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Title: English Lands Letters and Kings: From Elizabeth to Anne
Author: Mitchell, Donald Grant
Language: English
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From Elizabeth to Anne

      *      *      *      *      *      *


_By Donald G. Mitchell_

  I. From Celt to Tudor
 II. From Elizabeth to Anne
III. Queen Anne and the Georges

_Each one volume, 12mo, cloth, gilt top, $1.50_

      *      *      *      *      *      *


From Elizabeth to Anne




New York
Charles Scribner’s Sons

Copyright, 1890, by
Charles Scribner’S Sons

Printing and Bookbinding Company,
New York.



MY DEAR JULIA,--_We have both known, in the past, a certain delightsome
country home; you--in earliest childhood, and I--in latest youth-time: and
I think we both relish those reminders--perhaps a Kodak view, or an autumn
gentian plucked by the road-side, or actual glimpse of its woods, or
brook, on some summer’s drive--which have brought back the old homestead,
with its great stretch of undulating meadow--its elms--its shady
lanes--its singing birds--its leisurely going big-eyed oxen--its long,
tranquil days, when the large heart of June was pulsing in all the leaves
and all the air:_

_Well, even so, and by these light tracings of Lands and Kings, and little
whiffs of metric music, I seek to bring back to you, and to your pupils
and associates (who have so kindly received previous and kindred
reminders) the rich memories of that great current of English letters
setting steadily forward amongst these British lands, and these
sovereigns, from Elizabeth to Anne. But slight as these glimpses are, and
as this synopsis may be, they will together serve, I hope, to fasten
attention where I wish to fasten it, and to quicken appetite for those
fuller and larger studies of English Literature and History, which shall
make even these sketchy outlines valued--as one values little flowerets
plucked from old fields--for bringing again to mind the summers of
youth-time, and a world of summer days, with their birds and abounding

                                                   _Affectionately yours,
                                                          D. G. M._




                         CHAPTER I.

    PRELIMINARY,                                      1

    THE STUART LINE,                                  4

    JAMES I.,                                         6

    WALTER RALEIGH,                                  11

    NIGEL AND HARRISON,                              19

    A LONDON BRIDE,                                  23

    BEN JONSON AGAIN,                                26

    AN ITALIAN REPORTER,                             29

    SHAKESPEARE AND THE GLOBE,                       32

                         CHAPTER II.

    GOSSON AND OTHER PURITANS,                       42

    KING JAMES’ BIBLE,                               44

    SHAKESPEARE,                                     56

    SHAKESPEARE’S YOUTH,                             61

    FAMILY RELATIONS,                                67

    SHAKESPEARE IN LONDON,                           73

    WORK AND REPUTATION,                             77

    HIS THRIFT AND CLOSING YEARS,                    81

                         CHAPTER III.

    WEBSTER, FORD, AND OTHERS,                       88


    KING JAMES AND FAMILY,                           99


    WOTTON AND WALTON,                              109

    GEORGE HERBERT,                                 115

    ROBERT HERRICK,                                 120

    REVOLUTIONARY TIMES,                            126

                         CHAPTER IV.

    KING CHARLES AND HIS FRIENDS,                   132

    JEREMY TAYLOR,                                  135

    A ROYALIST AND A PURITAN,                       140

    COWLEY AND WALLER,                              144

    JOHN MILTON,                                    150

    MILTON’S MARRIAGE,                              157

    THE ROYAL TRAGEDY,                              161

    CHANGE OF KINGS,                                167

    LAST DAYS,                                      174

                         CHAPTER V.

    CHARLES II. AND HIS FRIENDS,                    182

    ANDREW MARVELL,                                 189

    AUTHOR OF HUDIBRAS,                             193

    SAMUEL PEPYS,                                   198

    A SCIENTIST,                                    207

    JOHN BUNYAN,                                    209

                         CHAPTER VI.

    THREE GOOD PROSERS,                             221

    JOHN DRYDEN,                                    227

    THE LONDON OF DRYDEN,                           234

    LATER POEMS AND PURPOSE,                        240

    JOHN LOCKE,                                     248

    END OF THE KING AND OTHERS,                     255

                         CHAPTER VII.

    KINGS CHARLES, JAMES, AND WILLIAM,              261

    SOME LITERARY FELLOWS,                          268

    A PAMPHLETEER,                                  272

    OF QUEEN ANNE,                                  277

    AN IRISH DRAGOON,                               280

    STEELE’S LITERARY QUALITIES,                    285

    JOSEPH ADDISON,                                 288

    SIR ROGER DE COVERLEY,                          291

                         CHAPTER VIII.

    ROYAL GRIEFS AND FRIENDS,                       301

    BUILDERS AND STREETS,                           306

    JOHN GAY,                                       308

    JONATHAN SWIFT,                                 312

    SWIFT’S POLITICS,                               324

    HIS LONDON JOURNAL,                             328

    IN IRELAND AGAIN,                               333



We take outlook to-day from the threshold of the seventeenth century.
Elizabeth is dead (1603), but not England. The powers it had grown to
under her quickening offices are all alive. The great Spanish dragon has
its teeth drawn; Cadiz has been despoiled, and huge galleons, gold-laden,
have come trailing into Devon ports. France is courteously friendly.
Holland and England are in leash, as against the fainter-growing blasts of
Popedom. In Ireland, Tyrone has been whipped into bloody quietude. A
syndicate of London merchants, dealing in pepper and spices, has made the
beginnings of that East-Indian empire which gives to the present British
sovereign her proudest title. London is growing apace in riches and in
houses; though her shipping counts for less than the Dutch shipping, great
cargoes come and go through the Thames--spices from the East, velvets and
glass from the Mediterranean, cloths from the Baltic. Cheapside is
glittering with the great array of goldsmiths’ shops four stories high,
and new painted and new gilded (in 1594) by Sir Richard Martin, Mayor. The
dudes of that time walk and “publish” their silken suits there, and thence
through all the lanes leading to Paul’s Walk--which is, effectively, the
aisle of the great church. There are noblemen who have tall houses in the
city and others who have built along the Strand, with fine grounds
reaching to the river and looking out upon the woods which skirt the
bear-gardens of Bankside in Southwark. The river is all alive with
boats--wherries, barges, skiffs. There are no hackney carriages as yet for
hire; but rich folks here and there rumble along the highways in heavy
Flemish coaches.

Some of the great lights we have seen in the intellectual firmament of
England have set. Burleigh is gone; Hooker is gone, in the prime of his
years; Spenser gone, Marlowe gone, Sidney gone. But enough are left at the
opening of the century and at the advent of James (1603) to keep the great
trail of Elizabethan literary splendors all aglow. George Chapman (of the
Homer) is alive and active; and so are Raleigh, and Francis Bacon, and
Heywood, and Dekker, and Lodge. Shakespeare is at his best, and is acting
in his own plays at the newly built Globe Theatre. Michael Drayton is in
full vigor, plotting and working at the tremendous poem from which we
culled--in advance--a pageful of old English posies. Ben Jonson, too, is
all himself, whom we found a giant and a swaggerer, yet a man of great
learning and capable of the delicious bits of poesy which I cited. You
will further remember how we set right the story of poor Amy Robsart--told
of the great Queen’s vanities--of her visitings--of her days of
illness--and of the death of the last sovereign of the name of Tudor.

_The Stuart Line._

Henceforth, for much time to come, we shall meet--when we encounter
British royalty at all--with men of the house of Stuart. But how comes
about this shifting of the thrones from the family of Tudor to the family
of Stuart? I explained in a recent chapter how the name of Tudor became
connected with the crown, by the marriage of a Welsh knight--Owen
Tudor--with Katharine, widow of Henry V. Now let us trace, if we can, this
name of Stuart. Henry VII. was a Tudor, and so was Henry VIII.; so were
his three children who succeeded him--Edward, the bigot Mary, and
Elizabeth; no one of these, however, left direct heirs; but Henry VIII.
had a sister, Margaret, who married James IV. of Scotland. This James was
a lineal descendant of a daughter of Robert Bruce, who had married Walter
Stuart, the chief of a powerful Scotch family. That James I. of whom I
have spoken, who was a delicate poet, and so long a prisoner in Windsor
Tower, was great-grandson of this Stuart-daughter of Robert Bruce. And
from him--that is from James I.--was directly descended James IV., who
married the sister of Henry VIII. James IV. had a son, succeeding him,
called James V. who by a French marriage, became the father of that
Frenchy queen, poor Marie of Scotland, who suffered at Fotheringay, and
who had married her cousin, Henry Darnley (he also having Stuart blood),
by whom she had a son, James Stuart--being James VI. of Scotland and James
I. of England, who now succeeds Elizabeth.

This strong Scotch strain in the Stuart line of royalty will explain, in a
certain degree, how ready so clannish a people as the Scotch were to join
insurrection in favor of the exiled Stuarts; a readiness you will surely
remember if you have read _Waverley_ and _Redgauntlet_. And in further
confirmation of this clannish love, you will recall the ever-renewed and
gossipy boastfulness with which the old Scotch gentlewoman, Lady Margaret
Bellenden, in _Old Mortality_, tells over and over of the morning when his
most gracious majesty Charles II. partook of his _disjune_ at Tillietudlem

But we have nothing to do with so late affairs now, and I have only made
this diversion into Scotland to emphasize the facts about the Stuart
affiliation to the throne of England, and the reasons for Scotch readiness
to fling caps in the air for King Charlie or for the Pretender.

_James I._

And now what sort of person was this James Stuart, successor to Elizabeth?
He was a man in his thirty-eighth year, who had been a king--or called a
king, of Scotland--ever since he was a baby of twelve months old; and in
many matters he was a baby still. He loved bawbles as a child loves its
rattle; loved bright feathers too--to dress his cap withal; was afraid of
a drawn sword and of hobgoblins. He walked, from some constitutional
infirmity, with the uncertain step of a child--swaying about in a
ram-shackle way--steadying himself with a staff or a hold upon the
shoulder of some attendant. He slobbered when he ate, so that his silken
doublet--quilted to be proof against daggers--was never of the cleanest.
He had a big head and protruding eyes, and would laugh and talk broad
Scotch with a blundering and halting tongue, and crack unsavory jokes with
his groom or his barber.

Yet he had a certain kindness of heart; he hated to see suffering, though
he had no objection to suffering he did not see; the sight of blood almost
made him faint; his affection for favorites sometimes broke out into
love-sick drivel. Withal he had an acute mind; he had written bad poems,
before he left Scotland, calling himself modestly a royal apprentice at
that craft. He had a certain knack at logical fence and loved to argue a
man to death; he had power of invective, as he showed in his _Counterblast
to Tobacco_--of which I will give a whiff by and by. He had languages at
command, and loved to show it; for he had studied long and hard in his
young days, under that first and best of Scotch scholars and
pedagogues--George Buchanan. He had, in general, a great respect for
sacred things, and for religious observances--which did not prevent him,
in his moments of petulant wrath or of wine-y exaltation, from swearing
with a noisy vehemence. Lord Herbert of Cherbury--elder brother of the
poet Herbert, and English ambassador to France--wittily excused this
habit of his sovereign, by saying he was too kind to anathematize men
himself, and therefore asked God to do so.

This was the man who was to succeed the great and courtly Elizabeth; this
was the man toward whom all the place-hunters of the court now directed
their thoughts, and (many of them) their steps too, eager to be among the
foremost to bow in obsequience before him; besieging him, as every United
States President is besieged, and will be besieged, until the disgraceful
hunt for spoils is checked by some nobler purpose on the part of political
victors than the rewarding of the partisans.

There was Sir Robert Cary--a far-away cousin of Elizabeth’s--who was so
bewitched to be foremost in this agreeable business that he dashes away at
a headlong gallop, night and day--before the royal couriers have
started--gets thrown from his horse, who gave him a vicious blow with his
heels, which he says “made me shed much blood.” But he pushes on and
carries first to Edinburgh the tidings of the Queen’s death. Three days of
the sharpest riding would only carry the news in those days; and the
court messenger took a week or so to get over the heavy roads between the
Scotch capital and London.

It does not appear that James made a show of much sorrow; he must have
remembered keenly, through all his stolidity, how his mother, Mary Queen
of Scots, had suffered at Fotheringay; and remembered through whose _fiat_
this dismal tragedy had come about. He hints that perhaps the funeral
services had better not tarry for his coming;--writes that he would be
glad of the crown jewels (which they do not send, however) for the new
Queen’s wearing.

Then he sets off at leisure; travels at leisure; receiving deputations at
leisure, and all manner of prostrations; stopping at Berwick; stopping at
Belvoir Castle; stopping at York; stopping wherever was good eating or
lodging or hunting; flatterers coming in shoals to be knighted by him;
even the great Bacon, wanting to be Sir Francised--as he was presently:
and I am afraid the poets of the time might have appeared, if they had
possessed the wherewithal to make the journey, and were as hopeful of fat

Curiously enough, the King is grandly entertained in Huntingdonshire by
one Oliver Cromwell, to whom James takes a great liking; not, of course,
the great Cromwell; but this was the uncle and the godfather of the famous
Oliver, who was to be chief instrument in bringing James’ royal son,
Charles, to the scaffold. Thence the King goes for four or five days of
princely entertainment to Theobalds, a magnificent seat of old Burleigh’s,
where Elizabeth had gone often; and where his son, Cecil, now plies the
King with flatteries, and poisons his mind perhaps against Raleigh--for
whom Cecil has no liking;--perhaps representing that Raleigh, being in
Parliament at the time, might have stayed the execution of Queen Mary, if
he had chosen. The King is delighted with Theobalds; so far delighted that
a few years after he exchanges for it his royal home of Hatfield House,
which magnificent place is still held by a descendant of Cecil, in the
person of the present Earl of Salisbury.

That place of Theobalds became afterward a pet home of the King; he made
great gardens there, stocked with all manner of trees and fruits: every
great stranger in England must needs go to see the curious knots and
mazes of flowers, and the vineries and shrubbery; but the palace and
gardens are now gone. At last King Jamie gets to London, quartering at the
_Charter-house_--where is now a school and a home of worn-out old
pensioners (dear old Colonel Newcome died there!) within gunshot of the
great markets by Smithfield;--and James is as vain as a boy of sleeping
and lording it, at last, in a great capital of two realms that call him

_Walter Raleigh._

I said that his mind had been poisoned against Raleigh;[1] that poison
begins speedily to work. There are only too many at the King’s elbow who
are jealous of the grave and courtly gentleman, now just turned of fifty,
and who has packed into those years so much of high adventure; who has
written brave poems; who has fought gallantly and on many fields; who has
voyaged widely in Southern and Western seas; who has made discovery of the
Guianas; who has, on a time, befriended Spenser, and was mate-fellow with
the gallant Sidney; who was a favorite of the great Queen; and whose fine
speech, and lordly bearing, and princely dress made him envied everywhere,
and hated by less successful courtiers. Possibly, too, Raleigh had made
unsafe speeches about the chances of other succession to the throne.
Surely he who wore his heart upon his sleeve, and loved brave deeds, could
have no admiration for the poltroon of a King who had gone a hunting when
the stains upon the scaffold on which his mother suffered were hardly dry.
So it happened that Sir Walter Raleigh was accused of conspiring for the
dethronement of the new King, and was brought to trial, with Cobham and
others. The street people jeered at him as he passed, for he was not
popular; he had borne himself so proudly with his exploits, and gold, and
his eagle eye. But he made so noble a defence--so full--so clear--so
eloquent--so impassioned, that the same street people cheered him as he
passed out of court--but not to freedom. The sentence was death: the King,
however, feared to put it to immediate execution. There was a show,
indeed, of a scaffold, and the order issued. Cobham and Gray were haled
out, and given last talks with an officiating priest, when the King
ordered stay of proceedings: he loved such mummery. Raleigh went to the
Tower, where for thirteen years he lay a prisoner; and they show now in
the Tower of London the vaulted chamber that was his reputed (but
doubtful) home, where he compiled, in conjunction with some outside
friends--Ben Jonson among the rest--that ponderous _History of the World_,
which is a great reservoir of facts, stated with all grace and dignity,
but which, like a great many heavy, excellent books, is never read. The
matter-of-fact young man remembers that Sir Walter Raleigh first brought
potatoes and (possibly) tobacco into England; but forgets his ponderous

I may as well finish his story here and now, though I must jump forward
thirteen and more years to accomplish it. At the end of that time the
King’s exchequer being low (as it nearly always was), and there being
rumors afloat of possible gold findings in Raleigh’s rich country of
Guiana, the old knight, now in his sixty-seventh year, felt the spirit of
adventure stirred in him by the west wind that crept through the gratings
of his prison bringing tropical odors; and he volunteered to equip a
fleet in company with friends, and with the King’s permission to go in
quest of mines, to which he believed, or professed to believe, he had the
clew. The permission was reluctantly granted; and poor Lady Raleigh sold
her estate, as well as their beloved country home of Sherborne (in Dorset)
to vest in the new enterprise.

But the fates were against it: winds blew the ships astray; tempests beat
upon them; mutinies threatened; and in Guiana, at last, there came
disastrous fights with the Spaniards.

Keymis, the second in command, and an old friend of Raleigh’s, being
reproached by this latter in a moment of frenzy, withdraws and shoots
himself; Raleigh’s own son, too, is sacrificed, and the crippled squadron
sets out homeward, with no gold, and shattered ships and maddened crews.
Storm overtakes them; there is mutiny; there is wreck; only a few forlorn
and battered hulks bring back this disheartened knight. He lands in his
old home of Devon--is warned to flee the wrath that will fall upon him in
London; but as of old he lifts his gray head proudly, and pushes for the
capital to meet his accusers. Arrived there, he is made to know by those
strong at court that there is no hope, for he has brought no gold; and
yielding to friendly entreaties he makes a final effort at escape. He does
outwit his immediate guards and takes to a little wherry that bears him
down the Thames: a half-day more and he would have taken wings for France.
But the sleuth-hounds are on his track; he is seized, imprisoned, and in
virtue of his old sentence--the cold-hearted Bacon making the law for
it--is brought to the block.

He walks to the scaffold with serene dignity--greets old friends
cheerfully--dies cheerfully, and so enters on the pilgrimage he had set
forth in his cumbrous verse:--

    “There the blessed paths we’ll travel,
    Strow’d with rubies thick as gravel;
    Ceilings of diamonds, sapphire floors,
    High walls of coral and pearly bowers.
    From thence to Heaven’s bribeless hall,
    Where no corrupted voices brawl;
    No conscience molten into gold,
    No forg’d accuser bought or sold,
    No cause deferr’d, no vain-spent Journey,
    For there Christ is the King’s Attorney,
    Who pleads for all without degrees,
    And He hath angels, but no fees.
    And when the grand twelve-million jury
    Of our sins, with direful fury,
    Against our souls black verdicts give,
    Christ pleads his death and then we live.”

Again to his wife, in a last letter from his prison, he writes:--

    “You shall receive, my dear wife, my last words in these my last
    lines: my love I send you, that you may keep when I am dead; and my
    counsel, that you may remember when I am no more. I would not with
    my will, present you sorrows, my dear Bess: let them go to the grave
    with me and be buried in the dust. And seeing that it is not the
    will of God that I shall meet you any more, bear my destruction
    patiently, and with a heart like yourself.

    “I beseech you for the love that you bear me living, that you do not
    hide yourself many days; but, by your labors seek to help my
    miserable fortunes, and the rights of your poor child. Your mourning
    cannot avail me, that am but dust. I sued for my life, but, God
    knows, it was for you and yours that I desired it: for, know it, my
    dear wife, your child is the child of a true man, who in his own
    respect, despiseth Death and his misshapen and ugly forms. I cannot
    write much (God knows how hardly I steal this time when all sleep),
    and it is also time for me to separate my thoughts from the world.
    Beg my dead body, which living was denied you, and either lay it in
    Sherborne or Exeter church, by my father and mother.

    “My dear wife, farewell; bless my boy; pray for me; and let my true
    God hold you both in his arms.”

It is not as a literary man proper that I have spoken of Raleigh; the
poems that he wrote were very few, nor were they overfine; but they did
have the glimmer in them of his great courage and of his clear thought.
They were never collected in book shape in his own day, nor, indeed, till
long after he had gone: they were only occasional pieces,[2] coming to the
light fitfully under stress of mind--a trail of fire-sparks, as we may
say, flying off from under the trip-hammer of royal wrath or of desperate

Even his _History_ was due to his captivity; his enthusiasms, when he
lived them in freedom, were too sharp and quick for words. They spent
themselves in the blaze of battles--in breasting stormy seas that washed
shores where southern cypresses grew, and golden promises opened with
every sunrise.

And when I consider his busy and brilliant and perturbed life, with its
wonderful adventures, its strange friendships, its toils, its quiet hours
with Spenser upon the Mulla shore, its other hours amidst the jungles of
the Orinoco, its lawless gallantries in the court of Elizabeth, its booty
snatched from Spanish galleons he has set ablaze, its perils, its long
captivities--it is the life itself that seems to me a great Elizabethan
epic, with all its fires, its mated couples of rhythmic sentiment, its
poetic splendors, its shortened beat and broken pauses and blind turns,
and its noble climacteric in a bloody death that is without shame and full
of the largest pathos.

When you read Charles Kingsley’s story of _Westward, Ho!_ (which you
surely should read, as well as such other matter as the same author has
written relating to Raleigh) you will get a live glimpse of this noble
knight of letters, and of those other brave and adventurous sailors of
Devonshire, who in those times took the keels of Plymouth over great
wastes of water. Kingsley writes of the heroes of his native Devon, in the
true Elizabethan humor--putting fiery love and life into his writing; the
roar of Atlantic gales breaks into his pages, and they show, up and down,
splashes of storm-driven brine.

_Nigel and Harrison._

In going back now to the earlier years of King James’ reign, I shall make
no apology for calling attention to that engaging old story of the
_Fortunes of Nigel_. I know it is the fashion with many of the astute
critics of the day to pick flaws in Sir Walter, and to expatiate on his
blunders and shortcomings; nevertheless, I do not think my readers can do
better--in aiming to acquaint themselves with this epoch of English
history--than to read over again Scott’s representation of the personality
and the surroundings of the pedant King. There may be errors in minor
dates, errors of detail; but the larger truths respecting the awkwardness
and the pedantries of the first Stuart King, and respecting the Scotch
adventurers who hung pressingly upon his skirts, and the lawless street
scenes which in those days did really disturb the quietude of the great
metropolis, are pictured with a liveliness which will make them
unforgetable. Macaulay says that out of the gleanings left by historic
harvesters Scott has made “a history scarce less valuable than theirs.”
Nor do I think there is in the _Fortunes of Nigel_ a deviation from the
truth (of which many must be admitted) so extravagant and misleading as
Mr. Freeman’s averment, that in _Ivanhoe_ “there is a mistake in every
line.” There are small truths and large truths; and the competent artist
knows which to seize upon. Titian committed some fearful anachronisms, and
put Venetian stuffs upon Judean women; Balthasar Denner, on the other
hand, painted with minute truthfulness every stubby hair in a man’s beard,
and no tailor could have excepted to his button-holes: nobody knows
Denner; Titian reigns.

Among those whom Scott placed under tribute for much of his local coloring
was a gossipy, kindly clergyman, William Harrison[3] by name, who was
born close by Bow Lane, in London, who studied at Westminster, at Oxford,
and Cambridge (as he himself tells us), and who had a parish in Radwinter,
on the northern borders of Essex; who came to be a canon, finally, at
Windsor; and who died ten years before James came to power. He tells us,
in a delightfully quaint way, of all the simples which he grew in his
little garden--of the manner in which country houses were builded, and
their walls white-washed--of the open chimney vents, and the
smoke-burnished rafters. “And yet see the change,” he says, “for when our
houses were builded of willow, then had we oken men; but now that our
houses are come to be made of oke, our men are not onlie become willow,
but a great manie, through Persian delicacie crept in among us, altogether
of straw, which is a sore alteration.”

When the old parson gets upon the subject of dress he waxes eloquent; nor
was he without fullest opportunities for observation, having been for much
time private chaplain to the Earl of Cobham.

    “Oh, how much cost,” he says, “is bestowed now-a-daies upon our
    bodies, and how little upon our soules! How many sutes of apparel
    hath the one, and how little furniture hath the other! How curious,
    how nice are the men and women, and how hardlie can the tailer
    please them in making things fit for their bodies. How many times
    must they be sent back againe to him that made it. I will say
    nothing of our heads, which sometimes are polled, sometimes curled,
    or suffered to grow at length like woman’s locks, manie times cut
    off above or under the ears, round, as by a wooden dish. Neither
    will I meddle with our varieties of beards, of which some are shaven
    from the chin like those of the Turks, not a few cut like to the
    beard of Marquess Otto; some made round, like a rubbing brush,
    others with a _pique devant_ (O fine fashion!).

    “In women, too, it is much to be lamented that they doo now far
    exceed the lightness of our men, and such staring attire as in times
    past was supposed meet for none but light housewives onelie, is now
    become an habit for chaste and sober matrons. What should I say of
    their doublets with pendant pieces on the brest, full of jags and
    cuts, and sleeves of sundrie colors, I have met with some of these
    _trulles_ in London, so disguised, that it hath passed my skill to
    discerne whether they were men or women.”

If this discerning old gentleman had shot his quill along our sidewalks, I
think it would have punctured a good deal of bloat, and stirred up no
little bustle. The King himself had a great liking for fine dress in
others, though he was himself a sloven. Lord Howard, a courtier, writes to
a friend who is hopeful of preferment:

    “I would wish you to be well trimmed; get a new Jerkin well
    bordered, and not too short: the King liketh it flowing. Your ruff
    should be well stiffened and bushy. The King is nicely heedful of
    such points. Eighteen servants were lately discharged, and many more
    will be discarded who are not to his liking in these matters.” And
    again, speaking of a favorite, he says:--“Carr hath changed his
    tailors, and tiremen many times, and all to please the Prince, who
    laugheth at the long-grown fashion of our young courtiers, and
    wisheth for change everie day.”

_A London Bride._

One other little bit of high light upon the every-day ways of London
living, in the early years of King James, we are tempted to give. It comes
out in the private letter of a new-married lady, who was daughter and
heiress of that enormously rich merchant, Sir John Spencer, who was Lord
Mayor of London; and who, in Elizabeth’s time (as well as James’), lived
in Crosby Hall, still standing in the thick of London city, near to where
Thread and Needle Street, at its eastern end, abuts upon Bishopsgate.
Every voyaging American should go to see this best type of domestic
architecture of the fifteenth century now existing in London; and it will
quicken his interest in the picturesque old pile to know that Richard
III., while Duke of Gloucester, passed some critical days and nights
there, and that for some years it was the home of Sir Thomas More. The
Spencer heiress, however--of whom we began to make mention--brightened its
interior at a later day; there were many suitors for her hand; among them
a son of Lord Compton--not looked upon with favor by the rich
merchant--and concealing his advances under the disguise of a baker’s boy,
through which he came to many stolen interviews, and at last (as tradition
tells) was successful enough to trundle away the heiress, covertly, in his
baker’s barrow. Through the good offices of Queen Elizabeth, who stood
god-mother to the first child, difficulties between father and son-in-law
were healed; and when, later, by the death of Sir John Spencer, the
bridegroom was assured of the enormous wealth inherited by his bride, he
was--poor man--nearly crazed.

Among the curative processes for his relief may be reckoned the letter
from his wife to which I have made allusion, and which runs thus:--

    “My sweet Life, I pray and beseech you to grant me the sum of £2,600
    [equivalent to some $30,000 now] quarterly: also, besides, £600
    quarterly for charities, of which I will give no account. Also, I
    would have 3 horses for my own saddle, that none shall dare to lend
    or borrow. Also; 2 gentlewomen (lest one should be sick)--seeing it
    is an indecent thing for a gentlewoman to stand mumping alone, when
    God hath blessed the Lord and Lady with a great Estate: Also, when I
    ride, a hunting or a hawking, I would have them attend: so, for
    either of those said women there must be a horse.

    “Also, I would have 6 or 8 gentlemen; I will have my two
    coaches--one lined with velvet to myself, with four very fair
    horses, and a coach for my women lined with cloth, and laced with
    gold;--otherwise with scarlet and laced with silver, with four good
    horses. Thereafter, my desire is that you defray all charges for me,
    and beside my allowance, I would have 20 gowns of apparel a
    year--six of them excellent good ones. Also, I would have to put in
    my purse £2,000 or so--you to pay my debts. And seeing I have been
    so reasonable, I pray you do find my children apparel, and their
    schooling, and all my servants, men and women, with wages. Also, I
    must have £6,000 to buy me jewels, and £4,000 to buy me a gold
    chain. Also, my desire is, that you would pay your debts--build up
    Ashley House, and lend no money as you love God! When you be an Earl
    [as he was afterward in Charles I.’s time] I pray you to allow
    £2,000 more than I now desire and double attendance.”

Happy husband!

_Ben Jonson again._

We must not forget our literature; and what has become of our friend Ben
Jonson in these times? He is hearty and thriving; he has written
gratulatory and fulsome verses to the new sovereign. He is better placed
with James than even with Elizabeth. If his tragedy of “Sejanus” has not
found a great success, he has more than made up the failing by the
brilliant masques he has written. The pedantic King loves their pretty
show of classicism, which he can interpret better than his courtiers. He
battens, too, upon the flattery that is strown with a lavish hand:--

    “Never came man more longed for, more desired,
    And being come, more reverenced, lov’d, admired.”[4]

This is the strain; no wonder that the poet comes by pension; no wonder he
has “commands,” with goodly fees, to all the fêtes in the royal honor. Yet
he is too strong and robust and learned to be called a mere sycophant. The
more I read of the literary history of those days the more impressed I am
by the predominance of Ben Jonson;--a great, careless, hard-living,
hard-drinking, not ill-natured literary monarch. His strength is evidenced
by the deference shown him--by his versatility; now some musical masque
sparkling with little dainty bits which a sentimental miss might copy in
her album or chant in her boudoir; and this, matched or followed by some
labored drama full of classic knowledge, full of largest wordcraft,
snapping with fire-crackers of wit, loaded with ponderous nuggets of
strong sense, and the whole capped and booted with prologue and epilogue
where poetic graces shine through proudest averments of indifference--of
scorn of applause--of audacious self-sufficiency.

It was some fifteen years after James’ coming to power that Ben Jonson
made his memorable Scotch journey--perhaps out of respect for his
forebears, who had gone, two generations before, out of Annandale--perhaps
out of some lighter caprice. In any event it would have been only a
commonplace foot-journey of a middle-aged man, well known over all Britain
as poet and dramatist, with no special record of its own, except for a
visit of a fortnight which he made, in the north country, to Drummond of
Hawthornden:--this made it memorable. For this Drummond was a note-taker;
he was a smooth but not strong poet; was something proud of his Scotch
lairdship; lived in a beautiful home seated upon a crag that lifts above
the beautiful valley of Eskdale; its picturesque irregularities of tower
and turret are still very charming, and Eskdale is charming with its
wooded walks, cliffs, pools, and bridges; Roslin Castle is near by, and
Roslin Chapel, and so is Dalkeith.

The tourist of our time can pass no pleasanter summer’s day than in
loiterings there and thereabout. Echoes of Scott’s border minstrelsy beat
from bank to bank. Poet Drummond was proud to have poet Jonson as a guest,
and hospitably plied him with “strong waters;” under the effusion Jonson
dilated, and Drummond, eagerly attentive, made notes. These jottings down,
which were not voluminous, and which were not published until after both
parties were in their graves, have been subject of much and bitter
discussion, and relate to topics lying widely apart. There is talk of
Petrarch and of Queen Elizabeth--of Marston and of Overbury--of Drayton
and Donne--of Shakespeare (all too little)--of King James and
Petronius--of Jonson’s “shrew of a wife” and of Sir Francis Bacon; and
there are more or less authentic stories of Spenser and Raleigh and
Sidney. Throughout we find the burly British poet very aggressive, very
outspoken, very penetrative and fearless: and we find his Scotch
interviewer a little overawed by the other’s audacities, and not a little
resentful of his advice to him--to study Quintillian.

_An Italian Reporter._

It was in the very year of Ben Jonson’s return from the north that a
masque of his--“Pleasure is Reconciled to Virtue”--was represented at
Whitehall; and it so happens that we have a lively glimpse of this
representation from the note-book of an Italian gentleman who was chaplain
to Pietro Contarini, then ambassador from Venice, and who was living at
Sir Pindar’s home in Bishopsgate Street (a locality still kept in mind by
a little tavern now standing thereabout called “Sir Pindar’s Head”).

This report of Busino, the Italian gentleman of whom I spoke, about his
life in London, was buried in the archives of Venice, until unearthed
about twenty years since by an exploring Englishman.[5] So it happens,
that in this old Venetian document we seem to look directly through those
foreign eyes, closed for two hundred and seventy years, upon the play at

    “For two hours,” he says, “we were forced to wait in the Venetian
    box, very hot and very crowded. Then the Lord Chamberlain came up,
    and wanted to add another, who was a greasy Spaniard.”

This puts Busino in an ill humor (there was no good-will between Italy and
Spain in those days); but he admires the women--“all so many queens.”

    “There were some very lovely faces, and at every moment my
    companions kept exclaiming: ‘Oh, do look at this one!’ ‘Oh, do see
    that other!’ ‘Whose wife is this?’ ‘And that pretty one near her,
    whose daughter is she?’ [Curious people!] Then the King came in and
    took the ambassador to his royal box, directly opposite the stage,
    and the play began at 10 P.M.”

There was Bacchus on a car, followed by Silenus on a barrel, and twelve
wicker-flasks representing very lively beer bottles, who performed
numerous antics; then a moving Mount Atlas, as big as the stage would
permit; scores of classic affectations and astonishing mythologic
mechanism; and at last, with a great bevy of pages, twelve cavaliers in
masques--the Prince Charles (afterward Charles I.) being chief of the

    “These all choose partners and dance every kind of dance--every
    cavalier selecting his lady. After an hour or two of this, they,
    being tired, began to flag;” whereat--says the chaplain--“the
    choleric King James got impatient and shouted out from his box, ‘Why
    don’t they dance? What did you make me come here for? Devil take you

What a light this little touch of the old gentleman’s choleric spirit
throws upon the court manners of that time!

Then Buckingham, the favorite, whom Scott introduces in _Nigel_ as
Steenie--comes forward to placate the King, and cuts a score of lofty
capers with so much grace and agility as not only to quiet the wrathy
monarch but to delight everybody. Afterward comes the banquet, at which
his most sacred majesty gets tipsy, and amid a general smashing of
Venetian glass, continues the Italian gentleman, “I went home, very
tired, at two o’clock in the morning.”

Ah, if we could only unearth some good old play-going chaplain’s account
of how Shakespeare appeared--of his dress--of his voice--and with what
unction of manner he set before the little audience at the Globe, or
Blackfriars, his part of Old Adam (which there is reason to believe he
took), in his own delightful play of “As You Like It.” What would we not
give to know the very attitude, and the wonderful pity in his look, with
which he spoke to his young master, Orlando:--

    “Oh, my sweet master, what make you here?
    Why are you virtuous? Why do people love you?
    Oh, what a world is this, when what is comely
    Envenoms him, that bears it!”

_Shakespeare and the Globe._

Neither our Italian friend, however, nor Ben Jonson have given us any such
glimpse as we would like to have of that keen-witted Warwickshire actor
and playwright who, in the early years of James’ reign, is living off and
on in London; having bought, within a few years--as the records tell
us--a fine New Place in Stratford, and has won great favor with that King
Jamie, who with all his pedantry knows a good thing when he sees it, or
hears it. Indeed, there is some warrant for believing that the King wrote
a commendatory letter to the great dramatist, of which Mr. Black, in our
time, makes shadowy use in that Shakespearean romance of his,[6] you may
have encountered. The novelist gives us some very charming pictures of the
Warwickshire landscape, and he has made Miss Judith Shakespeare very arch
and engaging; but it was perilous ground for any novelist to venture upon;
and I think the author felt it, and has shown a timidity and doubt that
have hampered him; I do not recognize in it the breezy freedom that
belonged to his treatment of things among the Hebrides. But to return to
“Judith’s father”--he is part proprietor of the Globe Theatre, taking in
lots of money (old cronies say) in that way; was honored by the Queen,
too, before her death, and had written that “Merry Wives of Windsor,”
tradition says, to show Queen Bess how the Fat Falstaff would carry his
great hulk as a lover.

We might meet this Shakespeare at that Mermaid Tavern we spoke of; but
should look out for him more hopefully about one of the playhouses. Going
from the Mermaid, supposing we were putting up there in those days, we
should strike across St. Paul’s Churchyard, and possibly taking Paul’s
Walk, and so down Ludgate Hill; and thence on, bearing southerly to
Blackfriars; which locality has now its commemoration in the name of
Playhouse Yard, and is in a dingy quarter, with dingy great warehouses
round it. Arrived there we should learn, perhaps by a poster on the door,
that the theatre would not open till some later hour. Blackfriars[7] was a
private theatre, roofed over entirely and lighted with candles; also,
through Elizabeth’s time, opening generally on Sundays--that being a
popular day--hours being chosen outside of prayer or church-time; and this
public dramatic observance of Sunday was only forbidden by express
enactment after James came to the throne. At her palace, and with her
child-players, Sunday was always Queen Elizabeth’s favorite day.

This Blackfriars was at only a little remove down the Thames from that
famous Whitefriars region of which there is such melodramatic account in
Scott’s story of _Nigel_, where Old Trapbois comes to his wild death. If
we went to the Globe Theatre, we should push on down to the river--near to
a point where Blackfriars Bridge now spans it--then, a clear stream free
from all bridges, save only London Bridge, which would have loomed, with
its piles of houses, out of the water on our left. At the water-side we
should take wherry (fare only one penny) and be sculled over to
Southwark, landing at an open place--Bankside--near which was Paris
Garden, where bear-baiting was still carried on with high kingly approval;
and thereabout, on a spot now swallowed in a gulf of smoked and blackened
houses--just about the locality where at a later day stood Richard
Baxter’s Chapel, rose the octagonal walls of the Globe Theatre, in which
Mr. Shakespeare was concerned as player and part proprietor. There should
be a flag flying aloft and people lounging in, paying their two-pence,
their sixpences, their shillings, or even their half-crowns--as they chose
the commoner or the better places. Only the stage is roofed over; perhaps
also a narrow space all round the walls; from all otherwheres within, one
could look up straight into the murky sky of London. There is
apple-eating, nut-cracking, and some vender of pamphlets bawling “Buy a
new booke;” such a one perhaps as that _Horne Booke of Gulls_--which I
told you of, written by Dekker--would have been a favorite for such
venders. Or, possibly through urgence of the Court Chamberlain, King
James’ _Counterblaste to Tobacco_ may be put on sale there, to mend
manners; or Joshua Sylvester’s little poem to the same end, entitled
_Tobacco battered and the Pipes shattered about their Eares that idly
idolize so base and barbarous a Weed, by a Volley of hot shot, thundered
from Mount Helicon_.

    “How juster will the Heavenly God,
    Th’ Eternal, punish with infernal rod
    In Hell’s dark furnace, with black fumes to choak
    Those that on Earth will still offend in Smoak.”

But hot as this sort of shot might have been, we may be sure that some
fast fellows, the critics and _æsthetes_ of those days, will have their
place on the stage, sprawling there upon the edge, before the actors
appear; criticising players and audience and smoking their long pipes; may
be taking a hand at cards, and if very “swell,” tossing the cards over to
people in the pit when once their game is over--a showy and arrogant

Perhaps Ben Jonson will come swaggering in, having taken a glass, or two,
very likely, or even three, in the tap-room of the Tabard Tavern--the
famous Tabard of Chaucer’s tales--which is within practicable drinking
distance; and Will Shakespeare, if indeed there, may greet him across two
benches with, “Ah, Ben,” and he--tipsily in reply, with “Ah, my good
fellow, Will.” Those prim young men, Beaumont and Fletcher, who are just
now pluming their wings for such dramatic flights as these two older men
have made, may also be there. And the play will open with three little
bursts of warning music; always a prologue with a first representation;
and it may chance that the very one we have lighted upon, is some special
exhibit of that great military spectacle of “Henry V.” which we know, and
all the times between have known; and it may be that this Shakespeare,
being himself author and in a sense manager of these boards, may come
forward to speak the prologue himself; how closely we would have eyed him,
and listened:--

                “Pardon, gentles all;
    The flat, unraiséd spirit, that hath dared
    On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
    So great an object: Can this cockpit hold
    The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
    Within this wooden O, the very casques
    That did affright the air at Agincourt?
    Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts,
    Into a thousand parts divide one man;
    Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them
    Printing their proud hoofs i’ the receiving earth,
    For ’tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
    Carry them here and there, jumping o’er times;
    Turning the accomplishment of many years
    Into an hour-glass.”

And then the play begins and we see them all: Gloucester and the brave
king, and Bedford, and Fluellen, and the pretty Kate of France (by some
boy-player), and Nym, and Pistol, and Dame Quickly; and the drums beat,
and the roar of battle breaks and rolls away--as only Shakespeare’s words
can make battles rage; and the French Kate is made Queen, and so the end

All this might have happened; I have tried to offend against no historic
data of places, or men, or dates in this summing up. And from the doors of
the Globe, where we are assailed by a clamor of watermen and linkboys, we
go down to the river’s edge--scarce a stone’s-throw distant--and take our
wherry, on the bow of which a light is now flaming, and float away in the
murky twilight upon that great historic river--watching the red
torch-fires, kindling one by one along the Strand shores, and catching the
dim outline of London houses--the London of King James I.--looming
through the mists behind them.

In our next chapter I shall have somewhat more to say of the Stratford
man--specially of his personality; and more to say of King James, and of
his English Bible.


