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vanity and luxury of women. had no talent for humour, and though he sometimes tried it, we can easily perceive that this was only to please his audience, that his heart was not in his work; and the result was most frequently not humour, but indecency. Of Massinger's higher and nobler flights, of his delineations of rare and lofty character, of his easy and melodious versification, the only successful imitator in recent times was James Sheridan Knowles, who, in his fine tragedy of the Wife, a tale of Mantua, some of the incidents in which were evidently suggested by the Duke of Milan, though the termination is less sad, has reproduced, in the happiest manner, Massinger's powerful and noble language. This fine dramatist, who died suddenly in 1640, was interred in the same grave in St. Mary Overy's Church, Southwark, which, fifteen years before, had received the remains of Fletcher.
Of the minor dramatists of this period we can do no more than mention Marston (Antonio and Mellida, etc.), Webster (the Duchess of Malfi, White Devil), Dekker (Satiromastix), Chapman the translator of Homer (Bussy d'Ambois, etc.), Middleton (the Witch), Tourneur (Atheist's Tragedy), Ford (Love's Sacrifice, etc.), Heywood (a Woman killed with Kindness, etc.) and Shirley.
In speaking of the poets and dramatists of the Elizabethan era, Lord Jeffrey says: Though time may have hallowed many things that were at first but common, and accidental associations imparted a charm to much that was in itself indifferent, we cannot but believe that there was an original sanctity which time only matured and extended, and an inherent charm from which the association derived all its power. And when we look candidly and calmly to the works of our early dramatists, it is impossible, we think, to dispute, that, after criticism has done its worst on them; after all deductions for impossible plots and fantastical characters, unaccountable forms of speech, and occasional extravagance, indelicacy, and horrors; there is a facility and richness about them, both of thought and of diction; a force of invention, and a depth of sagacity; an originality of conception, and a play of fancy; a nakedness and energy of passion, and, above all, a copiousness of imagery, and a sweetness and flexibility of verse, which is altogether unrivalled in earlier or in later times; and places them, in our estimation, in the very highest and foremost place among ancient or modern poets.'
Though Sir Walter Raleigh is best known as a prose-writer, he has left us several short poems of considerable merit; among others, the Nymph's Reply (If all the world and love were young), which has been printed as Shakespeare's. But, indeed, we should be puzzled to say, what accomplishments this remarkable man did not possess. He was a soldier, a navigator, a discoverer, a colonizer, an historian, a philosopher and a wit. Of his indomitable courage he gave many proofs, particularly in the fight with the Spanish Armada, and in the expedition to Cadiz. On the last-mentioned occasion he volunteered, in a contrary wind, to lead the way with his ship through the narrow entrance into Cadiz harbour, and was exposed for nearly a quarter of an hour to the converging fire of the Spanish batteries, before a second English vessel could come to his assistance. His ship was shot through and through, every man on board being either killed or wounded, and he himself covered with blood. When at length he was sacrificed to the hatred of the Court of Madrid, by the mean and pedantic James, who hoped at this price to obtain a Spanish princess for his son, he exhibited all his old intrepidity and contempt of death, on the scaffold. Walking unconcernedly through the crowd, just as he had risen from bed, he observed an old bare-headed man, and taking off his own warm night-cap, which he still wore, he gave it to him, remarking that he himself required it no longer. On mounting the scaffold, he examined the edge of the axe, with the eye and touch of a judge, to satisfy himself that it was sharp enough, and then quietly laid his head on the block, his last words, addressed to the hesitating executioner, being: 'Why dost thou not strike? Strike, man!
Raleigh's two principal prose works are his Discovery of Guiana, and his History of the World. The former has been coarsely attacked by Hume, as a tissue of wilful falsehoods, but although no doubt it contains some inaccuracies, its general truthfulness is acknowledged. His History of the World was produced, with the aid of Ben Jonson and some other literary friends, during his twelve years' imprisonment in the Tower, on a false charge of high treason. This great work, which is really a masterpiece, he did not live to complete, and it terminates abruptly with the second Macedonian war.
