to append an artificial
supplement to an inspired book. Many passages are fully worthy of the
first part, and as a whole it abounds with life and variety.

Three only of Bunyan's numerous publications, besides _Pilgrim's
Progress_, claim a place in literature: _The Holy War_ (1682); _The Life
and Death of Mr. Badman_ (1680); _Grace Abounding_ (1665). Of these _The
Holy War_ is the most important, and affords a highly instructive
contrast with _Pilgrim's Progress_. It is the peculiar virtue of the
latter, while full of wisdom and profitableness, to be in no way
professedly didactic. Bunyan himself tells us that he did not sit down
to compose it; the thoughts came spontaneously into his mind; he wrote
it because he could not help himself. There was thus no need for
laboriously instilling lessons which inhered in the original conception,
and came forward of themselves as the story flowed along. The elaborate
construction of _The Holy War_ precludes belief in a like inspiration.
There can, in fact, be little doubt that the idea is consciously derived
from _Paradise Lost_. In both the banished fiends cast about for some
means of retaliating upon their omnipotent foe; in Milton their attack
is levelled against the Garden of Eden, in Bunyan against the soul of
man. All human attributes, virtuous or vicious, are allegorized with
graphic liveliness, but at length one wearies of the crowd of
abstractions; and where strength was most necessary, Bunyan is weak.
Emanuel is not godlike, and Diabolus is not terrible. The book is
perhaps chiefly interesting as an index to the great progress effected
since Bunyan's time in spirituality as regards men's religious
conceptions, and in freedom and enlightenment as concerns the things of
earth. No one would now depict the offended majesty of Heaven as so like
the offended majesty of the Stuarts; or deem that the revolters' offence
could be mitigated by the abjectness of their submission; or try
criminals with such unfairness; or lecture them upon conviction with
such lack of judicial decorum. Bunyan's own spirit seems narrower than
of old; among the traitors upon whom Emanuel's ministers execute justice
he includes not only Notruth and Pitiless, but also Election-doubter and
Vocation-doubter, who represent the majority of the members of the
Church of England. The whole tone, in truth, is such as might be
expected from one nurtured upon the Old rather than the New Testament,
and who had never conceived any doubts of the justice of the Israelites'
dealings with the Canaanites. The literary power, nevertheless, is
unabated; much ingenuity is shown in keeping up the interest of the
story; and there is the old gift of vitalizing abstractions by
uncompromising realism of treatment. The following passage is a
remarkable instance of the dependence of Bunyan's style upon his inward
mind. Seldom have joy and elation of spirit elevated homely diction into
so near an approach to magnificence:

     'Well, I told you before, how the prisoners were entertained
     by the noble Prince Emmanuel, and how they behaved themselves
     before him, and how he sent them away to their home with pipe
     and tabor going before them. And now you must think, that those
     of the town that had all this while waited to hear of their
     death, could not but be exercised with sadness of mind, and
     with thoughts that pricked like thorns. Nor could their
     thoughts be kept to one point; the wind blew with them all this
     while at great uncertainties, yea, their hearts were like a
     balance that had been disquieted with shaking hand. But at last
     as they, with many a long look, looked over the wall of
     Mansoul, they thought that they saw some returning to the town;
     and thought again, who should they be? At last they discerned
     that they were the prisoners. But can you imagine, how their
     hearts were surprised with wonder! Especially when they
     perceived also in what equipage, and with what honour they were
     sent home. They went down to the camp in black, but they came
     back to the town in white; they went down to the camp in ropes,
     they came back in chains of gold; they went down to the camp
     with their feet in tatters, but they came back with their steps
     enlarged under them; they went also to the camp looking for
     death, but they came back from thence with assurance of life;
     they went down to the camp with heavy hearts, but came back
     again with pipe and tabor playing before them. So, so soon as
     they were come to Eye-gate, the poor and tottering town of
     Mansoul adventured to give a shout; and they gave such a shout,
     as made the captains in the Prince's army leap at the sound
     thereof. Alas! for them, poor hearts, who could blame them,
     since their dead friends were come to life again! For it was to
     them as life from the dead, to see the ancients of the town of
     Mansoul to shine in such splendour. They looked for nothing but
     the axe and the block; but behold! joy and gladness, comfort
     and consolation, and such melodious notes attending of them,
     that was sufficient to make a sick man well. So when they came
     up, they saluted each other with Welcome, welcome, and blessed
     be he that spared you. They added also, we see it is well with
     you, but how must it go with the town of Mansoul, and will it
     go well with the town of Mansoul, said they? Then answered them
     the Recorder, and my lord Mayor, Oh! tidings! glad tidings!
     good tidings of good; and of great joy to poor Mansoul! Then
     they gave another shout, that made the earth to ring again.
     After this, they enquired yet more particularly, how things
     went in the camp, and what message they had from Emmanuel to
     the town. So they told them all passages that had happened to
     them at the camp, and every thing that the Prince did to them.
     This made Mansoul wonder at the wisdom and grace of the Prince
     Emmanuel; then they told them what they had received at his
     hands, for the whole town of Mansoul; and the Recorder
     delivered it in these words, Pardon, Pardon, Pardon for
     Mansoul; and this shall Mansoul know to-morrow. Then he
     commanded, and they went and summoned Mansoul to meet together
     in the market-place to-morrow, there to hear their general
     pardon read.

     'But who can think what a turn, what a change, what an
     alteration this hint of things did make in the countenance of
     the town of Mansoul; no man of Mansoul could sleep that night
     for joy; in every house there was joy and music, singing and
     making merry, telling and hearing of Mansoul's happiness was
     then all that Mansoul had to do; and this was the burden of all
     their song, "Oh! more of this at the rising of the sun! more of
     this to-morrow! Who thought yesterday, would one say, that this
     day would have been such a day to us? And who thought, that saw
     our prisoners go down in irons, that they would have returned
     in chains of gold! Yea, they that judged themselves as they
     went to be judged of their judge, were, by his mouth,
     acquitted, not for that they were innocent, but of the Prince's
     mercy, and sent home with pipe and tabor."'

_The Life and Death of Mr. Badman_ is a piece of prose indeed, and its
realism is, perhaps, the more effective from being wholly devoid of the
least particle of imagination. The genesis and purpose of the book are
thus stated by the author: 'As I was considering with myself what I had
written concerning the progress of the Pilgrim from this world to glory,
and how it had been acceptable to many in this nation, it came again
into my mind to write, as then of him that was going to heaven, so now
of the life and death of the ungodly, and of their travel from this
world to hell.' Had this conception been strictly carried out, the
narrative must have been a failure from the want of admixture of light
and shade. The Christian of the _Pilgrim's Progress_ is a mixed
character, and though we are scarcely in doubt as to the ultimate
success of his adventure, this is sufficiently chequered with peril and
hardship to keep our interest alert. This evidently cannot be the case
with Mr. Badman, whose career is not only a monotony, but a monotony of
sordid evil; and who only excites a flickering sort of interest in
virtue of the sympathy naturally felt for the victim of the animosity of
his creator. Bunyan, however, has not been faithful to his original
plan, and has in a measure redeemed one fault in art by committing
another. As a rule, nothing is more reprehensible in a fiction than
inordinate digression; but here it is the greatest relief to be turned
away from the repulsive career of Mr. Badman to the running commentary
in which Bunyan opens his mind on a variety of subjects, spiritual and
secular, ranging from earnest rebukes of the maxim to be anon formulated
as 'buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest,' to foolish
stories of the deaths of persecutors, quite in the vein of the Methodist
anecdotes satirized by Sydney Smith. This garrulity is greatly promoted
by the inartistic character of the machinery employed, a dialogue
between Mr. Wiseman and Mr. Attentive, which allows the writer to say
whatever he pleases. It is evident that he has real persons and actual
transactions continually in his mind, and it would not be surprising to
learn that his book made no inconsiderable commotion in the town of

_Grace Abounding_ resembles thousands of similar narratives in
essentials, differing principally in the vigour with which a terrifying
religious experience is portrayed. It does not, as some seem to have
taken for granted, terminate with what would be technically considered
as Bunyan's conversion; on the contrary, a large portion is employed in
recording his agonies of apprehension long after he had become a
recognized religious instructor, even so late as the beginning of his
imprisonment, when he was so little acquainted with the law as to
suppose himself in jeopardy of the gallows. Much might be said in
censure or compassion of his lamentably distorted views of divine
things; but one thing cannot be said: there is not from first to last
the slightest symptom of cant. The book is more sincere than Rousseau's
_Confessions_, but could not, like that book, have helped a Carlyle or a
George Eliot to learn that there was something in them. As _Pilgrim's
Progress_ may be termed a prosaic Divine Comedy, so might the Bunyan of
_Grace Abounding_ rank as a prosaic Augustine, but an Augustine without
a Monica. With the rarest exceptions, self is its beginning, middle, and
end; it is only when the author for a space becomes, unlike Cardinal
Newman, conscious of the existence of something besides God and his own
soul, that we catch the real moral of his tale, which he himself was far
from intending or perceiving. In his own incomparably forcible words: 'I
went myself in chains to preach to them in chains; and carried that fire
in my own conscience that I persuaded them to beware of. I can truly
say, and that without dissembling, that when I have been to preach I
have gone full of guilt and terror even to the pulpit-door, and there it
hath been taken off; and I have been at liberty in my mind until I have
done my work, and then immediately, even before I could get down the
pulpit-stairs, I have been as bad as I was before.' What is this but to
own that self-seeking is unprofitable even when cloaked with piety and
contrition; that there is no true peace save in disinterested service?

[Sidenote: Aphra Behn (1640-1689).]