We have had our glimpse of the first (English) Stuart King, as he made his
shambling way to the throne--beset by spoilsmen; we had our glimpse, too,
of that haughty, high-souled, unfortunate Sir Walter Raleigh, whose memory
all Americans should hold in honor. We had our little look through the
magic-lantern of Scott at the toilet and the draggled feathers of the
pedant King James, and upon all that hurly-burly of London where the
Scotch Nigel adventured; and through the gossipy Harrison we set before
ourselves a great many quaint figures of the time. We saw a bride whose
silken dresses whisked along those balusters of Crosby Hall, which brides
of our day may touch reverently now; we followed Ben Jonson, afoot, into
Scotland, and among the pretty scenes of Eskdale; and thereafter we
sauntered down Ludgate Hill, and so, by wherry, to Bankside and the
Globe, where we paid our shilling, and passed the time o’ day with Ben
Jonson; and saw young Francis Beaumont, and smelt the pipes; and had a
glimpse of Shakespeare. But we must not, for this reason, think that all
the world of London smoked, or all the world of London went to the Globe

_Gosson and Other Puritans._

There was at this very time, living and preaching, in the great city, a
certain Stephen Gosson[8]--well-known, doubtless, to Ben Jonson and his
fellows--who had received a university education, who had written delicate
pastorals and other verse, which--with many people--ranked him with
Spenser and Sidney; who had written plays too, but who, somehow
conscience-smitten, and having gone over from all dalliance with the muses
to extremest Puritanism, did thereafter so inveigh against “_Poets,
Players, Jesters, and such like Caterpillars of the Commonwealth_”--as he
called them--as made him rank, for fierce invective, with that Stubbes
whose onslaught upon the wickedness of the day I cited. He had called his
discourse, “_pleasant for Gentlemen that favor Learning, and profitable
for all that will follow Vertue_.” He represented the Puritan
feeling--which was growing in force--in respect to poetry and the drama;
and, I have no doubt, regarded Mr. William Shakespeare as one of the best
loved and trusted emissaries of Satan.

But between the rigid sectarians and those of easy-going faith who were
wont to meet at the Mermaid Tavern, there was a third range of thinking
and of thinkers;--not believing all poetry and poets Satanic, and yet not
neglectful of the offices of Christianity. The King himself would have
ranked with these; and so also would the dignitaries of that English
Church of which he counted himself, in some sense, the head. It was in the
first year of his reign, 1603--he having passed a good part of the summer
in hunting up and down through the near counties--partly from his old love
of such things, partly to be out of reach of the plague which ravaged
London that year (carrying off over thirty thousand people); it was, I
say, in that first year that, at the instance of some good Anglicans, he
issued a proclamation--“_Touching a meeting for the hearing and for the
determining things pretended to be amiss in the Church._”

Out of this grew a conference at Hampton Court, in January, 1604.
Twenty-five were called to that gathering, of whom nine were Bishops. On
no one day were they all present; nor did there seem promise of any great
outcome from this assemblage, till one Rainolds, a famous Greek scholar of
Oxford, “moved his Majesty that there might be a new translation of the
Bible, because previous ones were not answerable altogether to the truth
of the Original.”

_King James’ Bible._

There was discussion of this; my Lord Bancroft, Bishop of London,
venturing the sage remark that if every man’s humor should be followed,
there would be no end of translating. In the course of the talk we may
well believe that King James nodded approval of anything that would
flatter his kingly vanities, and shook his big unkempt head at what would
make call for a loosening of his purse-strings. But out of this slumberous
conference, and out of these initial steps, did come the scriptural
revision; and did come that noble monument of the English language, and of
the Christian faith, sometimes called “King James’ Bible,” though--for
anything that the old gentleman had to do vitally or specifically with the
revision--it might as well have been called the Bible of King James’
tailor, or the Bible of King James’ cat.

It must be said, however, for the King, that he did press for a prompt
completion of the work, and that “it should be done by the best learned in
both universities.” Indeed, if the final dedication of the translators to
the “most High, and Mighty Prince James” (which many a New England boy of
fifty years ago wrestled with in the weary lapses of too long a sermon)
were to be taken in its literal significance, the obligations to him were
immense; after thanking him as “principal mover and author of the work,”
the dedication exuberantly declares that “the hearts of all your loyal and
religious people are so bound and firmly knit unto you, that your very
name is precious among them: Their eye doth behold you with comfort, and
they bless you in their hearts, as that sanctified person, who, under
God, is the immediate author of their true Happiness.” The King’s great
reverence for the Scriptures is abundantly evidenced by that little
tractate of his--the _Basilikon Doron_--not written for publication
(though surreptitiously laid hold of by the book-makers) but intended for
the private guidance of his eldest son, Prince Henry, in that time heir to
the throne. The little book shows large theologic discretions; and--saving
some scornings of the “vaine, Pharisaicall Puritaines”--is written in a
spirit which might be safely commended to later British Princes.

    “When yee reade the Scripture [says the King] reade it with a
    sanctified and chast hart; admire reverentlie such obscure places as
    ye understand not, blaming only your own capacitie; reade with
    delight the plaine places, and study carefully to understand those
    that are somewhat difficile: preasse to be a good textuare; for the
    Scripture is ever the best interpreter of itselfe.”

Some forty odd competent men were set out from the universities and
elsewheres for the work of the Bible revision. Yet they saw none of King
James’ money, none from the royal exchequer; which indeed from the King’s
disorderly extravagances, that helped nobody, was always lamentably low.
The revisers got their rations, when they came together in conference, in
Commons Hall, or where and when they could; and only at the last did some
few of them who were engaged in the final work of proof-reading, get a
stipend of some thirty shillings a week from that fraternity of
book-makers who were concerned with the printing and selling of the new

When the business of revision actually commenced it is hard to determine
accurately; but it was not till the year 1611--eight years after the
Hampton Conference--that an edition was published by printer Barker (who,
or whose company, was very zealous about the matter, it being a fat job
for him) and so presently, under name of King James’ version “appointed
(by assemblage of Bishops) to be read in churches,” it came to be the
great Bible of the English-speaking world--then, and thence-forward. And
now, who were the forty men who dealt so wisely and sparingly with the old
translators; who came to their offices of revision with so tender a
reverence, and who put such nervous, masculine, clear-cut English into
their own emendations of this book as to leave it a monument of
Literature? Their names are all of record: and yet if I were to print
them, the average reader would not recognize, I think, a single one out of
the twoscore.[9] You would not find Bacon’s name, who, not far from this
time was writing some of his noblest essays, and also writing (on the
King’s suggestion) about preaching and Church management. You would not
find the name of William Camden, who was then at the mellow age of sixty,
and of a rare reputation for learning and for dignity of character. You
would not find the name of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, who though writing
much of religious intention, was deistically inclined; nor of Robert
Burton, churchman, and author of that famous book _The Anatomy of
Melancholy_--then in his early prime; nor of Sir Walter Raleigh, nor of
Sir Thomas Overbury--both now at the date of their best powers; nor yet
would one find mention of John Donne,[10] though he came to be Dean of St.
Paul’s and wrote poems the reader may--and ought to know; nor, yet again,
is there any hearing of Sir John Davies, who had commended himself
specially to King James, and who had written poetically and reverently on
the _Immortality of the Soul_[11] in strains that warrant our citing a few

    “At first, her mother Earth she holdeth dear,
      And doth embrace the world and worldly things:
    She flies close by the ground, and hovers here,
      And mounts not up with her celestial wings.

    “Yet under heaven she cannot light on aught
      That with her heavenly nature doth agree;
    She cannot rest, she cannot fix her thought,
      She cannot in this world contented be:

    “For who, did ever yet, in honor, wealth,
      Or pleasure of the sense, contentment find?
    Who ever ceased to wish, when he had health?
      Or, having wisdom, was not vexed in mind?

    “Then, as a bee which among weeds doth fall,
      Which seem sweet flowers, with lustre fresh and gay;
    She lights on that and this, and tasteth all,
      But, pleased with none, doth rise and soar away!”

This is a long aside; but it gives us good breath to go back to our
translators, who if not known to the general reader, were educators or
churchmen of rank; men of trained minds who put system and conscience and
scholarship into their work. And their success in it, from a literary
aspect only, shows how interfused in all cultivated minds of that day was
a keen apprehension and warm appreciation of the prodigious range, and the
structural niceties, and rhythmic forces of that now well-compacted
English language which Chaucer and Spenser and Shakespeare, each in his
turn, had published to the world, with brilliant illustration.

And will this old Bible of King James’ version continue to be held in
highest reverence? Speaking from a literary point of view--which is our
stand-point to-day--there can be no doubt that it will; nor is there good
reason to believe that--on literary lines--any other will ever supplant
it. There may be versions that will be truer to the Greek; there may be
versions that will be far truer to the Hebrew; there may be versions that
will mend its science--that will mend its archæology--that will mend its
history; but never one, I think, which, as a whole, will greatly mend that
orderly and musical and forceful flow of language springing from early
English sources, chastened by Elizabethan culture and flowing
out--freighted with Christian doctrine--over all lands where Saxon speech
is uttered. Nor in saying this, do I yield a jot to any one--in respect
for that modern scholarship which has shown bad renderings from the Greek,
and possibly far worse ones from the Hebrew. No one--it is reasonably to
be presumed--can safely interpret doctrines of the Bible without the aid
of this scholarship and of the “higher criticism;” and no one will be
henceforth fully trusted in such interpretation who is ignorant of, or who
scorns the recent revisions.

And yet the old book, by reason of its strong, sweet, literary quality,
will keep its hold in most hearts and most minds. Prove to the utmost that
the Doxology,[12] at the end of the Lord’s Prayer, is an
interpolation--that it is nowhere in the earlier Greek texts (and I
believe it is abundantly proven), and yet hundreds, and thousands, and
tens of thousands who use that invocation, will keep on saying, in the
rhythmic gush of praise, which is due maybe to some old worthy of the
times of the Henrys (perhaps Tyndale himself)--“For thine is the Kingdom,
and the Power, and the Glory, for ever and ever, Amen!”

And so with respect to that splendid Hebraic poem of Job, or that mooted
book of Ecclesiastes; no matter what critical scholarship may do in
amplification or curtailment, it can never safely or surely refine away
the marvellous graces of their strong, old English current--burdened with
tender memories--murmurous with hopes drifting toward days to come--“or
ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the
pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.”

The scientists may demonstrate that this ancient oak--whose cooling
shadows have for so many ages given comfort and delight--is overgrown,
unshapely, with needless nodules, and corky rind, and splotches of moss,
and seams that show stress of gone-by belaboring tempests; they may make
it clear that these things are needless for its support--that they cover
and cloak its normal organic structure; but who shall hew them clean away,
and yet leave in fulness of stature and of sheltering power the majestic
growth we venerate? I know the reader may say that this is a sentimental
view; so it is; but science cannot measure the highest beauty of a poem;
and with whose, or what fine scales shall we weigh the sanctities of
religious awe?

It must be understood, however, that the charms of the “King James’
Version” do not lie altogether in Elizabethan beauties of phrase, or in
Jacobean felicities; there are quaint archaisms in it which we are sure
have brought their pleasant reverberations of lingual sound all the way
down from the days of Coverdale, of Tyndale, and of Wyclif.

A few facts about the printing and publishing of the early English Bibles
it may be well to call to mind. In a previous chapter I spoke of the
fatherly edicts against Bible-reading and Bible-owning in the time of
Henry VIII.; but the reign of his son, Edward VI., was a golden epoch for
the Bible printers. During the six years when this boy-king held the
throne, fifty editions--principally Coverdale’s and Tyndale’s
versions--were issued, and no less than fifty-seven printers were engaged
in their manufacture.

Queen Mary made difficulties again, of which a familiar and brilliant
illustration may be found in that old New England Primer which sets forth
in ghastly wood-cut “the burning of Mr. John Rogers at the Stake, in
Smithfield.” Elizabeth was coy; she set a great many prison-doors open;
and when a courtier said, “May it please your Majesty, there be sundry
other prisoners held in durance, and it would much comfort God’s people
that they be set free.” She asked, “Whom?” And the good Protestant said,
“Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.” But she--young as she was--showed her
monarch habit. “Let us first find,” said she, “if they wish enlargement.”

But she had accepted the gift of a Bible on first passing through
Cheapside--had pressed it to her bosom in sight of the street people, and
said she should “oft read that holy book”--which was easy to say, and

In the early days of her reign the Genevan Bible, always a popular one in
England, was completed, and printed mostly in Geneva; but a privilege for
printing it in England was assigned to John Bodley--that John Bodley whose
more eminent son, Sir Thomas, afterward founded and endowed the well-known
Bodleian Library at Oxford.

In the early part of Elizabeth’s reign appeared, too, the so-called
Bishops’ Bible (now a rare book), under charge of Archbishop Parker,
fifteen dignitaries of the Church being joined with him in its
supervision. There were engravings on copper and wood--of Elizabeth, on
the title-page--of the gay Earl of Leicester at the head of the Book of
Joshua, and of old, nodding Lord Burleigh in the Book of Psalms. But the
Bishops’ Bible was never so popular as the Geneva one. During the reign of
Elizabeth there were no less than one hundred and thirty distinct issues
of Bibles and Testaments, an average of three a year.

It may interest our special parish to know further that the first American
(English) Bible was printed at Philadelphia, by a Scotchman named Aitkin,
in the year 1782; but the first Bible printed in America was in the German
language, issued by Christopher Sauer, at Germantown, in 1743.

But I will not encroach any further upon biblical teachings: we will come
back to our secular poets, and to that bravest and finest figure of them
all, who was born upon the Avon.


I have tried--I will confess it now--to pique the reader’s curiosity, by
giving him stolen glimpses from time to time of the great dramatist, and
by putting off, in chapter after chapter, any full or detailed mention of
him, or of his work. Indeed, when I first entered upon these talks
respecting English worthies--whether places, or writers, or sovereigns--I
said to myself--when we come up with that famous Shakespeare, whom all the
world knows so well, and about whom so much has been said and written--we
will make our obeisance, lift our hat, and pass on to the lesser men
beyond. So large a space did the great dramatist fill in the delightsome
journey we were to make together, down through the pleasant country of
English letters, that he seemed not so much a personality as some great
British stronghold, with outworks, and with pennons flying--standing all
athwart the Elizabethan Valley, down which our track was to lead us. From
far away back of Chaucer, when the first Romances of King Arthur were
told, when glimpses of a King Lear and a Macbeth appeared in old
chronicles--this great monument of Elizabethan times loomed high in our
front; and go far as we may down the current of English letters, it will
not be out of sight, but loom up grandly behind us. And now that we are
fairly abreast of it, my fancy still clings to that figure of a great
castle--brimful of life--with which the lesser poets of the age contrast
like so many outlying towers, that we can walk all round about, and
measure, and scale, and tell of their age, and forces, and style; but this
Shakespearean hulk is so vast, so wondrous, so peopled with creatures, who
are real, yet unreal--that measure and scale count for nothing. We hear
around it the tramp of armies and the blare of trumpets; yet these do not
drown the sick voice of poor distraught Ophelia. We see the white banner
of France flung to the breeze, and the English columbine nodding in clefts
of the wall; we hear the ravens croak from turrets that lift above the
chamber of Macbeth, and the howling of the rain-storms that drenched poor
Lear; and we see Jessica at her casement, and the Jew Shylock whetting his
greedy knife, and the humpbacked Richard raging in battle, and the Prince
boy--apart in his dim tower--piteously questioning the jailer Hubert, who
has brought “hot-irons” with him. Then there is Falstaff, and Dame
Quickly, and the pretty Juliet sighing herself away from her moonlit

These are all live people to us; we know them; and we know Hamlet, and
Brutus, and Mark Antony, and the witty, coquettish Rosalind; even the
poor Mariana of the moated grange. We do not see enough of this
latter, to be sure, to give stereoscopic roundness; but the mere
glimpse--allusion--is of such weight--has such hue of realness, that it
buoys the dim figure over the literary currents and drifts of two hundred
and odd years, till it gets itself planted anew in the fine lines of
Tennyson;--not as an illusion only, a figment of the elder imagination
chased down and poetically adopted--but as an historic actuality we have
met, and so, greet with the grace and the knowingness of old

If you tell me of twenty historic names in these reigns of Elizabeth and
James--names of men or women whose lives and characters you know best--I
will name to you twenty out of the dramas of Shakespeare whose lives and
characters you know better.

And herein lies the difference between this man Shakespeare, and most that
went before him, or who have succeeded him; he has supplied real
characters to count up among the characters we know. Chaucer did indeed in
that Canterbury Pilgrimage which he told us of in such winning numbers,
make us know by a mere touch, in some unforgetable way, all the outer
aspects of the Knight, and the Squire, and the Prioress, and the shrewish
Wife of Bath; but we do not see them insidedly; and as for the Una, and
Gloriana, and Britomart, of the “Faërie Queene,” they are phantasmic; we
may admire them, but we admire them as we admire fine bird-plumes tossing
airily, delightsomely--they have no flesh and blood texture: and if I were
to name to you a whole catalogue of the best-drawn characters out of
Jonson, and Fletcher, and Massinger, and the rest, you would hardly know
them. Will you try? You may know indeed the Sir Giles Overreach of
Massinger, because “A New Way to Pay Old Debts” has always a certain
relish; and because Sir Giles is a dreadful type of the unnatural, selfish
greed that maddens us everywhere; but do you know well--Sejanus, or
Tamburlaine, or Bellisant, or Boadicea, or Bellario, or Bobadil, or
Calantha? You do not even know them to bow to. And this, not alone because
we are unused to read or to hear the plays in which these characters
appear, but because none of them have that vital roundness, completeness,
and individuality which makes their memory stick in the mind, when once
they have shown their qualities.

We are, all of us, in the way of meeting people in respect of whom a week,
or even a day of intercourse, will so fasten upon us--maybe their
pungency, their alertness, or some one of their decided, fixed, fine
attributes, that they thenceforth people our imagination; not obtrusively
there indeed, but a look, a name, an allusion, calls back their special
significance, as in a photographic blaze. Others there are, in shoals,
whom we may meet, day by day, month by month, who have such washed-out
color of mind, who do so take hues from all surroundings, without any
strong hue of their own, that in parting from them we forget, straightway,
what manner of folk they were. You cannot part so from the people
Shakespeare makes you know.

_Shakespeare’s Youth._

And now what was the personality of this man, who, out of his imagination,
has presented to us such a host of acquaintances? Who was he, where did
he live, how did he live, and what about his father, or his children, or
his family retinue?

And here we are at once confronted by the awkward fact, that we have less
positive knowledge of him, and of his habits of life than of many smaller
men--poets and dramatists--who belonged to his time, and who--with a
pleasant egoism--let drop little tidbits of information about their
personal history. But Shakespeare did not write letters that we know of;
he did not prate of himself in his books; he did not entertain such
quarrels with brother authors as provoked reckless exposure of the family
“wash.” Of Greene, of Nashe, of Dekker, of Jonson, of Beaumont and
Fletcher, we have personal particulars about their modes of living, their
associates, their dress even, which we seek for vainly in connection with
Shakespeare. This is largely due, doubtless--aside from the pleasant
egoism at which I have hinted--to the circumstance that most of these were
university men, and had very many acquaintances among those of culture who
kept partial record of their old associates. But no school associate of
Shakespeare ever kept track of _him_; he ran out of sight of them all.

He did study, however, in his young days, at that old town of Stratford,
where he was born--his father being fairly placed there among the honest
tradespeople who lived around. The ancient timber-and-plaster shop is
still standing in Henley Street, where his father served his
customers--whether in wool, meats, or gloves--and in the upper front
chamber of which Shakespeare first saw the light. Forty odd years ago,
when I first visited it, the butcher’s fixtures were not wholly taken down
which had served some descendant of the family--in the female
line[13]--toward the close of the eighteenth century, for the cutting of
meats. Into what Pimlico order it may be put to-day, under the hands of
the Shakespeare Society, I do not know; but it is understood that its most
characteristic features are religiously guarded; and house, and town, and
church are all worthy of a visit. The town does not lie, indeed, on either
of those great thoroughfares which Americans are wont to take on their
quick rush from Liverpool to London, and the Continent; but it is easily
approachable on the north from Warwick, in whose immediate vicinity are
Kenilworth and Guy’s Cliff; and from the south through Oxford, whose
scores of storied towers and turrets beguile the student traveller. The
country around Stratford has not, indeed, the varied picturesqueness of
Derbyshire or of Devon; but it has in full the quiet rural charm that
belongs to so many townships of Middle-England;--hawthorn hedges, smooth
roads, embowered side lanes, great swells of greensward where sheep are
quietly feeding; clumps of gray old trees, with rookeries planted in them,
and tall chimneys of country houses lifting over them and puffing out
little wavelets of blue smoke; meadows with cattle browsing on them;
wayside stiles; a river and canals, slumberous in their tides, with barges
of coal and lumber swaying with the idle currents that swish among the
sedges at the banks.

On the north, toward Warwick, are the Welcombe hills, here and there
tufted with great trees, which may have mingled their boughs, in some
early time, with the skirts of the forest of Arden; and from these
heights, looking southwest, one can see the packed gray and red roofs of
the town, the lines of lime-trees, the elms and the willows of the river’s
margin, out of which rises the dainty steeple of Stratford church; while
beyond, the eye leaps over the hazy hollows of the Red-horse valley, and
lights upon the blue rim of hills in Gloucestershire, known as the
Cotswolds (which have given name to one of the famous breeds of English
sheep). More to the left, and nearer to a south line of view, crops up
Edgehill (near to Pilot-Marston), an historic battle-field--wherefrom
Shakespeare, on his way to London may have looked back--on spire, and
alder copse, and river--with more or less of yearning. To the right,
again, and more westerly than before, and on the hither side of the
Red-horse valley and plain, one can catch sight of the rounded thickets of
elms and of orcharding where nestles the hamlet of Shottery. Thence
Shakespeare brought away his bride, Anne Hathaway, she being well toward
the thirties, and he at that date a prankish young fellow not yet
nineteen. What means he may have had of supporting a family at this time,
we cannot now say; nor could his father-in-law tell then; on which score
there was--as certain traditions run--some vain demurral. He may have been
associated with his father in trade, whether as wool-dealer or glover;
doubtless was; doubtless, too, had abandoned all schooling; doubtless was
at all the wakes, and May festivals, and entertainments of strolling
players, and had many a bout of heavy ale-drinking. There are stories
too--of lesser authenticity--that he was over-familiar with the game in
the near Park of Charlecote, whereby he came to ugly issue with its owner.
We shall probably never know the truth about these stories. Charlecote
House is still standing, a few miles out of the town (northeasterly), and
its delightful park, and picturesque mossy walls--dappled with patches of
shadow and with ivy leaves--look charmingly innocent of any harm their
master could have done to William Shakespeare; but certain it is that the
neighborhood grew too warm for him; and that he set off one day (being
then about twenty-three years old) for London, to seek his fortune.

_Family Relations._

His wife and three children[14] stayed behind. In fact--and it may as well
be said here--they always stayed behind. It does not appear that
throughout the twenty or more succeeding years, during which Shakespeare
was mostly in London, that either wife or child was ever domiciled with
him there for ever so little time. Indeed, for the nine years immediately
following Shakespeare’s departure from Stratford, traces of his special
whereabouts are very dim; we know that rising from humblest work in
connection with companies of players, he was blazing a great and most
noticeable path for himself; but whether through those nine years he was
tied to the shadow of London houses, or was booked for up-country
expeditions, or (as some reckon) made brief continental journeyings, we
cannot surely tell. In 1596, however, on the occasion of his son Hamnet’s
death, he appears in Stratford again, in the prime of his powers then, a
well-to-do man (buying New Place the year following), his London fame very
likely blazoning his path amid old towns-people--grieving over his lost
boy, whom he can have seen but little--perhaps putting some of the color
of his private sorrow upon the palette where he was then mingling the
tints for his play of “Romeo and Juliet.”

    “Oh, my love,
    Death that hath sucked the honey of thy breath
    Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty.
    Thou art not conquered; Beauty’s ensign yet
    Is crimson in thy lips, and in thy cheeks,
    And death’s pale flag is not advanced there.
    Why art thou yet so fair?”

His two daughters lived to maturity--both marrying; the favorite and elder
daughter, Susanna, becoming the wife of Dr. Hall, a well-established
physician in Stratford, who attended the poet in his last illness, and who
became his executor. Shakespeare was--so far as known--watchful and tender
of his children’s interest: nor is there positive evidence that he was
otherwise to his wife, save such inferences as may be drawn from the tenor
of some of his sonnets, and from those long London absences, over which it
does not appear that either party greatly repined. Long absences are not
_prima-facie_ evidence of a lack of domestic harmonies; do indeed often
promote them in a limited degree; and at worst, may possibly show only a
sagacious disposition to give pleasant noiselessness to bickerings that
would be inevitable.

It is further to be borne in mind, in partial vindication of Shakespeare’s
marital loyalty, that this period of long exile from the family roof
entailed not only absence from his wife, but also from father and
mother--both of whom were living down to a date long subsequent,[15] and
with whom--specially the mother--most affectionate relations are
undoubted. A disloyalty that would have made him coy of wifely visitings
could hardly harden him to filial duties, while the phlegmatic
indifference of a very busy London man, which made him chary of home
visitings, would go far to explain the seeming family estrangement.

But we must not, and cannot reckon the Stratford poet as a paragon of all
the virtues; his long London absences, for cause or for want of cause--or
both--may have given many twinges of pain to his own mother (of Arden
blood), and to the mother of his children. Yet after the date of his boy’s
death, up to the time of his final return to Stratford there are evidences
of very frequent home visits, and of large interest in what concerned his
family and towns-people.

His journeyings to and fro, probably on horseback, may have taken him by
way of Edgehill, and into Banbury (of “Banbury-Cross” buns); or, more
likely, he would have followed the valley of the Stour by Shipston, and
thence up the hills to Chipping-Norton, and skirting Whichwood Forest,
which still darkens a twelve-mile stretch of land upon the right, and so
by Ditchley and the great Woodstock Park, into Oxford. I recall these
names and the succession of scenes the more distinctly, for the reason
that some forty years ago I went over the whole stretch of road from
Windsor to Stratford on foot, staying the nights at wayside inns, and
lunching at little, mossy hostelries, some of which the poet may possibly
have known, and looking out wonderingly and reverently for glimpses of
wood, or field, or flood, that may have caught the embalmment of his
verse. It was worth getting up betimes to verify such lines as these:--

    “Full many a glorious morning have I seen
    Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
    Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy;”

or those others, telling how the gentle day

    “Dapples the drowsy East with spots of gray.”

Again, there was delightful outlook for

      “----a bank whereon the wild thyme blows
    Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows;”

or, perhaps it was the

    “Summer’s green, all girded up in sheaves”

that caught the eye; or, yet again, the picturesque hedge-rows, which,

    Like prisoners overgrown with hair
      Put forth disordered twigs;

and these flanked by some

      “----even mead, which erst brought sweetly forth
    The freckled cowslip, burnet, and green clover.”

What a wondrous light upon all the landscape along all the courses of his
country journeyings! Nor can I forbear to tell how such illumination once
made gay for me all the long foot-tramp from Chipping-Norton to
Stratford--past Long Compton, and past Shipston (with lunch at the “Royal
George”)--past Atherton Church, and thence along the lovely Stour banks,
and some weary miles of grassy level, till the spire of Trinity rose
shimmering in the late sunlight; afterward copses of elms, and willows
clearly distinguishable, and throwing afternoon shadows on the silvery
stretch of the Avon; then came sight of lazy boats, and of Clopton bridge,
over which I strolled foot-weary, into streets growing dim in the
twilight; coming thus, by a traveller’s chance, into the court of the
Red-Horse Tavern, and into its little back-parlor, where after dinner one
was served by the gracious hostess with a copy of Irving’s “Sketch Book”
(its Stratford chapter all tattered and thumb-worn). In short, I had the
rare good fortune to stumble upon the very inn where Geoffrey Crayon was
quartered twenty odd years before, and was occupying, for the nonce, the
very parlor where he had thrust his feet into slippers, made a sceptre of
the poker, and enjoyed the royalties of “mine inn.”

_Shakespeare in London._

But how fares our runaway Shakespeare in London? What is he to do there?
We do not positively know that he had a solitary acquaintance established
in the city; certainly not one of a high and helping position. He was not
introduced, as Spenser had been, by Sir Philip Sidney and by Raleigh to
the favor of the Queen. He has no literary backing of the colleges, or of
degrees, or of learned associates; nay, not being so high placed, or so
well placed, but that his townsmen of most respectability shook their
heads at mention of him.

But he has heard the strolling players; perhaps has journeyed up in their
trail; he has read broadsides, very likely, from London; we may be sure
that he has tried his hand at verses, too, in those days when he went
courting to the Hathaway cottage. So he drifts to the theatres, of which
there were three at least established, when he first trudged along the
Strand toward Blackfriars. He gets somewhat to do in connection with
them; precisely what that is, we do not know. But he comes presently to
be enrolled as player, taking old men’s parts that demand feeling and
dignity. We know, too, that he takes to the work of mending plays, and
splicing good parts together. Sneered at very likely, by the young fellows
from the universities who are doing the same thing, and may be, writing
plays of their own; but lacking Shakespeare’s instinct as to what will
take hold of the popular appetite, or rather--let us say--what will touch
the human heart.

There are poems, too, that he writes early in this town life of his,
dedicated to that Earl of Southampton[16] of whom I have already spoken,
and into whose good graces he has somehow fallen. But the Earl is eight or
ten years his junior, a mere boy in fact, just from Cambridge, strangely
attracted by this high-browed, blue-eyed, sandy-haired young fellow from
Stratford, who has shown such keenness and wondrous insight.

Would you hear a little bit of what he wrote in what he calls the “first
heir of my invention?” It is wonderfully descriptive of a poor hare who is
hunted by hounds; which he had surely seen over and again on the
Oxfordshire or Cotswold downs:

    “Sometimes he runs among a flock of sheep,
    To make the cunning hounds mistake their smell,
    And sometime sorteth with a herd of deer;
    Danger deviseth shifts; wit waits on fear.

    “For there, his smell, with others being mingled,
    The hot-scent snuffing hounds are driven to doubt,
    Ceasing their clamorous cry, till they have singled
    With much ado, the cold fault clearly out;
    Then do they spend their mouths: Echo replies
    As if another chase were in the skies.

    “By this poor Wat, far off upon a hill,
    Stands on his hinder legs with listening fear,
    To hearken if his foes pursue him still;
    Anon, their loud alarums he doth hear;
    And now his grief may be comparéd well
    To one sore-sick, that hears the passing bell.”

It must have been close upon this that his first play was written and
played, though not published until some years after. It may have been
“Love’s Labor’s Lost,” it may have been the “Two Gentlemen of Verona;” no
matter what: I shall not enter into the question of probable succession of
his plays, as to which critics will very likely be never wholly
agreed.[17] It is enough that he wrote them; the merry ones when his heart
was light, and the tragic ones when grief lay heavily upon him. And yet
this is only partially true; he had such amazing power of subordinating
his feeling to his thought.

I wonder how much of his own hopes and possible foretaste he did put into
the opening lines of what, by most perhaps, is reckoned his first play:--

    “Let Fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
    Live registered upon our brazen tombs,
    And then grace us in the disgrace of Death;
    When, spite of cormorant-devouring Time,
    The endeavor of this present breath may buy
    That honor, which shall bate his scythe’s keen edge
    And make us heirs of all Eternity!”

_Work and Reputation._

And what was thought of him in those first days? Not overmuch; none looked
upon him as largely overtopping his compeers of that day. His _Venus and
Adonis_[18] was widely and admiringly known: so was his _Lucrece_; but
Marlowe’s “sound and fury” in “Tamburlaine” would have very possibly drawn
twice the house of “Love’s Labor’s Lost.”

He had no coterie behind him; he was hail-fellow with Jonson; probably
knew Peele and Marlowe well; undoubtedly knew Drayton; he went to the
Falcon and the Mermaid; but there is, I believe, no certain evidence that
he ever saw much of Raleigh, or of Spenser, who was living some years
after he came to London. It is doubtful, indeed, if the poet of the _Faery
Queene_ knew him at all. Sidney he probably never saw; nor did he ever go,
so far as appears, to dine with the great Francis Bacon, as Jonson without
doubt sometimes did, or with Burleigh, or with Cecil.

His lack of precise learning may have made him inapt for encounter with
school-men. But he had a faculty of apprehension that transcended mere
scholastic learning--apprehending everywhere, in places where studious
ones were blind. I can imagine that Oxford men--just up in town or those
who had written theses for university purposes, would sneer at such show
of learning as he made;--call it cheap erudition--call it result of
cramming--as many university men do nowadays when they find a layman and
outsider hitting anything that respects learning in the eye. But, ah,
what a gift of cramming! What a gift of apprehension! What a swift march
over the hedges that cramp schools! What a flight, where other men walked,
and were dazed and discomfited by this unheard-of progress into the ways
of knowledge and of wisdom!

Again, these Shakespeare plays do sometimes show crude things, vulgar
things, coarse things--things we want to skip and do skip--things that
make us wonder if he ever wrote them; perhaps some which in the mendings
and tinkerings of those and later days have no business there; and yet he
was capable of saying coarse things; he did have a shrewd eye for the
appetites of the groundlings; he did look on all sides, and into all
depths of the moral Cosmos he was rounding out; and even his commonest
utterances, have, after all, a certain harmony, though in lowest key, with
the general drift. He is not always, as some of his dramatic compeers
were, on tragic stilts. He is never under strain to float high.

Then, too, like Chaucer--his noblest twin-fellow of English poesy--he
steals, plagiarizes, takes tales of passion, and love, and wreck, wherever
in human history he can find them, to work into his purposes. But even
the authors could scarce recognize the thefts in either case, so glorified
are they by the changes they undergo under these wonder-making hands.

As with story, so it is with sentiment. This he steals out of men’s brains
and hearts by wholesale. What smallest poet, whether in print or talk,
could have failed to speak of man’s journey to his last home? Shakespeare
talks of

    “That undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveller returns,”

and the sentiment is so imaged, and carries such a trail of agreeing and
caressing thoughts, that it supplants all kindred speech.

“This life,” says Shakespeare, “is but a stage;” and the commentators can
point you out scores of like similes in older writers--Erasmus among the
rest, whose utterance seems almost duplicated; duplicated, indeed, but
with a tender music, and a point, and a breadth, that make all previous
related similes forgotten. Such utterances grow out of instincts common to
us all; but this man, in whom the common instinct is a masterful alembic,
fuses all old teachings, and white-hot they run out of the crucible of his
soul in such beauteous shapes that they are sought for and gloried in
forever after. Many a Hamlet has soliloquized--you and I perhaps; but
never a Hamlet in such way as did Shakespeare’s; so crisp--so full--so
suggestive--so marrowy--so keen--so poignant--so enthralling.

No, no; this man did not go about in quest of newnesses; only little
geniuses do that; but the great genius goes along every commonest
road-side, looking on every commonest sight of tree or flower, of bud, of
death, of birth, of flight, of labor, of song; leads in old tracks; deals
in old truths, but with such illuminating power that they all come home to
men’s souls with new penetrative force and new life in them. He catches by
intuition your commonest thought, and my commonest thought, and puts them
into new and glorified shape.

_His Thrift and Closing Years._

Again, this Shakespeare of ours, singing among the stars, is a shrewd,
thrifty man; he comes to have an interest in all those shillings and
sixpences that go into the till of the Globe Theatre; he makes money.
Where he lived in London,[19] we do not definitely know; at one time, it
is believed, on the Southwark side, near to the old Bear-garden,[20] but
never ostentatiously; very likely sharing chambers with his brother
Edmond, who was much time an actor there;[21] he buys a house and
haberdasher’s shop somewhere near Blackfriars; and he had previously
bought, with his savings--even before Queen Elizabeth was dead--a great
house in Stratford. This he afterwards equips by purchase of outlying
lands--a hundred acres at one time, and twenty and more at another. He
has never forgotten and never forgotten to love, country sights and
sounds. These journeyings to and fro along the Oxford and Uxbridge road
(on horseback probably), from which he can see sheer over hedges, and note
every fieldfare, every lark rising to its morning carol, every gleam of
brook, have kept alive his old fondnesses, and he counts surely on a
return to these scenes in his great New Place of Stratford. He does break
away for that Stratford cover, while the game of life seems still at its
best promise; while Hamlet is still comparatively a new man upon the
boards; does settle himself in that country home, to gather his pippins,
to pet his dogs, to wander at will upon greensward that is his own.

I wish we had record of only one of his days in that retirement. I wish we
could find even a two-page letter which he may have written to Ben Jonson,
in London, telling how his time passed; but there is nothing--positively
nothing. We do not know how, or by what exposure or neglect his last
illness came upon him and carried him to his final home, only two years or
so after his return to Stratford. Even that Dr. Hall, who had married his
favorite daughter, and who attended him, and who published a medical book
containing accounts of a thousand and more cases which he thought of
consequence for the world to know about, has no word to say concerning
this grandest patient that his eye ever fell upon.

He died at the age of fifty-three. No descendant of his daughter Susanna
is alive; no descendant of his daughter Judith is alive.[22] The great new
home which he had built up in Stratford is torn down; scarce a vestige of
it remains. The famous mulberry-tree he planted upon that greensward,
where, in after years, Garrick and the rest held high commemorative
festival, is gone, root and branch.

Shakespeare--an old county guide-book tells us stolidly--is a name unknown
in that region. Unknown! Every leaf of every tree whispers it; every
soaring skylark makes a carol of it; and the memory of it flows out
thence--as flows the Stratford river--down through all the green valley of
the Avon, down through all the green valley of the Severn, and so on, out
to farthest seas, whose “multitudinous waves” carry it to every shore.


We were venturing upon almost sacred ground when--in our last chapter--we
had somewhat to say of the so-called King James’ Bible; of how it came to
bear that name; of those men who were concerned in its translation, and of
certain literary qualities belonging to it, which--however excellent other
and possible future Bibles may be--will be pretty sure to keep it alive
for a very long time to come. Next, I spoke of that king of the dramatists
who was born at Stratford. We followed him up to London; tracked him
awhile there; talked of a few familiar aspects of his life and character;
spared you the recital of a world of things--conjectural or
eulogistic--which might be said of him; and finally saw him go back to his
old home upon the Avon, to play the retired gentleman--last of all his
plays--and to die.

This made a great coupling of topics for one chapter--Shakespeare and the
English Bible! No two titles in our whole range of talks can or should so
interest those who are alive to the felicities of English forms of speech,
and who are eager to compass and enjoy its largest and keenest and
simplest forces of phrase. No other vocabulary of words, and no other
exemplar of the aptitudes of language, than can be found in Shakespeare
and in the English Bible are needed by those who would equip their English
speech for its widest reach, and with its subtlest or sharpest powers. Out
of those twin treasuries the student may dredge all the words he wants,
and all the turns of expression that will be helpful, in the writing of a
two-page letter or in the unfolding of an epic. Other books may make
needful reservoir of facts, or record of theories, or of literary
experimentation; but these twain furnish sufficient lingual armament for
all new conquests in letters.

We find ourselves to-day amid a great hurly-burly of dramatists, poets,
prose-writers, among whom we have to pick our way--making a descriptive
dash at some few of them--seeing the old pedant of a king growing more
slipshod and more shaky, till at last he yields the throne to that
unfortunate son of his, Charles I., in whose time we shall find some new
singing-birds in the fields of British poesy, and birds of a different

_Webster, Ford, and Others._

All those lesser dramatists going immediately before Shakespeare, and
coming immediately after or with him, may be counted in literary
significance only as the trail to that grander figure which swung so high
in the Elizabethan heavens; many a one among the lesser men has written
something which has the true poetic ring in it, and is to be treasured;
but ring however loudly it may, and however musically it may, it will very
likely have a larger and richer echo somewhere in Shakespeare.

Among the names of those contemporaries whose names are sure of long
survival may be mentioned John Webster; a Londoner in all probability;
working at plays early in the seventeenth century; his name appearing on
various title-pages up to 1624 certainly--one time as “merchant tailor;”
and there are other intimations that he may have held some church
“clerkship;” but we know positively very little of him. Throughout the
eighteenth century his name and fame[23] had slipped away from people’s
knowledge; somewhere about the year 1800 Charles Lamb gave forth his
mellow piping of the dramatist’s deservings; a quarter of a century later
Mr. Dyce[24] wrote and published what was virtually a resurrection work
for Webster; and in our time the swift-spoken Swinburne transcends all the
old conventionalities of encyclopædic writing in declaring this dramatist
to be “hardly excelled for unflagging energy of impression and of pathos
in all the poetic literature of the world.”

Webster was not a jocund man; he seems to have taken life in a hard way;
he swears at fate. Humane and pathetic touches there may be in his plays;
but he has a dolorous way of putting all the humanities to simmer in a
great broth of crime. At least this may not be unfairly said of his
chiefest works, and those by which he is best known--the “Vittoria
Corombona” and the “Duchess of Malfi.” There are blood-curdling scenes in
them through which one is led by a guidance that is as strenuous as it is
fascinating. The drapery is in awful keeping with the trend of the story;
the easy murders hardly appal one, and the breezes that fan the air seem
to come from the flutter of bat-like, leaden wings, hiding the blue. There
are, indeed, wondrous flashes of dramatic power; by whiles, too, there are
refreshing openings-out to the light or sinlessness of common day--a
lifting of thought and consciousness up from the great welter of crime and
crime’s entanglements; but there is little brightness, sparse sunshine,
rare panoply of green or blooming things; even the flowers are put to sad
offices, and

                              “do cover
    The friendless bodies of unburied men.”

When a man’s flower culture gets reduced to such narrow margin as this it
does not carry exhilarating odors with it.

John Ford[25] was another name much coupled in those and succeeding days
with that of Webster; he was indeed associated with him in some of his
work, as also with Dekker. He was a man of Devonshire birth, of good
family;--a little over-boastful of being above any “want for money;”
showing traces, indeed, of coarse arrogance, and swaying dramatically into
coarse brutalities. He, too, was borne down by enslavement to the red
splendors of crime; his very titles carry such foretaste of foulness we do
not name them. There are bloody horrors and moral ones. Few read him for
love. Murder makes room for incest, and incest sharpens knives for murder.
Animal passions run riot; the riot is often splendid, but never--to my
mind--making head in such grand dramatic utterance as crowns the gory
numbers of Webster. There are strong passages, indeed, gleaming out of the
red riotings like blades of steel; now and then some fine touch of
pathos--of quiet contemplative brooding--lying amid the fiery wrack, like
a violet on banks drenched with turbid floods; but they are rare, and do
not compensate--at least do not compensate me--for the wadings through
bloody, foul quagmires to reach them.