Of Francis Bacon, the 'great Bacon,' as
he is often called, it is not easy to speak, for he presents himself to us in two very different and opposite characters. As an elegant and fluent writer, an original thinker, a discoverer of new truths, he merits our highest admiration; as the base betrayer of his generous patron, Essex, as the pocketer of bribes and perverter of the justice it was his duty to administer without fear or favour, as the willing and supple tool of court favourites, we can hardly find language sufficiently strong to condemn him. Nay, with our feeling of detestation for his conduct, as a man, is mingled a certain feeling of contempt, when we recollect how, in 1621, finding all tergiversation useless, and seeing himself forced to plead guilty to the twenty-three articles of indictment, he addressed the humiliating supplication to the committee of the House of Lords: 'I beseech your lordships to be merciful to a broken reed.' Happily, however, in these pages, we have but little to do with the Chancellor; our main business is with the philosopher and the writer.
Bacon's most popular, though not his greatest work, is undoubtedly his Essays, which almost immediately gained the author the favour of the public, and such is the excellence of their style, that their popularity has hardly diminished since Bacon's own days. As he himself quaintly observed: they come home to men's business and bosoms; and like the late new halfpence, the pieces are small, and the silver is good.' The Essays-at first only ten in number, but afterwards increased to fiftyeight-make but a moderately sized volume, and yet they may be read again and again, and at each reading we find in them something new-a truth which had previously escaped our attention, an illustration which we had not before rightly and fully appreciated. The work, however, which gained Bacon the highest reputation among the learned was the Instauration of the Sciences, which it was his intention to produce in six parts, so as to form at once a com. plete system of philosophy and a compendium of the whole learning of the day. Of this colossal undertaking he was able to execute only a portion. The first part appeared in 1605 with the title, the Proficience and Advancement of Learning, but he republished it in Latin, in 1623, under the name: De Augmentis Scientiarum, with several alterations and additions. After dwelling on the value of learning and the means for its dissemination, he divides his subject into three sections, history, poetry and philosophy, corresponding to the three fa
culties of the mind: memory, imagination and reasoning. The second part of the work, called the Novum Organum, and written in Latin, consists of a series of aphorisms, constituting a complete manual of Bacon's system of logic, and was published in 1620. The first of these aphorisms is: 'Man, who is the servant and interpreter of nature, can act and understand no farther than he has, either in operation or in contemplation, observed of the method and order of nature.' Here we have, in few words, the leading principle of the inductive system of reasoning, as distinguished from the older system, called the deductive or Aristotelian. Of the third book, entitled the History of Nature, one part, treating of the winds, and life and death, is in Latin; and the rest, detailing his observations and experiments in physics, in English; but the book is merely a specimen, and in his observations he is sometimes mistaken. Of the fourth book, Scala Intellectus, or the steps by which the intellect in such investigations ascends, we have no more than an outline. Of the fifth book we have nothing but a preface, and the sixth he did not even begin.
The adoption of the inductive system in science has done a great deal to promote true progress, both moral and material; nor is it one of its slightest merits that it contributed to put an end to those fruitless scholastic disputations which the deductive system was but too well adapted to foster. As he himself tells us, the object at which he aimed was 'fruit,' that is, utility, an end which the older philosophers, when they thought of it at all, considered altogether beneath the dignity of philosophy. They could teach men to despise, or to affect contempt for the sufferings and inconveniences attending life, but to employ acquired knowledge for their removal or their diminution was to them an abasement of science to ignoble purposes.
Bacon's book on the Wisdom of the Ancients is likewise highly esteemed. it he undertakes to show, that a secret meaning may be found in the mythological fables of antiquity. The New Atlantis reminds the reader strongly of Sir Thomas More's Utopia.
THE AGE OF TRANSITION.
The first great English poet, after the time of Spenser, is John Milton (1608— 1674), who, as has been well observed,
forms a connecting link between the Elizabethan school and that of Anne, uniting in himself all the genius of the former, with the delicacy, the polish, and the elegance of the latter.'