Violent indeed is the transition from John Bunyan to Aphra Behn, but in
fact the living fiction of the age is almost summed up in these two
names. But for the demonstration of the contrary afforded by the state
of French literature since 1830, one would almost have been inclined to
formulate it as a maxim that the drama and the novel cannot flourish
together. The almost utter barrenness of the Restoration age in the
latter class of literature is certainly very remarkable. All needful
conditions seemed present in a teeming national life, clever writers,
and a public that craved to be amused. It seems difficult to offer any
explanation except that it had as yet occurred to none to depart from
French models, and that the French exemplars of the day, like Samuel
Weller, disdained all under the degree of 'a female markis.' Hence the
healthy realism without which the English novel cannot prosper was
impossible, and it was left to the Fieldings and Smolletts of the next
age to effect a momentous revolution in art by the simple discovery that
for the novelist's purpose, 'Jack was as good as his master.' One
variety of fiction, apparently still popular at the Restoration,
gradually died out--the interminable romance of the Clelia class, by
which French polite society under Louis XIII. had replaced the exploded
romance of chivalry. Of the few examples of this which English
literature still produced, it will suffice to name Lord Orrery's
_Parthenissa_, whose heroine, as an example of chastity, lived long
enough to be dethroned by Pamela. Mrs. Behn's tales, it need not be
said, are constructed upon principles in every respect antipodal to
_Parthenissa_; they are, however, much less objectionable than her
comedies. They are on the French pattern, brief and bright, but
inevitably conventional. At the present day, however, when the disuse
of an equally conventional fashion is restoring action to the rank from
which it had been almost displaced by dialogue, Mrs. Behn's tales might
be not unprofitably read as examples of movement and condensation; and
occasionally of strong situation, of which she rarely makes the most.
The most celebrated is _Oroonoko_, the groundwork of Southern's play,
and itself founded on facts within the authoress's knowledge. Among
other remarkable passages is one descriptive of the effects of the
electric eel. Mrs. Behn's stories are types of a large number of
miniature romances, apparently little noticed in their own day, and
utterly unknown in ours, which they have not always reached in other
fashion than Protus's

            'Little tract on worming dogs,
    Whereof the name, in sundry catalogues,
    Is extant yet.'

'This class of literature,' says Mr. Gosse, 'was treated with marked
disdain, and having been read to pieces by the women, was thrown into
the fire.' One specimen, _Incognita_, deserves a word of mention as the
first work of the youthful Congreve. Some variety was introduced into
pure fiction by the importation from France by Mrs. Manley, already
mentioned as a dramatist, of the political novel, in which the actions
of living monarchs and statesmen were represented under transparent
disguises. The presses of Amsterdam and Cologne had long teemed with
such productions, and Mrs. Manley's _Atalanta_ and _Zarah_ are
conspicuous English examples. Another romance, _A New and further
Discovery of the Isle of Pines_, in a letter professing to emanate from
Cornelius van Sloetton, a Dutchman (1668), deserves some attention from
its possible influence on Defoe. It has been represented to be connected
with Australian discovery, with which it has in fact nothing to do, the
imaginary island being placed in the very centre of the Indian Ocean. It
afforded the theme for Voltaire's joke about the Englishman _qui
travaillait si bien_ that the island on which he was wrecked was shortly
afterwards found to be peopled by twelve thousand English Protestants.



The most important part of the posthumous papers of Samuel Butler, the
discovery of which in the eighteenth century has been mentioned, was his
_Characters_, composed upon the model of Theophrastus, and fairly
entitling him to the appellation of the English Theophrastus, which is
not the highest encomium imaginable. As the only work of the kind which
has come down to us from antiquity, the _Characters_ of Theophrastus,
which are in reality much later than the time of that successor of
Aristotle, have passed as models, a reputation in excess of their
desert. They offer an acute and entertaining enumeration of various
peculiarities of character, but do not succeed in presenting the
personage as a whole, and have much the air of being compiled from
traits delineated with a real truth of representation by the comic
poets. Butler's _Characters_ are of just the same kind, and his work is
rather a museum of particulars than a gallery of portraits. The age of
Charles II. by no means lives in him as the age of Anne lives in
Addison. La Bruyère, Butler's more celebrated French successor, who
certainly never read and probably never heard of him, fell into
precisely the same error from too timid an adherence to Theophrastus;
and the improvement upon him effected by Addison may be compared to the
service rendered to sculpture by Dædalus, the first, it is said, to
show the human form in motion. Isolated remarks in Butler's essays are
frequently very shrewd and pregnant; as when he says of the newsmonger,
'He would willingly bear his share in any public calamity to have the
pleasure of hearing and telling it;' or of the hunter, 'Let the hare
take which way she will, she seldom fails to lead him at long-running to
the alehouse;' or the description of a prince's unworthy favourite as 'a
fog raised by the sun to obscure his own brightness.' Many of Butler's
miscellaneous thoughts, appended to the _Characters_, are highly acute,
and exhibit a happy talent for illustrating abstract ideas by comparison
with sensible objects, as for instance: 'Oaths and obligations in the
affairs of the world are like ribands and knots in dressing, that seem
to tie something, but do not.' In politics Butler is, of course, a
loyalist, and one whose loyalty is intensified by his æsthetic dislike
to Puritanism, in which he was constitutionally incapable of seeing
anything but cant. At the same time, the contempt which as a man of
understanding he could not help entertaining for the conduct of affairs
under the Restoration, and disappointment at the neglect with which he
was himself treated, seem to have almost reduced him to a condition of
political scepticism. 'The worst governments are the best when they
light in good hands; and the best the worst, when they fall into bad
ones'--a remark condensed into a famous couplet by Pope, who appears to
have become acquainted with Butler's MS. through Atterbury. It is worth
observing that Butler not only prefers Ben Jonson to Shakespeare, but
seems to take his superiority for granted: 'Virgil, who wanted much of
that natural easiness of wit that Ovid had, did nevertheless with hard
labour and long study arrive at a higher perfection than the other with
all his dexterity of wit, but less industry, could attain to. The same
we may observe of Jonson and Shakespeare; for he that is able to think
long and judge well will be sure to find out better things than another
man can hit upon suddenly, though of more quick and ready parts, which
is commonly but chance, and the other art and judgment.' One special
distinction of Butler's is to have been perhaps the first English
satirist of mark who made parody a political weapon, or at least showed
its capabilities for this purpose, as it does not appear that any of his
political parodies were printed in his lifetime. Jack Cade's speeches in
Shakespeare are, indeed, a sufficient model, but Butler worked out the
hint elaborately in his fictitious speeches in the Rump Parliament; his
mock eulogium of this body or segment of a body in the oration supposed
to be delivered at Harrington's Rota; and the parody of Prynne's style
in the imaginary correspondence between him and John Audland, the

Butler's remains were only partially printed in 1759, but the MSS. from
which Thyer's publication was drawn were acquired in 1885 by the British
Museum. His selection seems to have been in general exceedingly
judicious, but the opportunity may be taken of giving some examples of
Butler's unpublished thoughts:

     'There is no better argument to prove that the Scriptures were
     written by divine inspiration than that excellent saying of our
     Saviour, If any man will go to law with thee for thy cloak,
     give him thy coat also.

     'Birds are taken with pipes that imitate their own voices, and
     men with those sayings that are most agreeable to their own

     'If the French nobility should follow our fashions, and send
     their children over to learn our language, and receive their
     education from us, we should have as glorious an opinion of
     ourselves, and as mean a value of them, as they have of us;
     and therefore we have no reason to blame them, but our own
     folly for it.'

It is interesting to learn Butler's opinion of Dryden as a critic:

     'Dryden weighs poets in his virtuoso's scales that will weigh
     to the hundredth part of a grain, as curiously as Juvenal's
     lady pedantess--

         "Committit vates, et comparat inde Maronem,
         Atque alia parte in trutina suspendit Homerum."

     He complained of Ben Jonson for stealing scenes out of Plautus.
     Set a thief to find out a thief.'

George Savile, Marquis of Halifax, who ranks with Shaftesbury and Temple
among the few politicians of that age entitled to the appellation of
statesman, enriched English literature with a small volume of essays,
the most important of which are his vindication of his own political
course and principles in _The Character of a Trimmer_ and _The Anatomy
of an Equivalent_. Of these Macaulay justly says: 'What particularly
strikes us is the writer's passion for generalization. He was treating
of the most exciting subjects in the most agitated times; he was himself
placed in the very thick of the civil conflict; yet there is no
acrimony, nothing inflammatory, nothing personal. He treats every
question as an abstract question, begins with the widest propositions,
argues these propositions on general grounds, and often, when he has
brought out his theorem, leaves the reader to make the application,
without adding an allusion to particular men or to passing events.' The
effect of this remarkable breadth of view was not with Halifax, as so
frequently the case, to paralyze energy, and render the comprehensive
mind unfit for practical action. He was not retained in equilibrium by
the difficulty of deciding between two courses, but was an enthusiast
for the _via media_, as great a zealot for compromise as zealots
commonly are for strong measures; and, though sometimes too yielding or
too speculative for the unquiet times in which his lot was cast, would
have made an almost ideal prime minister for the nineteenth century. His
praise of trimming, which to more fiery spirits must have seemed an
ignoble policy, rings with the eloquence and passion of the most genuine

     'Our Trimmer adores the Goddess Truth, though in all ages she
     has been scurvily used, as well as those that worshipped her.
     'Tis of late become such a ruining virtue that mankind seems to
     be agreed to commend and avoid it; yet the want of practice,
     which repeals the other laws, has no influence upon the law of
     truth, because it has root in heaven, and an intrinsic value in
     itself that can never be impaired. She shows her greatness in
     this, that her enemies, even when they are successful, are
     ashamed to own it. Nothing but power full of truth has the
     prerogative of triumphing, not only after victories, but in
     spite of them, and to put conquest herself out of countenance.
     She may be kept under and suppressed, but her dignity still
     remains with her, even when she is in chains. Falsehood with
     all her impudence has not enough to speak ill of her before her
     face. Such majesty she carries about her that her most
     prosperous enemies are fain to whisper their treason, all the
     power upon the earth can never extinguish her. She has lived in
     all ages, and let the mistaken zeal of prevailing authority
     christen any opposition to her with what name they please, she
     makes it not only an ugly and an unmannerly, but a dangerous
     thing to persist. She has lived very retired indeed, nay,
     sometimes so buried that only some few of the discerning part
     of mankind could have a glimpse of her; with all that, she has
     eternity in her, she knows not how to die, and from the darkest
     clouds that shade and cover her she breaks from time to time
     with triumph for her friends, and terror to her enemies.

     'Our Trimmer, therefore, inspired by this divine virtue,
     thinks fit to conclude with these assertions, That our climate
     is a trimmer between that part of the world where men are
     roasted and that part where they are frozen: That our Church is
     a trimmer between the phrenzy of phanatic[12] visions and the
     lethargic ignorance of Popish dreams: That our laws are
     trimmers between the excess of unbounded power and the
     extravagance of liberty not enough restrained: That true virtue
     has ever been thought a trimmer, and to have its dwelling in
     the middle between the two extremes: That even God Almighty
     himself is divided between his two great attributes, his mercy
     and his justice.

     'In such company our Trimmer is not ashamed of his name, and
     willingly leaves to the bold champions of either extreme the
     honour of contending with no less adversaries than nature,
     religion, liberty, prudence, humanity, and common sense.'

