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Educating Effects of the Reformation
A World-Shaking Revolution
the world had never before seen. Along the whole horizon the black clouds that so long had shadowed Europe were breaking and scattering, and even the dullest peasant could not fail to realize the momentous change. The monasteries, which for a thousand years had been the central object in every English landscape, which held in their grasp one-fifth of the richest land of the kingdom, and which were regarded by the nation at large as an institution as permanent as the throne itself, had been swept utterly away in a moment. The Roman Catholic Church, a system as ancient as the very government and seemingly as stable, had been destroyed at a word; the King had defied the Pope and was ruling in his stead. Protestantism was actually making progress against the Church, entrenched as it was by the workers of fourteen centuries, and impressed on the imagination of men as nothing else has been in human history, save the Empire of Rome itself. To the slow-thinking Englishman it was a most tremendous object lesson. The very foundations of the world seemed to be tottering.
Every realm of human activity was being shaken to its center. The age of manuscript had come suddenly to an end with the invention of paper and the printing press; navigation had entered upon a new era with the mariner's compass; the feudal system with its castles and armor had become archaic with the boom of the first cannon.
Within a single generation the New
World was discovered by Columbus, 1498. Da Gama Rounds India was reached by rounding Africa, 1500. The Copernican the nature of the solar system was de
monstrated by Copernicus, and the Ref. tion in Germany. ormation was opened by Luther. Men
Theory. 1517. The
An Era of Storm and Stress
began to look away from their narrow 1520. Magellan Rounds surroundings into a broader world that the Globe.
1521. Cortez Conquers stirred their imaginations and awakened their activities; they began to think for 1531. Pizarro Subjuthemselves and to breathe aloud their 1541. Discovery of the thoughts. Science in its modern sense
Mississippi. arose; commerce began to flourish; daring spirits pushed into new lands and came back with stories that quickened the pulse of Europe and the world. The modern era had begun.
Tudor England. (Froude, History of England; Moberly, Early Tudors, and Creighton, Age of Elizabeth (Epoch Series); Bright, History of England, Vol. ii. ; Gairdner, Henry VII., and Beesly, Queen Elizabeth.)
The century after the accession of Henry VII. was thus an era of swift change, of fierce struggle, of darkness and unrest. “ England lay between two worlds, one dead, the other powerless to be born.” It was an era of intense mental strain. Men's hearts were ever full of fear; their minds were racked with religious controversy. There were times when no man could feel himself safe, when it was as dangerous to say too little as to say too much. There were times when the people day after day saw relatives and friends breathing out their lives in agony amid the burning fagots. There were times when the king was an absolute tyrant, and the most barefaced injustice must be suffered in silence. And there came a time when the land was rent into two warring nations, and its independence was openly surrendered to Spain.
But beneath the plowshare that was thus rending England there were germs that were destined to spring up
Elements of Strength
and transform the nation. In 1510 Colet had founded at his own expense a school where classic Latin and Greek should be taught after the new methods to deserving boys, thus laying the foundations for “ that system of middle-class education which before the close of the century had changed the very face of England." The very violence and despotism of the king were in the end to benefit the nation. The government was consolidated and centralized. Peace and war were now in the hands of the sovereign, and with his kingdom an obedient unit before him he could engage in international politics. Under the two Henrys England took a leading place among the nations of Europe, and she gained a new conception of her own power and destiny. She was no longer to be an isolated nation viewing with unconcern the doings of the rest of the world. It was to be her work to break down the ancient barriers of the Channel. To compete with Spain and Italy and Holland she must look to the sea. Whatever their faults, it was the early Tudors who taught England the secret of her strength, for they gave to the nation her first navy in the modern sense of the word. The discovery of America put new life into English mariners and opened another Age of the Vikings. Eager English crews were soon racing across the Atlantic to win new lands for their king. Commerce sprang up on every sea. The docks of London and Dartmouth, Southampton and Hull, were thronged with ships laden with far-borne riches. England became a new being under the touch of material prosperity; her intellectual life was broadened with the increase of her geographical horizon. It needed but the hand of a wise and tolerant sovereign to make her the leader of Europe, not
Novels and Poems
Descriptive of the Age
only in things material, but in intellectual and spiritual freedom, in literature and scholarship. SUGGESTED READINGS. Scott, Marmion (1513), and Lady of the Lake; Shakespeare, Henry VÌII.; Mühlbach, Henry VIII, and His Court; Boker, Anne Boleyn (drama); Ainsworth, Windsor Castle and Tower Hill (1538); Mrs. Manning, Household of Sir Thomas More; Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper ; Mrs. Oliphant, Magdalen Hepburn.
THE RENAISSANCE OF ENGLISH PROSE
The English Tongue. At the opening of the sixteenth century the powerful old Anglo-Saxon had fairly conquered all the foreign elements into its own idiom.' The language stood substantially complete, ready for the great masters who so soon were to make it the medium for their work. As we have seen, it had not won its place without a struggle. “For four hundred years, says Sidney Lanier, “that is, in round numbers, from 670 to 1070—the English language was desperately striving to get into literature, against the sacred wishes of Latin; and now, when the Normans come, the tongue of Ald. helm and Cædmon, Ælfred and Ælfric and Cynewulf, must begin and fight again for another four hundred years against French."
The fight was still fierce in Chaucer's day. Langland and Gower had represented the extremes; Chaucer had taken middle ground with a leaning more and more towards his native tongue. With the destruction of the baron class the followers of Langland grew gradually in power, until when Henry VIII. had destroyed the monasteries, the last lurking-place of mediævalism, and established the grammar schools conducted in the vernacular, the triumph of the language was complete.
The Birth of Prose. The strength and brightness of the old tongue were never more manifest than at the