Marston--another John[26]--if not up to the tragic level of the two last
named, had various talent; wrote satires, parodies; his _Image of
Pygmalion_ had the honor of being publicly burned; he wrought with Jonson
on _Eastward Hoe!_ won the piping praises of Charles Lamb in our century,
also of Hazlitt, and the eulogies of later and lesser critics. But he is
coarse, unequal, little read now. I steal a piquant bit of his satire on
metaphysic study from _What you Will_; it reminds of the frolic moods of

            “I wasted lamp oil, bated my flesh,
    Shrunk up my veins, and still my spaniel slept;
    And still I held converse with Zabarell,
    Aquinas, Scotus, and the musty saws
    Of antique Donate:--still my spaniel slept.
    Still on went I: first, _an sit anima_,
    Then, an’ ’twere mortal. O hold, hold!
    At that they are at brain buffets, fell by the ears
    Amain [pell-mell] together--still my spaniel slept.
    Then, whether ’twere corporeal, local, fixed,
    _Ex traduce_; but whether’t had free will
    Or no, hot philosophers
    Stood banding factions, all so strongly propped,
    I staggered, knew not which was firmer part;
    But thought, quoted, read, observed, and pried,
    Stuffed noting books,--and still my spaniel slept.
    At length he waked, and yawned, and by yon sky,
    For aught I know, he knew as much as I.”

_Massinger, Beaumont, and Fletcher._

Some dozen or more existing plays are attributed to Philip Massinger,[27]
and he was doubtless the author of many others now unknown save by name.
Of Wiltshire birth, his father had been dependant, or _protégé_ of the
Pembroke family, and the Christian name of Philip very likely kept alive
the paternal reverence for the great Philip Sidney. Though Massinger was
an industrious writer, and was well accredited in his time, it is certain
that he had many hard struggles, and passed through many a pinching day;
and at the last it would appear that he found burial, only as an outsider
and stranger, in that old church of St. Saviours, near to London Bridge,
where we found John Gower laid to rest with his books for pillow. If
Massinger did not lift his lines into such gleams of tragic intensity as
we spoke of in Webster and in Ford, he gave good, workman-like finish to
his dramas; and for bloody apparelling of his plots, I think there are
murderous zealots, in his Sforza[28] story at least, who could fairly have
clashed swords with the assassins of “Vittoria Corombona.” It is a large
honor to Massinger that of all the dramas I have named--outside some few
of Shakespeare’s--no one is so well known to modern play-goers as the “New
Way to Pay Old Debts.” The character of Sir Giles Overreach does not lose
its terrible significance. In our times, as in the old times,

                    “He frights men out of their estates,
    And breaks through all law-nets--made to curb ill men--
    As they were cobwebs.”

When Massinger died tradition says that he was thrust into the same grave
which had been opened shortly before for John Fletcher; if not joined
there, these two had certainly been fellows in literary work; and there
are those who think that the name of Massinger should have recognition in
that great dramatic copartnery under style of Beaumont and Fletcher.[29]
Certain it is that other writers had share in the work; among them--in at
least one instance (that of “Two Noble Kinsmen”)--the fine hand of

But whatever helping touches or of outside journey-work may have been
contributed to that mass of plays which bears name of Beaumont and
Fletcher, it is certain that they hold of right that brilliant reputation
for deft and lively and winning dramatic work which put their popularity
before Jonson’s, if not before Shakespeare’s. The coupling together of
this pair of authors at their work has the air of romance; both were well
born; Fletcher, son of a bishop; Beaumont, son of Sir Francis Beaumont, of
Grace-Dieu (not far away from Ashby-de-la-Zouch); both were university
men, and though differing in age by eight or nine years, yet coming--very
likely through the good offices of Ben Jonson--to that sharing of home and
work and wardrobe which the old gossip Aubrey[30] has delighted in
picturing. They wrought charmingly together, and with such a nice welding
of jointures, that literary craftsmen, of whatever astuteness, are puzzled
to say where the joinings lie. In agreement, however, with opinions of
best critics, it may be said that Beaumont (the younger, who died nine
years before his mate) was possessed of the deeper poetic fervors, while
Fletcher was wider in fertilities and larger in affluence of diction.

The dramatic horrors of Ford and Webster are softened in the lines of
these later playwrights. These are debonair; they are lively; they are
jocund; they tell stories that have a beginning and an end; they pique
attention; there are delicacies, too, and--it must be said--a good many
indelicacies; there are light-virtued women, and marital infelicities get
an easy ripening toward the over-ripeness and rottenness that is to come
in Restoration times. These twain were handsome fellows, by Aubrey’s and
all other accounts; Beaumont most noticeably so; and Fletcher--brightly
swarthy, red-haired, full-blooded--dying a bachelor and of the plague,
down in the time of Charles I., and thrust hastily into the grave at St.
Saviours, where Massinger presently followed him.

I must give at least one taste of the dramatic manner for which both of
these men were sponsors. It is from the well-known play of “Philaster”
that I quote, where Euphrasia tells of the tender discovery of what
stirred her heart:--

            “My father oft would speak
    Your worth and virtue: And as I did grow
    More and more apprehensive, I did thirst
    To see the man so praised; but yet all this
    Was but a maiden longing, to be lost
    As soon as found; till, sitting in my window
    Printing my thoughts in lawn, I saw a god
    I thought (but it was you) enter our gates.
    My blood flew out, and back again as fast
    As I had puffed it forth and sucked it in
    Like breath. Then was I called away in haste
    To entertain you. Never was a man
    Heaved from a sheep-cote to a sceptre, raised
    So high in thoughts as I:
                    I did hear you talk
    Far above singing! After you were gone,
    I grew acquainted with my heart, and searched
    What stirred it so. Alas, I found it Love!”

Nothing better in its way can be found in all their plays. One mentioning
word, however, should be given to those delightful lyrical aptitudes, by
virtue of which the blithe and easy metric felicities of Elizabethan days
were overlaid in tendrils of song upon the Carolan times. I wish, too,
that I had space for excerpts from that jolly pastoral of _The Faithful
Shepherdess_--bewildering in its easy gaieties, and its cumulated
classicisms--and which lends somewhat of its deft caroling, and of its
arch conceits to the later music of Milton’s “Comus.” Another foretaste of
Milton comes to us in these words of Fletcher:--

    “Hence, all you vain delights,
    As short as are the nights
        Wherein you spend your folly!
    There’s nought in this life, sweet,
    If man were wise to see’t,
        But only melancholy,
        O sweetest melancholy!
    Welcome folded arms and fixèd eyes,
    A sigh that piercing mortifies,
    A look that’s fastened to the ground,
    A tongue chain’d up without a sound!
    Fountain heads and pathless groves,
    Places which pale passion loves!
    Moonlight walks, when all the fowls
    Are warmly hous’d save bats and owls!
    A midnight bell, a parting groan,
        These are the sounds we feed upon;
    Then stretch our bones in a still gloomy valley;
    Nothing’s so dainty sweet as lovely melancholy.”[31]

_King James and Family._

Meanwhile, how are London and England getting on with their ram-shackle
dotard of a King? Not well; not proudly. Englishmen were not as boastful
of being Englishmen as in the days when the virgin Elizabeth queened it,
and shattered the Spanish Armada, and made her will and England’s power
respected everywhere. James, indeed, had a son, Prince Henry, who promised
far better things for England, and for the Stuart name, than his pedant of
a father.

This son was a friend of Raleigh’s (would, maybe, have saved that great man
from the scaffold, if he had lived), a friend, too, of all the
high-minded, far-seeing ones who best represented Elizabethan enterprise;
but he died, poor fellow, at nineteen, leaving the heirship to that
Charles I. whose dismal history you know. James had also a
daughter--Elizabeth--a high-spirited maiden, who, amid brilliant fêtes
made in her honor, married that Frederic, Elector Palatine, who received
his bride in the magnificent old castle, you will remember at Heidelberg.
There they show still the great gateway of the Princess Elizabeth, clad in
ivy, and the Elizabeth gardens. ’Twas said that her ambition and high
spirit pushed the poor Elector into political complications that ruined
him, and that made the once owner of that princely château an outcast, and
almost a beggar. The King, too, by his vanities, his indifference, and
cowardice, helped largely the discomfiture of this branch of his family,
as he did by his wretched bringing up of Charles pave the way for that
monarch’s march into the gulf of ruin.

In foreign politics this weak king coquetted in a childish way--sometimes
with the Catholic powers; sometimes with the Protestant powers of Middle
Europe; and at home, with a ridiculous sense of his own importance, he
angered the Presbyterians of Scotland and the Puritans of England by his
perpetual interferences. He provoked the emigration that was planting,
year by year, a New England west of the Atlantic; he harried the House of
Commons into an antagonism which, by its growth and earnestness was, by
and by, to upset his throne and family together. His power was the power
of a blister that keeps irritating--and not like Elizabeth’s--the power of
a bludgeon that thwacks and makes an end.

And in losing respect this King gained no love. Courtiers could depend on
his promises as little as kingdoms. He chose his favorites for a fine
coat, or a fine face, and thereafter, from sheer indolence yielded to them
in everything. In personal habits, too, he grew more and more unbearable;
his doublets were all dirtier; his wigs shabbier; his coarse jokes
coarser; his tipsiness frequenter. A foulness grew up in the court which
tempted such men as Fletcher and Massinger to fouler ways of speech, and
which lured such creatures as Lady Essex to ruin. A pretty sort of King
was this to preach against tobacco!

James had given up poetry-writing, in which he occasionally indulged
before coming to England; yet he had poetical tastes; he enjoyed greatly
many of Shakespeare’s plays; Ben Jonson, too, was a pet of his, and had
easy access to royalty, certainly until his quarrel with the great court
architect, Inigo Jones. But, as in all else, the King’s taste in poetry
grew coarser as he grew older, and he showed a great liking for a certain
John Taylor,[32] called “the Water-Poet,” a rough, coarse creature, who
sculled boats across the Thames for hire; who made a foot-trip into
Scotland in rivalry of Ben Jonson, and who wrote a _Very merry wherry
Voyage from London to York_, and a _Kecksy-Winsey, or a Lerry-cum-twang_,
which you will not find in your treasures of literature, but which the
leering King loved to laugh over in his cups. Taylor afterward was keeper
of a rollicking, Royalist tavern in Oxford, and of another in London,
where he died at the age of seventy-four.

Tobacco, first introduced in Raleigh’s early voyaging times, came to have
a little fund of literature crystallizing about it--what with histories of
its introduction and properties, and onslaughts upon it. Bobadil, the
braggart, in “Every Man in his Humor,” says: “I have been in the Indies
(where this herbe growes), where neither myself nor a dozen gentlemen more
(of my knowledge) have received the taste of any other nutriment, in the
world, for the space of one and twenty weeks, but Tobacco only. Therefore
it cannot be, but ’tis most Divine.”

There were many curious stories afloat too--taking different shapes--of
the great apprehension ignorant ones felt on seeing people walking about,
as first happened in these times, with smoke pouring from their mouths
and noses. In an old book called _The English Hue and Crie_ (printed about
1610), it takes something like this form:

    “A certain Welchman, coming newly to London, and beholding one to
    take Tobacco, never seeing the like before, and not knowing the
    manner of it, but perceiving him vent smoak so fast, and supposing
    his inward parts to be on fire, screamed an alarm, and dashed over
    him a big pot of Beer.”

King James’ _Counterblaste to the Use of Tobacco_, had about the same
efficacy with the Welshman’s beer-pot. But to show the King’s method of
arguing, I give one little whiff of it. Tobacco-lovers of that day alleged
that it cleared the head and body of ugly rheums and distillations;

    “But,” says the King, “the fallacy of this argument may easily
    appeare, by my late preceding description of the skyey meteors. For
    even as the smoaky Vapors sucked up by the sunne and stay’d in the
    lowest and colde region of the Ayre, are there contracted into
    clouds, and turned into Raine, and such other watery meteors: so
    this nasty smoke sucked up by the Nose, and imprisoned in the cold
    and moist braines, is by their colde and wet faculty, turned and
    cast forth againe in watery distillations, and so are you made free
    and purged of nothing, but _that_ wherewith you wilfully burdened

Is it any wonder people kept on smoking? He reasoned in much the same way
about church matters; is it any wonder the Scotch would not have
Anglicanism thrust upon them?

The King died at last (1625), aged fifty-nine, at his palace of Theobalds,
a little out of London, and very famous, as I have said, for its fine
gardens; and these gardens this prematurely old and shattered man did
greatly love; loved perhaps more than his children. I do not think Charles
mourned for him very grievously; but, of a surety there was no warrant for
the half-hinted allegation of Milton’s (at a later day) that the royal son
was concerned in some parricidal scheme. There was, however, nowhere great
mourning for James.

_A New King and some Literary Survivors._

The new King, his son, was a well-built young fellow of twenty-five, of
fine appearance, well taught, and just on the eve of his marriage to
Henrietta of France. He had a better taste than his father, and lived a
more orderly life; indeed, he was every way decorous save in an obstinate
temper and in absurd notions about his kingly prerogative. He loved
play-going and he loved poetry, though not so accessible as his father had
been to the buffoonery of the water-poet Taylor, or the tipsy obeisance of
old Ben Jonson. For Ben Jonson was still living, not yet much over fifty,
though with his great bulk and reeling gait seeming nearer seventy; now,
too, since Shakespeare is gone, easily at the head of all the literary
workers in London; indeed, in some sense always at the head by reason of
his dogged self-insistence and his braggadocio. All the street world[33]
knows him, as he swaggers along the Strand to his new jolly rendezvous at
the Devil Tavern, near St. Dunstan’s, in Fleet Street--not far off from
the Temple Church--where he and his fellows meet in the Apollo Chamber,
over whose door Ben has written:

    “Welcome, all who lead or follow
    To the oracle of Apollo!
    Here he speaks out of his pottle
    On the tripos--his tower-bottle,” etc.

Of all we have named hitherto among the Elizabethan poets, the only ones
who would be likely to appear there in Charles I.’s time would be George
Chapman, of the Homer translation; staid and very old now, with snowy
hair; and Dekker--what time he was out of prison for debt; possibly, too,
John Marston. Poor Ben Jonson wrote about this time his last play, which
did not take either with courtiers or the public; whereupon the old
grumbler was more rough than ever, and died a few years thereafter,
wretchedly poor, and was put into the ground--upright, tradition says, as
into a well--in Westminster Abbey. There one may walk over his name and
his crown; and this is the last we shall see of him, whose swagger has
belonged to three reigns.

Among other writers known to these times and who went somewhiles to these
suppers at the Apollo was James Howell,[34] notable because he wrote so
much; and I specially name him because he was the earliest and best type
of what we should call a hack-writer; ready for anything; a shrewd
salesman, too, of all he did write; travelling largely--having modern
instincts, I think; making small capital--whether of learning or
money--reach enormously. He was immensely popular, too, in his day; a
Welshman by birth, and never wrote at all till past forty; but afterward
he kept at it with a terrible pertinacity. He gives quaint advice about
foreign travel, with some shrewdness cropping out in it. Thus of languages
he says:

    “Whereas, for other Tongues one may attaine to speak them to very
    good purpose, and get their good will at any age; the French tongue,
    by reason of the huge difference ’twixt their writing and speaking,
    will put one often into fits of despaire and passion; but the
    Learner must not be daunted a whit at that, but after a little
    intermission hee must come on more strongly, and with a pertinacity
    of resolution set upon her againe and againe, and woo her as one
    would do a coy mistress, with a kind of importunity, until he
    over-master her: She will be very plyable at last.”

Then he says, for improvement, it is well to have the acquaintance of some
ancient nun, with whom one may talk through the grated windows--for they
have all the news, and “they will entertain discourse till one be weary,
if one bestow on them now and then some small bagatells--as English
Gloves, or Knives, or Ribands--and before hee go over, hee must furnish
himself with such small curiosities.”

The expenses of travel in that day on the Continent, he says, for a young
fellow who has his “Riding and Dancing and Fencing, and Racket, and
Coach-hire, with apparel and other casual charges will be about £300 per
annum”--which sum (allowing for differences in moneyed values) may have
been a matter of $6,000. He says with great aptness, too, that the
traveller must not neglect letter-writing, which

    “he should do exactly and not carelessly: For letters are the ideas
    and truest mirrors of the mind; they show the inside of a man and
    how he improveth himself.”

_Wotton and Walton._

Another great traveller of these times--but one whose dignities would, I
suspect have kept him away from the Devil Tavern--was Sir Henry
Wotton.[35] He was a man who had supplemented his university training by
long residence abroad; who had been of service to King James (before the
King had yet left Scotland) by divulging to him and defeating some
purposed scheme of poisoning. Wotton was, later, English ambassador at the
brilliant court of Venice, whence he wrote to the King many suggestions
respecting the improvement of his garden, detailing Italian methods, and
forwarding grafts and rare seedlings; he was familiar with most European
courts--hobnobbed with Doges and with Kings, was a scholar of elegant and
various accomplishments, and the reputed maker of that old and well-worn
witticism about ambassadors--that “they were honest men, sent to lie
abroad for the good of their country.” He was, furthermore, himself
boastful of the authorship of this prickly saying, “The itch of
disputation is the scab of the church.”[36] There is also a charming
little poem of his--which gets place in the anthologies--addressed to that
Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, whom we encountered as a bride at the Castle
of Heidelberg, and who became the mother of the accomplished and daring
Prince Rupert. Such a man as Wotton, full of anecdote, bristling with wit,
familiar with courts, and one who could match phrases with James, or
Charles, or Buckingham, in Latin, or French, or Italian, must have been a
god-send for a dinner-party at Theobalds, or at Whitehall. To crown his
graces, Walton[37] tells us that he was an excellent fisherman.

And this mention of the quiet Angler tempts me to enroll him here, a
little before his time; yet he was well past thirty when James died, and
must have been busy in the ordering of his draper’s shop in Fleet Street
when Charles I. came to power. He was of Staffordshire birth, and no
millinery of the city could have driven out of his mind the pretty
ruralities of his Staffordshire home, and the lovely far-off views of the
Welsh hills. His first wife was grandniece of Bishop Cranmer; he was
himself friend of Dr. Donne, to whom he listened from Sunday to Sunday; a
second wife was sister of that Thomas Ken who came to be Bishop of Bath
and Wells; so he was hemmed in by ecclesiasticisms, and loved them as he
loved trout. He was warm Royalist always, and lived by old traditions in
Church and State--not easily overset by Reformers. No fine floral triumphs
of any new gardeners, however accredited, could blind him to the old
glories of the eglantine or of a damask rose. A good and quiet friend, a
placid book, a walk under trees, made sufficient regalement for him.
These, with a fishing bout (by way of exceptional entertainment), and a
Sunday in a village church, with the Litany well intoned, were all in all
to him. His book holds spicy place among ranks of books, as lavender keeps
fresh odor among stores of linen. It is worth any man’s dalliance with the
fishing-craft to make him receptive to the simplicities and limpidities of
Walton’s _Angler_. I am tempted to say of him again, what I have said of
him before in other connection:--very few fine writers of our time could
make a better book on such a subject to-day, with all the added
information and all the practice of the newspaper columns. What Walton
wants to say, he says. You can make no mistake about his meaning; all is
as lucid as the water of a spring. He does not play upon your wonderment
with tropes. There is no chicane of the pen; he has some pleasant matters
to tell of, and he tells of them--straight.

Another great charm about Walton is his childlike truthfulness. I think he
is almost the only earnest trout-fisher (unless Sir Humphry Davy be
excepted) whose report could be relied upon for the weight of a trout. I
have many excellent friends--capital fishermen--whose word is good upon
most concerns of life, but in this one thing they cannot be religiously
confided in. I excuse it; I take off twenty per cent. from their estimates
without either hesitation, anger, or reluctance.

I must not omit to mention his charming biographic sketches (rather than
“lives”) of Hooker, of Wotton, of Herbert, of Donne--the letterpress of
all these flowing easily and limpidly as the brooks he loved to picture.
He puts in very much pretty embroidery too, for which tradition or street
gossip supplied him with his needs, in figure and in color; this is not
always of best authenticity, it is true;[38] but who wishes to question
when it is the simple-souled and always honest Walton who is talking? And
as for his great pastoral of _The Complete Angler_--to read it, in
whatever season, is like plunging into country air, and sauntering through
lovely country solitudes.

I name Sir Thomas Overbury[39]--who was the first, I think, to make that
often-repeated joke respecting people who boasted of their ancestry,
saying “they were like potatoes, with the best part below ground”--because
he belonged to this period, and was a man of elegant culture and literary
promise. He was poisoned in the Tower at the instance of some great people
about the court of James, who feared damaging testimony of his upon a
trial that was just then to come off; and this trial and poisoning
business, in which (Carr) Somerset and Lady Essex were deeply concerned,
made one of the greatest scandals of the scandalous court of King James.
Overbury’s _Characters_ are the best known of his writings, but they are
slight; quaint metaphors and tricksy English are in them, with a good many
tiresome affectations of speech. What he said of the Dairymaid is best of

_George Herbert._

This is a name which will be more familiar to the reader, and if he has
never encountered the little olive-green, gilt-edged budget of
Herbert’s[40] poems, he can hardly have failed to have met, on some page
of the anthologies, such excerpt as this about Virtue:

    “Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
    The bridal of the earth and sky,
    The dew shall weep thy fall to-night;
            For thou must die.

    “Sweet rose, whose hue, angry and brave,
    Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,
    Thy root is ever in its grave,
            And thou must die.

    “Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
    Like season’d timber, never gives;
    But though the whole world turn to coal,
            Then chiefly lives.”

And now, that I have quoted this, I wish that I had quoted another; and so
it would be, I suppose, were I to go through the little book. One cannot
go amiss of lines that will show his tenderness, his strong religious
feeling, his gloomy coloring, his quaint conceits--with not overmuch
rhythmic grace, but a certain spiritual unction that commends him to hosts
of devout-minded people everywhere. Yet I cannot help thinking that he
would have been lost sight of earlier in the swarm of seventeenth-century
poets, had it not been for a certain romantic glow attaching to his short
life. And first, he was a scion from the old Pembroke stock, born in a
great castle on the Welsh borders, and bred in luxury. He went to
Cambridge for study at a time when he may have encountered there the grim
boy-student, Oliver Cromwell, or possibly that other fair-faced Cambridge
student, John Milton, who was upon the rolls eight years later. He was a
young fellow of rare scholarship, winning many honors; was tall, spare,
with an eagle eye; and so he wins upon old James I., when he comes down on
a visit to the University (the Mother Herbert managing to have the King
see his best points, even to his silken doublets and his jewelled buckles,
of which the lad was fond). And he is taken into favor, bandies
compliments with the monarch, goes again and again to London and to court;
sees Chancellor Bacon familiarly--corrects proofs for him--and has hopes
of high preferment. But his chief patron dies; the King dies; and that
bubble of royal inflation is at an end.

It was after long mental struggle, it would seem, that George Herbert,
whom we know as the saintly poet, let the hopes of court consequence die
out of his heart. But once wedded to the Church his religious activities
and sanctities knew no hesitations. His marriage even was an incident that
had no worldly or amorous delays. A Mr. Danvers, kinsman of Herbert’s
step-father, thought all the world of the poet, and declared his utter
willingness that Herbert “should marry any one of his nine daughters [for
he had so many], but rather Jane, because Jane was his beloved daughter.”
And to such good effect did the father talk to Jane, that she, as old
Walton significantly tells us, was in love with the poet before yet she
had seen him. Only four days after their first meeting these twain were
married; nor did this sudden union bring such disastrous result as so
swift an engineering of similar contracts is apt to show.

At Bemerton vicarage, almost under the shadow of Salisbury cathedral, he
began, shortly thereafter, that saintly and poetic life which his verse
illustrates and which every memory of him ennobles. His charities were
beautiful and constant; his love of the flesh, his early “choler,” and all
courtly leanings crucified. Even the peasants thereabout stayed the plough
and listened reverently (another Angelus!) when the sounds of his
“Praise-bells” broke upon the air. It is a delightful picture the old
Angler biographer gives of him there in his quiet vicarage of Bemerton, or
footing it away over Salisbury Plain, to lift up his orison in symphony
with the organ notes that pealed from underneath the arches of
Salisbury’s wondrous cathedral.

Yet over all the music and the poems of this Church poet, and over his
life, a tender gloom lay constantly; the grave and death were always in
his eye--always in his best verses. And after some half-dozen years of
poetic battling with the great problems of life and of death, and a
further battling with the chills and fogs of Wiltshire, that smote him
sorely, he died.

He was buried at Bemerton, where a new church has been built in his honor.
It may be found on the high-road leading west from Salisbury, and only a
mile and a half away; and at Wilton--the carpet town--which is only a
fifteen minutes’ walk beyond, may be found that gorgeous church, built not
long ago by another son of the Pembroke stock (the late Lord Herbert of
Lea), who perhaps may have had in mind the churchly honors due to his
poetic kinsman; and yet all the marbles which are lavished upon this
Wilton shrine are poorer, and will sooner fade than the mosaic of verse
builded into _The Temple_ of George Herbert.

_Robert Herrick._

I deal with a clergyman again; but there are clergymen--and clergymen.

Robert Herrick[41] was the son of a London goldsmith, born on Cheapside,
not far away from that Mermaid Tavern of which mention has been made; and
it is very likely that the young Robert, as a boy, may have stood before
the Tavern windows on tiptoe, listening to the drinking songs that came
pealing forth when Ben Jonson and the rest were in their first lusty
manhood. He studied at Cambridge, receiving, may be, some scant help from
his rich uncle, Sir William Herrick, who had won his title by giving good
jewel bargains to King James. He would seem to have made a long stay in
Cambridge; and only in 1620, when our Pilgrims were beating toward
Plymouth shores, do we hear of him domiciled in London--learning the town,
favored by Ben Jonson and his fellows, perhaps apprenticed to the
goldsmith craft, certainly putting jewels into fine settings of verse even
then; some of them with coarse flaws in them, but full of a glitter and
sparkle that have not left them yet. Nine years later, after such town
experiences as we cannot trace, he gets, somehow, appointment to a church
living down in Devonshire at Dean Prior. His parish was on the
southeastern edge of that great heathery stretch of wilderness called
Dartmoor Forest: out of this, and from under cool shadows of the Tors, ran
brooks which in the cleared valleys were caught by rude weirs and shot out
in irrigating skeins of water upon the grassland. Yet it was far away from
any echo of the Mermaid; old traditions were cherished there; old ways
were reckoned good ways; and the ploughs of that region are still the
clumsiest to be found in England. There Robert Herrick lived, preaching
and writing poems, through those eighteen troublous years which went
before the execution of Charles I. What the goldsmith-vicar’s sermons were
we can only conjecture: what the poems were he writ, we can easily guess
from the flowers that enjewel them, or the rarer “noble numbers” which
take hold on religious sanctities. This preacher-poet twists the lilies
and roses into bright little garlands, that blush and droop in his pretty
couplets, as they did in the vicar’s garden of Devon. The daffodils and
the violets give out their odors to him, if he only writes their names.

Hear what he says to Phyllis, and how the numbers flow:

    “The soft, sweet moss shall be thy bed,
    With crawling woodbine overspread:
    By which the silver-shedding streams
    Shall gently melt thee into dreams.
    Thy clothing next, shall be a gown
    Made of the fleeces’ purest down.
    The tongues of kids shall be thy meat;
    Their milk thy drink; and thou shalt eat
    The paste of filberts for thy bread,
    With cream of cowslips butterèd:
    Thy feasting table shall be hills
    With daisies spread and daffodils;
    Where thou shalt sit, and Red-breast by,
    For meat, shall give thee melody.”

Then again, see how in his soberer and meditative moods, he can turn the
rich and resonant Litany of the Anglican Church into measures of sweet

    “In the hour of my distress,
    When temptations me oppress,
    And when I my sins confess,
          Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

    “When I lie within my bed,
    Sick in heart, and sick in head,
    And with doubts discomforted,
          Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

    “When the house doth sigh and weep,
    And the world is drown’d in sleep,
    Yet mine eyes the watch do keep,
          Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

    “When the passing bell doth toll,
    And the furies in a shoal
    Come, to fright a parting soul,
          Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

    “When the judgment is reveal’d,
    And that opened which was seal’d,
    When to thee I have appeal’d,
          Sweet Spirit, comfort me!”

Now, in reading these two poems of such opposite tone, and yet of agreeing
verbal harmonies, one would say--here is a singer, serene, devout, of
delicate mould, loving all beautiful things in heaven and on earth. One
would look for a man saintly of aspect, deep-eyed, tranquil, too ethereal
for earth.

Well, I must tell the truth in these talks, so far as I can find it, no
matter what cherished images may break down. This Robert Herrick was a
ponderous, earthy-looking man, with huge double chin, drooping cheeks, a
great Roman nose, prominent glassy eyes, that showed around them the red
lines begotten of strong potions of Canary, and the whole set upon a
massive neck which might have been that of Heliogabalus.[42] It was such a
figure as the artists would make typical of a man who loves the grossest

The poet kept a pet goose at the vicarage, and also a pet pig, which he
taught to drink beer out of his own tankard; and an old parishioner, for
whose story Anthony à Wood is sponsor, tells us that on one occasion when
his little Devon congregation would not listen to him as he thought they
ought to listen, he dashed his sermon on the floor, and marched with
tremendous stride out of church--home to fondle his pet pig.

When Charles I. came to grief, and when the Puritans began to sift the
churches, this Royalist poet proved a clinker that was caught in the
meshes and thrown aside. This is not surprising. It was after his enforced
return to London, and in the year 1648 (one year before Charles’ execution
at Whitehall), that the first authoritative publication was made of the
_Hesperides, or Works, both Humane and Divine, of Robert Herrick,
Esq._--his clerical title dropped.

There were those critics and admirers who saw in Herrick an allegiance to
the methods of Catullus; others who smacked in his epigrams the verbal
felicities of Martial; but surely there is no need, in that fresh
spontaneity of the Devon poet, to hunt for classic parallels; nature made
him one of her own singers, and by instincts born with him he fashioned
words and fancies into jewelled shapes. The “more’s the pity” for those
gross indelicacies which smirch so many pages; things unreadable; things
which should have been unthinkable and unwritable by a clergyman of the
Church of England. To what period of his life belonged his looser verses
it is hard to say; perhaps to those early days when, fresh from Cambridge,
Ben Jonson patted him on the shoulder approvingly; perhaps to those later
years when, soured by his ejection from the Church, he dropped his
Reverend, and may have capped verses with such as Davenant or Lovelace,
and others, whose antagonism of Puritanism provoked wantonness of speech.

At the restoration of Charles II., Herrick was reinstated in his old
parish in Devonshire, and died there, among the meadows and the daffodils,
at the ripe age of eighty-four. And as we part with this charming singer,
we cannot forbear giving place to this bit of his penitential verse:

    “For these my unbaptizèd rhymes
    Writ in my wild unhallowed times,
    For every sentence, clause, and word
    That’s not inlaid with thee, O Lord;
    Forgive me, God, and blot each line
    Out of my book, that is not thine!”

_Revolutionary Times._

I have given the reader a great many names to remember to-day; they are
many, because we have found no engrossing one whose life and genius have
held us to a long story. But we should never enjoy the great memories
except they were set in the foil of lesser ones, to emphasize their

The writers of this particular period--some of whom I have named--fairly
typify and illustrate the drift of letters away from the outspoken ardors
and full-toned high exuberance of Elizabethan days, to something more coy,
more schooled, more reticent, more measured, more tame.[43] The cunning of
word arrangement comes into the place of spontaneous, maybe vulgar wit;
humor is saddled with school-craftiness; melodious echoes take the place
of fresh bursts of sound. Poetry, that gurgled out by its own wilful laws
of progression, now runs more in channels that old laws have marked. Words
and language that had been used to tell straightforwardly stories of love
and passion and suffering are now put to uses of pomp and decoration.

Moreover, in Elizabethan times, when a great monarch and great ministers
held the reins of power undisturbed and with a knightly hand, minstrelsy,
wherever it might lift its voice, had the backing and the fostering
support of great tranquillity and great national pride. In the days when
the Armada was crushed, when British ships and British navigators brought
every year tales of gold, tales of marvellous new shores, when princes of
the proudest courts came flocking to pay suit to England’s great Virgin
Queen, what poet should not sing at his loudest and his bravest? But in
the times into which we have now drifted, there is no tranquillity; the
fever of Puritans against Anglicans, of Independents against Monarchy Men,
is raging through all the land; pride in the kingship of such as James I.
had broken down; pride in the kingship of the decorous Charles I. has
broken down again. All intellectual ardors run into the channels of the
new strifes. Only through little rifts in the stormy sky do the sunny
gleams of poesy break in.

There are colonies, too, planted over seas, and growing apace in these
days, whither the eyes and thoughts of many of the bravest and clearest
thinkers are turning. Even George Herbert, warmest of Anglicans, and of
the noble house of Pembroke, was used to say, “Religion[44] is going over
seas.” They were earnest, hard workers, to be sure, who
went--keen-thoughted--far-seeing--most diligent--not up to poems indeed,
save some little occasional burst of melodious thanksgiving. But they
carried memories of the best and of the strongest that belonged to the
intellectual life of England. The ponderous periods of Richard Hooker, and
the harshly worded wise things of John Selden,[45] found lodgement in
souls that were battling with the snows and pine-woods where Andover and
Salem and Newburyport were being planted. And over there, maybe, first of
all, would hope kindle and faith brighten at sound of that fair young
Puritan poet, who has just now, in Cambridge, sung his “Hymn of the

But the storm and the wreck were coming. There were forewarnings of it in
the air; forewarnings of it in the court and in Parliament; forewarnings
of it in every household. City was to be pitted against city; brother
against brother; and in that “sea of trouble,” down went the King and the
leaders of old, and up rose the Commonwealth and the leaders of the new

In our next talk we shall find all England rocking on that red wave of
war. You would think poets should be silent, and the eloquent dumb; but we
shall hear, lifting above the uproar, the golden language of Jeremy
Taylor--the measured cadences of Waller--the mellifluous jingle of
Suckling and of his Royalist brothers, and drowning all these with its
grand sweep of sound, the majestic organ-music of Milton.


I did not hold the reader’s attention long to the nightmare tragedies of
Webster and Ford, though they show shining passages of amazing dramatic
power. Marston was touched upon, and that satiric vein of his, better
known perhaps than his more ambitious work. We spoke of Massinger, whose
money-monster, Giles Overreach, makes one think of the railway wreckers of
our time; then came the gracious and popular Beaumont and Fletcher, twins
in work and in friendship; the former dying in the same year with
Shakespeare, and Fletcher dying the same year with King James (1625). I
spoke of that Prince Harry who promised well, but died young, and of
Charles, whose sad story will come to ampler mention in our present talk.
We made record of the death of Ben Jonson--of the hack-writing service of
James Howell--of the dilettante qualities of Sir Henry Wotton, and of the
ever-delightful work and enduring fame of the old angler, Izaak Walton.
And last we closed our talk with sketches of two poets: the one, George
Herbert, to whom his priestly work and his saintly verse were “all in
all;” and the other, Robert Herrick, born to a goldsmith’s craft, but
making verses that glittered more than all the jewels of Cheapside.

_King Charles and his Friends._

We open this morning upon times when New-England towns were being planted
among the pine-woods, and the decorous, courtly, unfortunate Charles I.
had newly come to the throne. Had the King been only plain Charles Stuart,
he would doubtless have gone through life with the reputation of an
amiable, courteous gentleman, not over-sturdy in his friendships[47]--a
fond father and good husband, with a pretty taste in art and in books, but
strongly marked with some obstinacies about the ways of wearing his
rapier, or of tying his cravat, or of overdrawing his bank account.

In the station that really fell to him those obstinacies took hold upon
matters which brought him to grief. The man who stood next to Charles, and
who virtually governed him, was that George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham,
who by his fine doublets, fine dancing, and fine presence, had very early
commended himself to the old King James, and now lorded it with the son.
He was that Steenie who in Scott’s _Fortunes of Nigel_ plays the
braggadocio of the court: he had attended Prince Charles upon that
Quixotic errand of his, incognito, across Europe, to play the wooer at the
feet of the Infanta of Spain; and when nothing came of all that show of
gallantry and the lavishment of jewels upon the dusky heiress of Castile,
the same Buckingham had negotiated the marriage with the French princess,
Henrietta. He was a brazen courtier, a shrewd man of the world; full of
all accomplishments; full of all profligacy. He made and unmade bishops
and judges, and bolstered the King in that antagonism to the Commons of
England which was rousing the dangerous indignation of such men as Eliot
and Hampden and Pym. Private assassination, however, took him off before
the coming of the great day of wrath. You must not confound this Duke of
Buckingham with another George Villiers, also Duke of Buckingham, who was
his son, and who figured largely in the days of Charles II.--being even
more witty, and more graceful, and more profligate--if possible--than his
father; a literary man withal, and the author of a play[48] which had
great vogue.

Another striking figure about the court of Charles was a small, red-faced
man, keen-eyed, sanctimonious, who had risen from the humble ranks (his
father having been a clothier in a small town of Berkshire) to the
position of Archbishop of Canterbury. So starched was he in his
High-Church views that the Pope had offered him the hat of a cardinal. He
made the times hard for Non-conformists; your ancestors and mine, if they
emigrated in those days, may very likely have been pushed over seas by the
edicts of Archbishop Laud. His monstrous intolerance was provoking, and
intensifying that agitation in the religious world of England which
Buckingham had already provoked in the political world; and the days of
wrath were coming.

This Archbishop Laud is not only keen-sighted but he is bountiful and
helpful within the lines of his own policy. He endowed Oxford with great,
fine buildings. Some friend has told him that a young preacher of
wonderful attractions has made his appearance at St. Paul’s--down on a
visit from Cambridge--a young fellow, wonderfully handsome, with curling
locks and great eyes full of expression, and a marvellous gift of
language; and the Archbishop takes occasion to see him or hear him; and
finding that beneath such exterior there is real vigor and learning, he
makes place for him as Fellow at Oxford; appoints him presently his own
chaplain, and gives him a living down in Rutland.

_Jeremy Taylor._

This priest, of such eloquence and beauty, was Jeremy Taylor,[49] who was
the son of a barber at Cambridge, was entered at Caius College as sizar,
or charity scholar, just one year after Milton was entered at Christ
College, and from the door of his father’s shop may have looked admiringly
many a time upon the

                “rosy cheeks
    Angelical, keen eye, courageous look,
    And conscious step of purity and pride,”

which belonged even then to the young Puritan poet. But Jeremy Taylor was
not a Puritan; never came to know Milton personally. One became the great
advocate and the purest illustration of the tenets of Episcopacy in
England; and the other--eventually--their most effective and weighty
opponent. In 1640, only one year after Jeremy Taylor was established in
his pleasant Rutland rectory, Archbishop Laud went to the Tower, not to
come forth till he should go to the scaffold; and in the Civil War,
breaking out presently, Jeremy Taylor joined the Royalists, was made
chaplain to the King, saw battle and siege and wounds; but in the top of
the strife he is known by his silvery voice and his exuberant piety, and
by the rare eloquence which colors prayer and sermon with the bloody tinge
of war and the pure light of heaven. He is wounded (as I said), he is
imprisoned, and finally, by the chances of battle, he is stranded in a
small country town near to Caermarthen, in South Wales.

    “In the great storm,” he says, “which dashed the vessel of the
    Church all in pieces, I was cast on the coast of Wales, and in a
    little boat thought to have enjoyed that rest and quietness which in
    England I could not hope for.”

The little boat he speaks of was the obscure mountain home where he taught
school, and where he received, some time, visits from the famous John
Evelyn,[50] who wrote charming books in these days about woods and
gardens, and who befriended the poor stranded chaplain. Here, too, he
wrote that monument of toleration, _The Liberty of Prophesying_, a work
which would be counted broad in its teachings even now, and which
alienated a great many of his more starched fellows in the Church. A
little fragment from the closing pages of this book will show at once his
method of illustration and his extreme liberality:

    “When Abraham sat at his tent door, waiting to entertain strangers,
    he espied an old man stopping by the way, leaning on his staff,
    weary with much travel, and who was a hundred years of age.

    “He received him kindly, provided supper, caused him to sit down;
    but observing that the old man ate, and prayed not, neither begged
    for a blessing on his meat, he asked him why he did not worship the
    God of Heaven?

    “The old man told him he had been used to worship the sun only.

    “Whereupon Abraham in anger thrust him from his tent. When he was
    gone into the evils of the night, God called to Abraham, and said,
    ‘I have suffered this man, whom thou hast cast out, these hundred
    years, and couldest thou not endure him one night, when he gave thee
    no trouble?’ Upon this Abraham fetched the man back and gave him
    entertainment: ‘Go thou and do likewise,’ said the preacher, ‘and
    thy charity will be rewarded by the God of Abraham.’”[51]

Jeremy Taylor did not learn this teaching from Archbishop Laud, but from
the _droiture_ of his own conscience, and the kindness of his own heart.
He wrote much other and most delectable matter in his years of Welsh
retirement, when a royal chaplain was a bugbear in England. He lost sons,
too--who had gone to the bad under the influences of that young Duke of
Buckingham I mentioned; but at last, when the restoration of Charles II.
came, he was given a bishopric in the wilds of Ireland, in a sour, gloomy
country, with sour and gloomy looks all around him, which together, broke
him down at the age of fifty-five. I have spoken thus much of him, because
he is a man to be remembered as the most eloquent, and the most kindly,
and the most tolerant of all the Church of England people in that day; and
because his treatises on _Holy Living_ and _Holy Dying_ will doubtless
give consolation to thousands of desponding souls, in the years to come,
as they have in the years that are past. He was saturated through and
through with learning and with piety; and they gurgled from him together
in a great tide of mellifluous language. The ardors and fervors of
Elizabethan days seem to have lapped over upon him in that welter of the
Commonwealth wars. He has been called the Shakespeare of the pulpit; I
should rather say the Spenser--there is such unchecked, and uncheckable,
affluence of language and illustration; thought and speech struggling
together for precedence, and stretching on and on, in ever so sweet and
harmonious jangle of silvery sounds.