On leaving Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1632, with the degree of Master of Arts, Milton, then twenty-four years of age, retired to his father's country-seat, Horton in Buckinghamshire. Here he prosecuted his studies with such intense ardour, that he is said in these five years to have read all, or nearly all the Greek and Latin writers. Yet during this happy period of his life he found time to write not only the Mask of Comus, which was composed at the request of the Earl of Bridgewater, and first privately performed at that nobleman's residence, Ludlow Castle, but also his beautiful minor poems, l'Allegro, il Penseroso, and Lycidas, his sweet tribute to the memory of his friend, Edward King, who perished at sea, when on his way to visit his parents in Dublin, and to undertake the duties of a clergyman in Ireland. Lycidas, there is no doubt, has since suggested Tennyson's admired poem, in Memoriam. His sublime Hymn on the Nativity was a still earlier production than any of these, having been written when Milton was but twenty-one. In l'Allegro he describes the aspect of Nature as viewed by the cheerful man; in the Penseroso, the effect produced by not very dissimilar scenery on the pensive and thoughtful, but not gloomy or misanthropic mind. Neither of these poems is long, yet they have both enriched the English language with a surprising number of beautiful images. What Englishman is not familiar with the 'dark Cimmerian desert,' "Zephyr, with Aurora playing, as he met her once a-Maying,' Laughter holding both his sides,' the dancers who 'trip it on the light fantastic toe,' the cock, who 'stoutly struts his dames before,' 'russet lawns and fallows grey,' the notes of linked sweetness long drawn out;' or the gay motes that people the sunbeams,' 'Philomel, smoothing the rugged brow of night,' the woodland covert that hides from day's garish eye,' 'the arched walks of twilight groves,' the 'storied windows' casting their 'dim religious light.' No other poet, with the single exception of Shakespeare, has done so much to ennoble and beautify the English language as Milton. After the death of his mother, Milton travelled in France and Italy. It was his intention to visit Greece, but as the disputes between Charles I. and his Parliament were every day growing more bitter,
he returned to his own country to lend what he regarded as the cause of liberty against despotism the powerful aid of his pen. Milton cannot be fairly regarded as a Puritan, though the circumstances of the times made him one of the foremost defenders of the Puritan party. Macaulay says: 'not the coolest sceptic or the most profane scoffer was most perfectly free from the contagion of their frantic delusions, their savage manners, their ludicrous jargon, their scorn of science, and their aversion to pleasure. Hating tyranny with a perfect hatred, he had nevertheless all the estimable and ornamental qualities which were almost entirely monopolized by the party of the tyrant. There was none who had a stronger sense of the value of literature, a finer relish for every elegant amusement, or a more chivalrous delicacy of honour and love.' The same writer regrets that Milton's prose writings are so little read. 'As compositions,' he says, 'they deserve the attention of every man who wishes to become acquainted with the full power of the English language.' The principal of these performances are the Areopagitica, in which he advocates the liberty of the press; the Treatise of Reformation; Of prelatical Episcopacy, written in reply to the learned Usher, and the Iconoclast.
Under the Commonwealth, Milton was Cromwell's Latin secretary, so that he had some cause to look forward to the Restoration with uneasiness. He remained notwithstanding unmolested, principally, it is said, owing to the intercession of the poet laureate, Sir William Davenant. He now abandoned politics, and devoted himself entirely to the composition of his greatest work, Paradise Lost.