Burnet might well be puzzled by a man who 'seemed to have his head full
of Commonwealth notions,' and yet concurred in the worst measures of
Charles II.

The most important of Halifax's other essays are his advice to his
daughter, excellent for sense and curious as an illustration of the
manners of the age, and his character of Charles II., nicely balanced
between half-sincere censure and half-sarcastic apology. There is
nothing in Charles's history to refute Halifax's view of him as a man
whose master passion was the selfish love of ease; but much to prove
that his abilities and discernment were far greater than Halifax chooses
to allow. Halifax's aphorisms, as usual, are too numerous to attain a
uniformly high standard, but some are exceedingly good.

     'A fool hath no dialogue within himself.

     'Malice may be sometimes out of breath, Envy never. A man may
     make peace with hatred, but never with envy.

     'An old man concludeth from his knowing mankind that they know
     him too, and that maketh him very wary.

     'He that leaveth nothing to chance will do few things ill, but
     he will do very few things.'

An allusion in these aphorisms to the Bank of England proves that
Halifax went on writing till nearly the hour of his death in 1695. Of
his other writings, the most remarkable is the _Advice to a Dissenter_
(1687), a masterly dissuasive against abetting the illegalities of

Possibly, when Halifax penned the last-quoted aphorism, he was thinking
of Sir William Temple, well known to him at the council-board, of whom
Macaulay says, 'It was his constitution to dread failure more than he
desired success.' This elegant writer, whom we have already met as an
historian and as a speculator upon government, for once did a rash thing
when he entered into the controversy respecting the comparative merits
of the ancient and modern writers, knowing little of either. Macaulay
has done full justice to the ignorance and carelessness of this
well-worded composition; but Macaulay has said nothing of its
extraordinary want of insight. Temple need not be blamed for having been
unable to make up his mind whether the blood circulated, and whether the
earth went round the sun (the Grand Duke Cosmo found Cambridge disputing
against the latter proposition in 1669); what is really astonishing is
that he should have been utterly blind to the stupendous consequences
which Giordano Bruno had pointed out a century before. 'If they are
true,' he says, 'yet these two great discoveries have made no change in
the conclusions of astronomy, nor in the practice of physic, and so have
been of little use to the world, though perhaps of much honour to the
authors.' After this, Temple's essays are not likely to be referred to
in quest of intellectual wisdom, and their chief value, apart from the
purity and elegance of their style, consists in their illustrations of
contemporary opinions and practices. This is especially the case with
the essay on _Health and Long Life_. Temple enumerates with suppressed
amusement the various sanatory fads he has known, among which he seems
to reckon tea and coffee. Unconsciously confirming an anecdote of
Charles II. and his physicians, related by Evelyn, he tells us that
Peruvian bark was at first received with prejudice and suspicion, but
was becoming rehabilitated in his day, and fairly confounds us by his
faith in 'that little insect called millepedes; the powder whereof, made
up into little balls with fresh butter, I never knew fail of curing any
sore throat.'

The letter-writers of the age who have any claim to a place in
literature as such are but few, and none of their epistles were intended
for publication. Dryden, as elsewhere, takes the lead, and his letters,
though scanty and occasional, occupy a pleasant chamber in the edifice
of his prose writings. The first, dated 1655, and addressed to a female
cousin in language of complimentary gallantry, is of especial interest
as showing how early his prose style was formed. Notwithstanding the
strain of high-flown sentiment enforced by the occasion, it is far less
fanciful and involved than similar compositions of the early Caroline
period, and is in all essential respects an example of the sound, clear
prose of the Restoration. The letters to the two Rochesters, the man of
letters and the man of office, are models of ingenious flattery in
different styles; those to his publisher, Jacob Tonson, apart from their
personal interest, are important for the light they throw upon the
relations between publishers and authors at a period when publishers
were as yet mere tradesmen, and the most popular author could hardly
subsist by authorship. The latest of all, addressed to his
Northamptonshire kindred, are mellow as with the light of a setting
sun, and afford pleasant glimpses of the occasional ruralizings of the
most urban of poets.

[Sidenote: Lady Temple's letters (1652-1654).]

Sir William Temple is so thoroughly identified with the Restoration
period, that although the Lady Temple's charming letters of his
betrothed, Dorothy Osborne, were written in 1652-54, and not published
until 1888, they may be regarded as belonging to it. The young lady was
well known from Macaulay's account of her in his essay upon her husband,
and many of her letters had been published in Courtenay's life of her
husband, ere the whole, so far as preserved, recently became accessible
in the edition of Mr. Edward Abbott Parry. Intended for no other eyes
than her lover's, these letters have given Lady Temple high rank among
English epistolographers. Though they are exceedingly well written,
their charm is personal rather than literary. No biographer or novelist
has painted a truer picture of the English maiden, high-minded and high
spirited, heroically constant and at the same time full of engaging
frailties and arch teasing ways, than is depicted in these artless
self-revelations. Temple seems to have behaved perfectly well throughout
their protracted engagement; and his fulfilment of it after Dorothy's
beauty had been destroyed by the smallpox may be reasonably believed to
have been the effect of inclination, no less than of honour and duty.
The very slight glimpse we obtain of their married life reveals Lady
Temple's interest in his political career; had this been guided by her
his life would probably have been less comfortable, and his memory more

[Sidenote: Dean Prideaux's letters (1674-1710).]

The letters of Humphrey Prideaux, Dean of Norwich, to John Ellis,
Secretary of the Treasury, edited for the Camden Society by Sir Edward
Maunde Thompson, though ordinary familiar correspondence, are too
curious a repertory of gossip to be passed over without notice. They are
mostly written from Oxford, and retail the scandal of the university in
a lively fashion, although the writer, a middling classical and oriental
scholar, known by his edition of the _Arundel Marbles_ and his _Life of
Mahomet_, seems rather a matter-of-fact personage. His relish for
scandal, however, occasionally makes him humorous, as when he describes
the deportment of his predecessor in the Norwich deanery: 'His whole
life is the pot and the pipe, and, go to him when you will, you will
find him walking about his room with a pipe in his mouth and a bottle of
claret and a bottle of old strong beer (which in this country they call
nog) upon the table, and every other turn he takes a glass of one or the
other of them.' The book is rich in such vignettes; its more serious
interest consists in its illustration of the practical refutation of the
theory of divine right previously held by the majority of the clergy by
James II.'s misgovernment. The beginning and the end of the
correspondence are in violent political contrast; and the metamorphosis
is entirely effected during the last two years of James's reign.

Literary history is necessarily among the latest developments of
literature. The nearest approach to it in the England of the seventeenth
century was the younger Gerard Langbaine's (1656-92) _Account of the
English Dramatic Poets_, Oxford, 1691. Langbaine laid himself out
particularly to discover the sources from which dramatists had borrowed
their plots, and is styled by Dr. Johnson 'the great detector of
plagiarism.' He has been accused of having read poetry for no other
purpose, but is vindicated by Mr. Sidney Lee. The value of his work is
much increased by the manuscript notes and additions of Oldys and
others, copies of which are in the British Museum and Bodleian. The
literary compilations of Edward Phillips are so poor that they would
have deserved no notice if he had not been Milton's nephew, and the
first English author to mention _Paradise Lost_.


[12] All the editions have _Platonic_, but this must be a misprint.



[Sidenote: Anthony à Wood (1632-1695).]

The pursuit of antiquarianism has always flourished in England since her
inhabitants have enjoyed sufficient culture to be aware that they
possessed a past. Even the poetry of Layamon is in a certain measure
antiquarian, and Chaucer, Spenser, Milton appear progressively more and
more leavened with antiquarian sentiment, which, as a factor of literary
inspiration, attains perhaps its highest conceivable development in the
works of Robert Burton and Sir Thomas Browne. The Restoration period
produced no such examples of antiquarian men of genius; but several
excellent antiquarian writers, whose works are of sufficient compass and
intrinsic importance, and are distinguished by sufficient attention to
diction, to bring them within the domain of literature. It may be said
of all the principal of these laborious men, that they have erected
imperishable monuments to themselves, and have left little room for
successors, except in the capacity of editors and annotators. Of Anthony
à Wood, the historian and biographer of Oxford, it is almost enough
praise to say that two centuries have elapsed without producing anyone
capable either of continuing his Oxonian labours on the same scale, or,
since the late Mr. C. H. Cooper's work has remained incomplete, of
performing the like for the sister university. A terrible toiler, a
loyalist and high churchman, as beseemed the Oxonian of his day, but
apparently with few serious interests in life except the fame of his
beloved Alma Mater, he sat down at thirty in his college (Merton), and
delved resolutely until he had produced his _History and Antiquities_
(1674) and his _Athenae Oxonienses_ (1691). The former was originally
published in a Latin version made by one Peers, and seriously garbled at
the instigation of Dr. Fell. The original English text, however, was
published in the eighteenth century. The labours of Wood's nineteenth
century editor, Dr. Bliss, upon the _Athenae_, are universally known.
Wood is not a pure or elegant writer, but his works will last as long as

[Sidenote: Rymer's _Foedera_.]

Thomas Rymer has already been mentioned with due disrespect among
critics, and his more useful and honourable labours as an antiquary do
not, strictly speaking, entitle him to be named among men of letters,
being mainly those of an editor. It is impossible, however, to pass over
in silence a collection of such unspeakable value as his _Foedera_, ten
folio volumes of most precious documents relating to English history
from 1102 to 1654. Rymer the Dryasdust, however, cannot quite forget
Rymer the Longinus; his work is graced with a Latin address to Queen
Anne, more like a dithyrambic than a dedication.

[Sidenote: Sir William Dugdale (1605-1686).]

[Sidenote: Elias Ashmole (1617-1692).]

Next to Wood, the most important antiquary of the age was Sir William
Dugdale, of little account as author, but whom his industry and the
assistance he was successful in enlisting from various quarters, enabled
to achieve several works, any one of which would have sufficed to gain
him immortal renown as an antiquarian. These were his monumental
_Monasticon Anglicanum_ (1655-1673), a gigantic work, but founded in
great part upon the collections of Roger Dodsworth; his _Antiquities of
Warwickshire_ (1656), an immense improvement upon everything that had
previously been effected in the department of county history, and the
model of all that has been accomplished since; his _History of St.
Paul's Cathedral_ (1658), and his _Baronage of England_ (1675-1676). He
was also the author of several other works. So eminent a genealogist was
naturally a Cavalier, and, when he lost his appointment as Chester
herald during the Civil Wars, is said to have made his living by the
deaths of persons of quality, whose funerals he conducted _secundum
artem_. Private patrons and employers helped him on until the
Restoration, when, as successively Norroy and Garter King-at-Arms, he
attained great prosperity, making numerous visitations, and approving
himself a terror to heraldic pretenders. He died at eighty, of a fever
contracted 'by attendance too much on his worldly concerns.' His
son-in-law, Elias Ashmole, was an eminent antiquary of a different
order, although his principal work, _Institution, Laws, and Ceremonies
of the Order of the Garter_, might well have proceeded from Dugdale's
pen. His turn, however, was rather for the collection of curiosities,
'the greatest virtuoso and curioso that ever was known or read of in
England before his time.' In this capacity he collected the Ashmolean
Museum, which has preserved his name more effectually than anything he
wrote or was capable of writing. He was also an astrologer, the friend
of Lilly and Booker, and in his younger days an alchemist. This latter
pursuit was so far serviceable, that it led him to preserve by printing
twenty-nine rare old alchemical books. After his history of the order of
the Garter, his principal work is his diary, which briefly but amusingly
records the vicissitudes of his generally prosperous life; his gain of
estate and loss of quiet by his second marriage; his acquaintance with
old Mr. Backhouse, the Rosicrucian, 'who told me, in syllables, the true
matter of the philosopher's stone;' his prosperity under Charles II. as
Windsor herald and holder of several other offices; his third marriage,
with the daughter of his friend Dugdale; above all, his acquisition of
the Tradescant antiquities, which formed the nucleus of the Ashmolean
Museum. This and his collection of manuscripts were bequeathed to the
University of Oxford; the catalogue of the latter forms a goodly volume.

[Sidenote: John Aubrey (1626-1697).]

Of far less importance than Dugdale or Ashmole as an antiquary, John
Aubrey is better remembered as an author. His strictly literary
qualifications are few; setting aside his collections for local history,
his writings consist of little else than detached memoranda. Their merit
lies partly in the interest of their themes, but still more in their
artless simplicity and the transparent revelation of the amiable if not
dignified character of one who might have sat to Addison for Will
Wimble. Aubrey remarks concerning himself that he might have succeeded
in life if he had been a painter. Of his artistic powers we cannot
judge, but the simple, cheerful, social temper that befits the itinerant
landscape painter was his beyond question. For all more serious careers
he was totally unfit. He had lost money and estate before middle life,
and spent the remainder of his days with much more satisfaction to
himself in visiting, or, when pressed by pecuniary difficulties,
'delitescing' at the mansions of country friends, a welcome and innocent
parasite. The guiding spirit of his literary work is charmingly
expressed by himself: 'Methinks it shows a kind of gratitude and good
nature to revive the memories and memorials of the pious and charitable
benefactors long since dead and gone.' In the same spirit, after
relating how he had seen Venetia Digby's bust 'standing at a stall at
the Golden Crosse, a brasier's shop,' he exclaims, 'How these
curiosities would be quite forgot, did not such idle fellows as I am put
them down!' He has hence retrieved from oblivion a number of highly
curious and interesting particulars about men of letters from
Shakespeare downwards, and a most entertaining collection of stories of
apparitions, warnings, prophecies, and similar matters. Much of the
charm consists in the credulity and simplicity of the narrator, who is
nevertheless by no means incapable of just and penetrating reflections
on occasion, as when he says of Shakespeare: 'His comedies will remain
wit as long as the English tongue is understood, for that he handles
_mores hominum_; now our present writers reflect so much upon particular
persons and coxcombeities, that twenty years hence they will not be
understood.' Though exceedingly industrious as a collector, 'my head,'
he says, 'was always working, never idle, and even travelling did glean
some observations, some whereof to be valued,' he lacked the patience or
the ability to reduce these observations into form, and they have been
mostly incorporated with the works of succeeding antiquaries. He was
born at Easton Pierse, in Wiltshire, in 1626, and died at Oxford in
1697. He is entitled to much credit for having brought to light the
Druidical remains at Avebury in his native county, unnoticed before his

[Sidenote: Sprat's _History of the Royal Society_.]

Along with the works of the antiquarians may be mentioned a book of
great interest, and in its way of great merit, the _History of the Royal
Society_ by the convivial and facetious Dean of Westminster and Bishop
of Rochester, Thomas Sprat (1636-1713), whom we have already met as a
bad poet on his own account, but as the efficient coadjutor of
Buckingham in the _Rehearsal_. Cautious, pliant, and self-indulgent, he
almost incurred infamy and deprivation by his unworthy compliances under
James II.; but he retracted just in time, rallied to the new order of
things, and recovered credit through the sympathy excited for him as the
object of a most diabolical plot in the manner of Oates and Bedloe.[13]
Of his _History of the Royal Society_ Johnson says: 'The _History of the
Royal Society_ is now read, not with the wish to know what they were
then doing, but how their transactions are exhibited by Sprat.' If this
was true at the time, it is true no more. Sprat's name is no longer a
magnet; and, in truth, although his enthusiasm for scientific research
is highly honourable to him, his style exceedingly lively, and many of
his observations replete with good sense, his work as a whole is
discursive and ill-digested, and so little of a history that it hardly
ever gives a date. The writer himself confesses that it is only the
second of his three books has any proper claim to the title of history.
But it is important on grounds of its own, which render it of more real
value than the more exact and pragmatical narratives which have
superseded it. The glow of youth is upon it. It paints vividly the great
scientific awakening which coincided with the accession of Charles II.
The mere list of the experiments which the Royal Society had performed,
or proposed to perform, attests the devouring scientific curiosity of
the age, and shows at once the reaction of men's minds in the direction
of the tangibly useful after a long series of fruitless theological and
political controversies, and how deep in the long run had been the
influence of the great man who had lost his life in performing an
experiment. At the same time there is a humorous side to the picture:
much of the curiosity of the time was idle, much was founded on
credulity. Many of the queries which Sprat catalogues with such
complacency would now be thought too trivial to engage the attention of
a learned society, and some are not a little absurd. In the main,
however, they are most significant of the new spirit that had come into
the world. A counter spirit was necessarily called into being also.
Sprat combats the objections of churchmen by proving that enthusiasts
cannot be natural philosophers, and propitiates wits like Butler by
promising them new ideas for their writings. His demonstration that the
design of the society was in no respect prejudicial to the Church of
England may raise a smile now, but was probably by no means superfluous
at the time. His remarks upon the utility of experiments display the
most vigorous common sense; he would evidently have subscribed heartily
to a modern definition of a fool as 'a man who never made an experiment
in his life.' 'If,' he says of the opponents of experimental philosophy,
'they will persist in contemning all experiments except those which
bring with them immediate gain and a present harvest, they may as well
cavil at the providence of God that he has not made all the seasons of
the year to be times of mowing, reaping, and vintage.' He enumerates
eleven classes of experiments actually instituted by the Royal Society,
comprising a very large number of separate essays, one of which, it is
to be feared, may not have perfectly succeeded, 'Of making a deaf and
dumb man to speak.' His observations upon the prospects of human
improvement, the advantages of transplantation and immigration, the
national gain from encouraging inventors and projectors, are conceived
in the same bold and liberal spirit, contrasting forcibly with his
timid and time-serving politics. In his advocacy of the claims of London
to rank as the metropolis of science, and his exhortations to the
English gentry to turn the leisure and opportunity afforded by a country
life to account for the study of nature, he becomes what he never is
when writing verse--something bordering upon a poet.

[Sidenote: Evelyn's _Sylva_, 1664.]

As has been remarked, the latter half of the seventeenth century was in
England pre-eminently a scientific age. The ideas of Bacon were
generally acted upon, and it was universally recognized that the only
safe path to physical knowledge was through experiment. Newton and
Hooke, in natural philosophy; Mayow, in chemistry; Sydenham, in
medicine; Grew, in vegetable anatomy; Ray, in the classification of
plants and animals, carried the fame of their country to greater heights
than even Bacon's 'eagle-spirit' could have soared to imagine. But these
illustrious men did little or nothing for literature, for such was not
their design. The art of blending scientific research with elegant
disquisition remained to be invented. Many of their works were composed
in Latin; none were intended for a miscellaneous public. Science, in
consequence, was far from exerting that influence upon creed and conduct
which she exercises in our day, and an age of scientific discovery till
then unexampled passed away without enriching literature by a single
classic. Two books alone, neither of which can strictly be termed
scientific, but both of which touch outlying provinces of natural
history, added--one very considerably--to the literary wealth of the
age. They are Evelyn's _Sylva_ and Walton's _Complete Angler_--both by
authors of whom we have previously had occasion to speak. If any reader
of Evelyn's _Diary_ should feel prejudiced by the carping criticisms of
De Quincey, he may be safely referred to his _Sylva_ (originally
published in 1664, much augmented in later editions). The writer here
displays himself in a character most alien of all others to that of a
time-server or a prig, that of an English country gentleman. His work is
further inspired by a genuine love of nature, whose formality is
justified by the stateliness of the theme, and tempered by the almost
personal affection of the author for the trees he has known from a boy,
or himself called into being. The scholar is everywhere apparent. 'I did
not,' he says, 'altogether compile this work for the sake of our
ordinary rustics, mere foresters and woodmen, but for the benefit and
diversion of gentlemen and persons of quality, who often refresh
themselves in the agreeable toils of planting and gardening.' It may be
that Evelyn thought too much of the requisites of this class of readers,
but, had he limited himself to a mere technical manual, he would not now
be read. We do not know how his precepts are rated by the foresters and
landscape gardeners of the present age; but even if he has not always
shown the way, he has powerfully stimulated the wish to become a
miniature creator by embellishing the countenance of Nature. His prose,
more elaborate here than in his _Diary_, entitles him to rank among the
refiners of the language.

The literature of England has this among other points in common with
ancient literature, that it reckons books on fishing among its classics.
Oppian, who sang of the sea and its inhabitants to Caracalla, is far
from the worst among the Greek poets, and has in particular expressed
the successful angler's exultation with a truth and terseness which no
successor will surpass:

    [Greek: pollê gar blepharoisi kai en phresi terpsis idesthai
    pallomenon kai elissomenon pepedêmenon ichthyn.]

Half a century later Nemesian gained equal fame among the Latins by a
poem on the same theme, which has not come down to us. The piscatorial
eclogues of Sanazzaro are an ornament of Italian literature, and were
imitated by Milton in his _Lycidas_;[14] but the first and best modern
poem on the technicalities of angling (_The Secrets of Angling_, by John
Dennys, 1630) is English, and is one of the most pleasing didactic poems
in the language. The subject was next to have been taken up by a better
known writer, Sir Henry Wotton, but his intended work was never
completed, and it remained for Izaak Walton, whom we have already met as
an ecclesiastical biographer, to render it equally interesting to the
professional fisherman and charming to the lover of idyllic pastoral.

The first edition (1653) is wellnigh the most prized of all rare old
English books. It had four more editions in the author's lifetime, all
with additions and amendments, and it is needless to observe that it has
retained its popularity to our day as completely as _Paradise Lost_ or
_Pilgrim's Progress_. The technical details are no doubt sound, except
for the author's defective acquaintance with fly-fishing; but the
preservative against time has not been the didactic skill which others
might rival or surpass, but the accompaniment of natural description and
song and pictures of country life, conveyed in a style whose quaint
simplicity, at once transparent and formal, is a survival from the old
Elizabethan days, to which, with their pastorals and poetry, he himself
looks back with so much affection:

     'Look, under the broad beech-tree, I sat down, when I was last
     this way a-fishing, and the birds in the adjoining grove
     seemed to have a friendly contention with an echo, whose dead
     voice seemed to live in a hollow tree, near to the brow of that
     primrose-hill; there I sat viewing the silver streams glide
     silently towards their centre, the tempestuous sea; yet
     sometimes opposed by rugged roots and pebble-stones, which
     broke their waves, and turned them into foam: and sometimes I
     beguiled time by viewing the harmless lambs, some leaping
     securely in the cool shade, whilst others sported themselves in
     the cheerful sun; and saw others craving comfort from the
     swollen udders of their bleating dams. As I sat there, these
     and other sights had so fully possessed my soul with content,
     that I thought, as the poet has happily exprest it,

         "I was for that time lifted above earth;
         And possessed joys not promis'd in my birth."

     As I left this place and entered into the next field, a second
     pleasure entertained me; 'twas a handsome milk-maid, that had
     not yet attained so much age and wisdom as to load her mind
     with any fears of many things that will never be, as too many
     men too often do; but she cast away all care, and sung like a
     nightingale; her voice was good, and the ditty fitted for it:
     'twas that smooth song, which was made by Kit Marlow, now at
     least fifty years ago: and the milk-maid's mother sung an
     answer to it, which was made by Sir Walter Raleigh in his
     younger days.

     'They were old-fashioned poetry, but choicely good, I think
     much better than the strong lines that are now in fashion in
     this critical age.'

Passages like these create for the middle-aged man the joy and charm of
Walton's _Angler_, which the boy devours as a manual of the piscatorial
art. To the more advanced reader the chief use of the fish is as a
vehicle for the pastoral; nevertheless, the great success of Walton's
treatise is a proof that he was by no means inefficient from a more
utilitarian point of view. Londoners have usually made good anglers,
except, from want of opportunity, as fly-fishermen. Here it has been
necessary to supplement Walton very largely; and indeed he himself
confesses to having relied for such information as he does afford upon
another angler. Elsewhere he approves himself master of his profession,
and no doubt had trained many a pupil, perhaps made many a convert like
the Venator who puts himself so readily under his tuition. Everyone
knows the proem of his book, instinct with the freshness of the bright
May morning, the otter hunt, a holy war in the eyes of the injured
fisherman (O blissful days, when otters were yet to be found in the
Lea!), and the earnest rhetoric of Auceps, Venator, and Piscator,
contending for the pre-eminence of their favourite sports. It is
characteristic of Walton's simplicity and candour that he should have
placed the most beautiful passage of his book in the mouth of one of his

     'These I will pass by, but not those little nimble musicians of
     the air, that warble forth their curious ditties, with which
     nature hath furnished them to the shame of art.

     'As first the lark, when she means to rejoice: to cheer herself
     and those that hear her, she then quits the earth, and sings as
     she ascends higher into the air, and having ended her heavenly
     employment, grows then mute and sad to think she must descend
     to the dull earth, which she would not touch but for necessity.

     'How do the blackbird and thrassel with their melodious voices
     bid welcome to the cheerful spring, and in their fixed months
     warble forth such ditties as no art or instrument can reach to?

     'Nay, the smaller birds also do the like in their particular
     seasons, as namely the leverock, the tit-lark, the little
     linnet, and the honest robin, that loves mankind both alive and

     'But the nightingale, another of my airy creatures, breathes
     such sweet loud music out of her little instrumental throat,
     that it might make mankind to think miracles are not ceased. He
     that at midnight, when the very labourer sleeps securely,
     should hear, as I have very often, the clear airs, the sweet
     descants, the natural rising and falling, the doubling and
     redoubling of her voice, might well be lifted above earth, and
     say Lord, what music hast thou provided for the saints in
     heaven, when thou affordest bad men such music on earth!'

It has been remarked that it was necessary to supplement Walton's
imperfect knowledge of fly-fishing. This task, a delicate one in his
lifetime, was piously and successfully performed by a scholar, Charles
Cotton, of Beresford, Derbyshire (1630-1687), whose appendix of
dialogues appeared in the fifth edition of Walton's own treatise (1676)
with some graceful introductory lines from Izaak himself, then in his
eighty-third year. 'I have been so obedient to your desires,' he says,
'as to endure all the praises you have ventured to fix upon me.' Cotton,
a country gentleman of good family, whose fishing cottage on the Dove
stands to this day, obtained some reputation as a man of letters by a
translation of Scarron's burlesque poem, and other versions from the
French. He was also an authority upon cards, which possibly accounts for
the pecuniary embarrassments which clouded the latter part of his life.
His piscatorial teaching is no doubt quite sound; but his book, although
a lively dialogue, is no idyll like his master's, and would be forgotten
but for its association with the latter. The best passages are those
depicting the horror of the London visitor at the steepness of the
Derbyshire hills and the narrowness of the Derbyshire bridges. 'I would
not ride over it for a thousand pounds, nor fall off it for two; and yet
I think I dare venture on foot, though if you were not by to laugh at
me, I should do it on all four.'


[13] It is strange that Macaulay, who had told this story so graphically
in his _History_, should have forgotten it when he came to write the
_Life of Atterbury_. No English bishop, he says, had been taken into
custody between the Seven Bishops and Atterbury, overlooking Sprat.

[14] A correspondent of the _Athenaeum_ has pointed out, but the
discovery seems to have been hardly noticed, that Shakespeare took the
name of Ophelia from Sanazzaro's _Arcadia_--another argument for his
acquaintance with Italian.



Travel was well represented in the literature of the period, as could
hardly be otherwise in an age distinguished by the awakening of a spirit
of curiosity and intelligent inquiry. The time for systematic scientific
exploration had not arrived; no Englishman devoted himself to travel as
a profession with the steadiness of the Italian Della Valle, or
described a foreign land with such thoroughness as in the Indian
monograph of the French jeweller, Tavernier. But if no such monumental
work was produced, there was no lack of standard ones. The two which
have come nearest to attaining the rank of literary classics, however,
were not the production of men of high attainments, but the work, or
reputed work, of writers of imperfect education, whose chief claim to
attention was the surpassing interest of their narratives.

[Sidenote: Robert Knox (1640?-1720).]

Robert Knox belongs to the especially interesting class of travellers
whose experience of foreign countries has been gained in captivity.
Driven by a storm on to the coast of Ceylon in 1659, he was made
prisoner and carried into the interior, then almost unknown to
Europeans. Here he supported himself for nearly twenty years by knitting
caps and hawking goods, resisting all inducements to enter the service
of the native sovereign, whose caprice and cruelty he dreaded with good
reason. At length he escaped to a Dutch settlement, and returned safely
to England, where he entered the service of the East India Company.
After several more voyages to the East he retired, and died in good
circumstances in 1720. His letters to his cousin, Strype, preserved in
the University Library, Cambridge, show him, it is said, 'to have been a
man of morose temper, rough manners, and a woman-hater.' The
'manuscripts of my own life,' bequeathed by him to his nephew, Knox
Ward, have unfortunately gone astray. His account of his captivity was
published in 1681, with a preface by the illustrious natural
philosopher, Robert Hooke, who no doubt gave Knox much literary
assistance, but happily abstained from tampering with the simplicity of
his narrative. As a classic of travel this ranks with the similar works
of Drury and Mariner, which also received literary form from intelligent
collaborators, and it may have served in some measure as an example to

[Sidenote: William Dampier (1652-1715).]

William Dampier fills a more important place than Knox in the history of
travel, his experiences having been much more diversified, and his works
being of much greater compass. Having gone in 1679 to the West Indies on
a commercial adventure, he was persuaded to join a buccaneering
expedition, many of the piratical incidents of which, judiciously passed
over in his own narrative, are recorded in the manuscripts of his
companions. It involved him in a series of adventures which took him all
round the world, and from which he returned in 1691 with no other
property than an 'amiable savage, curiously tattooed.' His voyage was
published in 1697-99, and obtained such success that the government,
overlooking or ill-informed of his piracies, employed him on a voyage of
discovery to Australia. He was subsequently engaged in two privateering
expeditions, in the first as commander, in the second only as pilot.
Alexander Selkirk was put on shore on Juan Fernandez in the first of
these, and taken off in the second. Dampier's temper seems to have
disqualified him for supreme authority, and he lost much of the
reputation which he had formerly acquired. He died in 1715 in good
circumstances, with a large amount of prize-money still owing to him. As
a traveller he takes high rank from the interest of the occurrences he
narrates, the clearness and simplicity of his style, his powers of
description, and his practical knowledge. 'His _Discourse of the
Winds_,' says Professor Laughton, 'may even now be regarded, so far as
it goes, as a text-book of that branch of physical geography.' His
literary merit, however, partly belongs to some unnamed coadjutor. 'I
have,' says Charles Hatton, in the Hatton correspondence edited by Sir
Edward Thompson, 'discoursed with Dampier. He is a blunt fellow, but of
better understanding than would be expected from one of his education.
He is a very good navigator, kept his journal exactly, and set down
every day what he thought of, but, you must imagine, had assistance in
dressing up his history, in which are many mistakes in naming of

[Sidenote: Burnet and Molesworth.]

The times were not ripe for archæological exploration, or for profound
investigation of the manners and institutions of foreign nations; and
the most gifted travellers of the age wrote with one eye upon things
abroad and the other upon affairs at home. Among such itinerant
politicians the first place must be given to Burnet, rather, however,
for his celebrity in other fields than for the special merit of his
travels. He recorded, nevertheless, a number of intelligent observations
upon Switzerland, Italy, and Germany. Burnet is always lively and
sagacious, and much more impartial than could have been expected in one
so deeply concerned in political and theological controversies. His
account of Venice is especially interesting. The book, written during
his exile, was published in Holland, and was for some time prohibited in
England. The somewhat similar work of Lord Molesworth (1656-1725) owes
its existence to accident. Molesworth, a theoretical republican of
Algernon Sidney's school, was English envoy at Copenhagen from 1690 to
1692, and was obliged to quit the country in consequence, as was
asserted, of an insult offered by him to the king; considering, however,
the favourable character he gives of the monarch, this appears hardly
probable. Whatever the reason, he threw up his embassy, and avenged
himself by a severe indictment of the system of absolute government
established in Denmark by the memorable revolution of 1660, which he
declared to have entirely impoverished the country. Himself a patrician,
he finds the principal cause of this in the abasement of his own class;
and he probably wrote rather from regard to the affairs of England than
those of Denmark. He is a forcible, but, at the same time, a candid
writer, admitting frankly that 'In Denmark there are no seditions,
mutinies, or libels against the government; but all the people either
are, or appear to be lovers of their king, notwithstanding their ill
treatment, and the hardships they groan under. There are no clippers or
coiners, no robbers upon the highway, nor housebreakers; which
conveniency of arbitrary government, among the multitude of mischiefs
attending it, I have likewise observed in France.' He is greatly
impressed with the merits of the Danish laws, apart from their
administration. 'For justice, brevity, and perspicuity, they exceed all
that I know in the world. They are grounded upon equity, and are all
contained in one quarto volume, written in the language of the country.'
Such passages are conclusive as to his impartiality, and the violent
attacks which his book provoked were probably mainly due to its
exceedingly plain speaking about individuals. Of the Danes in general he
says: 'I never knew any country where the minds of the people were more
of one calibre and pitch than here; you shall meet with none of
extraordinary parts or qualifications, or excellent in particular
studies and trades; you see no enthusiasts, madmen, natural fools, or
fanciful folks; but a certain equality of understanding reigns among
them. Every one keeps the ordinary beaten road of sense, which in this
country is neither the fairest nor the foulest, without deviating to the
right or left.' Molesworth was a man of parts and independent character,
who afterwards rendered his country considerable services in Ireland,
where Swift dedicated one of the Drapier's letters to him as a patriot.

[Sidenote: Paul Rycaut.]

Paul Rycaut, secretary to the English ambassador at Constantinople, and
author of an exceedingly valuable account of _The Present State of the
Ottoman Empire_ (1668), should perhaps hardly be reckoned among
travellers, as he gives no account of his residence, and merely
condenses the results of his observation of Ottoman manners and polity.
The book must have been highly important at a time when the Ottoman
still menaced Europe, and may be read with pleasure even now for its
good sense and varied information, which includes a lively description
of a palace revolution, and an account of the chief religious sects
among the Turks.

[Sidenote: Edward Browne.]

Doctor Edward Browne, son of Sir Thomas Browne, was a highly
accomplished man, whose travels in Eastern Europe (1673) contain a
remarkable amount of accurate observation within a surprisingly narrow
compass. It seems strange to find him foretelling a great territorial
expansion of the Turkish empire at the expense of Christian Europe, but
the prophecy came near being fulfilled by the peril of Vienna not long
after Browne wrote.

[Sidenote: Foreign Travellers in England.]

This review of English travellers would not be complete without a brief
notice of two foreign visitors to the country, whose narratives,
translated into English, have probably been more read here than at home,
and from whom much valuable information may be derived. Sorbière, a
philosopher of Gassendi's school, a Protestant by birth, but who had
become a nominal Catholic, visited England in 1663. Being, as he admits,
entirely ignorant of the language, his attention was principally given
to the intellectual aspects of the country, which were not unfamiliar to
him, from his acquaintance with the works of Englishmen who had written
in Latin. His accounts of Oxford and the Royal Society are neither
unamusing nor uninstructive; he has a true veneration for English men of
science, especially Bacon, whom he pronounces 'the greatest man for the
interest of natural philosophy that ever was.' Of English letters he can
only say that 'he understands that all English eloquence consists in
mere pedantry.' Writing in the character of a courtier, Sorbière
expresses himself antagonistically to the English constitution, but it
is difficult to believe that his remarks are not sometimes ironical. He
can hardly have thought it a very extravagant idea on the part of the
commons 'that their king ought to apply himself entirely to maintain the
public peace, to promote the happiness of his people, and to advance the
honour and reputation of his country abroad, as much as possibly he
can.' We are nevertheless informed that this and similar views arise
from 'a particular inclination they have by nature to supply themselves
with such disrespectful arguments.'

The travels in England of Duke Cosmo de' Medici, heir-apparent to the
Grand Duchy of Tuscany, were performed in 1669, and described by Signor
Magalotti, a member of his suite, whose manuscript account was
translated into English, and published in 1821. They are more
interesting than most foreign narratives of English travel, in so far as
Cosmo, having landed at Plymouth and travelled up to London, and having
afterwards made excursions to Oxford, Cambridge, and other places, saw
more of English country life than usual, and inasmuch as they are
accompanied by excellent sketches taken by artists in his suite. It is
most delightful to be thus enabled to see towns and villages and
country-houses exactly as they appeared in the days of Charles II., and
it is only to be regretted that the artists did not exercise their
pencils upon the streets of London. Magalotti is an intelligent and
inquisitive traveller; but, voyaging in the train of a prince, and
unacquainted with the language, he can tell us little respecting the
people. His account of what fell within his sphere is sensible and
impartial, with a few errors, such as the strange assertion that
Clarendon had been secretly a Presbyterian! He is too much of a courtier
to inform us respecting the court of Charles II., except in the
enumeration of titled persons and officials, in which he is very exact.
He gives a fair account of the Royal Society, and of the theatre; but
seems unconscious of the existence of English literature outside the
walls of the playhouse.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have now accompanied the literature of the Restoration period from
its apparently sudden manifestation contemporaneously with the return of
the exiled monarch to its transition into what is so appropriately in
one point of view, so unaptly in another, termed England's Augustan age.
We have seen that this apparent abruptness was deceptive, arising from
the interruption of English literary development by the Civil War and
its consequences; and that the Restoration literature represented
tendencies which must inevitably have prevailed without the infusion of
any French element. The old Elizabethan mode had become inadequate to
the vastly extended needs of the time, and we are now able to recognize
the literature of the Restoration in its proper connection as a
transition to the thoroughly practical and business-like style of the
eighteenth century, which, having worked itself out in its turn, and
arrived at an impracticable position through the total negation of
imagination by its most characteristic representatives,[15] brought
about the revival of the Elizabethan spirit in the imaginative,
spiritual, and at the same time intensely human literature of the
nineteenth century. This in turn seems threatened with decay from the
exaggeration of its characteristic qualities; and the antidote might be
sought in less hopeful quarters than in the sound sense, manly vigour,
and solid execution of the robust if prosaic writers of the Age of


[15] Fox thought that Shakespeare's reputation would have stood higher
if he had never written _Hamlet_!


1660. Dryden's _Astraea Redux_.
      Pepys begins his _Diary_.
1662. Bentley born.
      Atterbury born.
      Royal Society incorporated.
1663. First part of _Hudibras_ published.
      Dryden begins to write for the stage.
      _London Gazette_ established.
      L'Estrange licenser of the press.
1664. Second part of _Hudibras_.
      Evelyn's _Sylva_.
      Vanbrugh born.
1665. Bunyan's _Grace Abounding_.
1667. _Paradise Lost._
      Dryden's _Annus Mirabilis_.
      Dryden's _Essay of Dramatic Poesy_.
      Cowley died.
      Swift born.
1669. Pepys discontinues his _Diary_.
1670. Dryden made Poet Laureate.
      Walton's _Lives_ collected.
      Congreve born.
1671. _Paradise Regained_ and _Samson Agonistes_.
      _The Rehearsal._
1672. Wycherley begins to write for the stage.
      Addison born.
      Steele born.
1674. Milton died.
1676. Barclay's _Apology_.
      Hoadly born.
1677. Barrow died.
1678. _Pilgrim's Progress_, first part.
      Cudworth's _Intellectual System_.
      _Hudibras_, third part.
      Dryden's _All for Love_.
      Farquhar born.
      Marvell died.
1679. Burnet's _History of the Reformation in England_.
1680. Bunyan's _Life and Death of Mr. Badman_.
      Otway's _Orphan_.
      Butler died.
1681. _Absalom and Achitophel_, first part.
      Thomas Burnet's _Sacred Theory of the Earth_.
1682. _The Medal._
      _Absalom and Achitophel_, second part.
      _Religio Laici._
      Otway's _Venice Preserved_.
      Bunyan's _Holy War_.
1683. Izaak Walton died.
      Oldham died.
1684. _Pilgrim's Progress_, second part.
      Berkeley born.
1685. Otway died.
1687. Newton's _Principia_.
      _The Hind and the Panther._
      Waller died.
1688. Pope born.
      Bunyan died.
      Cudworth died.
1689. Locke's _Letter on Toleration_.
      Dryden deprived of the Laureateship.
      Richardson born.
1690. Locke's _Essay on the Human Understanding_.
      Dryden's _Don Sebastian_.
      Wood's _Athenae Oxonienses_.
1691. Ray's _Wisdom of God manifested in Creation_.
      Nathaniel Lee died.
1692. Bishop Butler born.
1693. Locke's _Treatise on Education_.
      Congreve's _Old Bachelor_.
      Congreve's _Double Dealer_.
1694. Tillotson died.
1695. Locke's _Reasonableness of Christianity_.
      Congreve's _Love for Love_.
1697. Dryden's translation of the _Aeneid_.
      Congreve's _Mourning Bride_.
      Dampier's _Voyages_.
      Vanbrugh begins to write for the stage.
1698. Collier's _Short View of the Immorality of the Stage_.
      Warburton born.
      Bentley's _Dissertation on Phalaris_.
1699. Farquhar begins to write for the stage.
      Stillingfleet died.
      Sir William Temple died.
1700. Dryden's _Fables_.
      Dryden died.
      Thomson born.


_Absalom and Achitophel_, 10, 21-24;
  second part of, 11, 25.

_Account of a Conversation for a right Regulation of Governments_, 174.

_Account of the English Dramatic Poets_, 257.

_Adventures of Five Hours_, 5.

_Advice to a Dissenter_, 254.

_Advices to a Painter_, 52.

_Alcibiades_, 102.

_Alexander's Feast_, 14, 32, 35.

_All for Love_, 9, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 100.

Allestree, Richard, 227.

_Amboyna_, 99.

_Amphitryon_, 9, 92.

_Anatomy of an Equivalent, the_, 251.

_Anne Killigrew, Elegy on_, 68, 69, 70, 71.

_Annus Mirabilis_, 17-19.

Antiquarians, 259-266.

_Antiquities of Warwickshire_, 261.

_Apology, the_, 226.

Archippus, 92.

Arnold, Matthew, 4.

_Arundel Marbles_, 257.

Ashmole, Elias, 261, 262.

_Astraea Redux_, 16.

_Astro-Theology_, 229.

_Atalanta_, 246.

_Atheist, the_, 103.

_Athenae Oxonienses_, 260.

Aubrey, John, 262, 263.

_Aurengzebe_, 9, 87, 88, 89.

Autobiography, 195-220.

Barclay, Robert, 226.

_Baronage of England_, 261.

Barrow, Isaac, 222, 223.

Barry, Mrs., 102, 103.

Baxter, Richard, 226.

_Beaux' Stratagem, the_, 129, 144, 145.

Behn, Aphra, 146, 147, 245, 246.

Bentley, Richard, 153, 154, 231, 232.

Bentley-Boyle controversy, 154.

Biography, 195-220.

_Bold Stroke for a Wife, a_, 148.

Boyle, Hon. Robert, 229.

Boyle, Roger, Earl of Orrery, 119.

_Boyle Lectures_, 154.

Brady, Dr. Nicholas, 118.

_Britannia Rediviva_, 31.

Browne, Dr. Edward, 276.

Buckingham, Duke of. _See_ Villiers, George.

Buckinghamshire, Duke of. _See_ Sheffield, John.

Bull, George, 225, 226.

Bunyan, John, 233-244;
  _Grace Abounding_, 234, 243, 244;
  _Some Gospel Truths Opened_, 234;
  _Pilgrim's Progress_, 235, 236-239;
  _Defence of Justification by Faith_, 235;
  _The Life and Death of Mr. Badman_, 235, 242, 243;
  _The Holy War_, 235;
  _The Jerusalem Sinner Saved_, 235.

Burnet, Gilbert, 178-183, 274, 275.

Burnet, Thomas, 229-231.

_Busy Body, the_, 148.

Butler, Samuel, 53-66, 248;
  _Mola Asinaria_, 54;
  _Hudibras_, 54, 55, 56-63;
  _The Elephant in the Moon_, 63, 65;
  _Characters_, 248-251.

Byron and Dryden as dramatic authors, 100.

_Caius Marius_, 102.

_Caligula_, 115.

_Calisto_, 115.

_Call to the Unconverted, a_, 226.

_Causes of the Decay of Christian Piety_, 227.

Centlivre, Mrs. Susannah, 147, 148;
  _The Busy Body_, 148;
  _The Wonder_, 148;
  _A Bold Stroke for a Wife_, 148.

Chaplin, Dr., 227.

_Character of a Trimmer, the_, 251.

_Characters_, 248-251.

Charles II., 81;
  personal influence of, on letters, 2, 3;
  epitaph on, 47.

Chaucer, adaptations from, 32.

_City Politics_, 115.

Claudian, 39.

_Cleomenes_, 99.

Collier, Jeremy, 126, 153.

_Committee, the_, 119.

_Complete Angler, the_, 218, 219, 268.

_Confederacy, the_, 128, 140, 141-143.

Congreve, William, 124-127, 130, 134, 136, 138, 140;
  on Dryden, 15;
  _Incognita_, 125;
  _The Old Bachelor_, 125, 139;
  _The Double Dealer_, 125, 134, 137;
  _Love for Love_, 126, 138, 146;
  _The Mourning Bride_, 126, 134, 146;
  _The Way of the World_, 126, 134.

_Conquest of Granada, the_, 9, 85, 86, 120.

_Considerations on the Value of Money_, 159.

_Constant Couple, the_, 129.

Cotton, Charles, 271.

_Country Wife, the_, 124, 132.

Crowne, John, 114, 115;
  _The English Friar_, 115;
  _City Politics_, 115;
  _The Married Beau_, 115;
  _Calisto_, 115;
  _Darius_, 115;
  _Pandion and Amphigenia_, 115;
  _Juliana_, 115;
  _Caligula_, 115.

Cudworth, Ralph, 164-166.

Culverwell, Nathaniel, 164.

Cumberland, Richard, 164.

_Cymon and Iphigenia_, 33.

Dampier, William, 273, 274.

Daniel, Samuel, 2.

_Darius_, 115.

_Defence of Justification by Faith_, 235.

_De Fide et officiis Christianorum_, 229.

Dennys, John, 268.

Derham, W., 229.

_De Statu mortuorum et resurgentium_, 229.

_Dialogue on Dramatic Poesy_, 150, 151.

Dillon, Wentworth, Earl of Roscommon, 48.

_Discourse of the Winds_, 274.

_Discourse on Government_, 170, 171, 172.

Divinity, 221-232.

_Don Carlos_, 102, 103, 104.

_Don Sebastian_, 9, 97, 98.

_Double Dealer, the_, 125, 134, 137.

Dryden, John, as a poet, 7-41;
  at Cambridge, 8;
  married to Lady Elizabeth Howard, 9;
  made Laureate, 9;
  joins the Church of Rome, 11;
  death of, 14;
  and Pope, 38;
  and the Restoration Drama, 76-100;
  and Byron as dramatic authors, 100;
  criticism on, 149-152;
  and Milton, 149;
  the great reformer of English prose, 149;
  as a letter-writer, 255;
  _The Wild Gallant_, 9, 76, 82;
  _The Indian Emperor_, 9, 76;
  _Tyrannic Love_, 9, 84;
  _The Conquest of Granada_, 9, 85, 86;
  _Aurengzebe_, 9, 87-89;
  _All for Love_, 9, 93-96;
  _Don Sebastian_, 9, 97, 98;
  _The Spanish Friar_, 9, 90, 91;
  _Amphitryon_, 9, 92;
  _Absalom and Achitophel_, 10, 21-24;
  _The Medal_, 10, 24;
  _MacFlecknoe_, 11, 26;
  second part of _Absalom and Achitophel_, 11, 25, 26;
  _Religio Laici_, 11, 26-28;
  _Hind and Panther_, 11, 28-31, 85;
  _Translations of the Classics_, 13, 36-38;
  _Virgil_, 13;
  _Fables_ from Chaucer and Boccaccio, 13, 32-35;
  _Annus Mirabilis_, 17-19;
  _Alexander's Feast_, 14, 32, 35, 68;
  _Astraea Redux_, 16;
  _Heroic Stanzas_, 16;
  _Britannia Rediviva_, 31;
  _Marriage à la Mode_, 89, 90;
  _The Mock Astrologer_, 99;
  _Cleomenes_, 99;
  _King Arthur_, 99;
  _Oedipus_, 99;
  _State of Innocence and Fall of Man_, 99;
  _Amboyna_, 99;
  _The Grounds of Criticism in Tragedy_, 151;
  _Essay on Satire_, 152.

Dugdale, Sir William, 260, 261;
  _Monasticon Anglicanum_, 260;
  _Antiquities of Warwickshire_, 261;
  _History of St. Paul's Cathedral_, 261;
  _Baronage of England_, 261.

_Duke of Guise, the_, 110.

D'Urfey, Thomas, 119.

_Ecclesiastical Polity_, 220.

_Elephant in the Moon, the_, 63, 65.

Eliot, George, 132.

_Empress of Morocco, the_, 118, 119.

_English Friar, the_, 115.

_Epistles of Phalaris_, 154.

_Epsom Wells_, 118.

_Essay on Poetry_, 48.

_Essay on Satire_, 152.

_Essay on the Human Understanding_, 158, 159, 160.

_Essay on Toleration_, 157.

_Essay on Translated Verse_, 48.

Essayists, 248-254.

Etheredge, Sir George, 121, 122;
  _Love in a Tub_, 121;
  _She Would if she Could_, 121;
  _The Man of Mode_, 121.

Evelyn, John, 195-199;
  _Diary_, 196-199, 266;
  _Sylva_, 267.

_Exposition of the Articles_, 179.

_Exposition of the Creed_, 223.

_Fables_ from Chaucer and Boccaccio, Dryden's, 13, 32-35.

_False Friend, the_, 128.

Farquhar, George, 128-130, 143, 146;
  _Love and a Bottle_, 129;
  _The Constant Couple_, 129;
  _The Recruiting Officer_, 129, 144;
  _The Beaux' Stratagem_, 129, 144.

_Fatal Marriage, the_, 116.

Fiction, 233-247.

Filmer, Sir Robert, 168.

Fletcher of Saltoun, 173.

_Flower and the Leaf, the_, 33.

_Foedera_, 260.

Fowler, Bishop, 235;
  on Locke, 161.

Fox, George, 226.

_Friendship in Fashion_, 102.

_Garden, the_, 49.

_Gentleman and Ladies' Calling, the_, 227.

_Gentleman Dancing Master, the_, 124, 133.

Glanvil, Joseph, 164, 166.

_Government of the Tongue, the_, 227.

_Grace Abounding_, 234, 243, 244.

_Grounds of Criticism in Tragedy_, 151.

Hacket, Bishop, 213, 218.

Halifax, Marquis of. _See_ Savile, George.

_Health and Long Life_, 255.

_Heraclitus Ridens_, 175.

_Heroic Stanzas_, 16.

_Hind and Panther, the_, 11, 28-31, 85.

Historians, literary, 257, 258.

Histories, 177-194.

_History and Antiquities_, 260.

_History of his Own Times_, 179-182.

_History of St. Paul's Cathedral_, 261.

_History of the Reformation_, 179, 182.

_History of the Royal Society_, 263.

_Holy War, the_, 235, 239-242.

_Horace_, Dryden's, 37.

Howard, Sir Robert, 119.

_Hudibras_, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63.

Hugo, Victor, 39.

Hume, David, 2.

Hunt, Leigh, on Dryden, 40.

Hutchinson, Mrs., 217.

_Ibrahim, the Illustrious Bassa_, 119.

_Incognita_, 125, 246.

_Indian Emperor, the_, 9, 76.

_Indian Queen, the_, 119.

_Institution, Laws and Ceremonies of the Order of the Garter_, 261.

_Intellectual System, the_, 165.

_Intelligencer_, 174.

_Jerusalem Sinner Saved_, 235.

Johnson, Rev. George, 169.

Jonson, Ben, 131, 132.

_Journey to London, a_, 128, 140.

_Juliana_, 115.

_Juvenal_, Dryden's, 37.

_King Arthur_, 99.

_Knight's Tale, the_, 33.

Knox, Robert, 272, 273.

Lacy, John, 119.

Langbaine, Gerard, 257.

Lee, Nathaniel, 109-113;
  _The Rival Queens_, 110, 111;
  _Mithridates_, 110, 112, 113;
  _The Duke of Guise_, 110;
  _Theodosius_, 110.

L'Estrange, Roger, 174-176.

_Letters on Toleration_, 158, 163.

Letter Writers, 255-257.

_Life and Death of Mr. Badman_, 235, 242, 243.

_Life of Archbishop Williams_, 217.

_Life of Col. Hutchinson_, 217.

_Life of Mahomet_, 257.

Lilly, William, 187-189, 211-213.

Locke, John, 156-164, 169, 170;
  _Essay on Toleration_, 157;
  _Letter on Toleration_, 158;
  _Essay on the Human Understanding_, 158, 159, 160;
  _Considerations on the Value of Money_, 159;
  _Reasonableness of Christianity_, 159, 163;
  _Treatise on Education_, 159;
  _On Words_, 162;
  _On Knowledge_, 162;
  _Some Thoughts concerning Education_, 163.

_London Gazette_, 174.

_Love and a Bottle_, 129.

_Love for Love_, 126, 138, 146.

_Love in a Tub_, 121.

_Love in a Wood_, 123, 133.

_Loyal Brother, the_, 116.

_Lucius Junius Brutus_, 110.

Ludlow, Edmund, 184-187;
  _Memoirs_, 185.

Luttrell, Narcissus, 190;
  _Luttrell Ballads_, 190.

Lyric Poetry, 67-75.

_MacFlecknoe_, 11, 26.

Manley, Mrs., 147, 246.

_Man of Mode, the_, 121.

_Marriage à la Mode_, 89, 90.

_Married Beau, the_, 115.

Marvell, Andrew, 49-53;
  _The Garden_, 49;
  _The Rehearsal Transprosed_, 50;
  _Thoughts in a Garden_, 51;
  _Advice to a Painter_, 52;
  _To the Glowworm_, 72.

_Medal, the_, 10, 24.

Medici, Duke Cosmo de, 278.

Memoirs, 177-194.

_Mercurius Britannicus_, 174.

_Mercurius Politicus_, 174.

_Mercurius Pragmaticus_, 174.

Meredith, George, 132.

Milton, John, and Dryden, 149.

_Mistake, the_, 128.

_Mithridates_, 110, 112, 113.

_Mock Astrologer, the_, 99.

_Mola Asinaria_, 54.

Molesworth, Lord, 275.

Molière, 92;
  _Misanthrope_, 133.

_Monasticon Anglicanum_, 260.

More, Henry, 164.

_Mourning Bride, the_, 126, 134, 146.

Needham, Marchamont, 174.

_New and further Discovery of the Isle of Pines_, 246.

_News_, 174.

_Nicaenae Fidei Defensio_, 225.

_No Cross, no Crown_, 226.

North, Roger, 213-216.

_Observator_, 175.

_Oedipus_, Dryden's, 99, 110.

_Old Bachelor, the_, 125, 139.

Oldham, John, 42-46;
  _Satires upon the Jesuits_, 42, 43-46.

O'Neill, Miss, 104.

_On Knowledge_, 162.

_On the Reasonableness of Christianity_, 159, 163.

_On Words_, 162.

_Origines Sacrae_, 225.

_Oroonoko_, 116, 246.

_Orphan, the_, 102, 103, 104, 105.

Orrery, Earl of. _See_ Boyle, Roger.

Osborne, Dorothy. _See_ Temple, Lady.

_Othello_, 152.

Otway, Thomas, 101-109;
  _Venice Preserved_, 102, 103, 104, 105-109;
  _Alcibiades_, 102;
  _Don Carlos_, 102, 103, 104;
  _Friendship in Fashion_, 102;
  _Caius Marius_, 102;
  _The Orphan_, 102, 103, 104, 105;
  _The Soldier's Fortune_, 102, 103;
  _The Atheist_, 103.

_Oxford, the_, 174.

Pakington, Lady, 227.

_Palamon and Arcite_, 33.

_Pandion and Amphigenia_, 115.

_Parthenissa_, 245.

Pearson, John, 225.

Penn, William, 226.

Pepys, Samuel, 80, 195, 199-210;
  _Diary_, 201-210.

Periodical Press, development of the, 174.

Phillips, Edward, 258.

Philosophy, 155-167.

_Pilgrim's Progress_, 220, 235, 236-239.

_Plain Dealer, the_, 124, 132.

Plautus, 92.

Pope and Dryden, 38.

Porter, Major Thomas, 119.

_Portugal History, the_, 210.

_Practical Discourse concerning Death_, 228.

_Present State of the Ottoman Empire_, 276.

Prideaux, Dean, 256, 257.

_Provoked Husband, the_, 128.

_Provoked Wife, the_, 128, 140.

_Rape of Proserpine_, 40.

Ravenscroft, Edward, 119.

Ray, John, 228.

_Reasonableness of Christianity_, 159, 163.

_Recruiting Officer, the_, 129, 144.

_Rehearsal Transprosed, the_, 50.

_Relapse, the_, 128, 140.

_Religio Laici_, 11, 26-28.

_Reliquiae Wottonianae_, 219.

Reresby, Sir John, 210, 211.

_Return from Parnassus, the_, 78.

_Rival Queens, the_, 110, 111.

Rochester, Earl of. _See_ Wilmot, John.

Roscommon, Earl of. _See_ Dillon, Wentworth.

Rycaut, Paul, 276.

Rymer, Thomas, 152, 260.

_Sacred Theory of the Earth, the_, 229.

_Saducismus Triumphatus_, 166.

Saintsbury, Mr., on Dryden, 20, 21.

_Saints' Everlasting Rest, the_, 226.

_Satires upon the Jesuits_, 42-46.

_Satyr against Mankind_, 47.

Savile, George, 251-254.

Science, Men of, 266-271.

_Secrets of Angling, the_, 268.

Sedley, Sir Charles, 119.

_Session of the Poets, the_, 47.

Settle, Elkanah, 118, 119.

Shadwell, Thomas, 25, 116-118, 132;
  _The Virtuoso_, 117;
  _Epsom Wells_, 118;
  _Squire of Alsatia_, 118;
  _Volunteers_, 118.

Shakespeare, William, 81.

Sheffield, John, Duke of Buckinghamshire, 48.

Sherlock, William, 228.

_She Would if She Could_, 121.

_Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage_, 153.

Sidney, Algernon, 168, 169, 170.

_Soldier's Fortune, the_, 102, 103.

_Some Gospel Truths Opened_, 234.

_Some Thoughts concerning Education_, 163.

Sorbière, Samuel de, 277.

South, Robert, 223.

Southern, Thomas, 115, 116;
  _The Loyal Brother_, 116;
  _The Fatal Marriage_, 116;
  _Oroonoko_, 116.

_Spanish Friar, the_, 9, 90, 91.

Sprat, Thomas, 74, 263;
  on the English and French drama, 77.

_Squire of Alsatia_, 118.

_State of Innocence and Fall of Man_, 99.

Sterne, Archbishop, 227.

Stillingfleet, Edward, 225.

_Sylva_, 196.

Tate, Nahum, 11, 25.

Temple, Lady, 256.

Temple, Sir William, 173, 190-194, 254;
  _Memoirs_, 192.

Tenison, Archbishop, 227.

_Theodore and Honoria_, 33.

_Theodosius_, 110.

_Thoughts in a Garden_, 51.

Tillotson, John, 224, 225.

_Timon_, 78.

_Tracts on Government_, 170.

_Tragedies of the Last Age_, 152.

Travellers, 272-279.

_Treatise on Education_, 159.

_Treatise on Immutable Morality_, 165.

_Treatise on the Pope's Supremacy_, 223.

_Troilus and Cressida_, 151, 152.

Trollope, Anthony, 132.

Tuke, Sir Samuel, 5.

_Two Kings of Brentford, the_, 120.

_Types of Ethical Theory_, 166.

_Tyrannic Love_, 9, 84.

Vanbrugh, Sir John, 127, 128, 139, 140;
  _The Relapse_, 128, 140;
  _The Provoked Wife_, 128, 140;
  _The False Friend_, 128;
  _The Confederacy_, 128, 140;
  _The Mistake_, 128;
  _A Journey to London_, 128, 140;
  _The Provoked Husband_, 128.

_Vanity of Dogmatizing, the_, 166.

_Venice Preserved_, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109.

Villiers, George, 119, 120.

_Virgil_, Dryden's, 13, 37.

_Virtuoso, the_, 117.

_Volunteers_, 118.

Walton, Izaak, 213, 218-220, 268.

Ward, Professor, on Wycherley, 132.

_Way of the World, the_, 126, 134.

Whichcote, Benjamin, 164.

Whitelocke, Bulstrode, 189, 190;
  _Memorials_, 190.

_Whole Duty of Man, the_, 227.

_Wild Gallant, the_, 9, 76, 82.

Wilmot, John, Earl of Rochester, 46, 47.

Wilson, John, 119.

_Wisdom of God in the Creation_, 228.

_Wonder, the_, 148.

Wood, Anthony à, 259, 260.

Wotton, Sir Henry, 268.

Writers on Government, 168-176.

Wycherley, William, 123, 124, 132, 134, 136;
  _Love in a Wood_, 123, 132;
  _The Gentleman Dancing Master_, 124, 133;
  _The Country Wife_, 124, 132;
  _The Plain Dealer_, 124, 133.

_Zarah_, 246.



General: Text italicised in the original is surrounded by underscores
         in this version
Page 7: small-pox standardised to smallpox
Page 62: cobler as in the original.
Page 114 [Footnote]: " standardised to ' before --I presume your
Page 125: Inconsistent hyphenation of Double(-)Dealer as in original
Page 139: Inconsistent hyphenation of eye(-)witness as in original, left
         as part of a quotation
Page 197: Battel as in the original
Page 207: our's as in the original
Page 209: Inconsistent hyphenation of glow(-)worms as in original, left
         as part of a quotation
Page 223: timeserver standardised to time-server

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