_A Royalist and a Puritan._

Another Royalist of these times, of a different temper, was Sir John
Suckling:[52] a poet too, very rich, bred in luxury, a man of the world,
who had seen every court in Europe worth seeing, who dashed off songlets
and ballads between dinners and orgies; which songlets often hobbled on
their feet by reason of those multiplied days of high living; but yet they
had prettinesses in them which have kept them steadily alive all down to
these prosaic times. I give a sample from his “Ballad upon a Wedding,”
though it may be over-well known:

    “Her cheeks so rare a white was on
    No daisy makes comparison
        (Who sees them is undone):
    For streaks of red were mingled there
    Such as are on a Catharine pear,
        The side that’s next the sun.

    Her feet beneath her petticoat
    Like little mice stole in and out
        As if they feared the light.
    But O, she dances such a way!
    No sun upon an Easter day
        Is half so fine a sight!”

He was a frequenter of a tavern which stood at the Southwark end of London
Bridge. Aubrey says he was one of the best bowlers of his time. He played
at cards, too, rarely well, and “did use to practise by himself abed.” He
was rich; he was liberal; he was accomplished--almost an “Admirable
Crichton.” His first military service was in support of Gustavus Adolphus,
in Germany. At the time of trouble with the Scots (1639) he raised a troop
for the King’s service that bristled with gilded spurs and trappings; but
he never did much serious fighting on British soil; and in 1641--owing to
what was counted treasonable action in behalf of Strafford, he was
compelled to leave England.

He crossed over to the Continent, wandered into Spain, and somehow became
(as a current tradition reported) a victim of the Inquisition there, and
was put to cruel torture; a strange subject surely to be put to the
torture--in this life. He was said to be broken by this experience, and
strayed away, after his escape from those priest-fangs, to Paris, where,
not yet thirty-five, and with such promise in him of better things, he
came to his death in some mysterious way: some said by a knife-blade which
a renegade servant had fastened in his boot; but most probably by suicide.
There is, however, great obscurity in regard to his life abroad.

He wrote some plays, which had more notice than they should have had;
possibly owing to a revival of dramatic interests very strangely brought
about in Charles I.’s time--a revival which was due to the over-eagerness
and exaggeration of attacks made upon it by the Puritans: noticeable among
these was that of William Prynne[53]--“utter barrister” of Lincoln’s Inn.
“Utter barrister” does not mean æsthetic barrister, but one not yet come
to full range of privilege.

This Prynne was a man of dreadful insistence and severities; he would have
made a terrific schoolmaster. He was the author, in the course of his
life, of no less than one hundred and eighty distinct works; many of them,
it is true, were pamphlets, but others terribly bulky--an inextinguishable
man; that onslaught on the drama and dramatic people, and play-goers,
including people of the Court, called _Histriomastix_, was a foul-mouthed,
close-printed, big quarto of a thousand pages. One would think such a book
could do little harm; but he was tried for it, was heavily fined, and
sentenced to stand in the pillory and lose his ears. He pleaded strongly
against the sentence, and for its remission upon “divers passages [as he
says in his petition] fallen inconsiderately from my pen in a book called

But he pleaded in vain; there was no sympathy for him. Ought there to be
for a man who writes a book of a thousand quarto pages--on any subject?
The violence of this diatribe made a reaction in favor of the theatre; his
fellow-barristers of Lincoln’s Inn hustled him out of their companionship,
and got up straightway a gay masque to demonstrate their scorn of his

They say he bore his punishment sturdily, though the fumes of his book,
which was burned just below his nose, came near to suffocate him. Later
still, he underwent another sentence for offences growing out of his
unrelenting and imperious Puritanism--this time in company with one Burton
(not Robert Burton,[54] of the _Anatomy of Melancholy_), who was a
favorite with the people and had flowers strown before him as he walked to
the pillory. But Prynne had no flowers, and his ears having been once
cropt, the hangman had a rough time (a very rough time for Prynne) in
getting at his task. Thereafter he was sent to prison in the isle of
Jersey; but he kept writing, ears or no ears, and we may hear his strident
voice again--hear it in Parliament, too.

_Cowley and Waller._

Two other poets of these times I name, because of the great reputation
they once had; a reputation far greater than they maintain now. These are
Abraham Cowley and Edmund Waller.[55] The former of these (Cowley) was the
son of a London grocer, whose shop was not far from the home of Izaak
Walton; he was taught at Westminster School, and at Cambridge, and blazed
up precociously at the age of fifteen in shining verses.[56] Indeed his
aptitude, his ingenuities, his scholarship, kept him in the first rank of
men of letters all through his day, and gave him burial between Spenser
and Chaucer in Westminster Abbey. He would take a humbler place if he were
disentombed now; yet, in Cromwell’s time, or in that of Charles II., the
average reading man knew Cowley better than he knew Milton, and admired
him more. I give you a fragment of what is counted his best; it is from
his “Hymn to Light:”

    “When, Goddess, thou lift’st up thy waken’d head
        Out of the morning’s purple bed,
        Thy quire of birds about thee play,
    And all the joyful world salutes the rising day.

    “All the world’s bravery, that delights our eyes,
        Is but thy sev’ral liveries,
        Thou the rich dye on them bestowest,
    Thy nimble pencil paints this landscape as thou goest.

    “A crimson garment in the Rose thou wear’st;
        A crown of studded gold thou bear’st,
        The virgin lilies in their white,
    Are clad but with the lawn of almost naked light!”

If I were to read a fragment from Tennyson in contrast with Cowley’s
treatment of a similar theme I think you might wonder less why his
reputation has suffered gradual eclipse. Shall we try? Cowley wrote a poem
in memory of a dear friend, and I take one of the pleasantest of its

    “Ye fields of Cambridge, our dear Cambridge, say,
    Have ye not seen us walking every day?
    Was there a tree about, which did not know
        The love betwixt us two?
    Henceforth, ye gentle trees, for ever fade,
        Or your sad branches thicker join,
        And into darksome shades combine,
    Dark as the grave wherein my friend is laid.”

Tennyson wrote of _his_ dead friend, and here is a verse of it:

    “The path by which we twain did go,
      Which led by tracts that pleased us well
      Thro’ four sweet years, arose and fell
    From flower to flower, from snow to snow;

    But where the path we walk’d began
      To slant the fifth autumnal slope,
      As we descended, following hope,
    _There_ sat the shadow feared of man,

    Who broke our fair companionship,
      And spread his mantle dark and cold,
      And wrapped thee formless in the fold,
    And dulled the murmur on thy lip,

    And bore thee where I could not see
      Nor follow--though I walk in haste;
      And think--that somewhere in the waste,
    The shadow sits, and waits for me!”

Can I be wrong in thinking that under the solemn lights of these stanzas
the earlier poet’s verse grows dim?

Cowley was a good Kingsman; and in the days of the Commonwealth held
position of secretary to the exiled Queen Henrietta, in Paris; he did, at
one time, think of establishing himself in one of the American colonies;
returned, however, to his old London haunts, and, wearying of the city,
sought retirement at Chertsey, on the Thames’ banks (where his old house
is still to be seen), and where he wrote, in graceful prose and cumbrous
verse, on subjects related to country life--which he loved overmuch--and
died there among his trees and the meadows.

Waller was both Kingsman and Republican--steering deftly between extremes,
so as to keep himself and his estates free from harm. This will weaken
your sympathy for him at once--as it should do. He lived in a grand
way--affected the philosopher; _was_ such a philosopher as quick-witted
selfishness makes; yet he surely had wonderful aptitudes in dealing with
language, and could make its harmonious numbers flow where and how he
would. Waller has come to a casual literary importance in these days under
the deft talking and writing of those dilettante critics who would make
this author the pivot (as it were) on which British poesy swung away from
the “hysterical riot of the Jacobeans” into measured and orderly classic
cadence. It is a large influence to attribute to a single writer, though
his grace and felicities go far to justify it. And it is further to be
remembered that such critics are largely given to the discussion of
_technique_ only; they write as distinct art-masters; while we, who are
taking our paths along English Letters for many other things besides art
and rhythm, will, I trust, be pardoned for thinking that there is very
little pith or weighty matter in this great master of the juggleries of

Waller married early in life, but lost his wife while still very young;
thenceforth, for many years--a gay and coquettish widower--he pursued the
Lady Dorothy Sidney with a storm of love verses, of which the best (and it
is really amazingly clever in its neatness and point) is this:

    “Go, lovely Rose,
    Tell her, that wastes her time and me,
    That now she knows
    When I resemble her to thee
    How sweet and fair she seems to be.
      Tell her that’s young,
    And shuns to have her graces spied,
      That hadst thou sprung
    In deserts where no men abide,
    Thou must have, uncommended, died.”

But neither this, nor a hundred others, brought the Lady Dorothy to terms:
she married--like a wise woman--somebody else. And he? He went on singing
as chirpingly as ever--sang till he was over eighty.

_John Milton._

And now we come to a poet of a larger build--a weightier music--and of a
more indomitable spirit; a poet who wooed the world with his songs; and
the world has never said him “Nay.” I mean John Milton.[57]

He is the first great poet we have encountered, in respect to whom we can
find in contemporary records full details of family, lodgement, and birth.
A great many of these details have been swooped together in Dr. Masson’s
recently completed _Life and Times of Milton_, which I would more
earnestly commend to your reading were it not so utterly long--six fat
volumes of big octavo--in the which the pith and kernel about Milton, the
man, floats around like force meat-balls in a great sea of historic soup.
Our poet was born in Bread Street, just out of Cheapside, in London, in
the year 1608.

In Cheapside--it may be well to recall--stood the Mermaid Tavern; and it
stood not more than half a block away from the corner where Milton’s
father lived. And on that corner--who knows?--the boy, eight years old, or
thereby, when Shakespeare died, may have lingered to see the stalwart Ben
Jonson go tavern-ward for his cups, or may be, John Marston, or Dekker, or
Philip Massinger--all these being comfortably inclined to taverns.

The father of this Bread Street lad was a scrivener by profession; that
is, one who drafted legal papers; a well-to-do man as times went; able to
give his boy some private schooling; proud of him, too; proud of his clear
white and red face, and his curly auburn hair carefully parted--almost a
girl’s face; so well-looking, indeed, that the father employed a good
Dutch painter of those days to take his portrait; the portrait is still in
existence--dating from 1618, when the poet was ten, showing him in a
banded velvet doublet and a stiff vandyke collar, trimmed about with lace.
In those times, or presently after, he used to go to St. Paul’s Grammar
School; of which Lily, of Lily’s _Latin Grammar_, was the first master
years before. It was only a little walk for him, through Cheapside, and
then, perhaps, Paternoster Row--the school being under the shadow of that
great cathedral, which was burned fifty years after. He studied hard
there; studied at home, too; often, he says himself, when only fourteen,
studying till twelve at night. He loved books, and he loved better to be

He turns his hand to poetry even then. Would you like to see a bit of what
he wrote at fifteen? Well, here it is, in a scrap of psalmody:

    “Let us blaze his name abroad,
    For of gods, he is the God,
    Who by his wisdom did create
    The painted heavens so full of state,
    And caused the golden tressèd sun
    All the day long his course to run,
    The hornèd moon to hang by night
    Amongst her spangled sisters bright;
    For his mercies aye endure,
    Ever faithful, ever sure.”

It is not of the best, but I think will compare favorably with most that
is written by young people of fifteen. At Christ’s College, Cambridge,
whither he went shortly afterward--his father being hopeful that he would
take orders in the Church--he was easily among the first; he wrote Latin
hexameters, quarrelled with his tutor (notwithstanding his handsome face
had given to him the mocking title of “The Lady”), had his season of
_rustication_ up in London, sees all that is doing in theatrics
thereabout, but goes back to study more closely than ever.

The little Christmas song,

            “It was the winter wild,
    While the heaven-born Child,” etc.,

belongs to his Cambridge life; though his first public appearance as an
author was in the “Ode to Shakespeare,” attaching with other and various
commendatory verses to the second folio edition of that author’s dramas,
published in the year 1632.

Milton was then twenty-four, had been six or seven at Cambridge; did not
accept kindly his father’s notion of taking orders in the Church, but had
exaggerated views of a grandiose life of study and literary work; in which
views his father--sensible man that he was--did not share; but--kind man
that he was--he did not strongly combat them. So we find father and son
living together presently, some twenty miles away from London, in a little
country hamlet called Horton, where the old gentleman had purchased a
cottage for a final home when his London business was closed up.

Here, too, our young poet studies--not books only, borrowed where he can,
and bought if he can; but studies also fields and trees and skies and
rivers, and all the natural objects that are to take embalmment sooner or
later in his finished verse. Here he wrote, almost within sight of Windsor
towers, “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso.” You know them; but they are
always new and always fresh; freshest when you go out from London on a
summer’s day to where the old tower of Horton Church still points the
road, and trace there (if you can)

    “The russet lawns and fallows gray
    Where the nibbling flocks do stray,
    Meadows trim with daisies pied,
    Shallow brooks and rivers wide.
    Sometimes with secure delight
    The upland hamlets will invite,
    When the merry bells ring round
    And the jocund rebecks sound
    To many a youth and many a maid
    Dancing in the chequered shade;
    And young and old come forth to play
    On a sunshine holiday.”

In reading such verse we do not know where to stop--at least, I do not. He
writes, too, in that country quietude, within sight of Windsor forest, his
charming “Lycidas,” one of the loveliest of memorial poems, and the
“Comus,” which alone of all the masques of that time, and preceding times,
has gone in its entirety into the body of living English literature.

In 1638, then thirty years old, equipped in all needed languages and
scholarship, he goes for further study and observation to the Continent;
he carries letters from Sir Henry Wotton; he sees the great Hugo Grotius
at Paris; sees the sunny country of olives in Provence; sees the superb
front of Genoa piling out from the blue waters of the Mediterranean; sees
Galileo at Florence--the old philosopher too blind to study the face of
the studious young Englishman that has come so far to greet him. He sees,
too, what is best and bravest at Rome; among the rest St. Peter’s, just
then brought to completion, and in the first freshness of its great tufa
masonry. He is fêted by studious young Italians; has the freedom of the
Accademia della Crusca; blazes out in love sonnets to some dark-eyed
signorina of Bologna; returns by Venice, and by Geneva where he hobnobs
with the Diodati friends of his old school-fellow, Charles Diodati; and
comes home to England to find changes brewing--the Scotch marching over
the border with battle-drums--the Long Parliament portending--Strafford
and Laud in way of impeachment--his old father drawing near to his
end--and bloody war tainting all the air.

The father’s fortune, never large, is found crippled at his death; and
Milton, now thirty-two, must look out for his own earnings. He takes a
house; first in Fleet Street, then near Aldersgate, with garden attached,
where he has three or four pupils; his nephew Phillips[58] among them.

_Milton’s Marriage._

It was while living there that he brought back, one day, a bride--Mary
Powell; she was a young maiden in her teens, daughter of a
well-established loyalist family near to Oxford. The young bride is at the
quiet student’s house in Aldersgate a month, perhaps two, when she goes
down for a visit to her mother; she is to come back at Michaelmas; but
Michaelmas comes, and she stays; Milton writes, and she stays; Milton
writes again, and she stays; he sends a messenger--and she stays.

What is up, then, in this new household? Milton, the scholar and poet, is
up, straightway, to a treatise on divorce, whereby he would make it easy
to undo yokes where parties are unevenly yoked. There is much scriptural
support and much shrewd reasoning brought by his acuteness to the
overthrow of those rulings which the common-sense of mankind has
established; even now those who contend for easy divorce get their best
weapons out of this old Miltonian armory.

Meantime the poet went on teaching, I suspect rapping his boys over the
knuckles in these days for slight cause. But what does it all mean? It
means incongruity; not the first case, nor will it be the last.
He--abstracted, austere, bookish, with his head in the clouds; she--with
her head in ribbons, and possibly loving orderly housewifery:[59]
intellectual affinities and sympathies are certainly missing.

Fancy the poet just launched into the moulding of such verse as this:

    “Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire
    Mirth and youth, and warm desire!
    Woods and groves are of thy dressing----”

when a servant gives sharp rat-tat at the door, “Please, sir, missus says,
‘Dinner’s waiting!’” But the poet sweeps on--

    “O nightingale, that on yon blooming spray
    Warblest at eve, when all the woods are still,
    Thou, with fresh heat, the lover’s heart dost fill,
    Now timely sing, ere the rude bird of hate----”

And there is another rat-tat!--“Please, sir, missus says, ‘Dinner is all
getting cold.’” Still the poet ranges in fairyland--

                    “----ere the rude bird of hate
    Foretell my hopeless doom, in some grove nigh,
    As thou from year to year hast sung too late
    For my relief, yet hadst no reason why----”

And now, maybe, it is the pretty mistress who comes with a bounce--“Mr.
Milton, are you _ever_ coming?”--and a quick bang of the door, which is a
way some excellent petulant young women have of--not breaking the

There is a little prosaic half-line in the “Paradise Lost” (I don’t think
it was ever quoted before), which in this connection seems to me to have a
very pathetic twang in it; ’tis about Paradise and its charms--

    “No fear lest dinner cool!”

However, it happens that through the advocacy of friends on both sides
this great family breach is healed, or seems to be; and two years after,
Milton and his recreant, penitent, and restored wife are living again
together; lived together till her death; and she became the mother of his
three daughters: Anne, who was crippled, never even learned to write, and
used to be occupied with her needle; Mary, who was his amanuensis and
reader most times, and Deborah, the youngest, who came to perform similar
offices for him afterward.

Meantime the Royalist cause had suffered everywhere. The Powells (his
wife’s family having come to disaster) did--with more or less children--go
to live with Milton. Whether the presence of the mother-in-law mended the
poet’s domesticity I doubt; doubt, indeed, if ever there was absolute
harmony there.

On the year of the battle of Naseby appeared Milton’s first unpretending
booklet of poems,[60] containing with others, those already named, and
not before printed. Earlier, however, in the lifetime of the poet had
begun the issue of those thunderbolts of pamphlets which he wrote on
church discipline, education, on the liberty of unlicensed printing, and
many another topic--cumbrous with great trails of intricate sentences,
wondrous word-heaps, sparkling with learning, flaming with anger--with
convolutions like a serpent’s, and as biting as serpents.

A show is kept up of his school-keeping, but with doubtful success; for in
1647 we learn that “he left his great house in Barbican, and betook
himself to a smaller in High Holborn, among those that open back into
Lincoln’s Inn Fields;” but there is no poem-making of importance (save one
or two wondrous Sonnets) now, or again, until he is virtually an old man.

_The Royal Tragedy._

Meantime the tide of war is flowing back and forth over England and
engrossing all hopes and fears. The poor King is one while a captive of
the Scots, and again a captive of the Parliamentary forces, and is
hustled from palace to castle. What shall be done with the royal prisoner?
There are thousands who have fought against him who would have been most
glad of his escape; but there are others--weary of his doublings--who have
vowed that this son of Baal shall go to his doom and bite the dust.

Finally, and quickly too (for events move with railroad speed), his trial
comes--the trial of a King. A strange event for these English, who have
venerated and feared and idolized so many kings and queens of so many
royal lines. How the Royalist verse-makers must have fumed and raved!
Milton, then just turned of forty, was, as I have said, living near High
Holborn; the King was eight years his senior--was in custody at St.
James’s, a short way above Piccadilly. He brought to the trial all his
kingly dignity, and wore it unflinchingly--refusing to recognize the
jurisdiction of the Parliament, cuddling always obstinately that poor
figment of the divine right of kings--which even then Milton, down in his
Holborn garden, was sharpening his pen to undermine and destroy.

The sentence was death--a sentence that gave pause to many. Fairfax, and
others such, would have declared against it; even crop-eared Prynne, who
had suffered so much for his truculent Puritanism, protested against it;
two-thirds of the population of England would have done the same; but
London and England and the army were all in the grip of an iron man whose
name was Cromwell. Time sped; the King had only two days to live; his son
Charles was over seas, never believing such catastrophe could happen; only
two royal children--a princess of thirteen and a boy of eight--came to say
adieu to the royal prisoner. “He sat with them some time at the window,
taking them on his knees, and kissing them, and talking with them of their
duty to their mother, and to their elder brother, the Prince of Wales.” He
carried his habitual dignity and calmness with him on the very morning,
going between files of soldiers through St. James’s Park--pointing out a
tree which his brother Henry had planted--and on, across to Whitehall,
where had come off many a gay, rollicking masque of Ben Jonson’s, in
presence of his father, James I. He was led through the window of the
banqueting-hall--the guides show it now--where he had danced many a
night, and so to the scaffold, just without the window, whence he could
see up and down the vast court of Whitehall, from gate to gate,[61] paved
with a great throng of heads. Even then and there rested on him the same
kingly composure; the fine oval face, pale but unmoved; the peaked beard
carefully trimmed, as you see it in the well-known pictures by Vandyke, at
Windsor or at Blenheim.

He has a word with old Bishop Juxon, who totters beside him; a few words
for others who are within hearing; examines the block, the axe; gives some
brief cautions to the executioner; then, laying down his head, lifts his
own hand for signal, and with a crunching thud of sound it is over.

And poet Milton--has he shown any relenting? Not one whit; he is austere
among the most austere; in this very week he is engaged upon his defence
of regicide, with its stinging, biting sentences. He is a friend and
party to the new Commonwealth; two months only after the execution of the
King, he is appointed Secretary to the State Council, and under it is
conducting the Latin correspondence. He demolishes, by order of the same
Council, the _Eikon Basilike_ (supposed in that day to be the king’s work)
with his fierce onslaught of the _Eikonoklastes_. His words are bitter as
gall; he even alludes, in no amiable tone--with acrid emphasis, indeed--to
the absurd rumor, current with some, that the King, through his
confidential instrument, Buckingham, had poisoned his own father.

He is further appointed to the answering of Salmasius,[62] an answer with
which all Europe presently rings. It was in these days, and with such work
crowding him, that his vision fails; and to these days, doubtless belongs
that noble sonnet on his blindness, which is worth our staying for, here
and now:

    “When I consider how my light is spent
    Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
    And that one talent, which is death to hide,
    Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
    To serve therewith my Maker, and present
    My true account, lest he, returning, chide;
    ‘Dost God exact day-labor, light denied?’
    I fondly ask: But Patience, to prevent
    That murmur, soon replies--‘God doth not need
    Either man’s work, or his own gifts; who best
    Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best; his state
    Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
    And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
    They also serve, who only stand and wait.’”

Wonderful, is it not, that such a sonnet--so full of rare eloquence and
rare philosophy--so full of all that most hallows our infirm humanity
could be written by one--pouring out his execrations on the head of
Salmasius--at strife in his own household--at strife (as we shall find)
with his own daughters? Wonderful, is it not, that Carlyle could write as
he did about the heroism of the humblest as well as bravest, and yet grow
into a rage--over his wife’s shoulders and at her cost--with a rooster
crowing in his neighbor’s yard? Ah, well, the perfect ones have not yet
come upon our earth, whatever perfect poems they may write.

_Change of Kings._

But at last comes a new turn of the wheel to English fortunes. Cromwell is
dead; the Commonwealth is ended; all London is throwing its cap in the air
over the restoration of Charles II. Poor blind Milton[63] is in hiding and
in peril. His name is down among those accessory to the murder of the
King. The ear-cropped Prynne--who is now in Parliament, and who hates
Milton as Milton scorned Prynne--is very likely hounding on those who
would bring the great poet to judgment. ’Tis long matter of doubt. Past
his house near Red Lion Square the howling mob drag the bodies of Cromwell
and Ireton, and hang them in their dead ghastliness.

Milton, however, makes lucky escape, with only a short term of prison; but
for some time thereafter he was in fear of assassination. Such a
rollicking daredevil, as Scott in his story of _Woodstock_, has painted
for us in Roger Wildrake (of whom there were many afloat in those times)
would have liked no better fun than to run his rapier through such a man
as John Milton; and in those days he would have been pardoned for it.

That capital story of _Woodstock_ one should read when they are upon these
times of the Commonwealth. There are, indeed, anachronisms in it; kings
escaping too early or too late, or dying a little out of time to
accommodate the exigencies of the plot; but the characterization is
marvellously spirited; and you see the rakehelly cavaliers, and the fine
old king-ridden knights, and the sour-mouthed Independents, and the glare
and fumes and madness of the civil war, as you find them in few history

Milton, meanwhile, in his quiet home again, revolves his old project of a
great sacred poem. He taxes every visitor who can, to read to him in
Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Dutch. His bookly appetite is omnivorous. His
daughters have large share of this toil. Poor girls, they have been little
taught, and not wisely. They read what they read only by rote, and count
it severe task-work. Their mother is long since dead, and a second wife,
who lived only for a short time, dead too. We know very little of that
second wife; but she is embalmed forever in a sonnet, from which I steal
this fragment:--

    “Methought I saw my late espousèd saint
    Brought to me, like Alcestis from the grave;
    Her face was veiled, yet to my fancied sight
    Love, sweetness, goodness in her person shin’d
    So clear as in no face with more delight.
    But oh, as to embrace me she inclined
    I waked, she fled, and day brought back my night.”

The Miltonian reading and the work goes on, but affection, I fear, does
not dominate the household; the daughters overtasked, with few
indulgences, make little rebellions; and the blind, exacting old man is as
unforgiving as the law. Americans should take occasion to see the great
picture by Munkacsy, in the Lenox Gallery, New York, of Milton dictating
_Paradise Lost_; it is in itself a poem; a dim Puritan interior; light
coming through a latticed window and striking on the pale, something
cadaverous face of the old poet, who sits braced in his great armchair,
with lips set together, and the daughters, in awed attention, listening or
seeming to listen.

I am sorry there is so large room to doubt of the intellectual and
affectionate sympathy existing between them; nevertheless--that it did not
is soberly true; his own harsh speeches, which are of record, show it;
their petulant innuendoes, which are also of record, show it.

Into this clouded household--over which love does not brood so fondly as
we would choose to think--there comes sometimes, with helpfulness and
sympathy, a certain Andrew Marvell, who had been sometime assistant to
Milton in his official duties, and who takes his turn at the readings, and
sees only the higher and better lights that shine there; and he had
written sweet poems of his own, (to which I shall return) that have kept
his name alive, and that will keep it alive, I think, forever.

There comes also into this home, in these days, very much to the surprise
and angerment of the three daughters, a third wife to the old poet, after
some incredibly short courtship.[64] She is only seven years the senior of
the daughter Anne; but she seems to have been a sensible young person, not
bookishly given, and looking after the household, while Anne and Mary and
Deborah still wait, after a fashion, upon the student-wants of the poet.
In fits of high abstraction he is now bringing the “Paradise” to a
close--not knowing, or not caring, maybe, for the little bickerings which
rise and rage and die away in the one-sided home.

I cannot stay to characterize his great poem; nor is there need; immortal
in more senses than one; humanity counts for little in it; one pair of
human creatures only, and these looked at, as it were, through the big end
of the telescope; with gigantic, Godlike figures around one, or colossal
demons prone on fiery floods. It is not a child’s book; to place it in
schools as a parsing-book is an atrocity that I hope is ended. Not, I
think, till we have had some fifty years to view the everlasting fight
between good and evil in this world, can we see in proper perspective the
vaster battle which, under Milton’s imagination, was pictured in Paradise
between the same foes. Years only can so widen one’s horizon as to give
room for the reverberations of that mighty combat of the powers of light
and darkness.

We talk of the organ-music of Milton. The term has its special
significance; it gives hint of that large quality which opens heavenly
spaces with its billows of sound; which translates us; which gives us a
lookout from supreme heights, and so lifts one to the level of his
“Argument.” There is large learning in his great poem--weighty and
recondite; but this spoils no music; great, cumbrous names catch sonorous
vibrations under his modulating touch, and colossal shields and spears
clash together like cymbals. The whole burden of his knowledges--Pagan,
Christian, or Hebraic, lift up and sink away upon the undulations of his
sublime verse, as heavy-laden ships rise and fall upon some great
ground-swell making in from outer seas.

A bookish color is pervading; if he does not steal flowers from books, he
does what is better--he shows the fruit of them. There are stories of his
debt to Cædmon, and still more authentic, of his debt to the Dutch poet
Vondel,[65] and the old Provençal Bishop of Vienne,[66] who as early as
the beginning of the sixth century wrote on kindred themes. There is
hardly room for doubt that Milton not only knew, but literally translated
some of the old Bishop’s fine Latin lines, and put to his larger usage
some of his epithets.

Must we not admit that--in the light of such developments--when the
Puritan poet boasts of discoursing on

    “Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme,”

that it is due to a little lurking stimulant of that Original Sin which
put bitterness into his Salmasian papers, and an ugly arrogance into his
domestic discipline? But, after all, he was every way greater than his
forerunners, and can afford to admit Cædmon and Vondel and Avitus, and all
other claimants, as supporting columns in the underlying crypt upon which
was builded the great temple of his song.

_Last Days._

The home of Milton in these latter days of his life was often changed.
Now, it was Holborn again; then Jewin Street; then Bunhill Row; and--one
while--for a year or more, when the great plague of 1665 desolated the
city, he fled before it to the little village of Chalfont, some twenty
miles distant from London on the Aylesbury road. There the cottage[67] may
still be seen in which he lived, and the garden in which he walked--but
never saw. There, too, is the latticed window looking on the garden, at
which he sat hour by hour, with the summer winds blowing on him from over
honeysuckle beds, while he brooded, with sightless eyes turned to the sky,
upon the mysteries of fate and foreknowledge.

A young Quaker, Ellwood, perhaps his dearest friend, comes to see him
there, to read to him and to give a helping hand to the old man’s study;
his daughters, too, are at their helpful service; grateful, maybe, that
even the desolation of the plague has given a short relief from the dingy
house in the town and its treadmill labors, and put the joy of blooming
flowers and of singing birds into their withered hearts.

The year after, which finds them in Bunhill Row again, brings that great
London fire which the Monument now commemorates; they passing three days
and nights upon the edge of that huge tempest of flame and smoke which
devoured nearly two-thirds of London; the old poet hearing the din and
roar and crackle, and feeling upon his forehead the waves of fierce heat
and the showers of cinders--a scene and an experience which might have
given, perhaps, other color to his pictures of Pandemonium, if his great
poem had not been just now, in these fateful years, completed--completed
and bargained for; £20 were to be paid for it conditionally,[68] in four
payments of £5 each, at a day when London had been decimated by the
plague, and half the city was a waste of ruin and ashes. And to give an
added tint of blackness to the picture, we have to fancy his three
daughters leaving him, as they did, tired of tasks, tired of wrangling.
Anne, the infirm one, who neither read nor wrote, and Mary, so overworked,
and Deborah, the youngest (latterly being very helpful)--all desert him.
They never return. “Undutiful daughters,” he says to Ellwood; but I think
he does not soften toward them, even when gone. Poor, stern, old man! He
would have cut them off by will from their small shares of inheritance in
his estate; but the courts wisely overruled this. Anne, strangely enough,
married--dying shortly after; Mary died years later, a spinster; and
Deborah, who became Mrs. Clark, had some notice, thirty years later, when
it was discovered that a quiet woman of that name was Milton’s daughter.
But she seems to have been of a stolid make; no poetry, no high sense of
dignity belonging to her; a woman like ten thousand, whose descendants are
now said (doubtfully) to be living somewhere in India.

But Milton wrought on; his wife Betty, of whom he spoke more
affectionately than ever once of his daughters, humored his poor fagged
appetites of the table. _Paradise Regained_ was in hand; and later the
“Samson Agonistes.” His habits were regular; up at five o’clock; a chapter
of the Hebrew Bible read to him by his daughter Mary--what time she
stayed; an early breakfast, and quiet lonely contemplation after it (his
nephew tells us) till seven. Then work came, putting Quaker Ellwood to
helpful service, or whoever happened in, and could fathom the
reading--this lasting till mid-day dinner; afterward a walk in his garden
(when he had one) for two hours, in his old gray suit, in which many a
time passers-by saw him sitting at his door. There was singing in later
afternoon, when there was a voice to sing for him; and instrumental music,
when his, or a friendly hand touched the old organ. After supper, a pipe
and a glass of water; always persistently temperate; and then, night and

He attended no church in his later years, finding none in absolute
agreement with his beliefs; sympathizing with the Quakers to a certain
degree, with the orthodox Independents too; but flaming up at any
procrustean laws for faith; never giving over a certain tender love, I
think, for the organ-music and storied splendors of the Anglican Church;
but with a wild, broad freedom of thought chafing at any ecclesiastic law
made by man, that galled him or checked his longings. His clear, clean
intellect--not without its satiric jostlings and wrestlings--its
petulancies and caprices--sought and maintained, independently, its own
relation with God and the mysterious future.

Our amiable Dr. Channing, with excellent data before him, demonstrated his
good Unitarian faith; but though Milton might have approved his nice
reasonings, I doubt if he would have gone to church with him. He loved
liberty; he could not travel well in double harness, not even in his
household or with the elders. His exalted range of vision made light of
the little aids and lorgnettes which the conventional teachers held out to
him. Creeds and dogmas and vestments and canons, and all humanly
consecrated helps, were but Jack-o’-lanterns to him, who was swathed all
about with the glowing clouds of glory that rolled in upon his soul from
the infinite depths.

In the year 1674--he being then sixty-five years old--on a Sunday, late at
night, he died; and with so little pain that those who were with him did
not know when the end came. He was buried--not in the great cemetery of
Bunhill Fields, close by his house--but beside his father, in the old
parish church of St. Giles, Cripplegate, where he had been used to go as a
boy, and where he had been used to hear the old burial Office for the
Dead--now intoned over his grave--“_Ashes to ashes, dust to dust_.” There
was no need for the monument erected to him there in recent years. His
poems make a monument that is read of all the world, and will be read in
all times of the world.


As we launched upon the days of Charles I., in our last talk, we had
somewhat to say of the King’s advisers, lay and ecclesiastic; we came to
quick sense of the war-clouds, fast gathering, through which Jeremy Taylor
shot his flashes of pious eloquence; we heard a strain of Suckling’s
verse, to which might have been added other, and may be better, from such
Royalist singers as Carew or Lovelace;[69] but we cannot swoop all the
birds into our net. We had glimpse of the crop-eared Prynne of the
_Histriomastix_; and from Cowley, that sincere friend of both King and
Queen in the days of their misfortunes, we plucked some “Poetical
Blossoms;” also a charming “Rose,” from the orderly parterres of that
great gardener, and pompous, time-serving man, Edmund Waller.

Then came Milton with the fairy melodies, always sweet, of “Comus”--the
cantankerous pamphleteering--the soured home-life--the bloody thrusts at
the image of the King, and the grander flight of his diviner music into
the courts of Paradise.

_Charles II. and his Friends._

Some fourteen years or so before the death of Milton, the restoration of
Charles II. had come about. He had drifted back upon the traces of the
stout Oliver Cromwell, and of the feebler Richard Cromwell, on a great
tide of British enthusiasm. Independents, Presbyterians, Church of England
men, and Papists were all by the ears; and it did seem to many among the
shrewdest of even the Puritan workers that some balance-wheel (of whatever
metal), though weighted with royal traditions and hereditary privileges,
might keep the governmental machinery to the steady working of old days.

So the Second Charles had come back, with a great throwing up of caps all
through the London streets; Presbyterians giving him welcome because he
was sure to snub the Independents; the Independents giving him welcome
because he was sure to snub the Presbyterians; the Church of England men
giving him welcome because he was sure to snub both (as he did); and
finally, the Papists giving him high welcome because all other ways their
hopes were lean and few.

You know, or should know, what manner of man he was: accomplished--in his
way; an expert swordsman; an easy talker--capable of setting a tableful of
gentlemen in a roar; telling stories inimitably, and a great many of them;
full of grimaces that would have made his fortune on the stage; saying
sweetest things, and meaning the worst things; a daredevil who feared
neither God nor man; generous, too--most of all in his cups; and
liberal--with other people’s money; hating business with all his soul;
loving pleasure with all his heart; ready always to do kindness that cost
him nothing; laughing at all Puritans and purity; yet winning the maudlin
affection of a great many people, and the respect of none.

Notwithstanding all this, the country gentlemen of England, of good blood,
who had sniffed scornfully at the scent of the beer-vats which hung about
the name of Cromwell, welcomed this clever, swarthy, black-haired,
dissolute Prince, who had a pedigree which ran back on the father’s side
to the royal Bruce of Scotland, and on the mother’s side to the great
Clovis, and to the greater Charlemagne.

You will find a good glimpse of this scion of royalty in Scott’s story of
_Peveril of the Peak_. The novel is by no means one of the great
romancer’s best; but it is well worth reading for the clear and vivid idea
it will give one of the social clashings between the reserves of old
Puritanism and the incontinencies of new monarchism; you will find in it
an excellent sample of the gruff, stalwart Cromwellian; and another of the
hot-tempered, swearing cavalier; and still others of the mincing,
scheming, gambling, roystering crew which overran all the purlieus of the
court of Charles. Buckingham was there--that second Villiers,[70] of whom
I had somewhat to say when the elder Buckingham came up for mention in
the days of Charles I.; this younger Villiers running before the elder in
all accomplishments and all villainies; courtly; of noble bearing; with
daintiest of speeches; a pattern of manly graces; capable of a tender
French song, with all his tones in exultant accord with best of court
singers, and of a comedy that drew all the play-goers of London to the
“Rehearsal;” capable too, of the wickedest of plots and of the foulest of
lies. And yet this Buckingham was one of the best accredited advisers of
the Crown.

To the same court belonged Rochester,[71] his great, fine wig covering a
great, fine brain; he writing harmonious verses about--“Nothing”--or worse
than nothing; and at the last wheedling Bishop Burnet into the belief that
he had changed his courses, and that if he might rise from that ugly
deathbed where the good-natured, pompous bishop sought him, he would be
enrolled among the moralists. I think it was lucky that he died with such
good impulse flashing at the top of his badnesses.

Dorset belonged to this court, with his pretty verselets, and Sedley and
Etherege; also the Portsmouth and Lady Castelmaine, and the rest of those
venturesome ladies who show their colors of cheek and bosom, even now, in
the well-handled paintings of Sir Peter Lely. When you go to Hampton Court
you can see these fair and frail beauties by the dozen on the walls of the
King William room. Sir Peter Lely[72] was a rare painter, belonging to
these times; a great favorite of Charles; and he loved such subjects for
his brush; he drew the delicatest hands that were ever put on canvas--too
delicate and too small, unfortunately, to cover the undress of his

But, at the worst, England was not altogether a Pandemonium in those days
following upon the Restoration. I think, perhaps, the majority of
historians and commentators are disposed to over-color the orgies; it is
so easy to make prodigious effects with strong sulphurous tints and
blazing vermilions. Certain it is that Taine, in writing of these times,
has put an almost malignant touch into his story, blinking the fact that
the trail which shows most of corrupting phosphorescence came over the
Channel with the new King; forgetting that French breeding was at the
bottom of the new tastes, and that French gold made the blazonry of the
chariots in which the Jezebels rode on their triumphal way through London

Then, again, English vice is more outspoken and less secretive than that
of the over-Channel neighbors. It is now, and has always been true, that
when his Satanic majesty takes possession of a man (or a woman), he can
cover himself in sweeter and more impenetrable disguise under the pretty
perukes and charming millinery of French art than in a homely British
body, out of which the demon horns stick stark through all the wigs and
cosmetics that art can put upon a man.

It is worth while for us to remember that in this London, when the elegant
Duke of Rochester was beating time with his jewelled hand to a French
gallop, Richard Baxter’s[73] ever-living _Saints’ Rest_ was an accredited
book, giving consolation to many a poor soul wrestling with the fears of
death and of future judgment. It was published, indeed, somewhat earlier;
but its author was still wakeful and earnest; and many a time his thin,
stooping figure might be seen threading a way through the street crowds to
his chapel in Southwark, where delighted listeners came to hear him,
almost upon the very spot where Shakespeare, eighty years before, had
played in the Globe Theatre.

The eloquent Tillotson, too, in these times--more liberal than Baxter or
Doddridge--was writing upon _The Wisdom of Being Religious_ and the right
_Rule of Faith_, and by his catholicity and clear-headedness winning such
favor and renown as to bring him later to the see of Canterbury.

I would have you keep in mind, too, that John Milton was still alive--his
“Samson Agonistes” not being published until Charles II. had been some
twelve years upon the throne--and in quiet seclusion was cultivating and
cherishing that serene philosophy which glows along the closing line of
his greatest sonnet,

    “They also serve who only stand and wait!”

_Andrew Marvell._

When upon the subject of Milton, I made mention of a certain poet who used
to go and see him in his country retirement, and who was also assistant to
him in his duties as Latin Secretary to the Council. This was Andrew
Marvell,[74] a poet of so true a stamp, and so true a man, that it is
needful to know something more of him.

He was son of a preacher at Kingston-upon-Hull (or, by metonomy, Hull) in
the north of England. In a very singular way, the occasion of his father’s
sudden death by drowning (if current tradition may be trusted) was also
the occasion of the young poet’s entrance upon greatly improved worldly

The story of it is this, which I tell to fix his memory better in mind.
Opposite his father’s home, on the other bank of the Humber, lived a lady
with an only daughter, the idol of her mother. This daughter chanced to
visit Hull, that she might be present at the baptism of one of Mr.
Marvell’s children. A tempest came up before night, and the boatmen
declared the crossing of the river to be dangerous; but the young lady,
with girlish wilfulness insisted, notwithstanding the urgence of Mr.
Marvell; who, finding her resolved, went with her; and the sea breaking
over the boat both were lost. The despairing mother found what consolation
she could in virtually adopting the young Andrew Marvell, and eventually
bestowing upon him her whole fortune.

This opened a career to him which he was not slow to follow upon with
diligence and steadiness. Well-taught, well-travelled, well-mannered, he
went up to London, and was there befriended by those whose friendship
insured success. He was liberal in his politics, beautifully tolerant in
religious matters, kept a level head through the years of Parliamentary
rule, and was esteemed and admired by both Puritans and Royalists. He used
a sharp pen in controversy and wrote many pamphlets, some of which even
now might serve as models for incisive speech; he was witty with the
wittiest; was caustic, humorous; his pages adrip with classicisms; and he
had a delicacy of raillery that amused, and a power of logic that smote
heavily, where blows were in order. He was for a long time member of
Parliament for Hull, and by his honesties of speech and pen, made himself
so obnoxious to the political jackals about Charles’s court--that he was
said to be in danger again and again of assassination; he finally died
under strong (but unfounded) suspicion of poisoning.

Those who knew him described him as “of middling stature, strong set,
roundish face, cherry-cheeked, hazel-eyed, brown-haired.”[75]

There are dainty poems of his, which should be read, and which are worth
remembering. Take this, for instance, from his _Garden_, which was written
by him first in Latin, and then rendered thus:

    “What wondrous life is this I lead!
    Ripe apples drop about my head;
    The luscious clusters of a 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.

    “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,
    Then whets and claps its silver wings,
    And, till prepared for longer flight,
    Waves in its plumes the various light.”

And this other bit, from his “Appleton House” (Nuneaton), still more full
of rural spirit:

    “How safe, methinks, and strong behind
    These trees, have I encamped my mind,
    Where beauty aiming at the heart
    Bends in some tree its useless dart,
    And where the world no certain shot
    Can make, or me it toucheth not.

    “Bind me, ye woodbines, in your twines,
    Curl me about, ye gadding vines,
    And, oh, so close your circles lace
    That I may never leave this place!
    But, lest your fetters prove too weak
    Ere I your silken bondage break,
    Do you, O brambles, chain me too,
    And, courteous briars, nail me through!”

This is better than Rochester’s “Nothing,” and has no smack of Nell Gwynne
or of Charles’s court.

_Author of Hudibras._

It is altogether a different, and a far less worthy character that I now
bring to the notice of the reader. The man is Samuel Butler,[76] and the
book _Hudibras_--a jingling, doggerel poem, which at the time of its
publication had very great vogue in London, and was the literary sensation
of the hour in a court which in those same years[77] had received the
great epic of Milton without any noticeable ripple of applause.

For myself, I have no great admiration for _Hudibras_, or for Mr. Samuel
Butler. He was witty, and wise in a way, and coarse, and had humor; but he
was of a bar-room stamp, and although he could make a great gathering of
the court people stretch their sides with laughter, it does not appear
that he had any high sense of honor, or much dignity of character.

Mr. Pepys (whose memoirs you have heard of, and of whom we shall have more
to tell) says that he bought the book one day in the Strand because
everybody was talking of it--which is the only reason a good many people
have for buying books; and, he continues--that having dipped into it,
without finding much benefit, he sold it next day in the Strand for
half-price. But poor Mr. Pepys, in another and later entry, says, “I have
bought _Hudibras_ again; everybody does talk so much of it;” which is very
like Mr. Pepys, and very like a good many other buyers of books.

_Hudibras_ is, in fact, a great, coarse, rattling, witty lunge at the
stiff-neckedness and the cropped heads of the Puritans, which the
roistering fellows about the palace naturally enjoyed immensely. He calls
the Presbyterians,

    “Such, as do build their faith upon
    The holy text of pike and gun;
    Decide all controversies
    By infallible artillery;
    And prove their doctrines orthodox
    By apostolic blows and knocks;
    Call fire and sword and desolation
    A godly, thorough reformation,
    Which always must be going on
    And still be doing--never done;
    As if Religion were intended
    For nothing else but to be mended.
    A sect whose chief devotion lies
    In odd, perverse antipathies,
    In falling out with that or this,
    And finding somewhat still amiss.

    That with more care keep holyday,
    The wrong--than others the right way;
    Compound for sins they are inclined to
    By damning those they have no mind to.

    The self same thing they will abhor
    One way, and long another--for:

    Quarrel with mince-pies and disparage
    Their best and dearest friend plum-porridge;
    Fat pig and goose itself oppose,
    And blaspheme custard thro’ the nose.”

It is not worth while to tell the story of the poem--which, indeed, its
author did not live to complete. Its fable was undoubtedly suggested by
the far larger and worthier work of Cervantes; Hudibras and Ralpho
standing in the place of the doughty Knight of La Mancha, and Sancho
Panza; but there is a world between the two.

_Hudibras_ had also the like honor of suggesting its scheme and measure
and jingle to an early American poem--that of _McFingal_, by John
Trumbull--in which our compatriot with less of wit and ribaldry, but equal
smoothness, and rhythmic zest, did so catch the humor of the Butler work
in many of his couplets that even now they pass muster as veritable parts
of _Hudibras_.[78]

Samuel Butler was the son of a farmer, over in the pretty Worcestershire
region of England; but there was in him little sense of charming
ruralities; they never put their treasures into his verse. For sometime he
was in the household of one of Cromwell’s generals,[79] who lived in a
stately country-hall a little way out of Bedford; again, he filled some
dependency at that stately Ludlow Castle on the borders of Wales--forever
associated with the music of Milton’s “Comus.” It was after the
Restoration that he budded out in his anti-Puritan lampoon; but though he
pandered to the ruling prejudices of the time, he was not successful in
his search for place and emoluments; he quarrelled with those who laughed
loudest at his buffoonery and died neglected. His name is to be remembered
as that of one of the noticeable men of this epoch, who wrote a poem
bristling all through with coarse wit, and whose memory is kept alive more
by the stinging couplets which have passed from his pen into common speech
than by any high literary merit or true poetic savor. His chief work in
verse must be regarded as a happy, witty extravaganza, which caused so
riotous a mirth as to be mistaken for valid fame. The poem is a curio of
letters--a specimen of literary bric-à-brac--an old, ingeniously
enamelled snuff-box, with dirty pictures within the lid.

_Samuel Pepys._

I had occasion just now to speak of the _Pepys Diary_, and promised later
and further talk about its author, whom we now put in focus, and shall
pour what light we can upon him.[80]

He was a man of fair personal appearance and great self-approval, the son
of a well-to-do London tailor, and fairly educated; but the most piquant
memorial of his life at Cambridge University is the “admonition”--which is
of record--of his having been on one occasion “scandalously over-served
with drink.” In his after life in London he escaped the admonitions; but
not wholly the “over-service” in ways of eating and drinking.

Pepys was a not far-off kinsman of Lord Sandwich (whom he strongly
resembled), and it was through that dignitary’s influence that he
ultimately came into a very good position in connection with the
Admiralty, where he was most intrepid in his examination of tar and
cordage, and brought such close scrutiny to his duties as to make him an
admirable official in the Naval Department under Charles II. For this
service, however, he would never have been heard of, any more than another
straightforward, plodding clerk; nor would he have been heard of for his
book about naval matters, which you will hardly find in any library in the
country. But he did write a _Diary_, which you will find everywhere.

It is a _Diary_ which, beginning in 1660, the first of Charles’ reign,
covers the ten important succeeding years; within which he saw regicides
hung and quartered, and heard the guns of terrific naval battles with the
Dutch, and braved all the horrors of the Great Plague from the day when he
first saw house-doors with a red cross marked on them, and the words
“Lord, have mercy on us!” to the time when ten thousand died in a week,
and “little noise was heard, day or night, but tolling of bells.” Page
after page of his _Diary_ is also given to the great fire of the following
year--from the Sunday night when he was waked by his maid to see a big
light on the back side of Mark Lane, to the following Thursday when
two-thirds of the houses and of the churches of London were in ashes.

But Pepys’ _Diary_ is not so valued for its story of great events as for
its daily setting down of little unimportant things--of the plays which he
saw acted--of the dust that fell on the theatre-goers from the
galleries--of what he bought, and what he conjectured, and what his wife
said to him, and what new dresses she had, and how he slept comfortably
through the sermon of Dr. So-and-So--just as you and I might have
done--never having a thought either that his _Diary_ would ever be
printed. He wrote it, in fact, in a blind short-hand, which made it lie
unnoticed and undetected for a great many years, until at last some prying
Cambridge man unriddled his cipher and wrote out and published _Pepys’
Diary_ to the world. And it is delightful; it is so true and honest, and
straightforward, and gossipy; and it throws more light upon the every-day
life in London in those days of the Restoration than all the other books
ever written.

There have been other diaries which have historic value; there was Hyde,
Earl of Clarendon,[81] with some humor and a lordly grace, who wrote a
_History of the Rebellion_--more than half diary--with sentences as long
as his pages; but it does not compare with Pepys’ for flashes of light
upon the accidents of life. There was good, earnest, well-meaning John
Evelyn,[82] who had a pretty place called Says-Court (inherited through
his wife) down at Deptford--which Scott introduces as the residence of
Essex in his story of _Kenilworth_--who had beautiful trees and flowers
there which he greatly loved. Well, John Evelyn wrote a diary, and a very
good one; with perhaps a better description of the great London fire of
1666 in it than you will find anywhere else; he gives us, too, a
delightful memorial of his young daughter Mary--who read the Ancients, who
spoke French and Italian, who sang like an angel, who was as gentle and
loving as she was wise and beautiful--whose death “left him desolate;”
but John Evelyn is silent upon a thousand points in respect to which Pepys
bristles all over like a gooseberry bush. Dr. Burnet, too, wrote a
_History of his Own Times_, bringing great scholarly attainments to its
execution, and a tremendous dignity of authorship; and he would certainly
have turned up his bishop’s nose at mention of Samuel Pepys; yet Pepys is
worth a dozen of him for showing the life of that day. He is so simple; he
is so true; he is so unthinking; he is the veriest photographer. Hear him
for a little--and I take the passages almost at random:

    “_November 9, 1660._--Lay long in bed this morning.

    “To the office, and thence to dinner at the Hoope Tavern, given us
    by Mr. Ady and Mr. Wine the King’s fishmonger. Good sport with Mr.
    Talbot, who eats no sort of fish, and there was nothing else till we
    sent for a neat’s tongue.

    “Thence I went to Sir Harry Wright’s, where my Lord was busy at
    cards, and so I staid below with Mrs. Carter and Evans, who did give
    me a lesson upon the lute, till he came down, and having talked with
    him at the door about his late business of money, I went to my
    father’s, and staid late talking with my father about my sister
    Poll’s coming to live with me--if she would come and be as a servant
    (which my wife did seem to be pretty willing to do to-day); and he
    seems to take it very well, and intends to consider of it.”

And again:

    “Home by coach, notwithstanding this was the first day of the King’s
    proclamation against hackney coaches coming into the streets to
    stand to be hired; yet I got one to carry me home.”


    “_11th November, Lord’s Day._--To church into our new gallery, the
    first time it was used. There being no woman this day, we sat in the
    foremost pew, and behind us our servants, and I hope it will not
    always be so, it not being handsome for our servants to sit so equal
    with us. Afterward went to my father’s, where I found my wife, and
    there supped; and after supper we walked home, my little boy
    carrying a link [torch], and Will leading my wife. So home and to
    prayers and to bed.”

Another day, having been to court, he says:

    “The Queene, a very little plain old woman, and nothing more in any
    respect than any ordinary woman. The Princess Henrietta is very
    pretty, but much below my expectation; and her dressing of herself
    with her haire frizzed short up to her eares did make her seem so
    much the less to me. But my wife, standing near her, with two or
    three black patches on, and well dressed, did seem to me much
    handsomer than she. Lady Castelmaine not so handsome as once, and
    begins to decay; which is also my wife’s opinion.”

One more little extract and I have done:

    “_Lord’s Day, May 26._ After dinner I, by water, alone to
    Westminster to the Parish Church, by which I had the great pleasure
    of seeing and gazing at a great many very fine women; and what with
    that, and sleeping, I passed away the time till sermon was done.”

Was there ever anything more ingenuous than that? How delightfully sure we
are that such writing was never intended for publication!

The great charm of Mr. Pepys and all such diary writing is, that it gives
us, by a hundred little gossipy touches, the actual complexion of the
times. We have no conventional speech to wrestle with, in order to get at
its meaning. The plain white lights of honesty and common-sense--so much
better than all the rhetorical prismatic hues--put the actual situation
before us; and we have an approach to that realism which the highest art
is always struggling to reach. The courtiers in their great, fresh-curled
wigs, strut and ogle and prattle before us. We scent the perfumed locks of
Peter Lely’s ladies, and the eels frying in the kitchen. We see Mr. Samuel
Pepys bowing to the Princess Henrietta, and know we shall hear of it if he
makes a misstep in backing out of her august presence. How he gloats over
that new plush, or moire-antique, that has just come home for his
wife--cost four guineas--which price shocks him a little, and sends him
to bed vexed, and makes him think he had better have kept by the old
woollen stuff; but, next Lord’s day being bright, and she wearing it to
St. Margaret’s or St. Giles’, where he watches her as she sits under the
dull fire of the sermon--her face beaming with gratitude, and radiant with
red ribbons--he relents, and softens, and is proud and glad, and goes to
sleep! This Pepys stands a good chance to outlive Butler, and to outlive
Burnet, and to outlive Clarendon, and to outlive John Evelyn.

I may add further to this mention of the old diarist, that at a certain
period of his life he became suspected--and without reason--of complicity
with the Popish plots (of whose intricacies you will get curious and
graphic illustration in _Peveril of the Peak_); and poor Pepys had his
period of prisonship like so many others in that day. He also became, at a
later time, singularly enough, the President of the Royal Society of
England--a Society formed in the course of Charles II.s’ reign, and which
enrolled such men as Robert Boyle and Sir Isaac Newton in its early days;
and which now enrols the best and worthiest of England’s scientists.

I do not think they would elect such a man as Samuel Pepys for President
now; yet it would appear that the old gentleman in his long wig and his
new coat made a good figure in the chair, and looked wise, and used to
have the members down informally at his rooms in York Building, where he
made good cheer for them, and broached his best bin of claret. Nor should
it be forgotten that Pepys had an appreciative ear for the melodies of
Chaucer (like very few in his day), and spurred Dryden to the making of
some of his best imitations.

When he died--it was in the early years of the eighteenth century--he left
his books, manuscripts, and engravings, which were valuable, to Magdalen
College, Cambridge; and there, as I said when we first came upon his name,
his famous _Diary_, in short-hand, lay unheard of and unriddled for more
than a hundred years.

_A Scientist._

Science was making a push for itself in these times. Newton had discovered
the law of gravitation before Charles II. died; the King himself was no
bad dabbler in chemistry.

Robert Boyle, the son of an Earl, and with all moneyed appliances to help
him, was one of the early promoters and founders of the Royal Society I
spoke of; a noticeable man every way in that epoch of the Ethereges and
the Buckinghams and the Gwynnes--devoting his fortune to worthy works;
estimable in private life; dignified and serene; tall in person and
spare--wearing, like every other well-born Londoner, the curled,
long-bottomed wig of France, and making sentences in exposition of his
thought which were longer and stiffer than his wigs. I give you a sample.
He is discussing the eye, and wants to say that it is wonderfully
constructed; and this is the way he says it:

    “To be told that an eye is the organ of sight, and that this is
    performed by that faculty of the mind which, from its function, is
    called visive, will give a man but a sorry account of the
    instruments and manner of vision itself, or of the knowledge of that
    Opificer who, as the Scripture speaks, formed the eye; and he that
    can take up with this easy theory of Vision, will not think it
    necessary to take the pains to dissect the eyes of animals, nor
    study the books of mathematicians to understand Vision; and
    accordingly will have but mean thoughts of the contrivance of the
    Organ, and the skill of the Artificer, in comparison of the ideas
    that will be suggested of both of them to him, that being profoundly
    skilled in anatomy and optics, by their help takes asunder the
    several coats, humors, muscles, of which that exquisite dioptrical
    instrument consists; and having separately considered the size,
    figure, consistence, texture, diaphaneity or opacity, situation, and
    connection of each of them, and their coaptation in the whole eye,
    shall discover, by the help of the laws of optics, how admirably
    this little organ is fitted to receive the incident beams of light
    and dispose them in the best manner possible for completing the
    lively representation of the almost infinitely various objects of

What do you think of that for a sentence? If the Fellows of the Royal
Society wrote much in that way (and the Honorable Boyle did a good deal),
is it any wonder that they should have an exaggerated respect for a man
who could express himself in the short, straight fashion in which Samuel
Pepys wrote his _Diary_?

_John Bunyan._

I have a new personage to bring before you out of this hurly-burly of the
Restoration days, and what I have to say of him will close up our talk for
this morning.

I think he did never wear a wig. Buckingham, who courted almost all orders
of men, would not have honored him with a nod of recognition; nor would
Bishop Burnet. I think even the amiable Dr. Tillotson, or the very liberal
Dr. South, would have jostled away from him in a crowd, rather than toward
him. Yet he was more pious than they; had more humor than Buckingham; and
for imaginative power would outrank every man living in that day, unless
we except the blind old poet Milton. You will guess easily the name I have
in mind: it is John Bunyan.[83] Not a great name then; so vulgar a one
indeed that--a good many years later--the amiable poet Cowper spoke of it
charily. But it is known now and honored wherever English is spoken.

He was born at Elstow, a mile away from Bedford, amid fat green meadows,
beside which in early May long lines of hawthorn hedges are all abloom.
You will go straight through that pleasant country in passing from
Liverpool to London, if you take, as I counsel you to do, the Midland
Railway; and you will see the lovely rural pictures which fell under
Bunyan’s eye as he strolled along beside the hedge-rows, from Elstow--a
mile-long road--to the grammar-school at Bedford.

The trees are beautiful thereabout; the grass is as green as emerald; old
cottages are mossy and picturesque; gray towers of churches hang out a
great wealth of ivy boughs; sleek Durham cattle and trim sheep feed
contentedly on the Bedford meadows, and rooks, cawing, gather into flocks
and disperse, and glide down singly, or by pairs, into the tops of trees
that shade country houses.

The aspects have not changed much in all these years; even the cottage of
Bunyan’s tinker father is still there, with only a new front upon it. The
boy received but little schooling, and that at hap-hazard; but he got
much religious teaching from the elders of the Baptist chapel, or from
this or that old Puritan villager. A stern doctrinal theology overshadowed
all his boyish years, full of threatening, fiery darts, and full of golden
streaks of promise.

He was a badish boy--as most boys are; a goodly _quantum_ of original sin
in him; he says, with his tender conscience, that he was “very bad;” a
child of the devil; swearing, sometimes; playing “three old cat” very
often; picking flowers, I dare say, or idly looking at the rooks of a
Sunday. Yet I would engage that the Newhaven High School would furnish
thirty or forty as bad ones as John Bunyan any day in the year. But he
makes good resolves; breaks them again; finally is convicted, but falters;
marries young (and, as would seem, foolishly, neither bride nor groom
being turned of twenty), and she bringing for sole dower not so much as
one dish or spoon, but only two good books--_The Plain Man’s Pathway to
Heaven_ and _The Practice of Piety_.

Even before this he had been drafted for service in the battles which were
aflame in England--doubtless fighting for the Commonwealth, as most of
his biographers[84] allege. Very probably, too, he was under orders of
that Sir Samuel Luke, who lived near by, and who--as I have mentioned--was
the butt of much of Samuel Butler’s Hudibrastic satire.

Next we hear of him as preacher--not properly sanctioned even by the
non-conforming authorities--but opening that intense religious talk of his
upon whatever and whomsoever would come to hear. Even his friendly Baptist
brothers look doubtfully upon his irregularities; but he sees only the
great golden cross before him in the skies, and hears only the crackle of
the flames in the nethermost depths below. He is bound to save, in what
way he can, those who will be saved, and to warn, in fearfullest way,
those who will be damned.

Hundreds came to hear this working-man who was so dreadfully in earnest,
and who had no more respect for pulpits or liturgies than for
preaching-places in the woods. It was not strange that he offended
against non-conformist acts, nor strange that, after accession of Charles
II. he came to imprisonment for his illegal pieties. This prison-life
lasted for some twelve years, in the which he still preached to those who
would listen within prison walls, and read his Bible, and wrought at
tagged laces (still a great industry of that district) for the support of
his family, a separation from whom--most of all from his poor blind
daughter Mary--was, he says, like “pulling the flesh from his bones.” Over
and over in that reach of prison-life he might have been free if he would
have promised to abstain from his irregular preachments, or if he would go
over seas to America. But he would not; he could not forbear to warn
whomsoever might hear, of the fiery pit, and of the days when the heavens
should be opened. He loved not the thought of over-ocean crossing; his
duties lay near; and with all his radicalism he never outlived a gracious
liking for British kingly traditions, and for such ranking of men and
powers as belonged to Levitical story.

Finally, under Charles’ Declaration of Indulgence (1672), which was
intended more for the benefit of ill-used Romanists than for
Non-conformists, Bunyan’s prison-doors were laid open, and he went to his
old work of preaching in public places. There may have been, as his more
recent biographers intimate, a later (1675) short imprisonment;[85] and
this, or some portion of the previous prison-life, was certainly passed in
that ancient Bedford jail, which, only a few years since, was standing on
Bedford bridge, hanging over the waters of the river Ouse--whose slow
current we shall find flowing again in our story of William Cowper.

And if the whole weight of tradition is not to be distrusted, it was in
this little prison over the river, where passers-by might shout a greeting
to him--that John Bunyan fell into the dreamy fashioning of that book
which has made his name known everywhere, and which has as fixed a place
in the great body of English literature as Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” or
Spenser’s _Faery Queen_--I mean the _Pilgrim’s Progress_.

But how is it, the reader may ask, that this tinker’s son, who had so far
forgotten his school learning that his wife had to teach him over again to
read and write--how is it that he makes a book which takes hold on the
sympathies of all Christendom, and has a literary quality that ranks it
with the first of allegories?[86]

Mr. Pepys told plainly what we wanted him to tell; but he had nothing but
those trifles which give a color to every-day life to tell of. If he had
undertaken to make a story of a page long, involving imaginative powers,
he would have made a failure of it; and if he had tried to be eloquent he
would have given himself away deplorably. But this poor _brazier_ (as he
calls himself in his last will), with not one-fourth of his knowledge of
the world, with not one-twentieth of his learning (bald as the old diarist
was in this line), with not one-hundredth part of his self-confidence,
makes this wonderful and charming book of which we are talking. How was

Well, there was, first, the great compelling and informing Christian
purpose in him: he was of the Bible all compact; every utterance of it was
a vital truth to him; the fire and the brimstone were real; the Almighty
fatherhood was real; the cross and the passion were real; the teeming
thousands were real, who hustled him on either side and who were pressing
on, rank by rank, in the broad road that leads to the City of Destruction.
The man who believes such things in the way in which John Bunyan believed
them has a tremendous motive power, which will make itself felt in some

Then that limited schooling of his had kept him to a short vocabulary of
the sharpest and keenest and most telling words. Rhetoric did not lead him
astray after flowers; learning did not tempt him into far-fetched
allusions; literary habit had not spoiled his simplicities. And again, and
chiefest of all, there was a great imaginative power, coming--not from
schools, nor from grammar teachings--but coming as June days come, and
which, breathing over his pages with an almost divine afflatus, lifted
their sayings into the regions of Poetry.

Therefore and thereby it is that he has fused his thought into such shape
as takes hold on human sympathies everywhere, and his characters are all
live creatures. All these two hundred and twenty years last past the noble
Great-heart has been thwacking away at Giant Grim and thundering on the
walls of Doubting Castle with blows we hear; and poor, timid Christian has
been just as many years, in the sight of all of us, making his way through
pitfalls and quagmires and Vanity Fairs--hard pressed by Apollyon, and
belabored by Giant Despair--on his steady march toward the Delectable
Mountains and the river of Death, and the shining shores which lie


There were some unsavory names which crept into the opening of our last
chapter; but they were sweet in the nostrils of Charles II. Of such were
Buckingham, Rochester, Etherege, Dorset, and the Castelmaine. And we made
a little moral counterpoise by the naming of Baxter’s _Saints’ Rest_, and
of Tillotson, and of the healthful, noble verse of Andrew Marvell, by
which we wished to impress upon our readers the fact that the whole world
of England in that day was not given over to French court-dances and to
foul-mouthed poets; but that the Puritan leaven was still working, even in
literary ways, and that there were men of dignity, knowledge, culture, and
rank, who never bowed down to such as the pretty Duchess of Portsmouth.

We had our glimpse of that witty buffoon Samuel Butler, who made clever
antics in rhyme; and I think, we listened with a curious eagerness to what
Samuel Pepys had to say of his play-going, and of the black patches with
which his pretty wife set forth her beauty. Then came Bunyan, with his
great sermonizing in barns and woods, and that far finer sermonizing which
in the days of his jailhood took shape in the immortal story of Christian
and Great-heart. He died over a grocer’s shop, in Snow Hill, London (its
site now all effaced by the great Holborn Viaduct), whither he had gone on
a preaching bout in the year 1688, only a few months before James II. was
driven from his throne. It is worth going out by the City Road--only a
short walk from Finsbury Square--to the cemetery of Bunhill Fields, where
Bunyan was buried--to see the marble figure of the tinker preacher
stretched upon the monument modern admirers have built, and to see
Christian toiling below, with his burden strapped to his back.

_Three Good Prosers._

In the course of that old _Pepys’ Diary_--out of which we had our
regalement--there is several times mention of Thomas Fuller;[87] among
others this:

    “I sat down reading in Fuller’s _English Worthies_; being much
    troubled that (though he had some discourse with me about my family
    and armes) he says nothing at all. But I believe, indeed, our family
    were never considerable.”

Honest Pepys! Shrewd Dr. Fuller, and a man not to be forgotten! He was a
“Cavalier parson” through the Civil-War days; was born down in
Northamptonshire in the same town where John Dryden, twenty-three years
later, first saw the light. He was full of wit, and full of knowledges;
people called him--as so many have been and are called--“a walking
library;” and his stout figure was to be seen many a time, in the
Commonwealth days, striding through Fleet Street, and by Paul’s Walk, to
Cheapside. There is quaint humor in his books, and quaintness and aptness
of language. Coleridge says he was “the most sensible and least prejudiced
great man of his time.”

Sir Thomas Browne,[88] a doctor, and the author of the _Religio Medici_
and _Urn-Burial_, was another delightful author of the Civil-War times,
whose life reached almost through the reign of Charles II.; yet he was not
a war man--in matter of kings or of churches. Serenities hung over him in
all those times wherein cannon thundered, and traitors (so called) were
quartered, and cathedrals despoiled. He loved not great cities. London
never magnetized him; but after his thorough continental travel and his
doctorate at Leyden, he planted himself in that old, crooked-streeted city
of Norwich, in Norfolk; and there, under the shadow of the stupendous
mound and Keep (which date from the early Henrys) he built up a home, of
which he made a museum--served the sick--reared a family of ten children,
and followed those meditative ways of thought which led him through
sepulchral urns, and the miracles of growth, and the Holy Scriptures, away
from all the “decrees of councils and the niceties of the schools” to the
altitudes he reaches in the _Religio Medici_.

I must excerpt something to show the humors of this Norwich doctor, and it
shall be this:

    “Light that makes things seen makes some things invisible. Were it
    not for darkness, and the shadow of the earth, the noblest part of
    Creation had remained unseen, and the stars in Heaven as invisible
    as on the Fourth day when they were created above the horizon with
    the Sun, and there was not an eye to behold them. The greatest
    mystery of Religion is expressed by adumbration, and in the noblest
    part of Jewish types we find the Cherubim _shadowing_ the Mercy
    Seat. Life itself is but the Shadow of Death, and souls departed but
    the Shadows of the Living. The sun itself is but the dark
    _Simulacrum_, and light but the shadow of God.”

If there were no other reason for our love of the best writings of Sir
Thomas Browne, it would be for this--that in some scarce distinguishable
way he has inoculated our “Elia” of a later day with something very like
his own quaint egoisms and as quaint garniture of speech. How Charles Lamb
must have enjoyed him, and joyed in the meditation--of a twilight--on the
far-reaching, mystic skeins of thought which so keen a reader would ravel
out from the stores of the _Urn-Burial_! And with what delighted sanction
the later writer permits, here and there, the tender solemnities of the
elder to shine through and qualify his own periods; not through
imitativeness, conscious or unconscious, but because the juices from the
mellow fruitage of the old physician have been quietly assimilated by the
stuttering clerk of the India House, and so his thought burgeons--by very
necessity--into that kindred leafage of phrase which lifts and sways in
the gentle breezes of his always gentle purpose.

Another name, of a man far less lovable, but perhaps more widely known, is
that of Sir William Temple.[89] He was of excellent family, born in
London, highly cultivated, and lived all through the reign of Charles
II., and much beyond. He represented England, in diplomatic ways, often
upon the Continent, and with great success; he negotiated the so-called
Triple Alliance; he also brought about that royal marriage of the daughter
of the Duke of York (afterward James II.), with William of Orange, and so
gave to England that royal couple, William and Mary. He had great dignity;
he had wealth; a sort of earlier Edward Everett--as polished and cold and
well-meaning and fastidious; looking rather more to the elegance of his
speech than to the burden of it; always making show of Classicism--nothing
if not correct; cautious; keeping well out of harm’s way, and all
pugnacious expressions of opinion; courteous to strong Churchmen;
courteous to Papists; bowing low to my Lady Castelmaine; very considerate
of Cromwellians who had power; moulding his habit and speech so as to show
no ugly angles of opinion anywhere, but only such convenient roundness as
would roll along life’s level easily to the very end. You will not be in
the way of encountering much that he wrote, though he had the reputation
in those days, and long after, of writing excellently well. “He was the
first writer,” said Johnson, “who gave cadence to English prose.”

Among his essays is one on “Ancient and Modern Learning,” showing the
pretensions of a scholastic man, whose assumptions brought about a
controversy into which Richard Bentley, a rare young critic, entered, and
out of which grew eventually Swift’s famous _Battle of the Books_.

Temple also wrote on gardens, with a safer swing for his learning and his
taste; traces of what his taste was in such matters are still discernible
about his old home of Moor Park, in Surrey. It lies some forty miles from
London, on the way to Southampton and the Isle of Wight, near the old town
of Farnham, where there is a venerable bishop’s palace worth the seeing; a
mile away one may find the terraces of Sir William’s old garden, and the
mossy dial under which he ordered his heart to be buried. Another
interest, moreover, attaches to these Moor Park gardens, which will make
them doubly worth a visit. On their terraces and under their trees used to
pace and meditate that strange creature Jonathan Swift, who was in his
young days a _protégé_ or secretary of Sir William Temple; and there,
too, in the same shade, and along the same terraces, used to stroll and
meditate in different mood, poor Mistress Hester Johnson, the “Stella” of
Swift’s life-long love-dream.

We shall meet these people again. But I leave Sir William Temple,
commending to your attention a delightful little essay of Charles Lamb, in
his volume of Elia, upon “The Genteel Style in Writing.” It gives a fair
though flattering notion of the ways of Sir William’s life, and of the way
of his work.

_John Dryden._

Of course we know John Dryden’s name a great deal better than we know Sir
William Temple’s; better, perhaps, than we know any other name of that
period. And yet do we know his poems well? Are there any that you
specially cherish and doat upon? any that kindle your sympathies easily
into blaze? any that give electric expression to your own poetic
yearnings, and put you upon quick and enchanting drift into that empyrean
of song whereto the great poets decoy us? I doubt if there is much of
Dryden which has this subtle influence upon you; certainly it has not upon

There are the great Cecilia odes, which hold their places in the
reading-books, with their

    “Double--double--double beat
      Of the thundering drum;”

and the royal

        “Philip’s warlike son,
        Aloft in awful state;
    The lovely Thais by his side,
    --Like a blooming Eastern bride
    In flower of youth and beauty’s pride;”

all which we read over and over, always with an ambitious vocalism which
the language invites, but, I think, with not much hearty unction.

And yet, notwithstanding the little that we recall of this man’s work, he
did write an enormous amount of verse, in all metres, and of all lengths.
All the poems that Milton ever published would hardly fill the space
necessary for a full synopsis of what John Dryden wrote. But let us begin
at the beginning.

This poet, and important man of letters, was born only a year or two later
than John Bunyan, and in the same range of country--a little to the
northward, in an old rectory of Aldwinckle (Northamptonshire), upon the
banks of the river Nen. And this river flows thence northerly, in great
loops, where sedges grow, past the tall spire of Oundle--past the grassy
ruins of Fotheringay; and thence easterly, in other great loops, through
flat lands, under the huge towers of Peterborough Cathedral. But the river
singing among the sedges does not come into Dryden’s verse; nor does
Fotheringay, with its tragic memories; nor do the noble woods of Lilford
Park, or of that Rockingham Forest which, in the days of Dryden’s boyhood,
must in many places have brought its spurs of oak timber and its haunts of
the red-deer close down to the Nen banks. Indeed, Wordsworth says, with a
little exaggeration, it is true, “there is not a single image from nature
in the whole body of his [Dryden’s] works.”

He was a well-born boy, with titled kinsfolk, and had money at command for
good courses in books. He was at Westminster School under Dr. Busby; was
at Cambridge, where he fell one time into difficulties, which somehow
angered him in a way that made him somewhat irreverent of his old college
in after life. There are pretty traditions that in extreme youth he
addressed some very earnest amatory verses to a certain Helen Driden,
daughter of his baronet uncle at Canons-Ashby;[90] and there are hints
dropped by some biographers of a rebuff to him; which, if it came about,
did not pluck away the cheerfulness and self-approval that lay in him. It
was in London, however, where he went after his father’s death, and when
he was twenty-seven, that the first verse was written by him which made
the literary world prick up its ears at sound of a new voice.

’Tis in eulogy of Cromwell, dying just then, and this is a bit of it:

    “Swift and resistless thro’ the land he past,
      Like that bold Greek, who did the East subdue,
    And made to battles such heroic haste,
      As if on wings of Victory he flew.

    “He fought, secure of fortune as of fame:
      Still by new maps the island might be shown,
    Of conquests, which he strew’d where-e’er he came,
      Thick as the galaxy with stars is strown.

    “His ashes in a peaceful urn shall rest,
      His name, a great example stands, to show
    How strangely high endeavors may be blest,
      Where piety and valor jointly go.”

A short two years after, you will remember, and Charles II. came to his
own and was crowned; and how does this eulogist of Cromwell treat his
coronation? In a way that is worth our listening to; for, I think, a
comparison of the Cromwellian verses with the Carolan eulogy gives us a
key to John Dryden’s character:

    “All eyes you draw, and with the eyes, the heart:
    Of your own pomp yourself the greatest part:
    Next to the sacred temple you are led,
    Where waits a crown for your more sacred head:
    The grateful choir their harmony employ,
    Not to make greater, but more solemn joy.
    Wrapt soft and warm your name is sent on high,
    As flames do on the waves of incense fly:
    Music herself is lost, in vain she brings
    Her choicest notes to praise the best of kings;
    Her melting strains in you a tomb have found,
    And lie like bees in their own sweetness drown’d.”

No wonder that he came ultimately to have the place of Poet-laureate, and
thereafter an extra £100 a year with it! No wonder that, with all his
cleverness--and it was prodigious--he never did, and never could, win an
unsullied reputation for sterling integrity and straightforward purpose.

I know that his latest biographer and advocate, Mr. Saintsbury, whose work
you will be very apt to encounter in the little series edited by John
Morley, sees poems like those I have cited with other eyes, and fashions
out of them an agreeable poetic consistency very honorable to Dryden; but
I cannot twist myself so as to view the matter in his way. I think rather
of a conscienceless thrifty newspaper, setting forth the average every-day
drift of opinion, with a good deal more than every-day skill.

Meantime John Dryden has married, and has married the daughter of an earl;
of just how this came about we have not very full record; but there were a
great many who wondered why she should marry him; and a good many more, as
it appeared, who persisted in wondering why he should marry her. Such
wonderments of wondering people overtake a good many matches. It is quite
certain that it was not a marriage which went to make a domestic man of
him; and I think you will search vainly through his poems for any
indication of those home instincts which, like the “melting strains” he
flung about King Charles,

    “Lie like bees in their own sweetness drown’d.”

The only positive worldly good which seemed to come of this marriage was
an occasional home at Charlton, in Wiltshire--an estate of the Earl of
Berkshire, his father-in-law--where Dryden wrote, shortly after his
marriage, his _Annus Mirabilis_, in which he gave to all the notable
events of the year 1666 a fillip with his pen; and the odd conceits that
lie in a single one of his stanzas keep yet alive a story of the capture
by the British of a fleet of Dutch India ships:--

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

There are three hundred other stanzas in the poem, of the same make and
rhythm, telling of fire, of plague, and of battles. I am not sure if
anybody reads it nowadays; but if you do--and it is not fatiguing--you
will find wonderful word-craft in it, which repeats the din and crash of
battle, and paints the smouldering rage and the blazing power of the
Great Fire of London in a way which certain boys, I well remember in old
school days, thought represented the grand climacteric of poetic diction.

_The London of Dryden._

But let us not forget where we are in our English story; it is London that
has been all aflame in that dreadful year of 1666. Thirteen thousand
houses have been destroyed, eighty odd churches, and some four hundred
acres of ground in the central part of the city have been burned over. The
fire had followed swiftly upon the devastating plague of the previous
year, which Dryden had gone into Wiltshire to avoid. It is doubtful,
indeed, if he came back soon enough to see the great blaze with his own
eyes; “chemical fire,” the poet calls it, and it licked up the poison of
the plague; but it did not lick up the leprosy of Charles’ court. There
was a demand for plays, and for plays of a bad sort; and Dryden met the
demand. Never was there an author more apt to divine what the public did
want, and more full of literary contrivances to meet it. Dryden knew all
the purveyors of this sort of intellectual repast, and all their methods,
and soon became a king among them; and to be a king among the playwrights
was to have a very large sovereignty in that time. Everybody talked of the
plays; all of Royalist faith went to the plays, if they had money; and
money was becoming more and more plentiful. There had been the set-back,
it is true, of the Great Fire; but English commerce was making enormous
strides in these days. There was a pathetic folding of the hands and
dreary forecastings directly after the disaster, as after all such
calamities. But straight upon this the city grew, with wider streets and
taller houses, and in only a very few years the waste ground was covered
again, and the new temple of St. Paul’s rising, under the guidance of Sir
Christopher Wren, into those grand proportions of cupola and dome, which,
in their smoked and sooty majesty, dominate the city of London to-day.

Houses of nobles and of rich merchants which stood near to Cornhill and
Lombard Street, and private gardens which had occupied areas
thereabout--now representing millions of pounds in value--were crowded
away westward by the new demands of commerce. In Dryden’s day there were
ducal houses looking upon Lincoln’s Inn Fields; and others, with pleasure
grounds about them, close upon Covent Garden Square. Americans go to that
neighborhood now, in early morning, to catch sight of the immense stores
of fruit and vegetables which are on show there upon market-days; and they
are well repaid for such visit; yet the houses are dingy, and a welter of
straw and mud and market _débris_ stretches to the doors; but the
stranger, picking his way through this, and through Russell Street to the
corner of Bow Street, will find, close by, the site of that famous Will’s
Coffee-house, where Dryden lorded it so many years, and whose figure
there--in the chimney-corner, with his pipe, laying down the law between
the whiffs, and conferring honors by offering a pinch from his
snuff-box--Scott has made familiar to the whole world.

It was an earlier sort of club-house, where the news in the _Gazette_ was
talked of, and the last battle--if there were a recent one--and the last
play, and the last scandal of the court. Its discussions and potations
made away with a good many nights, and a good many pipes and bottles, and
was not largely provocative of domesticity. But it does not appear that
the Lady Elizabeth--Dryden’s wife--ever made remonstrances on this score;
indeed, Mr. Green, the historian, would intimate that my lady had
distractions of her own, not altogether wise or worthy; but we prefer to
believe the best we can of her.

To this gathering-place at Covent Garden Etherege and Wycherley found
their way--all writing men, in fact; even the great Buckingham
perhaps--before his quarrel; and Dorset, fellow-member with Dryden, of the
Royal Society; maybe Butler too, when he found himself in London; and poor
Otway,[91] hoping to meet some one generous enough to pay his score for
him; and the young Congreve, proud in his earlier days to get a nod from
the great Dryden; and, prouder yet, when, at a later time, he was honored
by that tender and pathetic epistle from the Laureate:

    “Already I am worn with cares and age,
    And just abandoning the ungrateful stage;
    But you, whom every muse and grace adorn,
    Whom I foresee to better fortune born,
    Be kind to my remains; and O defend,
    Against your judgment, your departed friend!”

I said that he wrote plays; wrote them by the couple--by the dozen--by the
score possibly.

You do not know them; and I hope you never will know them to love them.
They have fallen away from literature--never acted, and rarely read. He
could not plot a story, and he had not the dramatic gift. One wonders how
a theatreful could have listened to their pomposity and inflation and
exaggerations. But they did, and they filled Dryden’s pockets. There were
scenic splendors, indeed, about many of them which delighted the pit, and
which the poet loved as accompaniments to the roll of his sonorous verse;
there were, too, fragments here and there, with epithet and
characterization that showed his mastership; and sometimes the most
graceful of lyrics budded out from the coarse groundwork of the play, as
fair in sound as they were foul in thought.

In private intercourse Dryden is represented to have been a man of
courteous speech, never low and ribald--as were many of the royal
favorites; and when he undertook playwriting to order, to meet the
profligate tastes of the court, he could not, like some lesser
playwrights, disguise double-meanings and vulgarities under a flimsy veil
of courtliness; but by his very sincerity he made all his lewdness rank,
and all his indelicacies brutal. This will, and should, I think, keep his
plays away from our reading-desks.

Dryden’s satires, written later, show a better and far stronger side of
his literary quality; and Buckingham, long after his lineaments shall have
faded from a mob of histories, will stand preserved as Zimri, in the
strong pickle of Dryden’s verse; you will have met the picture, perhaps
without knowing it, for the magnificent courtier, who wrote “The

    “A man so various that he seemed to be
    Not one, but all mankind’s epitome:
    Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong;
    Was everything by starts, and nothing long,
    But in the course of one revolving moon
    Was chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon;
    Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking,
    Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking.”

A man who writes in that way about a peer of England was liable to write
of lesser men in a manner that would stir hot blood; and he did. Once upon
a time this great king at “Will’s” was waylaid and sorrily cudgelled;
which is an experience that--however it may come about--is not elevating
in its effects, nor does it increase our sense of a man’s dignity; for it
is an almost universal fact that the men most worthy of respect, in almost
any society, are the men who never do get quietly cudgelled.

_Later Poems and Purpose._

Far on in 1682, when our Dryden was waxing oldish, and when he had given
over play-going for somewhat more of church-going, he wrote, in the same
verse with his satires, and with the same ringing couplets of sound, a
defence of the moderate liberal churchmanship that does not yield to
ecclesiastic fetters, and that thinks widely. A little later, in 1687, he
writes in a more assured vein, assuming bold defence of Romanism--as it
existed in that day in England--to which faith he had become a convert.
This last is a curiously designed poem, showing how little he had the arts
of construction in hand; it is a long argument between a Hind and a
Panther, in the shades of a forest. Was ever ecclesiasticism so
recommended before? Yet there are brave and unforgetable lines in it:
instance the noble rhythm, and the noble burden of that passage
beginning--like a trumpet note--

    “What weight of ancient witness can prevail,
    If private reason hold the public scale?”

And again the fine tribute to “the Church:”

    “Thus one, thus pure, behold her largely spread,
    Like the fair ocean from her mother bed;
    From East to West triumphantly she rides;
    All shores are watered by her wealthy tides;
    The Gospel-sound, diffused from pole to pole
    Where winds can carry, and where waves can roll;
    The self-same doctrine of the sacred page
    Conveyed to every clime, in every age.”

I think Bishop Heber had a reverent and a stealthy look upon these lines
when he wrote a certain stanza of his “Greenland’s icy mountains.”

The enemies of Dryden did not fail to observe that between the dates of
the two professions of faith named, Charles II. had died, summoning a
Papist priest, at the very last, to give him a chance--and, it is feared,
a small one--of reconcilement with Heaven; furthermore, these enemies
remembered that the bigot James II. had come to the throne, full of Papist
zeal and of a poor hope to bring all England to a great somerset of faith.
Did Dryden undergo an innocent change? Maybe; may not be. Certainly
neither Lord Macaulay, nor Elkanah Settle, nor Saintsbury, nor you, nor I,
have the right to go behind the veil of privacy which in such matters is
every man’s privilege.

How odd it seems that this Papist convert of James II.’s time, and author
of so many plays that outranked Etherege in rankness, should have put the
_Veni, Creator_, of Charlemagne (if it be his) into such reverent and
trenchant English as carries it into so many of our hymnals.

    “Creator Spirit, by whose aid
    The world’s foundations first were laid,
    Come, visit every humble mind;
    Come, pour thy joys on humankind;
    From sin and sorrow set us free,
    And make thy temples worthy thee.”

Nor was this all of Dryden’s translating work. He roamed high and low
among all the treasures of the ancients. Theocritus gave his tangle of
sweet sounds to him, and Homer his hexameters; Juvenal and Horace and Ovid
were turned into his verse; and Dryden’s _Virgil_ is the only Virgil of
thousands of readers. He sought motive, too, in Boccaccio and Chaucer; and
within times the oldest of us can remember his “Flower and Leaf” and his
“Palamon and Arcite” were more read and known than the poems of like name
attributed to Chaucer. But in the newer and more popular renderings and
printings of the old English poet, Chaucer has come to his own again, and
rings out his tales with a lark-like melody that outgoes in richness and
charm all the happy paraphrases of Dryden.

A still more dangerous task our poet undertook in the days of his dramatic
work. I have in my library some half dozen of Dryden’s plays--yellowed
and tattered, and of the imprint of 1710 or thereabout--and among them is
one bearing this title, _The Tempest, originally written by William
Shakespeare, and altered and improved by John Dryden_; and the story of
Antony and Cleopatra underwent the same sort of improvement--dangerous
work for Dryden; dangerous for any of us. And yet this latter, under name
of “All for Love,” was one of Dryden’s greatest successes, and reckoned by
many dramatic critics of that day far superior to Shakespeare.

One more extract from this voluminous poet and we shall leave him; it was
written when he was well toward sixty, and when his dramatic experiences
were virtually ended; it is from an ode in memory of Mistress Killigrew, a
friend and a poetess. In the course of it he makes honest bewailment, into
which it would seem his whole heart entered:

    “O gracious God! how far have we
    Profaned thy heavenly gift of Poesy?
    Made prostitute and profligate the muse,
    Debased to each obscene and impious use,
    Whose harmony was first ordained above
    For tongues of angels, and for hymns of love?”

And again, a verselet that is full of all his most characteristic manner:

    “When in mid-air the golden trump shall sound,
    To raise the nations under ground;
    When in the Valley of Jehoshaphat,
    The judging God shall close the book of Fate;
    And there the last assizes keep,
    For those who wake and those who sleep:
    When rattling bones together fly,
    From the four corners of the sky;
    When sinews o’er the skeletons are spread,
    Those clothed with flesh, and life inspires the dead;
    The sacred poets first shall hear the sound,
    And foremost from the tomb shall bound,
    For they are covered with the lightest ground;
    And straight, with inborn vigor, on the wing,
    Like mounting larks, to the new morning sing.
    Then thou, sweet Saint, before the quire shall go,
    As Harbinger of Heaven, the way to show,
    The way which thou so well hast learnt below!”

We have given much space to our talk about Dryden. Is it because we like
him so well? By no means. It is because he was the greatest master among
the literary craftsmen of his day; it is because he wrought in so many and
various forms, and always with a steady, unflinching capacity for toil,
which knew no shake or pause; it is because he had a marvellously keen
sense for all the symphonies of heroic language, and could always cheat
and charm the ear with his reverberant thunders; it is because he spanned
a great interval of English letters, covering it with various
accomplishment; criticising keenly, and accepted as a critic; judging
fairly, and accepted as a judge in the great court of language; teaching,
by his example, of uses and fashions of use, which were heeded by his
contemporaries, and which put younger men upon the track of better and
worthier achievement.

Again, it is because he, more than any other of his epoch, represented in
himself and in what he wrought, the drift and bent and actualities of the
time. There were changes of dynasties, and he put into language, for all
England, the lamentation over the old and the glorification of the new;
there were plagues and conflagrations and upbuildings of desolated
cities--and the fumes and the flames and the din of all these get speech
of him, and such color as put them in undying record upon the roll of
history; there were changes of faith, and vague out-reaches for some sure
ground of religious establishment--and his poems tell of the struggle,
and in his own personality represent the stress of a whole nation’s
doubts; there are battles raging round the coasts--and the echo of them,
in some shape of trumpet blare or shrill military resonance, seems never
to go out of his poems; dissoluteness rules in the court and in the city,
infecting all--and Dryden wallows with them through a score of his uncanny

Put his poems together in the order of their composition, and without any
other historic data whatever, they would show the changes and quavers and
sudden enthusiasms and bestialities and doubts and growth of the National
Life. But they would most rarely show the noble impulses that kindle hope
and foretoken better things to come--rarely the elevating purpose that
commands our reverence.

No fictitious character of his is a live one to-day; you can hardly recall
one if you try.[92] No couplet or verselet of his is so freighted with a
serene or hopeful philosophy as to make our march the blither by reason of
it down the corridors of time. No blast of all his fanfaron of trumpets
sounds the opening of the gates upon any Delectable Mountains. A great,
clever, literary worker! I think that is all we can say of him. And when
you or I pass under his monument in the corner of Westminster Abbey, we
will stand bowed respectfully, but not with any such veneration, I think,
as we expect to carry to the tomb of Milton or of Chaucer; and if one
falls on Pope--what then? I think we might pause--waver; more polish
here--more power there--the humanities not radiant in either; and so we
might safely sidle away to warm ourselves before the cenotaph of

_John Locke._

Another man who grew up in these times in England, and who from his
study-window at Oxford (where he had been Lecturer on Rhetoric) saw the
Great Fire of London in the shape of a vast, yellow, sulphurous-looking
cloud, of portentous aspect, rolling toward the zenith, and covering half
the sky, was Mr. John Locke.[93]

We are too apt, I think, to dismiss this author from our thoughts as a man
full only of dreary metaphysic subtleties; and support the belief with the
story that our Jonathan Edwards read his treatise on the _Human
Understanding_ with great delight at the age of fourteen. Yet Locke,
although a man of the keenest and rarest intellect--which almost
etherialized his looks--was possessed of a wonderful deal of what he would
have called “hard, round-about sense;” indeed it would be quite possible
to fill a whole calendar with bits of his printed talk that would be as
pitpat and common-sensical as anything in _Poor Richard’s Almanac_.
Moreover, he could, on occasions, tell a neat and droll story, which would
set the “table in a roar.”

Some facts in the life of this great thinker and writer are worth our
remembering, not only by reason of the fame of his books, but because in
all those years whose turbulent rush and corrupting influences have shown
themselves in our pages, John Locke lived an upright, manly,
self-respecting life, though brought into intimate relations with many
most prominent at court. He was born in Western England, north of the
Mendip Hills; and after fourteen years of quiet country life, and kind
parental training, among the orchard slopes of Somersetshire, went to
Westminster School; was many years thereafter at Oxford; studied medicine;
met Lord Ashley (afterward the great Shaftesbury--first party-leader in
English parliamentary history), who was so taken by the pale, intellectual
face of the young Doctor that he carried him off to London, and domiciled
him in his great house upon the Strand. There Locke directed the studies
of Ashley’s son; and presently--such was my Lord’s confidence in him--was
solicited to find a wife for the young gentleman;[94] which he did, to the
great acceptance of all parties, by taking him off into Rutlandshire, and
introducing him to a pretty daughter of the Earl of Rutland. Fancy the
author of an _Essay Concerning the Human Understanding_ setting off in a
coach, with six long-tailed Flemish horses, for a four days’ journey into
the north of England--with a young scion of the Ashleys--upon such an
errand as that! Our doctors in metaphysics do not, I believe, engage in
similar service; yet I suppose nice observation would disclose great and
curious mental activities in the evolution of such schemes.

The philosopher must have known Dryden, both being early members of the
Royal Society; but I have a fancy that Locke was a man who did not--save
on rarest occasions--take a pipe and a mug at such a place as Will’s
Coffee-house. His tastes led him more to banquets at Exeter House. There
was foreign travel, also, in which he accomplished himself in continental
languages and socialities; he had offers of diplomatic preferment, but his
doubtful health (always making him what over-well people call a fussy man)
forbade acceptance; else we might have had in him another Sir William
Temple. Shaftesbury interested him in his scheme of new planting the
Carolina colony in America; and John Locke drew up rules for its political
guidance. Some of these sound very drolly now. Thus--no man was to be a
freeman of Carolina unless he acknowledged a God, and agreed that he was
to be publicly and solemnly worshipped. The members of one church were not
to molest or persecute those of another. Again, “no one shall be permitted
to plead before a court of justice for money or reward.” What a howling
desert this would make of most of our courts!

Again, he writes with great zest upon the subject of Education, and almost
with the warmth of that old Roger Ascham, whose maxims I cited in one of
our earlier talks:

    “Till you can find a school wherein it is possible for the master to
    look after the manners of his scholars, and can show as great
    effects of his care of forming their minds to virtue, and their
    carriage to good breeding, as of forming their tongues to the
    learned languages, you must confess that you have a strange value
    for words, to hazard your sons’ innocence and virtue for a little
    Greek and Latin.”

And again:

    “I know not why anyone should waste his time and beat his head about
    the Latin grammar, who does not intend to be a critic, or make
    speeches, and write despatches in it. If his use of it be only to
    understand some books writ in it without a critical knowledge of the
    tongue itself, reading alone will attain his end, without charging
    his mind with the multiplied rules and intricacies of grammar.”…

    “If there may be any reasons against children’s making Latin themes
    at school, I have much more to say and of more weight against their
    making verses--verses of any sort. For if he has no genius to
    poetry, ’tis the most unreasonable thing in the world to torment a
    child and waste his time about that which can never succeed: and if
    he have a poetic vein--methinks the parents should labor to have it
    stifled: for if he proves a successful rhymer, and get once the
    reputation of a wit, I desire it may be considered what company and
    places he is likely to spend his time in--nay, and his estate too.”

By which I am more than ever convinced that Locke did not sup often with
Dryden at “Will’s,” and that you will find no pleasant verselets--look as
hard as you may--on a single page of his discourse on the _Human

When Charles grew suspicious of Shaftesbury, and the Earl was shorn of his
power, no little of the odium fell upon his _protégé_; and for a time
there was an enforced--or at least a very prudent--exile for Locke, at one
time in France and at another in Holland. It was on these absences that
his pen was busiest. In 1689 he returned to England in the trail of
William III.; came to new honors under that monarch; published his great
work, which had been simmering in his brain for ten years or more; made a
great fame at home and abroad, and wrote wisely on many topics. Meanwhile
his old enemy, the asthma, was afflicting him sorely. London smoke was a
torture to him; but when he went only so little distance away (twenty
miles northward) as the country home of his friends Sir Francis and Lady
Masham, a delightful calm came to him. He was given his own apartment
there; never did hosts more enjoy a guest; and never a guest enjoyed more
the immunities and kindnesses which Sir Francis and Lady bestowed upon
him. Twelve or fourteen years of idyllic life for the philosopher
followed, in the wooded alleys and upon the charming lawns of the old
manor-house of Oates, in the county of Essex; there were leisurely, coy
journeys to London; there were welcoming visits from old friends; there
was music indoors, and music--of the birds--without. Bachelors rarely come
to those quietudes and joys of a home-life which befell the old age of
Locke, and equipped all his latter days with such serenities as were a
foretaste of heaven.

He does not lie in Westminster Abbey: I think he would have rebelled among
the poets: he sleeps more quietly in the pretty church-yard of
High-Lavor, a little way off, northward, from the New Park of Epping

_End of the King and Others._

The lives of these two men--Dryden and Locke--have brought us past the
whole reach of Charles II.’s reign. That ignoble monarch has met his fate
courageously; some days before the immediate end he knew it was coming,
and had kind words for those about him.

He died on a Friday,[95] and on the Sunday before had held great revel in
the famous gallery of Whitehall; next day came the warnings, and then the
blow--paralytic, or other such--which shrivelled his showy powers, and
brought his swarthy face to a whiteness and a death-like pallor that
shocked those gay people who belonged in the palace. Then came the
scourging with hot iron, and the administration of I know not what foul
drugs that belonged to the blind medication of that day--all in vain;
there were suspicions of poison; but the poison he died of was of his own
making, and he had been taking it ever since boyhood.

A Catholic priest came to him stealthily and made the last promises to him
he was ever to hear. To a courtier, who came again and again, he
apologized--showing his courtesy to the last. “I’m an awful time in
dying,” he said; and to somebody else--his brother, perhaps--“don’t let
poor Nell Gwynne starve;” and so died.

James, the successor, was not loved--scarce by anyone; bigoted, obstinate,
selfish, he ran quickly through the short race of which the histories will
tell you. Only three years of it, or thereabout, and then--_presto!_ like
the changing of the scenes at Drury Lane Theatre in one of the splendid
spectacles of the day--James scuds away, and Cousin William (with his wife
Mary, both of the blood royal of England) comes in, and sets up a fashion
of rule, and an assured Protestant succession of regal names which is not
ended yet.

And now, in closing this talk, I will summon into presence once again some
of the notable personages who have given intellectual flavor to the years
we have gone over, and will call the roll of a few new names among those
actors who are to take in swift succession the places of those who
disappear. At the date where we now are--1688--the date of the last
English Revolution (who, pray, can predict the next?), the date of John
Bunyan’s death, the date of Alexander Pope’s birth--excellent
remembrancers, these!--at this epoch, I say, of the incoming of William
and Mary, all those dramatic writers--of whom we made mention as having
put a little tangled fringe of splendor about the great broidery of
Shakespeare’s work--were gone. So was Herrick, with his sweet poems, and
his pigs and tankards; and Howell, and Wotton, and the saintly George
Herbert, and dear, good, old Izaak Walton--all comfortably dead and
buried. So were Andrew Marvell, and the author of _Hudibras_. Archbishop
Laud was gone long since to the scaffold, with the fullest acquiescence of
all New Englanders; Jeremy Taylor gone--if ever man had right of way
there--to heaven; Milton dead; Cowley dead; Waller dead.

Old, ear-cropped Prynne, of the _Histriomastix_, was still living--close
upon seventy--grim and gray, and as pugnacious as a bull-terrier. Among
others lingering upon the downhill side of life were Robert Boyle and that
John Evelyn, whose love of the fields and gardens and trees had put long
life in his blood and brain. Sir William Temple, too, had still some years
of elegant distinction to coquet with; our old friend of the Pepysian
journal was yet alert--his political ambitions active, his eye-sight
failing--never thinking, we may be sure, that his pot-luck of a _Diary_
would keep him more savory with us to-day than all his wigs and his
coaches, and his fine acquaintance, and his great store of bric-à-brac.

Isaac Newton was not fifty yet, but had somehow lost that elasticity and
searchingness of brain which had untwisted the sunbeams, and solved the
riddle of gravitation. Bishop Burnet, and that William Penn whose name
ought to hold place on any American file of England’s worthies, were in
the full vigor of middle age. Daniel De Foe was some eight and twenty, and
known only as a sharp trader, who had written a few pamphlets, and who was
enrolled in those soldier ranks which went to greet William III. on his
arrival at Torbay.

Matthew Prior was still younger, and had made no show of those graces and
that art which gave him later an ambassador’s place, and a tomb and
monument in the “Poet’s Corner” of the Abbey. Jonathan Swift, then scarce
twenty-one, is unheard of as yet, and is nursing quietly the power and the
bitterness with which, through two succeeding reigns, he is to write and
rave and rage.

Still more youthful are those two promising lads, Addison and Steele,
listening with their sharp young ears to the fine verses of Mr. Dryden,
and watching and waiting for the day when they, too, shall say somewhat to
be of record for ages after them. And so, with these bright young fellows
at the front, and the excellent gray-heads I have named at the rear, we
ring down the curtain upon our present entertainment with an “_Exeunt


I have a fear that my readers were not overmuch interested in what I had
to say of that witty Dr. Thomas Fuller who wrote about the _Worthies of
England_, and who pressed his stalwart figure (for he was of the bigness
of our own Phillips Brooks--corporeal and mental) through many a London
crowd that came to his preachments. Yet his worthiness is something larger
than that which comes from his story of the _Worthies_.

Sir William Temple, too, is a name that can hardly have provoked much
enthusiasm, unless among those who love gardens, and who recall with rural
unction his horticultural experiences at Sheen, and at Moor Park in
Surrey. But that kindly, handsome, meditative, eccentric doctor of
Norwich--Sir Thomas Browne--was of a different and more lovable quality,
the memory of which I hope may find lodgement in the reader’s heart. His
_Religio Medici_, if not his _Hydriotaphia_, should surely find place in
every well-appointed library.

As for John Dryden--do what you like with his books; but do not forget
that he left behind him writings that show all the colors and reflect all
the follies and faiths of the days in which he lived--plays with a
portentous pomp of language--lyrics that were most melodious and most
unsavory--satire that flashed and cut like a sword, and odes that had the
roll and swell of martial music in them.

John Locke if less known, was worthier; and we have reason, which I tried
to show, for thinking of him as a pure-hearted, level-headed, high-minded
man--an abiding honor to his race.

_Kings Charles, James, and William._

It may help the reader to keep in memory the sequence of these English
sovereigns if I tell him somewhat of their relationship. James
II.--previously and longer known as that Duke of York, in honor of whom
our metropolitan city (in those days conquered from the Dutch) was called
New York--we know as only brother to Charles II., who died without
legitimate children. This James was as bigoted and obstinate as Charles
was profligate and suave. We think of him as having lost his throne in
that revolution of 1688, by reason of his popish tendencies; but it is
doubtful if Protestantism would have saved him, or made a better man of
him. He had married--and it was a marriage he tried hard to abjure and
escape from--a daughter of that Earl of Clarendon whose _History of the
Rebellion_ I named to you. There were two daughters by this marriage, Mary
and Anne; both of them, through the influence of their Clarendon
grandfather, brought up as Protestants. The elder of these, Mary, was a
fine woman, tall, dignified, graceful, cultivated--as times went--whose
greatest foible was a love for cards, at which she played for heavy
stakes, and--often. Her sister Anne shared the same foible, and gave it
cherishment all her life; but was not reckoned the equal of her elder
sister; had none of her grace; was short, dumpy, overfond of good dinners,
and with such limited culture as made her notelets (even when she came to
be Queen) full of blunders that would put a school-mistress of our day
into spasms. We shall meet her, and more pleasantly, again.

But Mary--heir next after James to the throne--had married William of
Orange, who was a fighting Dutch general; keen, cool, selfish, brave,
calculating, with an excellent head for business; cruel at times,
unscrupulous, too, but a good Protestant. He was great-grandson to that
famous William the Silent, whose story everyone has read, or should read,
in the pages of Motley.

But how came he, a Dutchman, and speaking English brokenly, to share the
British throne with Mary? There were two very excellent reasons: First, he
was own cousin to Mary, his mother having been a daughter of Charles I.;
and next, he had kingly notions of husbandship, and refused to go to
England on any throne-seeking errand, which might involve hard fighting,
without sharing to the full the sovereignty of his wife Mary.

So he did go as conqueror and king; there being most easy march to London;
the political scene changing like the turn of a kaleidoscope; but there
came fighting in Ireland, as at Londonderry and the battle of the Boyne;
and a brooding unrest in Scotland, of which, whenever you come to read or
study, you should mate your reading with that charming story of _Old
Mortality_--one of the best of Scott’s. Its scene reaches over from the
days of Charles II. to the early years of the Dutch King William, and sets
before one more vividly than any history all those elements of unrest with
which the new sovereign had to contend on his northern borders--the crazy
fanaticism of fierce Cameronians--the sturdy, cantankerous zeal of
Presbyterians--the workings of the old, hot, obstinate leaven of Prelacy,
and the romantic, lingering loyalty to a Stuart king.

But William ended by having all his kingdom well in hand, and all his
household too. There was strong affection between William and Mary; he
relishing her discretion, her reserves, and her culture; and she loving
enough to forget the harsh gauntleted hand which he put upon those who
were nearest and dearest to him. He was more military than diplomatic, and
I think believed in no Scripture more devoutly than in that which sets
forth the mandate, “Wives, obey your husbands.”

The King was not a strong man physically, though a capital soldier; he was
short, awkward, halting in movement, appearing best in the saddle and with
battle flaming in his front; he had asthma, too, fearfully; was
irritable--full of coughs and colds--building a new palace upon the flank
of Hampton Court, to get outside of London smoke and fogs; setting out
trees there, and digging ponds in Dutch style, which you may see now;
building Kensington, too, which was then out of town, and planting and
digging there--of which you may see results over the mouldy brick wall
that still hems in that old abode of royalty. He carried his asthma, and
dyspepsia, and smoking Dutch dragoons to both places. People thought
surely that the Queen, so well made and blessed with wonderful appetite,
would outlive him, and so give to the history of England a Mary II.; but
she did not. An attack of small-pox, not combated in those days by
vaccination, or even inoculation, carried her off on a short illness.

He grieved, as people thought so stern a master could not grieve; but
rallied and built to the Queen’s memory that most magnificent of
monuments, Greenwich Hospital, which shows its domes and its royal façade
stretching along the river bank, to the myriad of strangers who every year
sail up or down the Thames.

He made friends, too, with Princess Anne, the sister of the dead Queen,
and now heir to the throne. This Princess Anne (afterward Queen Anne) was
married to a prince of Denmark, only notable for doing nothing excellently
well; and was mother of a young lad, called Duke of Gloucester, whom all
England looked upon as their future king. And this little Duke, after
Queen Mary’s death, came to be presented at court in a blue velvet
costume, blazing all over with diamonds, of which one may get a good
notion from Sir Godfrey Kneller’s painting of him, now in Hampton Court.
But the velvet and the diamonds and best of care could not save the
weakly, blue-eyed, fair-cheeked, precocious lad; his precocity was a fatal
one, due to a big hydrocephalic head that bent him down and carried him to
the grave while William was yet King.

The Princess mother was in despair; was herself feeble, too; small, heavy,
dropsical, from all which she rallied, however, and at the death of
William, which occurred by a fall from his horse in 1702, came to be that
Queen Anne, who through no special virtues of her own, gave a name to a
great epoch in English history, and in these latter days has given a name
to very much architecture and furniture and crockery, which have as little
to do with her as they have with our King Benjamin of Washington.

I may have more to say of her when we shall have brought the literary
current of our story more nearly abreast of her times.

There was not much of literary patronage flowing out from King William. I
think there was never a time when he would not have counted a good
dictionary the best of books, not excepting the Bible; and I suspect that
he had about the same contempt for “literary fellers” which belongs to our
average Congressman. Yet there were shoals of poets in his time who would
have delighted to burn incense under the nostrils of the asthmatic King.

_Some Literary Fellows._

There was Prior,[96] for instance, who, from having been the son of a
taverner at Whitehall, came to be a polished wit, and at last an
ambassador, through the influence of strong friends about the court. In
his university days he had ventured to ridicule, in rattling verse, the
utterances of the great Dryden. You will know of him best, perhaps, if you
know him at all, by a paraphrase he made of that tender ballad of the
“Nut-brown Maid,” in which the charming naturalness of the old verse is
stuck over with the black patches of Prior’s pretty rhetoric. But I am
tempted to give you a fairer and a more characteristic specimen of his
vivacity and grace. Here it is:

    “What I speak, my fair Chloe, and what I write, shows
      The difference there is betwixt nature and art;
    I court _others_ in verse; but I love _thee_ in prose;
      And _they_ have my whimsies, but _thou_ hast my heart.
    So when I am wearied with wandering all day,
      To thee, my delight, in the evening I come,
    No matter what beauties I saw in my way;
      They were but my _visits_, and thou art my home.”

Remember, these lines were written by a poet, who on an important occasion
represented the Government of Queen Anne at the great court of Louis XIV.
of France. This Prior--when Queen Mary died--had his consolatory verses
for King William. Indeed that death of Queen Mary set a great deal of
poetry upon the flow. There was William Congreve,[97] who though a young
man, not yet turned of thirty, had won a great rank in those days by his
witty comedies. He wrote a pastoral--cleaner than most of his writing--in
honor of William’s lost Queen:

    “No more these woods shall with her sight be blest,
    Nor with her feet these flowery plains be prest;
    No more the winds shall with her tresses play,
    And from her balmy breath steal sweets away.
    Oh, she was heavenly fair, in face and mind,
    Never in nature were such beauties joined;
    Without--all shining, and within--all white;
    Pure to the sense, and pleasing to the sight;
    Like some rare flower, whose leaves all colors yield,
    And--opening--is with sweetest odors filled.”

Yet all this would have comforted the King not half so much as a whiff of
smoke from the pipe of one of his Dutch dragoons. He never went to see one
of Mr. Congreve’s plays, though the whole town was talking of their
neatness, and their skill, and their wit. That clever gentleman’s
conquests on the stage, and in the social world--lording it as he did
among duchesses and countesses--would have weighed with King William not
so much as the buzzing of a blue-bottle fly.

Yet Congreve was in his way an important man--immensely admired; Voltaire
said he was the best comedy writer England had ever known; and when he
came to London this keen-witted Frenchman (who rarely visited) went to see
Mr. Congreve at his rooms in the Strand. Nothing was too good for Mr.
Congreve; he had patronage and great gifts; it seemed always to be raining
roses on his head. The work he did was not great work, but it was
exquisitely done; though, it must be said, there was no preserving savor
in it but the art of it. The talk in his comedies, by its pliancy, grace,
neat turns, swiftness of repartee, compares with the talk in most comedies
as goldsmith’s work compares with the heavy forgings of a blacksmith. It
matches exquisitely part to part, and runs as delicately as a hair-spring
on jewelled pinions.

I gave my readers a bit of the “Pandora Lament,” which Sir Richard Steele
thought one of the most perfect of all pastoral compositions. And the
little whimsey about Amoret, everybody knows; certainly it is best known
of all he did:

    “Coquet and coy at once her air,
      Both studied, tho’ both seemed neglected;
    Careless she is with artful care,
      Affecting to seem unaffected.
    With skill her eyes dart every glance,
      Yet change so soon, you’d ne’er suspect ’em,
    For she’d persuade they wound by chance,
      Tho’ certain aim and art direct them.”

They are very pretty; yet are you not sure that our wheezing, phlegmatic,
business-loving, Dutch King William would have sniffed contemptuously at
the reading of any such verselets?

_A Pamphleteer._

A writer, however, of that time, of about the same age with Congreve, whom
King William did favor, and did take at one period into his
confidence,--and one of whose books, at least, you all have liked at some
epoch of your life, and thought quite wonderful and charming--I must tell
you more about. His presence counted for nothing; he was short, wiry,
hook-nosed--not anyway elegant; Mr. Congreve would have scorned
association with him. He was the son of a small butcher in London, and had
never much schooling; but he was quick of apprehension, always eager to
inform himself; bustling, shrewd, inquisitive, with abundance of what we
call “cheek.” He never lacked simple, strong language to tell just what he
thought, or what he knew; and he never lacked the courage to put his
language into print or into speech, as the case might be.

By dint of his dogged perseverance and much natural aptitude he came to
know Latin and Spanish and Italian, and could speak French, such as it
was, very fluently. He was well up in geography and history, and such
science as went into the books of those days. He wrote sharp, stinging
pamphlets about whatever struck him as wrong, or as wanting a good slap,
whether in morals, manners, or politics.

He was in trade, which took him sometimes into France, Spain, or Flanders.
He could tell everyone how to make money and how to conduct business
better than he could do either himself. He had his bankruptcies, his
hidings, his compoundings with creditors, and his times in prison; but he
came out of all these experiences with just as much animation and pluck
and assurance as he carried into them.

There was a time when he was advertised as a fugitive, and a reward
offered for his apprehension--all due to his sharp pamphlet-writing; and
he was apprehended and had his fines to pay, and stood in the pillory; but
the street-folk, with a love for his pluck and for his trenchant, homely,
outspokenness, garnished the pillory with flowers and garlands. It was
this power of incisive speech, and his capacity to win audience of the
street-people, that made King William value his gifts and put them to

But I cannot tell of the half he wrote. Now it was upon management of
families; again an _Essay on Projects_--from which Dr. Franklin used to
say he derived a great many valuable hints--then upon a standing army;
then upon the villainies of stock-jobbery. What he called poems, too, he
wrote, with a harsh jingle of rhymes; one specially, showing that--

    “as the world goes, and is like to go, the best way for Ladies is to
    keep unmarried, for I will ever expose,” he says, “these infamous,
    impertinent, cowardly, censorious, sauntering _Idle wretches_,
    called _Wits_ and _Beaux_, the _Plague_ of the nation and the
    _Scandal_ of mankind.” But, he continues, “if Lesbia is sure she has
    found a man of _Honor_, _Religion_ and _Virtue_, I will never forbid
    the _Banns_: Let her love him as much as she pleases, and value him
    as an _Angel_, and be married to-morrow if she will.”

Again, he has a whole volume of _Advice to English Tradesmen_, as to how
to manage their shops and bargainings; and it gives one a curious notion
of what was counted idle extravagance in that day to read his description
of the extraordinary and absurd expenditure of a certain insane

    “It will hardly be believed,” he says, “in ages to come, that the
    fitting of his shop has cost 300 pounds! I have good authority for
    saying that this spendthrift has sash-windows all of looking-glass
    plate twelve inches by sixteen--two large pier looking-glasses, and
    one very large pier-glass seven feet high; and all the walls of the
    shop are lined up with galley tiles.”

He advises a young apothecary who has not large acquaintance to hire a
stout man to pound in a big mortar (though he may have nothing to pound)
all the early hours of the morning, and all the evening, as if he were a
man of great practice. Then, in his _Family Instructor_, he advises
against untruth and all hypocrisies; and he compresses sharp pamphlets
into the shape of a leading article--is, in fact, the first man to design
“leading articles,” which he puts into his _Review_ or _Indicator_, in
which periodicals he saves a corner for well-spiced gossip and scandal, to
make--he says--the “paper relished by housewives.” He interviews all the
cut-throats and thieves encountered in prison, and tells stories of their
lives. I think he was the first and best of all interviewers; but not the
last! Fifty of these pages of mine would scarce take in the mere titles
of the books and pamphlets he wrote. His career stretched far down
throughout Queen Anne’s days, and was parallel with that of many worthy
men of letters, I shall have to mention; yet he knew familiarly none of
them. Swift, who knew everybody he thought worth knowing, speaks of him as
an illiterate fellow, whose name he has forgotten; and our pamphleteer
dies at last--in hiding--poor, embroiled with his family, and sought by
very few--unless his creditors.

I do not suppose you have read much that he wrote except one book; that, I
know you have read; and this bustling, bouncing, inconsistent,
indefatigable, unsuccessful, earnest scold of a man was named Daniel
Defoe;[98] and the book you have read is _Robinson Crusoe_--loved by all
boys better than any other book; and loved by all girls, I think, better
than any other book--that has no love in it.

You will wonder, perhaps, that a man without academic graces of speech
should have made a book that wears so and that wins so. But it wears and
wins, because--for one thing--it is free from any extraneous graces of
rhetoric; because he was not trying to write a fine book, but only to tell
in clearest way a plain story. And if you should ever have any story of
your own to tell, and want to tell it well, I advise you to take _Robinson
Crusoe_ for a model; if you ever want to make a good record of any
adventures of your own by sea, or by land, I advise you to take _Robinson
Crusoe_ for a model; and if you do, you will not waste words in painting
sunsets, or in decorating storms and sea-waves; but, without your
straining, and by the simple colorless truth of your language, the sunsets
will show their glow, and the storms rise and roar, and the waves dash and
die along the beach as they do in nature.

_Of Queen Anne._

Though not in great favor with the courtiers of Queen Anne, Defoe did
serve her government effectively upon the Commission in Edinburgh, which
brought about in this Queen’s time (and to her great honor) the
legislative union of England and Scotland. She came, you know, to be
called the “Good Queen Anne;” and we must try and get a better glimpse of
her before we push on with our literary story. Royal duties brought more
ripeness of character than her young days promised. I have said that she
was not so attractive personally as her sister Mary; not tall, but heavy
in figure--not unlike the present good Queen of England, but less active
by far; sometimes dropsical--gouty, too, and never getting over a strong
love for the table. She had great waves of brown hair--ringleted and
flowing over her shoulders; and she had an arm and hand which Sir Godfrey
Kneller--who painted her--declared to be the finest in all England; and
whoso is curious in such matters can still see that wonderful hand and arm
in her portrait at Windsor. Another charm she possessed was a singularly
sweet and sympathetic voice; and she read the royal messages to the high
court of Parliament with a music that has never been put in them since. If
she had written them herself, I am afraid music would not have saved them;
for she was not strong-minded, and was a shallow student; she _would_
spell phonetically, and played havoc with the tenses. Nor was she rich in
conversation, or full. Swift--somewhere in his journal--makes merry with
her disposition to help out--as so many of us do--by talk about the
weather; and there is a story that when, after King William’s death, the
great Marquis of Normanby came on a visit of sympathy and gratulation to
the new sovereign, the Queen, at an awkward pause, piped out, in her sweet
voice: “It’s a fine day, Marquis!” Whereat the courtier, who was more full
of dainty speech, said--in pretty recognition of its being the first day
of her reign--“Your Majesty must allow me to say that it’s the finest day
I ever saw in my life!” But this good Queen was full of charities, always
beloved, and never failed to show that best mark of real ladyhood--the
utmost courtesy and kindliness of manner to dependants and to her

_An Irish Dragoon._

Among the writers specially identified with this Queen’s reign was Sir
Richard Steele;[99] not a grand man, or one of large influence; and yet
one so kindly by nature, and so gracious in his speech and writing, that
the world is not yet done with pardoning, and loving, and pitying that
elegant author of the _Tatler_--though he was an awful spendthrift, and a
fashionable tippler, and a creature of always splendid, and always broken,

He was Irish born; was schooled at the Charter-house in London, where he
met with that other master of delicate English, Joseph Addison--they being
not far from the same age--and knitting a boy friendship there which
withstood a great many shocks of manhood. They were together at Oxford,
too, but not long; for Steele, somehow, slipped College early and became a
trooper, and learned all the ways of the fast fellows of the town. With
such a training--on the road to which his Irish blood led him with great
jollity--one would hardly have looked to him for any early talk about the
life of a true _Christian Hero_. But he did write a book so entitled, in
those wild young days, as a sort of kedge anchor, he says, whereby he
might haul out from the shoals of the wicked town, and indulge in a sort
of contemplative piety. It was and is a very good little book;[100] but it
did not hold a bit, as an anchor. And when he came to be joked about his
Christian Heroship, he wrote plays (perhaps to make averages good) more
moral and cleanly than those of Etherege or Wycherley--with bright things
in them; but not enough of such, or of orderly proprieties, to keep them
popular. Of course, this fun-loving, dusky, good-hearted, broad-shouldered
Irish trooper falls in love easily; marries, too, of a sudden, some West
Indian lady, who dies within a year, leaving him a Barbadoes estate--said
to be large--does look large to Captain Steele through his cups--but
which gives greater anxieties than profits, and is a sort of castle in
Spain all through his life. With almost incredible despatch--after this
affliction--he is in love again; this time with the only daughter of a
rich Welsh lady. This is his famous Prue, who plays the coquette with him
for a while; but writes privily to her anxious mamma that she “can _never,
never_ love another;” that “he is not high--nor rich--but so dutiful; and
for his morals and understanding [she says] I refer you to his _Christian

Steele’s marriage comes of it--a marriage whose ups and downs, and lights
and shadows have curious and very graphic illustration in the storm of
notelets which he wrote to his wife--on bill-heads, perfumed paper, tavern
reckonings--all, singularly enough, in existence now, and carefully kept
in the Library of the British Museum.

Here is a part of one, written just before his marriage:

    “Madam, it is the hardest thing in the World to be in Love, and yet
    attend Business. As for me all that speak to me find me out.… A
    gentleman ask’d me this morning what news from Lisbon, and I
    answered, ‘She’s exquisitely handsome.’” Here’s another--after
    marriage: “Dear Prue, I enclose two guineas, and will come home
    exactly at seven. Yrs tenderly.” And again: “Dear Prue, I enclose
    five guineas, but cannot come home to dinner. Dear little woman,
    take care of thyself, and eat and drink cheerfully.” Yet again:
    “Dear Prue, if you do not hear of me before three to-morrow, believe
    that I am too [tipsy] to obey your orders; but, however, know me to
    be your most affectionate, faithful husband.”

It is more promising for a man to speak of his own tippling than to have
others speak of it; nor was this writer’s sinning in that way probably
beyond the average in his time. But he was of that mercurial temperament
which took wine straight to the brain; and so was always at bad odds with
those men of better digestion (such as Swift and Addison) who were only
tickled effusively with such bouts as lifted the hilarious Captain Steele
into a noisy effervescence.

There are better and worse letters than those I have read; but never any
lack of averment that he enjoys most of anything in life his wife’s
delightful presence--but can’t get home, really cannot; some excellent
fellows have come in, or he is at the tavern--business is important; and
she is always his charming Prue; and always he twists a little wordy
aureole of praise about her head or her curls. I suppose she took a deal
of comfort out of his tender adjectives; but I think she learned early not
to sit up for him, and got over that married woe with great alacrity.
There is evidence that she loved him throughout; and other evidence that
she gave him some moral fisticuffs--when he did get home--which made his
next stay at the tavern easier and more defensible.

But he loved his Prue, in his way, all her life through, and showed a
beautiful fondness for his children. In that budget of notelets I spoke of
(and which the wife so carefully cherished), are some charming ones to his
children: thus he writes to his daughter Elizabeth, whose younger sister,
Mary, has just begun to put her initials, M. S., to messages of love to

    “Tell her I am delighted: tell her how many fine things those two
    letters stand for when she writes them: _M. S._ is _milk and sugar_;
    _mirth and safety_; _musick and songs_; _meat and sauce_, as well as
    _Molly and Spot_, and _Mary and Steele_. You see I take pleasure in
    conversing with you by prattling anything to divert you.

                                                         Yr aff. father.”

But you must not think Steele was a man of no importance save in his own
family. His friends counted by scores and hundreds; he had warm patrons
among the chiefest men of the time; had political preferment and places of
trust and profit, far better than his old captaincy; could have lived in
handsome style and without anxieties, if his reckless kindnesses and
convivialities had not made him improvident.

_Steele’s Literary Qualities._

Nor must we forget the work by which he is chiefly known, I mean his
establishment of the _Tatler_--the forerunner of all those delightful
essays which went to the making of the _Spectator_ and the _Guardian_;
these latter having the more credit for their dignity and wise reticence,
but the _Tatler_ being more vivacious, and quite as witty. Addison came to
the help of Steele in the _Tatler_, and Steele, afterward joined forces
with Addison in the _Spectator_. I happen to be the owner of a very old
edition of these latter essays, in whose “Table of Contents” some staid
critic of the last generation has written his (or her) comments on the
various topics discussed; and I find against the papers of Addison, such
notes as--“_instructive_, _sound_, _judicious_;” and against those of
Steele, I am sorry to say, such words as “_flighty_, _light_, _witty_,
_graceful_, _worthless_;” and I am inclined to think the criticisms are
pretty well borne out by the papers; but if _flighty_ and _light_, he was
not unwholesome; and he did not always carry the rollicking ways of the
tavern into the little piquant journalism, where the grave and excellent
Mr. Addison presided with him. Nay, there are better things yet to be said
of him. He argued against the sin and folly of duelling with a force and
pungency that went largely to stay that evil; and he never touches a
religious topic that his manner does not take on an awe and a respect
which belongs to the early pages of the _Christian Hero_. There are
touches of pathos, too, in his writing, quite unmatchable; but straight
and quick upon these you are apt to catch sound of the jingling spurs of
the captain of dragoons. Thus, in that often quoted allusion to his
father’s death (which happened in his boyhood), he says:

    “I went into the room where his body lay, and my mother sat weeping
    alone by it. I had my battledore in my hand, and fell a beating the
    coffin, and calling ‘Papa.’… My mother catched me in her arms, and
    almost smothered me in her embraces, and told me, in a flood of
    tears, ‘Papa could not hear me, and would play with me no more.’”

This is on page 364 of the _Tatler_, and on page 365 he says: “A large
train of disasters were coming into my memory, when my servant knocked at
my closet door, and interrupted me with a letter, attended with a hamper
of wine, of the same sort with that which is to be put to sale on Thursday
next, at Garraway’s coffee-house.” And he sends for three of his
friends--which was so like him!

So he goes through life--a kindly, good-hearted, tender, intractable,
winning fellow; talking, odd-whiles, piously--spending freely--drinking
fearlessly--loving widely--writing archly, wittily, charmingly.

We have a characteristic glimpse of him in his later years--for he lived
far down into the days of the Georges (one of whom gave him his knighthood
and title)--when he is palsied, at his charming country home in Wales, and
totters out to see the village girls dance upon the green, and insists
upon sending off to buy a new gown for the best dancer; this was so like
him! And it would have been like him to carry his palsied steps straight
thereafter to the grave where his Prue and the memory of all his married
joys and hopes lay sleeping.

_Joseph Addison._

Addison’s character was, in a measure, the complement of Steele’s. He was
coy, dignified, reticent--not given to easy familiarities at sight--nor
greatly prone to over-fondling. He was the son of an English rector down
in Wiltshire; was born in a cottage still standing in Milston--a few miles
north of Salisbury. He was a Charter-house boy and Oxford man; had great
repute there as scholar--specially as Latinist--became a Fellow--had great
Whig friends, who, somehow, secured him a pension, with which he set out
upon European travel; and he wrote about what he saw in Italy, and other
parts, in a way that is fresh and readable now. He was a year or two
younger than Congreve, and a few weeks[101] only younger than Steele;
nine years younger than De Foe, of whom it is probable he never knew or
cared to know.

Very early in his career Addison had the aid of Government friends: his
dignity of carriage gave them assurance; his reticence forbade fear of
babbling; his elegant pen gave hope of good service; and he came to high
political task-work--first, in those famous verses where he likens the
fighting hero, Marlborough--then fresh from Blenheim--to the angel, who,

                “----by Divine command,
    With rising tempests shakes a guilty land,
    And pleased th’ Almighty’s orders to perform,
    Rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm.”

That poem took him out from scholarly obscurity, and set him well afoot in
the waiting-rooms of statesmen. Poetry, however, was not to be his office;
though, some years after, he did win the town by the academic beauties of
his tragedy of “Cato”--the memory of which has come bobbing down over
school-benches, by the “Speech of Sempronius,” to days some of us

          “----My voice is still for war!
    Gods, can a Roman Senate long debate
    Which of the two to choose--slavery or death!”

I suppose that speech may have slipped out of modern reader-books; but it
used to make one of the stock declamations, on which ambitious school-boys
of my time spent great floods of fervid elocution.

Addison wrote somewhat, as I have said, for Steele’s first periodic
venture in the _Tatler_, attracted by its opportunities and the graces of
it; and they together plotted and carried into execution the publication
of the _Spectator_. I trust that its quiet elegance has not altogether
fallen away from the knowledge of this generation of young people. Dr.
Johnson, you know, said of its Addison papers, that whoever would write
English well should give his days and nights to their perusal. Yet such a
journal could and would never succeed now: it does not deal with questions
of large and vital interest; its sentences do not crackle and blaze with
the heat we look for in the preachments of our time. Its leisurely
discourse--placid as summer brooks--would beguile us to sleep. A ream of
old _Spectators_ discussing proprieties and modesties would not put one of
our daring ball-room belles to the blush. The talk of these old gentlemen
about the minor morals were too mild, perhaps too merciful; yet it is well
to know of them; and one can go to a great many worse quarters than the
_Spectator_, even now, for proper hints about etiquette, manners, and
social proprieties.

_Sir Roger De Coverley._

Whatever other writings of these gallant gentlemen and teachers of Queen
Anne’s time the reader may have upon his shelves, he cannot do better than
equip them with that little story (excerpted from the _Spectator_) of “Sir
Roger De Coverley.” No truer or more winning picture of worthy old English
knighthood can you find anywhere in literature; nowhere such a tender
twilight color falling through books upon old English country homes. Those
papers made the scaffolding by which our own Irving built up his best
stories about English country homesteads, and English revels of Christmas;
and the De Coverley echoes sound sweetly and surely all up and down the
pages of _Bracebridge Hall_.

The character of Sir Roger will live forever--so gracious--so
courteous--so dignified--so gentle: his servants love him, and his dogs,
and his white gelding.

    “It being a cold day,” says his old butler, “when he made his will,
    he left for mourning to every man in the parish a great frieze coat,
    and to every woman a black riding-hood. Captain Sentry showed great
    kindnesses to the old house-dog my master was so fond of. It would
    have gone to your heart to have heard the moans the dumb creature
    made on the day of my master’s death. He has never joyed himself
    since--no more has any of us.”

Yet there were plenty of folks who sneered at these papers even then--as
small--not worthy of notice. That great, bustling, slashing, literary
giant, Dean Swift, says to Mistress Hester Johnson, “Do you read the
_Spectators_? I never do; they never come in my way. They say abundance of
them are very pretty.” “Very pretty!” a vast many satiric shots have been
fired off to that tune. And yet Swift and Addison had been as friendly as
two men so utterly unlike could be.

To complete the De Coverley picture, and give it relish in the boudoirs of
the time, the authors paint the old knight in love--delicately, but deeply
and wofully in love--with a certain unnamed widow living near him, and
whose country house overlooks the park of the De Coverley estate.

    “Oh, the many moonlight nights that I have walked by myself, and
    thought on the widow, by the music of the nightingales!”

This sounds like Steele. And the old knight leaves to her

    “Whom he has loved for forty years, a pearl necklace that was his
    mother’s, and a couple of silver bracelets set with jewels.”

This episode has an added interest, because about those times the
dignified and coy Mr. Addison was very much bent upon marrying the elegant
Lady Warwick, whose son had been correspondent--perhaps pupil of his. He
did not bounce into marriage--like Steele--with his whole heart in his
eyes and his speech; it was a long pursuit, and had its doubtful stages;
six years before the affair really came about, he used to write to the
Warwick lad about the tom-tits, and the robin-redbreasts, and their pretty
nests, and the nightingales. But Addison, more or less fortunate than Sir
Roger, does win the widow’s hand, and has a sorry time of it with her. She
never forgets to look a little down upon him, and he never forgets a keen
knowledge of it.

He has the liberty, however, after his marriage--with certain
limitations--of a great fine home at Holland House, which is one of the
few old country houses still standing in London, in the midst of the
gardens, where Addison used to walk, in preference to my Lady’s chamber.
His habits were to study of a morning--dine at a tavern; then to Button’s
coffee-house, near to Covent Garden, for a meet with his cronies; and
afterward--when the spectre of marriage was real to him--to the tavern
again, and to heavier draughts than he was wont to take in his young days.

Pope said he was charming in his talk; but never so in mixed company;
never when the auditors were so new or so many as to rouse his
self-consciousness; this tied his tongue; but with one or two he knew
well, the stream of the _Spectator’s_ talk flowed as limpidly as from his

He was not a great student; Bentley would have laughed at hearing him
called so. But he could use the learning he had with rare deftness, and
make more out of a page of the ancients than Bentley could make out of a
volume. His graces of speech, and aptitude for using a chance nugget of
knowledge, made him subject of sneer from those who studied hard and long.
A man who beats his brains against books everlastingly, without great
conquests, is apt to think lightly of the gifts of one like Addison, who
by mere impact gets a gracious send-off into elegant talk.

If one has read nothing else of Addison’s, I think he may read with profit
the “Vision of Mirza.” That, too, used to be one of the jewels in the
ancient reader-books, and had so many of the graces of a story, that the
book--my book at least--used to fall open of itself on those pages where
began the wonderful vision in the Valley of Bagdad.

Though more years have passed since my reading of it than I dare tell, yet
at the bare mention of the name I seem to see the great clouds of mist
which gather on the hither and the thither sides of the valley: I see the
haunting Genius in the costume of a shepherd, who from his little musical
instrument makes sounds that are exceeding sweet.

Then I seem to see the prodigious tide of water rolling through the
valley, and the long bridge with the crumbling arches stretching athwart
the stream, and the throngs of people crowding over, and falling and
slipping into the angry tide--which is the tide of death; I see that the
larger number fall through into the waters, when they have scarce passed
over a single arch of the bridge. But whatever may befall, always the
throng is pressing on, and always the thousands are dropping away and
disappearing in the gulf that sweeps below. I see that, though some few
hobble along painfully upon the furthermost and half-broken arches that
stand in the flood, not one of all the myriads passes over in safety; and
I behold again (with Mirza) that beyond--far beyond, where the clouds of
mist have lifted--lies a stretch of placid water, with islands covered
with fruits and flowers, and a thousand little shining seas run in and
out among these Islands of the Blessed. And when I look the other way, to
see what may lie under the other and darker clouds of mist, lo! the
shepherd who has conjured the Vision is gone; and instead of the rolling
tide, the arched bridge, the crowding myriads, I see nothing but the long,
hollow Valley of Bagdad, with oxen, sheep, and camels grazing upon the
sides of it. It seemed to me, fifty years ago, that a man who could make
such visions appear, ought to keep on making them appear, all his life

I have said nothing of the political life of Addison; there are no high
lights in it that send their flashes down to us. He held places, indeed,
of much consideration; his aptitudes, his courtesies, his discretion, his
sagacities always won respect; but he was never a force in politics; the
only time he attempted parliamentary speaking he broke down; but with a
pen in his hand he never broke down until failing health and latter-day
anxieties of many sorts shook his power. I have already hinted at the
probable infelicities of his late and distinguished marriage; whatever
else may be true of it (and authorities are conflicting), it certainly
did not bring access of youth or ambition or joyousness.

In his later years, too, there came a quarrel with his old friend
Steele--cutting more deeply into the heart of this reticent man than it
could cut into the much-scarified heart of that impressionist, the author
of the _Tatler_; there were stories, too, pretty well supported, that
Addison in those last weary days of his--feeble and asthmatic--drank
over-freely, to spur his jaded mind up to a level with the talk of
sympathizing friends.

Pope, too, in those times, had possibly aggravated the quiet, calm
essayist, with the sting of his splendid but scorpion pen;[102] and all
accounts assure us that Addison (though under fifty) did give a most
kindly welcome to death. The story told by Young, and repeated by Dr.
Johnson, of his summoning young Warwick to see how a Christian could die,
is very likely apocryphal. It was not like him; this modest philosopher
never made himself an exemplar of the virtues. We know, however, that he
died calmly and tranquilly. Who can hope for more?

Not many legacies have come down to us from those days of Queen Anne which
are worthier than his; and all owe gratitude to him for at least one
shining page in all our hymnals: it will keep the name of Addison among
the stars.

    “The spacious firmament on high,
    With all the blue ethereal sky,
    And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
    Their great Original proclaim.
    Th’ unwearied sun, from day to day,
    Does his Creator’s power display,
    And publishes to every land
    The work of an Almighty hand.

    “Soon as the evening shades prevail,
    The moon takes up the wondrous tale;
    And, nightly, to the listening earth,
    Repeats the story of her birth;
    Whilst all the stars that round her burn,
    And all the planets in their turn,
    Confirm the tidings as they roll,
    And spread the truth from pole to pole.”


In our last talk we had an opening skirmish with a group of royal people;
we saw James II. flitting away ignominiously from a throne he could not
fill or hold; we saw that rough fighter, the opinionated William III.,
coming to his honors--holding hard, and with gauntleted hand, his amiable
consort, Queen Mary. I spoke of the relationship of these two; also had
some fore-words about Mary’s sister, the future Queen Anne, and about the
death of her boy, the little Duke of Gloucester.

I had something to say of that easy and artful poet, Matthew Prior, who
smartly wrote his way, by judicious panegyrics and well-metred song, from
humble station to that of ambassador at the court of France. We had a
taste of the elegant Congreve, and said much of that bouncer of a man
Daniel De Foe; the character of this latter we cannot greatly esteem--but
when can we cease to admire the talent that gave to us the story of
_Robinson Crusoe_?

Then I spoke to you of Sir Richard Steele--poor Steele! poor Prue! And I
spoke also of his friend Addison, the courtly, the reticent, the graceful,
and the good. All of these men outlived William and Mary; all of them
shone--in their several ways--through the days of Queen Anne.

_Royal Griefs and Friends._

Mary, consort of William III., died some six years before the close of the
century; she was honestly mourned for by the nation; and I cited some of
the tender music which belonged to certain poetic lamentations at the
going off of the gentle Queen. The little boy prince, Gloucester,
presumptive heir to the throne, died in 1700 (so did John Dryden and Sir
William Temple). Scarce two years thereafter and William III.--who was
invalided in his latter days, and took frequent out-of-door exercise--was
thrown from his horse in passing over the roads--not so smooth as
now--between Hampton Court and Kensington. There was some bone-breakage
and bruises, which, like a good soldier, he made light of. In the enforced
confinement that followed, he struggled bravely to fulfil royal duties;
but within a fortnight, as he listened to Albemarle, who brought news
about affairs in Holland, it was observed that his eyes wandered, and his
only comment--whose comments had always been like hammer-strokes--was,
“I’m drawing to the end.”[103] Two days after he died.

Then the palace doors opened for that “good,” and certainly weak, Queen
Anne, whose name is so intimately associated with what is called “the
Augustan age” of English letters, and whose personal characteristics have
already been subjects of mention. She was hardly recovered from her grief
at the death of her prince-boy, and was supported at her advent upon
royalty by that conspicuous friend of her girl years and constant
associate, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough. It would be hard to reach any
proper understanding of social and court influences in Anne’s time,
without bringing into view the sharp qualities of this First Lady of her
Chamber. Very few historians have a good word to say for her. She was the
wife of that illustrious general, John of Marlborough, whom we all
associate with his important victories of Blenheim and of Ramillies; and
in whose honor was erected the great memorial column in the Park of
Woodstock, where every American traveller should go to see remnants of an
old royal forest, and to see also the brilliant palace of Blenheim, with
its splendid trophies, all given by the nation--at the warm urgence of
Queen Anne--in honor of the conquering general.

You know the character of Marlborough--elegant, selfish, politic,
treacherous betimes, brave, greedy, sagacious, and avaricious to the last
degree. He made a great figure in William’s time, and still greater in
Anne’s reign; his Duchess, too, figured conspicuously in her court. She
was as enterprising as the Duke, and as money-loving--having smiles and
frowns and tears at command, by which she wheedled or swayed whom she
would. She did not believe in charities that went beyond the house of
Marlborough; in fact, this ancestress of the Churchills was reckoned by
most as a harpy and an elegant vampire. Never a Queen was so beleaguered
with such a friend; she was keeper of the privy purse, and Anne found it
hard (as current stories ran) to get money from her for her private
charities; hard, indeed, to dispose of her cast-off silken robes as she
desired. Why, you ask, did she not blaze up into a flame of anger and of
resolve, and bid the Duchess, once for all, begone? Why are some women
born weak and patient of the chains that bind them? And why are others
born with a cold, imperious disdain and power that tells on weaklings, and
makes the space all round them glitter with their sovereignty?

When this Sarah of Marlborough was first in waiting upon the Princess
Anne, neither Duke nor Duchess (without titles then) could count enough
moneys between them to keep a private carriage for their service; and
before the Duke died their joint revenues amounted to £94,000 per annum.

Then the great park at Woodstock became ducal property. I have said it was
richly worth visiting; its encircling wall is twelve miles in length; the
oaks are magnificent; the artificial waters skirt gardens and shrubberies
that extend over three hundred acres; the grass is velvety; the fallow
deer are in troops of hundreds. And one must remember, in visiting the
locality, that there stood the ancient and renowned royal mansion of Henry
II.--that there was born the Black Prince--and, very probably, Chaucer may
have wandered thereabout, and studied the “daisies white,” and listened to
the whirring of the pheasants--a wood-music one may hear now in all the
remoter alleys.

How many hundred thousands were expended upon the new Blenheim palace,
built in Anne’s time, I will not undertake to compute. The paintings
gathered in it--spoils of the great Duke’s military marches--interest
everyone; but the palace is as cold and stately and unhome-like and
unloveable as was the Duchess herself.

_Builders and Streets._

Sir John Vanbrugh[104] was the architect of Blenheim, and you will
recognize his name as that of one of the popular comedy writers of Queen
Anne’s time, who not only wrote plays, but ran a theatre which he built at
the Haymarket. It was not so successful as the more famous one which
stands thereabout now; the poor architect, too, had a good many buffets
from the stinging Duchess of Marlborough; and some stings besides from
Swift’s waspish pen, which the amiable Duchess did not allow him to

Another architect of these times, better worth our remembering--for his
constructive abilities--was Sir Christopher Wren, who designed some forty
of the church-spires now standing in London; and he also superintended the
construction of the Cathedral of St. Paul’s, which had been steadily
growing since a date not long after the great fire--thirty-five years
intervening between the laying of the foundations and the lifting of the
cross to the top of the lantern. It is even said that, when he was well
upon ninety, Wren supervised some of the last touches upon this noble
monument to his fame.[105]

There was not so much smoke in London in those days--the consumption of
coal being much more limited--and the great cross could be seen from
Notting Hill, and from the palace windows at Kensington. The Queen never
abandoned this royal residence; and from the gravel road by which
immediate entrance was made, stretched away the waste hunting ground,
afterward converted into the grassy slopes of Hyde Park--stagnant pools
and marshy thickets lying in place of what is now the Serpentine. People
living at Reading in that day--whence ladies now come in for a morning’s
shopping and back to lunch--did then, in seasons of heaviest travelling,
put two days to the journey; and joined teams, and joined forces and
outriders, to make good security against the highwaymen that infested the
great roads leading from that direction into the town. Queen Anne herself
was beset and robbed near to Kew shortly before she came to the throne;
and along Edgeware Road, where are now long lines of haberdasher shops,
and miles of gas-lamps, were gibbets, on which the captured and executed
highwaymen were hung up in warning.

_John Gay._

Some of these highwaymen were hung up in literature too, and made a figure
there; but not, I suspect, in way of warning. It was the witty Dean Swift
who suggested to the brisk and frolicsome poet, John Gay, that these
gentlemen of the high-road would come well into a pastoral or a comedy;
and out of that suggestion came, some years later, “The Beggar’s Opera,”
with Captain Macheath for a hero, that took the town by storm--ran for
sixty and more successive nights, and put its musical, saucy songlets
afloat in all the purlieus of London. It was, indeed, the great forerunner
of our ballad operas; much fuller, indeed, of grime and foul strokes than
Mr. Gilbert’s contagious sing-song; but possessing very much of his
briskness and quaint turns of thought, and of that pretty shimmer of
language which lends itself to melody as easily as the thrushes do.

This John Gay[106]--whose name literary-mongers will come upon in their
anthologies--was an alert, well-looking young fellow, who had come out of
Devonshire to make his way in a silk-mercer’s shop in London. He speedily
left the silk-mercer’s; but he had that about him of joyousness and
amiability, added to a clever but small literary faculty, which won the
consideration of helpful friends; and he never lost friends by his
antagonisms or his moodiness. Everybody seemed to love to say a good word
for John Gay. Swift was almost kind to him; and said he was born to be
always twenty-two, and no older. Pope befriended and commended him; great
ladies petted him; and neither Swift nor Pope were jealous of a petting to
such as Gay; his range was amongst the daisies--and theirs--above the
tree-tops. A little descriptive poem of his, called _Trivia_, brings
before us the London streets of that day--the coaches, the boot-blacks,
the red-heeled cavaliers, the book-stalls, the markets, the school-boys,
the mud, the swinging sign-boards, and the tavern-doors. In the course of
it he gives a score or more of lines to a description of the phenomena of
the solidly frozen Thames--sharply remembered by a good many living in his
time[107]--with booths all along the river, and bullocks cooked upon the
frozen roads which bridged the water; and he tells of an old apple-woman,
who somehow had her head lopped off when the break-up came, and the
ice-cakes piled above the level--tells it, too, in a very Gilbert-like
way, as you shall see:

                “She now a basket bore;
    That head alas! shall basket bear no more!
    Each booth she frequent past, in quest of gain,
    And boys with pleasure heard her thrilling strain.
    Ah, Doll! all mortals must resign their breath,
    And industry itself submit to Death;
    The cracking crystal yields; she sinks; she dies,
    Her head chopt off, from her lost shoulder flies;
    _Pippins!_ she cry’d; but death her voice confounds;
    And--_Pip_--_Pip_--_Pip_--along the ice resounds!”

Then there is the ballad, always quoted when critics would show what John
Gay could do, and which the Duchess of Queensberry (who greatly befriended
him) thought charming; I give the two final verselets only:

    “How can they say that nature
      Has nothing made in vain;
    Why then beneath the water
      Should hideous rocks remain?
    No eyes the rocks discover,
      That lurk beneath the deep,
    To wreck the wandering lover,
      And leave the maid to weep?

    “All melancholy lying,
      Thus wailed she for her dear;
    Repaid each blast with sighing,
      Each billow with a tear;
    When o’er the white wave stooping,
      His floating corpse she spied;
    Then, like a lily drooping,
      She bowed her head, and died!”

I think I have shown the best side of him; and it is not very imposing. A
man to be petted; one for confections and for valentines, rather than for
those lifts of poetic thought which buoy us into the regions of enduring

Yet Swift says in a letter, “‘The Beggar’s Opera’ hath knocked down
Gulliver!” This joyous poet lies in Westminster Abbey, with an epitaph by
Alexander Pope. How, then, can we pass him by?

_Jonathan Swift._

But Dean Swift[108] does not lie in Westminster Abbey. We must go to St.
Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, to find his tomb, and that bust of him which
looks out upon the main aisle of the old church.

He was born in Dublin, at a house that might have been seen only a few
years ago, in Hoey’s Court. His father, however, was English, dying
before Swift was born; his mother, too, was English, and so poor that it
was only through the charity of an uncle the lad came to have schooling
and a place at Trinity College--the charity being so doled out that Swift
groaned under it; and groaned under the memory of it all his life. He took
his degree there, under difficulties; squabbling with the teachers of
logic and metaphysics, and turning his back upon them and upon what they

After some brief stay with his mother in Leicestershire, he goes, at her
instance, and in recognition of certain remote kinship with the family of
Sir William Temple, to seek that diplomat’s patronage. He was received
charitably--to be cordial was not Temple’s manner--at the beautiful home
of Sheen;[109] and thereafter, on Temple’s change of residence, was for
many years an inmate of the house at Moor Park. There he eats the bread of
dependence--sulkily at times, and grudgingly always. Another _protégée_ of
the house was a sparkling-eyed little girl, Hester Johnson--she scarce ten
when he was twenty-three--and who, doubtless, looked admiringly upon the
keen, growling, masculine graduate of Dublin, who taught her to write.

Swift becomes secretary to Sir William; through his influence secures a
degree at Oxford (1692); pushes forward his studies, with the Moor Park
library at his hand; takes his own measure--we may be sure--of the
stately, fine diplomat; measures King William too--who, odd times, visits
Temple at his country home, telling him how to cut his asparagus--measures
him admiringly, yet scornfully; as hard-working, subtle-thoughted,
ambitious, dependent students are apt to measure those whose consequence
is inherited and factitious.

Then, with the bread of this Temple charity irking his lusty manhood, he
swears (he is overfond of swearing) that he will do for himself. So he
tempestuously quits Moor Park and goes back to Ireland, where he takes
orders, and has a little parish with a stipend of £100 a year. It is in a
dismal country--looking east on the turbid Irish Sea, and west on
bog-lands--no friends, no scholars, no poets, no diplomats, no Moor-Park
gardens. Tired of this waste, and with new and better proposals from
Temple--who misses his labors--Swift throws up his curacy (or whatever it
may be) and turns again toward England.

There is record of a certain early flurry of feeling at date of this
departure from his first Irish parish--a tender, yet incisive, and
tumultuous letter to one “Varina,”[110] for whom he promises to “forego
all;” Varina, it would seem, discounted his imperious rapture, without
wishing to cut off ulterior hopes. But ulteriors were never in the lexicon
of Swift; and he broke away for his old cover at Moor Park. Sir William
welcomes, almost with warmth, the returned secretary, who resumes old
studies and duties, putting a fiercer appetite to his work, and a greater
genius. Miss Hester is there to be guided, too; she sixteen, and he fairly
turned among the thirties; she of an age to love moonlight in the Moor
Park gardens, and he of an age--when do we have any other?--to love tender

But _The Battle of the Books_[111] and _The Tale of a Tub_, are even then
seething and sweltering in his thought. They are wonderful products both;
young people cannot warm to them as they do to the men of Liliput and of
Brobdingnag; but there are old folk who love yet, in odd hours, to get
their faculties stirred by contact with the flashing wit and tremendous
satire of the books named.

The _Battle_--rather a pamphlet than a book--deals with the antagonism,
then noisy, between advocates of ancient and modern learning, to which
Bentley, Wotton, and Temple were parties. Swift strikes off heads all
round the arena, but inclines to the side of his patron, Temple; and in a
wonderful figure, of wonderful pertinence, and with witty appointments,
he likens the moderns to noisome spiders, spinning out of their own
entrails the viscous “mathematical” net-work, which catches the vermin on
which they feed; and contrasting these with the bees (ancients), who seek
natural and purer sources of nutriment--storing “wax and honey,” which are
the sources of the “light and sweetness of life.” There are horribly
coarse streaks in this satire, as there are in _The Tale of a Tub_; but
the wit is effulgent and trenchant.

In this latter book there is war on all pedantries again; but mostly on
shams in ecclesiastic teachings and habitudes; Swift finding (as so many
of us do) all the shams, in practices which are not his own. It is a mad,
strange, often foul-mouthed book, with thrusts in it that go to the very
marrow of all monstrous practices in all ecclesiasticisms; showing a love
for what is honest and of good report, perhaps; but showing stronger love
for thwacking the skulls of all sinners in high places; and the higher the
place the harder is the thwack.

Not long after these things were a-brewing, Sir William Temple died
(1699), bequeathing his papers to his secretary. Swift looked for more.
So many wasted years! Want of money always irked him. But he goes to
London to see after the publication of Temple’s papers. He has an
interview with King William--then in his last days--to whom Temple had
commended him, but no good comes of that. He does, however, get place as
chaplain for Lord Berkeley; goes to Ireland with him; reads good books to
Lady Berkeley--among them the _Occasional Reflections of the Hon. Robert
Boyle_, of whose long sentences I gave a taste in an earlier chapter.

Some of these Boyle meditations were on the drollest of topics--as, for
instance, “Upon the Sight of a Windmill Standing Still,” and again, “Upon
the Paring of a rare Summer Apple.”

Swift had no great appetite for such “parings;” but Lady Berkeley being
insatiate, he slips a meditation of his own, in manuscript, between the
leaves of the great folio of the Hon. Mr. Boyle; and opening to the very
place begins reading, for her edification, “Meditations on a Broomstick.”
“Dear me!” says her ladyship, “what a strange subject! But there is no
knowing what useful instructions this wonderful man may draw from topics
the most trivial. Pray, read on, Mr. Swift.”

And he did. He was not a man given to smiles when a joke was smouldering;
and he went through his meditation with as much unction as if the Hon.
Robert had written it. The good lady kept her eyes reverently turned up,
and never smacked the joke until it came out in full family conclave.

I have told this old story (which, like most good stories, some critics
count apocryphal) because it is so like Swift; he had such keen sense of
the ridiculous, that he ran like a hound in quest of it--having not only a
hound’s scent but a hound’s teeth.

At Laracor, the little Irish parish which he came by shortly after, he had
a glebe and a horse, and became in a way domesticated there, so far as
such a man could be domesticated anywhere. He duplicated, after a fashion,
some features of the Moor-Park gardens; he wrote sermons there which are
surprisingly good.

One wonders, as he comes from toiling through the sweat and muck and
irreverent satire of _The Tale of a Tub_, what could have possessed the
man to write so piously. He was used to open his sermons with a little
prayer that was devout enough and all-embracing enough for the
prayer-book. Then there is a letter of his to a young clergyman, giving
advice about the make-up of his sermons, which would serve for an
excellent week-day discourse at Marquand Chapel.

Indeed he has somewhat to say against the use of “hard words--called by
the better sort of vulgar, fine language”--that is worth repeating:

    “I will appeal to any man of letters whether at least nineteen or
    twenty of these perplexing words might not be changed into easy
    ones, such as naturally first occur to ordinary men; … the fault is
    nine times in ten owing to affectation, and not want of
    understanding. When a man’s thoughts are clear, the properest words
    will generally offer themselves first, and his own judgment will
    direct him in what order to place them, so as they may be best
    understood. In short, that simplicity, without which no human
    performance can arrive to any great perfection, is nowhere more
    eminently useful than in this.”

But let us not suppose from all this that Swift has settled down tamely,
and month by month, into the jog-trot duties of a small Irish vicar; no,
no! there is no quiet element in his nature. He has gone back and forth
from Dublin to London--sometimes on a Berkeley errand--sometimes on his
own. He has met Congreve, an old school-fellow, and Prior and Gay; he has
found the way to Will’s Coffee-house and to Button’s;[112] has some day
seen Dryden--just tottering to the grave; has certainly dined with
Addison, and finished a bottle with Steele. They call him the mad parson
at Button’s; they have seen _The Tale of a Tub_; his epigrams are floating
from mouth to mouth; his irony cuts like a tiger’s claw; he feels the
power of his genius tingling to his fingertips--_he_, a poor Irish parson!
why, the whole atmosphere around him, whether at London or at Dublin, is
charged and surcharged with Satan’s own lightning of worldly promises.

And Hester Johnson, and Moor Park? Well, she has not forgotten him; ah!
no; and he has by no means forgotten her. For she, with a good womanly
friend, Mrs. Dingley, has gone to live in Ireland; Swift thinks they can
live more economically there. These two ladies set up their homestead near
to Swift’s vicarage; he goes to see them; they come to see him. He is
thirty-three, and past; and she twenty, and described as beautiful. Is
there any scandalous talking? Scarce one word, it would seem. He is as
considerate as ice; and she as coy as summer clouds.

It does not appear that Swift had literary ambition, as commonly reckoned.
That _Tale of a Tub_ lay by him six or seven years before it came to
print. He wrote for Steele’s _Tatler_, and for the _Spectator_--not with
any understanding that his name was to appear, or that he was to be spoken
admiringly of. Many of his best things were addressed to friends or
acquaintances, and never saw the light through any instigation or privity
of his own.

When there was some purpose to effect--some wrong to lash--some puppet to
knock down--some tow-head to set on fire--some public drowsiness to
wake--he rushed into print with a vengeance. Was it benevolence that
provoked him to this? was it public spirit? Who can tell? I think there
were many times when he thought as much; but I believe that never a man
more often deceived himself than did Swift; and that over and over he
mistook the incentives of his own fiery and smarting spirit for the
leadings of an angel of light.

When we think of the infrequency and awkwardness of travel in that day, we
are not a little amazed to find him going back and forth as he did from
Ireland to London. The journey was not, as now, a mere skip over to
Holyhead, and then a five hours’ whirl to town, but a long, uncertain sail
in some lugger of a vessel--blown as the winds blew--till a landing was
made at Bristol or Swansea; and then the four to seven days of coaching
(as the roads might be) through Bath to London. Sometimes it is some
interest of the poor Irish Church that takes him over, for which we must
give him due credit; but oftener it is his own unrest. His energies and
his unsatisfied mind starve if not roused and bolstered and chafed by
contact with minds as keen and hard, from which will come the fiery
disputation that he loves. Great cities, where great interests are astir
and great schemes fomenting, are magnets whose drawing power such
intellects cannot resist. He is in London five or six months in 1701, six
or eight the next year, six or eight the next, and so on.

_Swift’s Politics._

He is in politics, too, which ran at high tide all through Anne’s time and
the previous reign; you will read no history or biography stretching into
that period but you may be confounded (at least I am) with talk of Whigs
and Tories; and of what Somers did, and of what Harley did, and of what
Ormond might do; and it is worth sparing a few moments to say something of
the great parties. In a large way Whiggism represented progress and the
new impulses which had come in with William III., and Toryism represented
what we call conservatism. Thus, in _Old Mortality_, young Henry Morton is
the Whig, and her ladyship of Tillietudlem is a starched embodiment of
Toryism. Those who favored the Stuart family, and made a martyr of Charles
I.--those who leaned to Romanism and rituals, or faith in tradition, were,
in general, Tories; and those who brought over William of Orange, or who
were dissenters or freethinkers, were apt to be Whigs. So the scars which
came of sword-cuts by Cromwellian soldiers were apt to mark an excellent
Tory; and the cropped ears of Puritans, that told of the savageness of
Prince Rupert’s dragoons, were pretty sure to brand a man a Whig for life.
But these distinctions were not steady and constant; thus, the elegant and
fastidious Sir William Temple was a Whig; and old Dryden, clinking mugs
with good fellows at Will’s coffee-house, was a Tory. Again, the courtly
and quiet Mr. Addison, with his De Coverley reverences, was a good Whig;
and Pope, with his _Essay on Man_, and fellowship with freethinkers, was
Toryish. Swift began with being a Whig, to which side his slapdash
wilfulness, his fellowship with Temple, and his scorn of tradition drew
him; but he ended with veering over to the Tory ranks, where his hate of
Presbyterianism and his eager thrusts at canting radicals gave him credit
and vogue.

Addison and others counted him a turncoat, and grew cold to him; for party
hates were most hot in those days; Swift himself says--the politicians
wrangle like cats. He was tired, too, of waiting on Whig promises;
perhaps he had larger hope of preferment with the Tories; Steele alleged
this with bitterness; and there can be no doubt that Swift had an eye on
preferment. Why not? Can he, so alert in mind, so loving of dignity, so
conscious of power, see Mr. Addison coming to place as Secretary of State,
and Steele with his fat commissions, without a tingling and irritating
sense of dissatisfaction? Can he see good, amiable, pious dunces getting
planted year after year in fat bishoprics, without a torturing remembrance
of that poor little parish of Laracor, with a following so feeble that he
is fain to open service some days (his factotum being the only auditor)
with--“My dearly beloved Roger, the Scripture moveth you and me in sundry

How these contrasts must have grated on the mind of a man who looked down
on all their lordships; who looked down on Steele; and who could count on
his finger-ends the personages whom he scanned eye to eye--and who were
upon a level with his commanding height.

He did service, too--this master of the pen and master of causticity--that
to most would have brought quick reward; but he was too strong and too
proud and too independent to come by reward easily. Such a man is bowed to
reverently; is invited to dine hither and yon; is flattered, is humored,
is conciliated; but as for office--ah! that is another matter. He is
unsafe; he will kick over the traces; he will take the bit in his mouth;
he will be his own man and not our man. What court, what cabinet, what
clique could trust to the moderation, to the docility, to the reticence of
a person capable of writing _Gulliver’s Travels_, and of turning all court
scandals, all political intrigues, all ecclesiastic decorum, into a

He is, indeed, urged for Bishop of Hereford--seems to have excellent
chance there; but some brother Bishop (I think ’tis the Archbishop of
York), who is much afraid, as he deserves to be, of _The Tale of a
Tub_--says to the hesitating Queen,--“Better inquire first if this man be
really a Christian;” and this frights the good Queen and the rest. So
Swift is let off with the poor sop of the Deanery of St. Patrick’s.

_His London Journal._

We know all about those days of his in London--days of expectancy. He has
told us:

    “The ministry are good hearty fellows. I use them like dogs, because
    I expect they will use me so. They call me nothing but Jonathan. I
    said I believed they would leave me Jonathan, as they found me; and
    that I never knew a minister do anything for those whom they make
    companions of their pleasures; and I believe you will find it so,
    but _I_ care not.”

And to whom does he talk so confidentially, and tell all the story of
those days? Why, to Hester Johnson. It is all down in Stella’s
journal--written for her eye only; and we have it by purest accident. It
was begun in 1710--he then in his forty-third year, and she in her

She has kept her home over in Ireland with Mrs. Dingley--seeing him on
every visit there, and on every day, almost, of such visits; and, as her
sweetest pasturage, feeding on letters he writes other times, and lastly
on this Stella journal, “for her dear eyes,” at the rate of a page, or
even two pages a day, for some three years.

All his London day’s life comes into it. Let us listen:

    “Dined at the chop-house with Will Pate, the learned woollen draper,
    then we sauntered at china-shops and book-sellers; went to the
    tavern; drank 2 pints of white wine; never parted till ten. Have a
    care of those eyes--pray--pray, pretty Stella!

    “So you have a fire now, and are at cards at home; I think of dining
    in my lodgings to-day on a chop and a pot of ale.

    “Shall I? Well, then, I will try to please M. D. [‘M. D.’ is ‘my
    dear;’ or ‘my dears,’ when it includes, as it often does, Mrs.
    Dingley]. I was to-night at Lord Masham’s; Lord Dupplin took out my
    little pamphlet, the Secretary read a good deal of it to Lord
    Treasurer; they all commended it to the skies; so did I.

    “I’ll answer your letter to-morrow; good night, M. D. Sleep well.”


    “I have no gilt paper left, so you must be content with plain. I
    dined with Lord Treasurer.

    “A poem is out to-day inscribed to me: a Whiggish poem and good for
    nothing. They teased me with it.”

    “I am not yet rid of my cold. No news to tell you: went to dine with
    Mrs. Vanhomrigh, a neighbor. [Then a long political tale, and] Good
    night, my dear little rogues.”

’Tis a strange journal; such a mingling of court gossip, sharp political
thrusts, lover-like, childish prattle, and personal details. If he is
sick, he scores down symptoms and curatives as boldly as a hospital nurse;
if he lunches at a chop-house, he tells cost; if he takes in his
waistcoat, he tells Stella of it; if he dines with Addison, he tells how
much wine they drank; if a street beggar or the Queen shed tears, they
slop down into that Stella journal; if she wants eggs and bacon, he tells
where to buy and what to give; if Lady Dalkeith paints, he sees it with
those great, protuberant eyes of his, and tells Stella.

There is coarseness in it, homeliness, indelicacies, wit, sharp hits,
dreary twaddle, and repeated good-nights to his beloved M. D.’s, and--to
take care of themselves, and eat the apples at Laracor, and wait for him.
No--I mistake; I don’t think he ever says with definiteness Stella must
wait for him. I should say (without looking critically over the journal to
that end) that he cautiously avoided so positive a committal. And
she?--ah! she, poor girl, waits without the asking. And those indelicacies
and that coarseness? Well, this strange, great man can do nothing wrong
in her eyes.

But she does see that those dinings at a certain Mrs. Vanhomrigh’s come in
oftener and oftener. ’Tis a delightfully near neighbor, and her instinct
scents something in the wind. She ventures a question, and gets a stormy
frown glowering over a page of the journal that puts her to silence. The
truth is, Mrs. Vanhomrigh[113] has a daughter--young, clever, romantic,
not without personal charms, who is captivated by the intellect of Mr.
Swift; all the more when he volunteers direction of her studies, and leads
her down the flowery walks of poetry under his stalwart guidance.

Then the suspicious entries appear more thickly in the journal. “Dined
with Mrs. Vanhomrigh”--and again: “Stormy, dined with a
neighbor”--“couldn’t go to court, so went to the Vans.” And thus this
romance went on ripening to the proportions that are set down in the poem
of “Cadenus and Vanessa.” He is old, she is young.

    “Vanessa, not in years a score,
    Dreams of a gown of forty-four;
    Imaginary charms can find
    In eyes with reading almost blind.
    Cadenus, common forms apart,
    In every scene had kept his heart;
    Had sigh’d and languished, vowed and writ,
    For pastime or to show his wit.”

But this wit has made conquest of her; she

      “----called for his poetic works:
    [Cupid] meantime in secret lurks;
    And, while the book was in her hand,
    The urchin from his private stand
    Took aim, and shot with all his strength
    A dart of such prodigious length,
    It pierced the feeble volume through,
    And deep transfixed her bosom too.”

This is part of his story of it, which he put in her hands for her
reading;[114] and which, like the Stella journal, only saw the light
after the woman most interested in it was in the ground.

_In Ireland Again._

Well, Swift at last goes back to Ireland--all his larger designs having
miscarried--a saddened and disappointed man; full of growlings and
impatience; taking with him from that wreck of London life and political
forgatherings, only the poor flotsam of an Irish deanery.

He has some few friends to welcome him there: Miss Hester and Mrs. Dingley
among the rest. How gladly would Stella have put all her woman’s art and
her womanly affection to the work of cheering and making glad the
embittered and disappointed Dean: but no; he has no notion of being
handicapped by marriage; he is sterner, narrower, more misanthropic than
ever. All the old severe proprieties and distance govern their
intercourse. He visits them betimes and listens to their adulatory
prattle; they, too, come up to the deanery when there are friends to
entertain; often take possession when the Dean is away.

The church dignitaries are not open-handed in their advances; the _Tale of
a Tub_, and stories of that London life (not much of it amongst churches)
have put a wall between them and the Dean. But he interests himself in
certain questions of taxation and of currency, which seem of vital
importance to the common people; and he wins, by an influence due to his
sharp pamphleteering, what they count a great relief from their dangers or
burdens. Thus he becomes a street idol, and crowds throw up their caps for
this doctor militant, whom they call the good Dean. He has his private
large charities, too; there are old women, decrepit and infirm, whom he
supports year after year; does this--Swift-like--when he will haggle a
half hour about the difference of a few pennies in the price for a bottle
of wine, and will serve his clerical friends with the lees of the last
dinner: strange, and only himself in everything.

Then Miss Vanhomrigh--after the death of her mother--must needs come
over--to the great perplexity of the Doctor--to a little country place
which she has inherited in the pretty valley of the Liffey--a short drive
away from Dublin; she has a fine house there, and beautiful gardens
(Swift never outgrew his old Moor-Park love for gardens); there she
receives him, and honors his visits. An old gardener, who was alive in
Scott’s time, told how they planted a laurel bush whenever the Dean came.
Perhaps the Dean was too blinded for fine reading in the garden alleys
then; certainly his fierce headaches were shaking him year by year nearer
to the grave.

Miss Hester comes to a knowledge of these visits, and is tortured, but
silent. Has she a right to nurse torture? Some biographers say that at her
urgence a form of marriage was solemnized between them (1716); but if so,
it was undeclared and unregarded. Vanessa, too, has her tortures; she has
knowledge of Stella and her friend, and of their attitude with respect to
the deanery; so, in a moment of high, impetuous daring, she writes off to
Mistress Hester Johnson asking what rights she has over her friend the
Dean? Poor Stella wilts at this blow; but is stirred to an angry woman’s
reply, making (it is said) avowal of the secret marriage. To the Dean, who
is away, she encloses Vanessa’s letter; and the Dean comes storming back;
rages across the country, carrying to Miss Vanhomrigh her own
letter--flings it upon the table before her, with that look of blackness
that has made duchesses tremble--turns upon his heel, and sees her no

In a fortnight, or thereabout, Poor Vanessa was dead. It was a fever they
said; may be; certainly, if a fever, there were no hopes in her life now
which could make great head against it. She changed her will before her
death, cutting off Swift, who was sole legatee, and leaving one-half to
Bishop Berkeley; through whom, strangely enough, Yale College may be said
to inherit a part of poor Vanessa’s fortune.[115]

Such a blow, by its side bruises, must needs scathe somewhat the wretched
Hester Johnson; but time brought a little healing in its wings. The old
kindliness and friendship that dated from the pleasant walks in Moor Park,
came back--as rosy twilights will sometimes shoot kindly gleams between
stormy days, and the blackness of night. And Swift, I think, never came
nearer to insupportable grief than when he heard--on an absence in London,
a few years thereafter--that Stella was dying week by week.

“Poor Stella,” “dear Stella,” “poor soul,” break into his letters--break,
doubtless, into his speech on solitary walks; but in others’ presence his
dignity and coldness are all assured. There is rarely breakdown where man
or woman can see him. Old Dr. Sheridan[116] says that at the last she
appealed to him to declare and make public their private marriage; whereat
he “turned short away.” A more probable story is that in those last days
Swift himself proposed public declaration, to which the dying woman could
only wave a reply--“too late!”

She died in 1728: he in the sixty-second year of his age, and she

He would have written about her the night she died; had the curtains drawn
that he might not see the light where her body lay; but he broke down in
the writing. They brought a lock of her hair to him. It was found many
years after in an old envelope, worn with handling, with this inscription
on it--in his hand--_Only a woman’s hair_.

I have not much more to say of Dean Swift, whose long story has kept us
away from gentler characters, and from verses more shining than his.
Indeed, I do not think the poems of Swift are much read nowadays; surely
none but a strong man and a witty one could have written them; but they do
not allure us. Everybody, however, remembers with interest the little
people that Lemuel Gulliver saw, and will always associate them with the
name of Swift. But if the stormy Dean had known that his Gulliver book
would be mostly relished by young folks, only for its story, and that its
tremendous satire--which he intended should cut and draw blood--would have
only rarest appreciation, how he would have raved and sworn!

They tell us he had private prayers for his household, and in secluded
places; and there are those who sneer at this--“as if a Dean should say
prayers in a crypt!” But shall we utterly condemn the poor Publican
who--though he sells drams and keeps selling them--smites his bosom _afar
off_ and cries, God be merciful!--as if there were a bottom somewhere that
might be reached, and stirred, and sparkle up with effervescence of hope
and truth and purity? He was a man, I think, who would have infinitely
scorned and revolted at many of the apologies that have been made for him.
To most of these he would have said, in his stentorian way, “I am what I
am; no rosy after-lights can alter this shape of imperfect manhood; wrong,
God knows; who is not? But a prevaricator--pretending feeling that is not
real--offering friendship that means nothing--proffering gentle words, for
hire; never, never!”

And in that great Court of Justice--which I am old-fashioned enough to
believe will one day be held--where juries will not be packed, and where
truth will shine by its own light, withstanding all perversion--and where
opportunities and accomplishment will be weighed in even scales against
possible hindrances of moral or of physical make-up--there will show, I am
inclined to think, in the strange individuality of Swift, a glimmer of
some finer and higher traits of Character than we are accustomed to
assign him.

After Stella’s death he wrote little:[117] perhaps he furbished up the
closing parts of _Gulliver_; there were letters to John Gay, light and
gossipy; and to Pope, weightier and spicier.

But the great tree was dying at the top. He grew stingier and sterner, and
broke into wild spasms of impatience, such as only a diseased brain could
excuse and explain. His loneliness became a more and more fearful thing to
be borne; but who shall live with this half-mad man of gloom?

At length it is only a hired keeper who can abide with him: yet still he
is reckless, proud, defiant, merciless, with no words coming to his fagged
brain whereby he may express his thought; having thoughts, but they were
bitter ones; having penitences maybe, but very vain ones; having
remorses--ah, what abounding ones!

Finally he has no longer the power, if the grace were in him, to ask
pardon of the humanity he has wronged; or to tell of the laments--if at
that stage he entertained them--over the grave of thwarted purposes and of
shattered hopes; condemned to that imbecile silence which overtook him at
last, and held him four weary years in fool’s grasp, suffering and making
blundering unintelligible moans.

He died in 1745--twenty-two years after Vanessa’s death--seventeen years
after the death of Stella.


[1] Sir Walter Raleigh, b. 1552; executed 1618.

[2] Unless we except _The Ocean to Cynthia_, piquant fragments of which
exist, extending to some five hundred lines; the poem, by the estimate of
Mr. Gosse, may have reached in its entirety a length of ten thousand
lines. See _Athenæum_ for January 2, 1886; also, _Raleigh_ (pp. 44-48) by
Edmund Gosse. London, 1886.

[3] William Harrison, b. 1534; d. 1593. It is interesting to know that
much has come to light respecting the personal history of William
Harrison, through the investigations of that indefatigable American
genealogist, the late Colonel J. L. Chester.

[4] _Speeches of Gratulation_ on King’s Entertainment.

[5] Rawdon Brown.

[6] _Judith Shakespeare_, by William Black. The story of the royal letter
appears to rest mainly on the evidence of William Oldys (not a strong
authority), who says it originated with Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, who
had it from Sir William D’Avenant. Dr. Drake, however, as well as Farmer,
fully accredit the anecdote.

[7] The Globe was the summer theatre, the Blackfriars the winter
theatre--the same company playing much at both. The hour for opening in
Elizabeth’s time was usually one o’clock. Dekker (_Horne Booke_, 1609)
names three as the hour; and doubtless there were occasions when--in the
private theatres--plays began after nightfall. Fletcher and Shakespeare
were at the head of what was called the Lord Chamberlain’s Company. By
license of James I. (1603) this virtually became the King’s Company.

[8] Gosson was an Oxford man; b. 1555: d. 1624.

[9] Among the more important names were those of Bishop Andrewes (of
Winchester, friend of Herbert, and Dr. Donne)--famous for his oriental
knowledges: Bedwell (of Tottingham), a distinguished Arabic scholar: Sir
Henry Savile, a very learned layman, and warden of Merton College:
Rainolds, representing the Puritan wing of the Church, and President of
Corpus Christi, Oxford; and Chaderton, Master of Emmanuel, and
representing the same wing of the Church from Cambridge.

[10] John Donne, son of a London merchant, b. 1573, and d. 1631. There is
a charming life of him by Izaak Walton. The Grosart edition of his
writings is fullest and best.

[11] From his poem of _Nosce Teipsum_, published in 1599. John Davies b.
in Wiltshire about 1570, and d. 1626.

[12] Dr. Shedd (_Addenda_ to Lange’s _Matthew_) says--“Probably it was the
prevailing custom of the Christians _in the East_, from the beginning to
pray the Lord’s Prayer, with the Doxology.” It certainly appears in
earliest Syriac version (_Peschito_, so called, of second century). It
does not appear in the Wyclif of 1380. It will be found, however, in the
Tyndale of 1534--which I am led to believe is its first appearance in an
accredited English translation.

[13] The allusion is to the Harts, whose ancestress was Shakespeare’s
sister Joan. A monumental record in Trinity Church, Stratford, reads thus:
“In memory of Thomas Hart, who was the fifth descendant in a direct line
from Joan, eldest daughter of John Shakespeare. He died May 23, 1793.”

A son of the above Thomas Hart “followed the business of a butcher at
Stratford, where he was living in 1794.” Still another Thomas Hart (eighth
in descent from Joan) is said to be now living in Australia--the only male
representive of that branch of the family.

[14] Susanna, the eldest, baptized 1583; Hamnet and Judith (twins),
baptized 1585. In 1596 Hamnet died; in 1607 Susanna married Dr. Hall; and
in 1616 (year of Shakespeare’s death) Judith married Quiney, vintner.

[15] His father died in 1601, and his mother in 1608.

[16] The dedication of _Venus and Adonis_ (and subsequently of _Tarquin
and Lucrece_) to the Earl of Southampton is undoubted; nor are intimate
friendly relations doubted; but the further supposition--long
accredited--that the major part of the Sonnets were addressed to the same
Earl--is now generally abandoned--entirely so by the new Shakespearean
scholars. William Herbert (Earl of Pembroke)--to whom is dedicated the
1623 folio--is counted by many the “begetter” of these, and the rival of
the poet in loves of the “dark-eyed” frail one, whose identity has so
provoked inquiry.

A late theory favors a Miss Fitton, of whom a descendant, the Rev. Fred.
Fitton, has latterly made himself advocate. See _Athenæum_ for February
20, 1886.

[17] A very good exhibit of best opinions on such points may be found
briefly summarized in Stopford Brooke’s little _Primer of English
Literature_; see also Mr. Fleay’s recent _Chronical History of
Shakespeare_; and fuller discussion (though somewhat antiquated) in Dr.
Drake’s interesting discussion of _Shakespeare and his Times_. I name this
book, not as wholly authoritative, or comparable with the mass of newer
criticism which has been developed under the auspices of the different
Shakespeare societies, but as massing together a great budget of
information from cotemporaneous authors and full of entertaining reading.
In America, the Shakespearean labors of Hudson, Grant White, and Dr. Rolfe
are to be noted; and also--with larger emphasis--the beginnings of the
monumental work of Mr. Furniss.

[18] Seven editions of this poem were published between 1593 and 1602.

[19] The _Nation_ (N. Y.), of March 7, 1884, has this:

“In an indenture between the R^t Hon. Sir Rich^d Saltonstall, Knt., Lord
Mayor of London, and 2 others, Commissioners of her Majesty (fortieth yr
of Queen Elizabeth), and the parties deputed to collect the first of these
subsidies granted by Parliament the yr preceding--(bearing date Oct.
1598), for the _rate of S^t Helen’s Parish_, Bishopsgate ward--the name of
_Wm. Shakespeare_ is found as liable, with others, to that rate.”

This, if it be indeed our William who is named, would serve to show
residence in “S^t Helen’s Parish”--in which is the venerable Crosby Hall.

[20] See Halliwell-Phillips (vol. i., p. 130; 7th ed.).

[21] Edmond Shakespeare was buried in St. Saviour’s in 1607.

[22] I append table from French’s _Shakespeareana Genealogica_:

                              W^m Shakespeare, b. Apr. 23, 1564;
                            m. Anne Hathaway, b. 1556, dau. of Rich^d
                              and Joan Hathaway, of Shottery.
            |                      |                            |
    Susanna, b. May,       Hamnet, twin with            Judith, bapt. Feb.
    1583, d. July 2,       Judith, bapt. Feb. 2,        2, 1585, d. 1661;
    1649; m. Jno. Hall,    1585, d. s. p. 1596.         m. Thos Quiney.
    physician, b. 1575.                                         |
            |                                                   |
            |            +--------------------+--------------+--+
            |            |                    |              |
            |       Shakespeare Quiney,  Rich^d. Quiney,  Thos. Quiney.
    Elizabeth Hall,    b. 1616.             b. 1618.         b. 1619.
    b. 1608; d.
    s. p. 1669.

Elizabeth Hall was twice married: 1st to Thomas Nash--2d to Jno. Bernard
(knighted by Charles II.), and had no issue by either marriage.

Of the Quiney children, above named, the 1st (Shakespeare), d. in infancy;
the 2d (Richard Quiney), d. without issue, in 1638; the 3d (Thomas
Quiney), died the same year, 1638--also without issue.

[23] The extreme limits of his life and career would probably lie between
1575 and 1635; _Strahan’s Biographical Dictionary_ of the last century
makes no mention of him; nor does the _Biographie Universelle_ of as early

[24] Works of John Webster; with some account of the Author, and Notes, by
Rev. A. Dyce (original edition, 1830).

[25] Ford, b. about 1586, and d. 1640. Works edited by Gifford; revised,
with Dyce’s notes, 1869.

[26] John Marston, b. 1565 (?); d. about 1634; believed to have been a
Shropshire man, and one while of Brasenose College, Oxford.

[27] Philip Massinger, b. 1584; d. 1640. His works were edited by Gifford,
and on this edition is based the later one of Col. Cunningham (1870).

[28] “The Duke of Milan.”

[29] John Fletcher, b. 1579; d. 1625. Francis Beaumont, son of Sir Francis
Beaumont, b. (probably) 1585; d. 1616.

[30] Aubrey, who died in 1697, and who is often cited, was an
antiquary--not always to be relied upon--an Oxford man, friend of Thomas
Hobbes, was heir to sundry country estates, which, through defective
titles, involved him in suits, that brought him to grief. He was a
diligent collector of “whim-whams”--very credulous; supplied Anthony à
Wood (1632-1695) with much of his questionable material; and kept up
friendly relations with a great many cultivated and literary people.

[31] From the “Nice Valour or the Passionate Madman.” By Seward this
comedy is ascribed to Beaumont.

[32] John Taylor, b. 1580; d. 1654. Various papers and poems (so called)
of his are printed in vol. ii. of Hindley’s _Old Book Collector’s
Miscellany_, London, 1872. The Spenser Society has also printed an edition
of his works, in 5 vols., 1870-78.

[33] London was not over-large at this day; its population counted about

[34] James Howell, b. 1594; d. 1666. He was son of a minister in
Carmarthenshire, and took his degree at Oxford in 1613.

[35] Of an ancient county family in Mid-Kent: b. 1568; d. 1639.

[36] In his will he suggested this epitaph to be put over his grave: “_Hic
jacet hujus sententiæ primus auctor, Disputandi Pruritus Ecclesiæ

[37] Izaak Walton, b. 1593; d. 1683.

[38] Statements about George Herbert, in the matter of the Melville
controversy, are specially to be doubted. Of Ben Jonson he says: “He lived
with a woman that governed him, near Westminster Abbey, and neither he nor
she took much care for next week, and would be sure not to want wine; of
which he usually took too much before he went to bed, if _not oftener and
sooner_”--all which shows a pretty accessibility to gossip.

[39] Overbury, b. 1581; d. 1613 (poisoned in London Tower). Rimbault’s
_Life_, 1856; also Strahan’s _Biographical Dictionary_, 1784.

[40] George Herbert, b. 1593; d. 1633. The edition of his poems referred
to is that of Bell & Daldy, London, 1861. Walton’s _Life_ of him is
delightful; but one who desires the whole story should not fail of reading
Dr. Grosart’s essay, prefatory to the works of George Herbert, in the
_Fuller Worthies’ Library_, London, 1874.

[41] Robert Herrick b. (or at least baptized) 1591; d. 1674. The fullest
edition of his works is that edited by Dr. Grosart, and published by
Chatto & Windus, London, 1876.

[42] Dr. Grosart objects that most portraits are too gross: I am content
if comparison be made only with the engraving authorized by Dr. Grosart,
and authenticated by his careful investigation and a warm admiration for
his subject.

[43] Herrick is not an example of this; but Herbert is; so is Overbury
with his “Wife;” so is Vaughan; so is Browne.


    “Religion stands on tiptoe in our land
    Ready to pass to the American strand.
    My God, Thou dost prepare for them a way,
    By carrying first their gold from them away;
    For gold and grace did never yet agree;
    Religion always sides with Poverty.”

                                       --HERBERT’S _The Church Militant_.

[45] John Selden, b. 1584; d. 1654. His _Table-Talk_, by which he is best
known, was published in 1689. Coleridge said, “It contains more weighty
bullion sense than I have ever found in the same number of pages of any
uninspired writer.”

[46] John Milton: written 1629.

[47] Specially instanced in his final desertion of Strafford.

[48] “The Rehearsal.” Complete edition of his works published in 1775.
George Villiers, b. 1627; d. 1688.

[49] Jeremy Taylor, b. 1613; d. 1667. First collected edition of his works
issued in 1822 (Bishop Heber); reissued, with revision (C. P. Eden),

[50] John Evelyn, b. 1620; d. 1706. His best known books are his _Diary_,
and _Sylva_--a treatise on arboriculture.

[51] I have not been careful to give the _ipsissima verba_ of Taylor’s
version of this old Oriental legend, which has been often cited, but never
more happily transplanted into the British gardens of doctrine than by
Jeremy Taylor.

[52] John Suckling, b. 1609; d. 1642. An edition of his poems, edited by
W. C. Hazlitt, was published in 1874.

[53] William Prynne, b. 1600; d. 1669. He was a Somersetshire man,
severely Calvinistic, and before he was thirty had written about the
_Unloveliness of Love Locks_.

[54] Robert Burton, b. 1576; d. 1639, was too remarkable a man to get his
only mention in a note; but we cannot always govern our spaces. His
best-known work, _The Anatomy of Melancholy_, is an excellent book to
steal from--whether quotations or crusty notions of the author’s own.

[55] Abraham Cowley, b. 1618; d. 1667. Edmund Waller, b. 1605; d. 1687.

[56] I give a taste of these young verses, first published in the
_Poetical Blossoms_ of 1633; also sampled approvingly by the mature Cowley
in his essay _On Myself_:

    “This only grant me, that my means may lie
    Too low for envy, for contempt too high.
            Some honor I would have
    Not from great deeds, but good alone.
    The unknown are better than ill known;
            Rumour can ope the grave.

    “Thus would I double my life’s fading space,
    For he that runs it well, twice runs his race.
            And in this true delight,
    These unbought sports, this happy state,
    I would not fear nor wish my fate.
            But boldly say each night
    To-morrow let my sun his beams display,
    Or in clouds hide them;--I have liv’d to-day!”

[57] John Milton, b. 1608; d. 1674. Editions of his works are numberless;
but Dr. Masson is the fullest and best accredited contributor to Miltonian

[58] John and Edward Phillips both with him; the latter only as pupil.

[59] More probably, perhaps, sulking for lack of her old gayeties of life
in the range of Royal Oxford. Aubrey’s accounts would favor this

[60] _Poems of Mr. John Milton, both English and Latin, composed at
several Times._ London, 1645.

[61] In that day Whitehall Street was separated from Charing Cross by the
famous gate of Holbein’s; and in the other direction it was crossed, near
Old Palace Yard, by the King’s-Street Gate--thus forming a vast court.

[62] Salmasius, a Leyden professor, had been commissioned by Royalists to
write a defence of Charles I., and vindicate his memory. Milton was
commissioned to reply; and the result was--a Latin battle in Billingsgate.

Milton calls his antagonist “a grammatical louse, whose only treasure of
merit and hope of fame consisted in a glossary.”

[63] His blindness dating from the year 1652.

[64] This marriage took place on February 24, 1662-63, the age of the
bride being twenty-five, and Milton in his fifty-fifth year.

[65] Vondel, b. 1587 (at Cologne); d. 1679. He was the author of many
dramatic pieces, among which were “Jephtha,” “Marie Stuart,” “Lucifer”
(_Luisevaar_). Vondel also wrote “Adam in Exile,” and “Samson, or Divine
Vengeance.” This latter, according to a writer in _The Athenæum_ of
November 7, 1885, has suspicious points of resemblance with “Samson

Other allied topics of interest are discussed in same journal’s notice of
George Edmundson’s book on the Milton and Vondel question (Trübner & Co.,
London, 1885).

Vondel survived the production of his “Lucifer” by a quarter of a century,
and died five years after Milton.

[66] Avitus was Bishop of Vienne (succeeding his father and grandfather)
about 490. His poem, “De Initio Mundi,” was in Latin hexameters. See
interesting account of same in _The Atlantic Monthly_ for January, 1890.

[67] The cottage is a half-timber, gable fronted building, and has
Milton’s name inscribed over the door. The village is reached by a branch
of the L. & N. W. R. R. American visitors will also look with interest at
the burial place of William Penn, who lies in a “place of graves” behind
the Friends’ Meeting House--a mile and a half only from Chalfont Church.

[68] The terms were £5 down; another £5 after sale of 1,300 copies, and
two equal sums on further sale of two other editions of same number. The
family actually compounded for £18, before the third edition was entirely

[69] Carew, b. about 1589; d. 1639; full of lyrical arts and of brazen
sensuality. Lovelace, b. 1618; d. 1658; a careless master of song, whom
wealth and royal favor did not save from a death of want and despair.

[70] George Villiers, b. 1627; d. 1688.

[71] Earl of Rochester (John Wilmot), b. 1647; d. 1680.

[72] Sir Peter Lely, b. (in Westphalia) 1617; d. 1680.

[73] Richard Baxter, b. 1615; d. 1691. His _Saints’ Rest_ published in
1653 (Lowndes).

[74] Andrew Marvell, b. 1620; d. 1678. Early edition of _Life and Works_
by Cooke, 1726. (Later reprints.) Dr. Grosart also a laborer in this

[75] Aubrey.

[76] Samuel Butler, b. 1612; d. 1680. Editions of _Hudibras_ (his chief
book) are many and multiform; that of Bohn perhaps as good as any. His
posthumous works, not much known, were published in 1715. No scholarly
editing of his works or life has been done.

[77] _Paradise Lost_ appeared 1667; first part of _Hudibras_, 1663; third
part not till 1678.

[78] Some of the couplets in the two ran so nearly together as almost to
collide. Thus, Butler says:

    “He that runs may fight again,
    Which he can never do that’s slain.”

While Trumbull’s couplet _runs_ thus:

    “He that fights and runs away
    May live to fight another day.”

[79] This was Sir Samuel Luke of Cople-Wood-End, a Parliamentary leader
and a man of probity and distinction, supposed to have been the particular
subject of Butler’s lampoon. His own letter-book, however (_Egerton
Magazine_, cited by John Brown in his recent _Life of Bunyan_, p. 45)
shows him to have been much more a man of the world than was Butler’s
caricature of a “Colonel.”

[80] Samuel Pepys--whom those well up in cockney ways of speech persist in
calling “Mr. Peps”--was born 1633; died 1703. His _Diary_, running from
1660 to 1669, did not see the light until 1825. Since that date numerous
editions have been published; that of Bright, the best. See also Wheatley,
_Samuel Pepys and the World he lived in_.

[81] Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, b. 1609; d. 1674. He was a man of
large literary qualities, and his _History_ is chiefly prized for its

[82] John Evelyn, b. 1620; d. 1706.

[83] B. 1628; d. 1688. Editions of the _Pilgrim’s Progress_ are
innumerable. Southey and Macaulay have dealt with his biography, and in
later times Mr. Froude (“English Men of Letters”) and John Brown (8vo,
London, 1885).

[84] Mr. Froude (“English Men of Letters”) entertains an opposite
opinion--as do Offor (1862) and Copner (1883). Mr. Brown, however, who is
conscientious to a fault, and seems to have been indefatigable in his
research, confirms the general opinion entertained by most accredited
biographers. See _John Bunyan; his Life, Times, and Work_, by John Brown,
chap. iii., p. 45.

[85] Reference is again made to _Life, Etc._, by John Brown, Minister of
the Church at Bunyan Meeting, Bedford. The old popular belief was strong
that Bunyan’s entire prisonship was served in the jail of the bridge.
Well-authenticated accounts, however, of the number of his
fellow-prisoners forbid acceptance of this belief.

Froude alludes to the question without settling it; Mr. Brown ingeniously
sets forth a theory that explains the traditions, and seems to meet all
the facts of the case.

[86] There was a _quasi_ charge of plagiarism against Bunyan at one time
current, and particulars respecting it came to the light some sixty years
ago in a correspondence of Robert Southey (who edited the _Major_ edition
of _Pilgrim’s Progress_) with George Offor, Esq., which appears in the
_Reminiscences_ of Joseph Cottle of Bristol. The allegation was, that
Bunyan had taken hints for his allegory from an old Dutch book, _Duyfkens
ande Willemynkyns Pilgrimagee_ (with five cuts by Bolswert), published at
Antwerp in the year 1627. Dr. Southey dismissed the allegation with
disdain, after examination of the _Dutch Pilgrimage_; nor do recent
editors appear to have counted the charge worthy of refutation.

[87] Thomas Fuller, b. 1608; d. 1661. _The Worthies of England_ is his
best-known book--a reservoir of anecdote and witty comments upon “men and

[88] Thomas Browne, b. 1605; d. 1682. Full collection of his works (with
Johnson’s _Life_), Bohn, 1851. A very charming edition of the _Religio
Medici_--so good in print--so full in notes--so convenient to the hand--is
that of the “Golden Treasury Series,” Macmillan. Nor can I forbear
reference to that keen, sympathetic essay on this writer which appears in
Walter Pater’s _Appreciations_, Macmillan, 1889.

[89] William Temple, b. 1628; d. 1699. His works, mainly political
writings, were published in two volumes folio, 1720; a later edition,
1731, including the Letters of Temple (edited, and as title-page
says--published by Jonathan Swift), was dedicated to his Majesty William

[90] This old country home, very charming with its antique air, its mossy
terraces, its giant cedars, is still held by a Sir Henry Dryden.

[91] Otway, b. 1631; d. 1685, son of a Sussex clergyman, was author of
many poor plays, and of two--“The Orphan” and “Venice Preserved”--sure to
live. With much native refinement and extraordinary pathetic power, he
went to the bad; was crazed by hopeless love for an actress (Mrs. Barry)
in his own plays; plunged thereafter into wildest dissipation, and died
destitute and neglected.

[92] Shall I except his re-telling of the tale of Cymon and “Iphigene the

[93] John Locke, b. 1632; d. 1704. The best edition of Locke’s works is
said to be that by Bishop Law, four volumes, 4to, 1777. For Life, Fox
Bourne (1876) is latest authority.

[94] This was a weak scion of the house, “born a shapeless lump, like
anarchy,” as Dryden savagely says; but--by this very match--he became the
father of the brilliant author of the _Characteristics_ (1711).

[95] February 6, 1685.

[96] Matthew Prior, b. 1664; d. 1721.

[97] William Congreve, b. 1670; d. 1729. See edition of his dramatic
works, with pleasant introduction by Leigh Hunt (1840).

[98] Daniel Defoe, b. 1661; d. 1731. Little is known of his very early
life. Of _Robinson Crusoe_ there have been editions innumerable. Of his
complete works no full edition has ever been published--probably never
will be.

[99] Richard Steele, b. 1672; d. 1729. He was born in Dublin, and died on
his wife’s estate at Llanngunnor, near Caermarthen, in Wales.

[100] The _Christian Hero_ appeared in 1701; and it was in the same year
that Steele’s first play of “The Funeral” was acted at Drury Lane. “The
Lying Lover” appeared in 1703, and “The Tender Husband” in 1705.

[101] I take the careful reckoning of Mr. Dobson in his _Life of Steele_,

[102] It is, however, seriously to be doubted if Addison ever saw the
“Atticus” satire.

[103] “_Je tire vers ma fin._” Smollett (Book I., chap. vi.); not a strong
authority in most matters, but--from his profession of medicine--an apt
one to ferret out actual details in respect to royal illness.

[104] Sir John Vanbrugh, b. (about) 1666; d. 1726. His comedies were
better thought of than his buildings, both in his own day and in ours.

[105] Sir Christopher Wren, b. 1631; d. 1723. The cathedral was begun in
1675, and virtually finished in 1710, though there may have been many
“last touches” for the aged architect.

[106] John Gay, b. 1685; d. 1732.


    “O roving muse! recall that wondrous year,
    When hoary Thames, with frosted osiers crown’d,
    Was three long moons in icy fetters bound.”

The allusion is doubtless to the year 1684, famous for its exceeding cold.

[108] Jonathan Swift, b. 1667; d. 1745. Most noticeable biographies are
those by Scott, Craik, and Stephen; the latter not minute, but having
judicial repose, and quite delightful. Scott’s edition of his works
(originally published in 1814) is still the fullest and best.

[109] Sir William Temple did not finally abandon his home at Sheen--where
he had beautiful gardens--until the year 1689. A stretch of Richmond Park,
with its deer-fed turf, now covers all traces of Temple’s old home; the
name however is kept most pleasantly alive by the pretty Sheen cottage
(Professor Owen’s home), with its carp-pond in front, and its charming,
sequestered bit of wild garden in the rear.

[110] “Varina” was a Miss Waring, sister of a college mate. Years after,
when Swift came by better church appointments, Varina wrote to him a
letter calculated to fan the flame of a constant lover; but she received
such reply--at once disdainful and acquiescent--as was met only with
contemptuous silence.

[111] Both of these satires written between 1696-1698, but not published
till six years later.

[112] Button’s was another favorite Coffee-house in Russell Street--on the
opposite side from Will’s--and nearer Covent Garden. I must express my
frequent obligations, in respect of London Topography, to the interesting
_Literary Landmarks_ of Mr. Laurence Hutton.

[113] Acquaintance with Miss Vanhomrigh probably first made in winter of
1708, but no family intimacy till year 1710. See _Athenæum_, January 16,
1886, in notice of Lane-Poole’s _Letters and Journals of Swift_.

[114] Henry Morley, in the recent editing of his Carrisbrooke _Swift_,
lays stress upon the sufficient warning which Miss Vanhomrigh should have
found in this poem. It appears to me that he sees too much in Swift’s
favor and too little in Vanessa’s.

[115] Miss Vanhomrigh died in May, 1723; and the final renewal of Bishop
Berkeley’s deed of gift (of the Whitehall farm, Newport) to Yale College,
is dated August 17, 1733.

[116] Thomas Sheridan, D.D., father of “Dictionary” Sheridan, and
grandfather of Richard Brinsley. He was a great friend of Swift, and
_Gulliver’s Travels_ was prepared for the press at his cottage in Cavan

[117] _The Drapier Letters_ were published in 1724. When the successive
parts of _Gulliver_ were written it is impossible to determine. A portion
was certainly in existence as early as 1722. The whole was not published
until 1726-27.


  Addison, Joseph, 259, 280;
    early life of, 288 _et seq._;
    his “Cato,” 289;
    _The Spectator_, 290;
    “Sir Roger De Coverley,” 291;
    Swift’s opinion of the _Spectator_, 292;
    his marriage, 294;
    “The Vision of Mirza,” 295;
    his political life, 297;
    his death, 298.

  Anne, Princess, daughter of James II., 262;
    Queen, 267;
    her characteristics, 278;
    her accession to the throne, 302.

  Aubrey, 94, 141.

  Baxter, Richard, his _Saints’ Rest_, 187.

  Beaumont and Fletcher, 38, 93;
    a quotation from “Philaster,” 97;
    “The Faithful Shepherdess,” 98.

  Bible, King James’, 44 _et seq._;
    dedication of, 45;
    the revisers of, 47 _et seq._;
    its literary value, 51 _et seq._;
    early English, 54;
    the Genevan, 55;
    the Bishops’, 55;
    the first American, 56.

  Blackfriars Theatre, 34.

  Blenheim Palace, 305.

  Bodley, John, 55.

  Boyle, Robert, 207.

  Boyne, battle of the, 264.

  Browne, Sir Thomas, 222.

  Buchanan, George, 7.

  Buckingham, Duke of, and Charles I., 133;
    his son, author of “The Rehearsal,” 134.

  Buckingham, the Second Villiers, 184.

  Bunyan, John, 209;
    his birthplace, 210;
    his early life and marriage, 211;
    a preacher, 212;
    imprisoned, 213;
    his _Pilgrim’s Progress_, 215.

  Burnet’s _History of his Own Times_, 202, 258.

  Burton, Robert, author of _Anatomy of Melancholy_, 144.

  Busino, his account of the representation of Jonson’s “Pleasure is
    Reconciled to Virtue,” at Whitehall, 29 _et seq._

  Butler, Samuel, author of _Hudibras_, 193.

  Cary, Sir Robert, carries to Edinburgh the news of the Queen’s death, 8.

  Charlecote House, 66.

  Charles I., 105, 132;
    influence of the Duke of Buckingham on, 133;
    execution of, 162 _et seq._

  Charles II., restoration of, 182;
    death of, 255.

  Charter House, the, 11.

  Clarendon, Earl of, his _History of the Rebellion_, 201.

  Compton, Lord, 24.

  Congreve, William, 269;
    visited by Voltaire, 270.

  _Counterblast to Tobacco_, the, of James I., 7, 104.

  Cowley, Abraham, 145;
    an extract from his “Hymn to Light,” 146;
    compared with Tennyson, 147.

  Cromwell, 163.

  Davies, Sir John, his lines on the _Immortality of the Soul_, 49.

  Defoe, Daniel, 258, 272;
    a pamphleteer, 273;
    his _Advice to English Tradesmen_, 274;
    his _Robinson Crusoe_, 276;
    on the Commission in Edinburgh, 277.

  Diodati, Charles, the friend of Milton, 156.

  Donne, John, 49, note.

  Dorset, 186.

  Doxology, of the Lord’s Prayer, the, 52.

  Drummond of Hawthornden, 28;
    entertains Jonson, 28 _et seq._

  Dryden, John, 227;
    his fertility, 228;
    his eulogies of Cromwell and Charles II., 230 _et seq._;
    Mr. Saintsbury’s opinion of his consistency, 232;
    his _Annus Mirabilis_, 233;
    the London of, 234;
    his plays, 238;
    his _Hind and Panther_, 241;
    his Virgil, 243;
    his “All for Love,” 244;
    estimate of him, 246, 259, 261.

  Ellwood, Milton’s friend, 175.

  Elizabeth, Queen, and the English Bible, 55.

  Elizabeth, daughter of James I., 100.

  England at the death of Elizabeth, 1 _et seq._

  Etherege, 186.

  Evelyn, John, 137;
    his diary, 201.

  Ford, John, 91.

  _Fortunes of Nigel_, Scott’s, its picture of James I., 19, 35.

  Freeman, Mr., his misleading averment as to the errors in _Ivanhoe_, 20.

  Fuller, Thomas, his _English Worthies_, 221.

  Gay, John, 308;
    his “Beggar’s Opera,” 308;
    his _Trivia_, 310.

  Globe Theatre in Shakespeare’s time, 33, 36.

  Gosson, Stephen, a representation of the Puritan feeling, 42.

  Greenwich Hospital, 265.

  Hampton Court Conference, 44 _et seq._

  Harrison, William, 20 _et seq._

  Herbert, George, the poet, 7;
    poems of, 115;
    his marriage, 118, 128.

  Herbert, Lord, of Cherbury, 7.

  Herbert, William, Earl of Pembroke, 74, note.

  Herrick, Robert, 120;
    specimens of his verse, 122;
    character of, 124;
    his _Hesperides_, 125.

  Howell, James, 107.

  _Hudibras_, 193.

  James I., his pedigree, 4 _et seq._;
    his person and character, 6 _et seq._;
    his journey to London to be crowned, 9 _et seq._;
    his family, 100;
    tastes and characteristics of, 101 _et seq._;
    his _Counterblast to the Use of Tobacco_, 36, 104.

  James II., 256.

  Johnson, Hester (“Stella”), 314, 321;
    Swift’s letters to, 328;
    “Stella’s Journal,” 329;
    her secret marriage with Swift, 335;
    and Vanessa, 335;
    death of, 337.

  Jonson, Ben, his adulation of the King, 26;
    his literary versatility, 27;
    his masque at Whitehall, 29 _et seq._, 106.

  _Judith Shakespeare_, William Black’s novel, 33.

  Kenilworth, Walter Scott’s, 201.

  Kensington in Queen Anne’s time, 308.

  Kingsley’s pictures of Elizabethan characters and times, 18 _et seq._

  Lamb, Charles, influence of Sir Thomas Browne upon, 224;
    his essay, “The Genteel Style in Writing,” 227.

  Laud, Archbishop, 134, 136.

  Lily, Milton’s schoolmaster, 152, 186.

  Locke, John, his treatise on the _Human Understanding_, 249;
    his life, 250;
    on education, 252.

  “McFingal,” the, of John Trumbull, 196.

  Marlborough, Duke of, 303.

  Marlborough, Duchess of, 302;
    her influence over Queen Anne, 304.

  Marston, John, specimen of his satire, 92.

  Marvell, Andrew, Milton’s assistant, 170;
    story of his good fortune, 189;
    his “Garden,” etc., 191.

  Mary, Queen, daughter of James II., 262;
    death of, 301.

  Massinger’s “A New Way to Pay Old Debts,” 60, 93, 94.

  Masson’s _Life and Times of Milton_, 151.

  Mermaid Tavern, the, 34, 151.

  Milton, John, 150;
    Masson’s Life of, 151;
    his father, 151;
    at school, 152;
    his early verse, 153 _et seq._;
    at Cambridge, 153;
    his travels, 156;
    his marriage to Mary Powell, 157;
    his daughters, 160;
    his first published poems, 160;
    his pamphlets, 161;
    his defence of regicide, 164;
    in peril, 167;
    domestic life, 169;
    Munkacsy’s picture of, 169;
    his third marriage, 171;
    _The Paradise Lost_, 171;
    his use of other books, 173;
    his last days, 174;
    payments for his _Paradise_, 176;
    deserted by his daughters, 177;
    _Paradise Regained_ and _Samson Agonistes_, 177, 188;
    his death, 179.

  _Mortality, Old_, Scott’s novel, 264.

  Newton, Isaac, 207, 258.

  “New Way to Pay Old Debts, A,” 60, 94.

  _Nigel_, Scott’s novel, 19, 35.

  _Old Mortality_, Scott’s novel, 324.

  Otway, Thomas, 237.

  Overbury, Sir Thomas, 114, his _Characters_.

  “Overreach, Sir Giles,” 60, 94.

  Penn, William, 258.

  Pepys, Mr., his purchase of _Hudibras_, 194, 198;
    his diary, 199;
    extracts from, 202.

  _Peveril of the Peak_, Scott’s, 184.

  Primer, the Old New England, 54.

  Prior, Matthew, 258, 268.

  Prynne, William, 142;
    his _Histriomastix_, 143.

  Raleigh, Walter, 11 _et seq._;
    in the Tower, 13;
    his _History of the World_, 13;
    his expedition to Guiana, 13;
    executed, 15;
    specimens of his writings, 15 _et seq._;
    his _Ocean to Cynthia_, 17, note;
    his life an epitome of Elizabethan times, 18.

  Rochester, Earl of, 185.

  Selden, John, his _Table-Talk_, 129.

  Shakespeare, 32 _et seq._;
    56 _et seq._;
    his characters real, 58;
    his personality, 61;
    his family relations, 67;
    his children, 68, 84;
    in London, 73 _et seq._;
    early poetry, 75;
    “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” 76, 77;
    his “Venus and Adonis,” and “Lucrece,” 77;
    like Chaucer in taking his material, 79;
    his closing years, 81 _et seq._;
    his son-in-law, Dr. Hall, 83.

  Sheridan, Thomas, 337.

  Sidney, Lady Dorothy, pursued by Waller, 149.

  Southampton, Earl of, 74.

  Spencer, Sir John, his dwelling, Crosby Hall, 23;
    a letter of his daughter, 24 _et seq._

  Steele, Richard, 259;
    author of the _Tatler_, 280;
    his _Christian Hero_, 281;
    his marriages, 281 _et seq._;
    his literary qualities, 285.

  Stratford, the town of, and surrounding country, 63;
    a walk to, from Windsor, 70.

  Stuart, house of, 4.

  Suckling, Sir John, 140;
    his tragic death, 142.

  Swift, Jonathan, 226, 259;
    early life of, 312;
    his life at Sir William Temple’s, 313;
    goes back to Ireland, 314;
    his _Battle of the Books_ and _Tale of a Tub_, 316;
    appointed chaplain to Lord Berkeley, 318;
    his politics, 324;
    his London life, 328;
    _Stella’s Journal_, 328;
    “Cadenus and Vanessa,” 332;
    back in Ireland, 333;
    his secret marriage with Stella, 335;
    his _Gulliver’s Travels_, 340;
    his madness and death, 340.

  Swinburne, his estimate of Webster, 89.

  Taine, his overdrawn picture of the Restoration, 186.

  Taylor, Jeremy, 135;
    his career, 136;
    his _Holy Living and Dying_, 139.

  Taylor, John, “the Water Poet,” a favorite of James I., 102.

  Temple, Sir William, 224, 313;
    death of, 317.

  Theobalds, King James’ palace, 10, 105.

  Tillotson, John, 188.

  Tobacco in literature, 103 _et seq._

  Trumbull, John, his _McFingal_, 196.

  “Two Noble Kinsmen,” 95.

  Vanbrugh, Sir John, 306.

  “Vanessa,” Swift’s letter to, 315.

  Vanhomrigh, Miss (“Vanessa”), 331;
    death of, 336.

  Waller, Edmund, 145;
    his literary importance, 149.

  Walton, Izaak, 111;
    his _Angler_, 112;
    his biographic sketches, 113.

  Webster, John, 88;
    Dyce’s edition of his works, 89;
    character of his plays, 90;
    Swinburne’s estimate of, 89.

  _Westward, Ho!_ Kingsley’s, 18.

  William and Mary, 256.

  William of Orange, 263 _et seq._

  William III., 263;
    his death, 301.

  Will’s Coffee-house, 236.

  _Woodstock_, Scott’s novel, 168.

  Woodstock, the park at, 305.

  Wotton, Sir Henry, 109.

  Wren, Sir Christopher, 306.

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