So early as 1639, when Milton was in his thirty-first year, he had contemplated an epic founded on the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. After a time he gave up this design, proposing to seek a different theme, and to adopt the dramatic form of composition. Having noted down nearly one hundred subjects, he at last fixed on Paradise Lost, and two drafts of the dramatis personæ, and two of the action of the projected drama, still exist in his own handwriting among the Milton manuscripts in Trinity College, Cambridge. Other occupations and cares prevented him from carrying out this intention; and when, in 1658, he resumed his work, so long interrupted, he decided that it should be a poem, and not a drama. Though it must be evident to every unprejudiced mind, that the idea of
Paradise Lost was borrowed by Milton exclusively from the Bible, no less than thirty different books, English, Latin, Italian and Dutch, have been at different times named as the source from which he derived the groundwork of his great poem. As to the time occupied in its composition accounts differ. Milton by this time was totally blind, and as he had to dictate portions of the poem to any friend whom he could employ for the moment as amanuensis, the work must have gone on but slowly. The popular notion of his dictating the poem to his daughters must be received with caution: Anne, the eldest, was but twelve years old, when he began Paradise Lost, and she could not write; Mary, the second, was ten, and Deborah only six, and though these two had both learned to write, it is improbable that they afforded him much assistance. The poem, however, was certainly completed by 1665.
The difficulties of writing such a poem as Paradise Lost can be hardly over-estimated. In the first place, his location of Heaven and Hell, Chaos and the new world, was quite incompatible with the Copernican system of astronomy, and Milton has accordingly followed the older theory called the Ptolemaic. Then, Adam and Eve, in Paradise, were placed in such a position as no other man and woman were ever in, and their language had to be made interesting while carefully excluding all reference to that past experience which they could not possess, and to a world, of which they were ignorant. It was further necessary to describe combats between legions of spirits; and we need not wonder, that all the genius of Milton could not prevent him from sometimes mixing up spirit with matter. Taking these, and a hundred other similar difficulties, into consideration, it is wonderful that the poet has succeeded in lending his epic, we might almost say, an air of probability.
Paradise Regained is only about onethird of the length of Paradise Lost, and treats of a very small part of Christ's ministry on earth-the temptation in the wilderness-for which reason we incline to the opinion of those who regard it as only a portion of a longer poem which Milton had projected. The opening lines prove nothing to the contrary, for they may have been written after Milton had brought the poem to an abrupt close, just as a prosewriter often composes his introduction or preface when the book is finished. Phillips, Milton's nephew says, in his Life of Milton (1694): it is generally censured to
be much inferior to the other (Paradise Lost), though he (Milton) could not hear with patience any such thing when related to him.' We must say, we agree with the general opinion in Milton's own days. There are certainly some fine passages, such as the description of Greece, in Paradise Regained, but they will not bear a comparison with the awfully grand picture of Pandemonium, the stormy interview between Michael and Satan, or the soft and charming Evening in Paradise. In another of Milton's works we find many passages of rare beauty, too-we mean Samson Agonistes, written in the style of the old Greek tragedy-but in it, as in Paradise Regained, we miss that wonderful invention which is so distinguishing a feature in his magnificent epic. Of Milton and Paradise Lost, the eminent scholar, Bentley, observes: '1 wonder not so much at the poem itself, though worthy of all wonder, as that the author could so abstract his thoughts from his own troubles as to be able to make it-that, confined in a narrow, and to him a dark chamber, surrounded with cares and fears, he could expatiate at large through the compass of the whole Universe, and through all Heaven beyond it, and could survey all periods of time from before the Creation to the consummation of all things.' Bentley concludes by expressing his conviction that there is that power in the human mind, supported with innocence and conscia virtus, that can make it shake off all outward uneasiness, and involve itself secure and pleased in its own integrity and entertainment.'
The reader can scarcely have failed to observe how powerfully English literature, from the time of Chaucer to that of Milton, was affected by the great Tuscan writers and poets. With the Restoration in 1660 a new influence made itself dominant. Charles II., at that period of life when men are most susceptible of external impressions, had lived as an exile for ten years on the Continent, and he returned to England fully persuaded, that the court of Louis XIV. was the supreme arbiter of taste in literature, and the court poets of France the greatest the world had ever seen; further, that the luxuriant richness in the diction of the Elizabethan poets was nothing but barbarous pleonasm, and that English poetry must be pruned of every redundant word, and all made as regular, formal and precise as the gardens of Lenôtre at Versailles. Nature, poetic fire and inspiration were held at the court of the Restoration to be of no account
when compared with severe propriety of expression; Spenser and Shakespeare were declared to be too unrefined to please the fastidious seventeenth century, and a new class of poets, called the correct school, took their places. It would have been well if the poets and dramatists of the Restoration had not limited their passion for correctness to mere style and diction, and if they had extended it, as well, to the substance and the moral tendency of their writings. Patronized by a dissolute and shameless court, a whole swarm of writers appeared, such as Etherege, Wycherley, Congreve, Farquhar and Mrs. Aphra Behn, who prostituted their talents in the production of indecent comedies, for the delectation of the court of a sovereign, whom the licentious Rochester himself described as A merry monarch, scandalous and poor. There were, it is true, a few but unhappily a very few, irreproachable writers in Charles II.'s time, and among these, in addition to the great name of John Milton, we shall mention that of the Earl of Roscommon, in one of whose poems (the modest Muse) we find two lines which deserve to be printed in characters of gold:
Immodest words admit of no defence, For want of decency is want of sense. The most prominent poet and dramatist of the 'correct' school was indisputably John Dryden. He, too, has been often reproached with his licentiousness, but this charge only applies to some of his dramas, and hardly at all to his poems, which are usually pure. Indeed, it is our own conviction that no man disliked literary indecency more than John Dryden. From letters of his still extant, we may gather, that it was the wish of his life to be able to devote a few undisturbed years to the composition of some great poem, which should have done honour to his country and made his own name immortal; but this his narrow means, and the necessity of earning daily bread for his family never permitted him to do. At that time the readiest way of earning money was writing for the stage, and the chance was but small that any piece would be accepted by a theatre or performed, which did not contain a few indelicate scenes, at least. When Dryden was bitterly, and in some respects, unjustly attacked by a clergyman called Jeremy Collier, for the loose language in his plays, he, unlike Congreve and some others, attempted no defence, but replied with perfect candour: 'I have pleaded guilty to all
thoughts or expressions of mine that can be truly accused of obscenity, immorality, or profaneness, and retract them. If he (Collier) be my enemy, let him triumph; if he be my friend, he will be glad of my repentance. Poor Dryden! he might have pleaded the apology of Shakespeare's starved apothecary, when he sold the poison: 'My poverty, but not my will, consents.' His marriage with Lady Elizabeth Howard brought him no pecuniary advantage, but only the bitter experience, that, as Pope has so well expressed it, he had wedded 'discord in a noble wife.'
It was not till 1658, when Cromwell died, and Dryden was twenty-seven years of age, that he published his first poem, a panegyric on the late Lord Protector. Like Waller, and the other poets of that age however, he hastened to welcome and congratulate Charles, at the Restoration, in another poem, called Astræa Redux. The Annus Mirabilis or the year of wonders (1666) followed; in which the great events of that year, such as the defeat of the Dutch at sea, the breaking up of the French, Dutch, and Danish coalition against England, and the great fire of London are duly recorded. In 1668 he succeeded Sir William Davenant as poet laureate. His brilliant political satire, Absalom and Achitophel appeared in 1681; in which, under the thin disguise of Hebrew names, all the public characters are attacked, who were plotting to place Charles' illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth, on the throne, after the king's death; to the exclusion of the legitimate heir, James, Duke of York. Charles, though really attached to Monmouth, discountenanced the conspiracy to deprive his brother of his legal rights. In Dryden's satire Absalom represents Monmouth; Absalom's adviser, Achitophel, the Ex-Chancellor Shaftesbury; David, Charles the Second; Zimri, Villiers, Duke of Buckingham; Bathsheba, the Duchess of Portsmouth, the king's mistress, and so forth. One of the most salient passages in this fine satire is his retort on the Duke of Buckingham, who a few years before, with the aid of Butler, the author of Hudibras, had composed the comedy of the Rehearsal, in which Dryden was caricatured under the name of 'poet Bayes.' From his sketch of Buckingham's character we quote a few lines, to give some idea of Dryden's forcible satiric style:
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong;