Slike strani

JOHN AUBREY (1626-1697) collected materials for many works, but published only one, the Miscellanies (1696), containing an account of popular superstitions, and bearing witness to his own credulity. This, however, does not represent the full extent of his learning or his literary value as one of the most agreeable of gossips.

EDWARD BROWNE (1644-1708) of Norwich and Trinity College, Cambridge, was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Browne, and rose to great eminence as a doctor, being a physician to Charles II, and, for the last four years of his life, President of the Royal College of Physicians. He did some work as a translator, but his most memorable book is his Brief Account of Some Travels in the Balkan peninsula and the Austrian dominions. He went as far as Larissa in Thessaly, out of respect to the memory of Hippocrates, who had been a doctor there.

SIR WILLIAM DUGDALE (16051686) produced one of the most valuable contributions to the knowledge of ecclesiastical antiquitiesthe English Monasticon (1665-1673). He also published The Baronage of England (1676), The Antiquities of Warwickshire Illustrated (1656), A History of St. Paul's Cathedral (1658), etc. It is impossible to do sufficient justice to Dugdale's astonishing learning, which justifies us in calling him the first of English antiquaries. His work, unlike that of so many of his contemporaries, can never go out of date, but must always remain a leading authority on its special subject. And, further, he is almost a solitary example of the scholar the extent of whose learning is fully represented by the quantity as well as the quality of his writing. "What Dugdale has done," says Anthony Wood, "is prodigious. His memory ought to be venerated and had in everlasting remembrance."

ANDREW FLETCHER (1655-1716) of Saltoun was a Scottish political writer of some note, who spent a very turbulent life, first, in opposing the Stewart government in Scotland, and, after his return from exile in 1688, in inveighing against union with England. His work consists

of political tracts, and, in his Second Discourse concerning the Affairs of Scotland (1698), is to be found the extravagant, but, in those days, not altogether unreasonable proposal for reducing the wandering beggars or "gaberlunzies" to a state closely resembling slavery, with the extraordinary rider that the most hardened offenders should be sent to serve in the Venetian galleys against the Turk! His courageous projects were never adopted; and he lived to see, with mortification, the union against which he had so vehemently declaimed.

SIR MATTHEW HALE (16091676), Chief Justice of the King's Bench in the reign of Charles II, wrote several works, many, such as the Contemplations Moral and Divine (1700), being of a moral and religious character.

SIR GEORGE MACKENZIE (16361691), King's Advocate from 1677 to 1686, was hated by the Covenanters as the "bloodthirsty advocate." The reputation which he thus gained seems to have rested on no foundation, so far as his own character was concerned, beyond a certain heat and sternness of temper, and, in his early days at the bar (1661), he had pleaded the cause of Lord Argyll. He wrote both verse and prose. His prose style is a remarkable example of belated enthusiasm for the long period, which had, in his own day, given place to the short sentence; and, both in his early novel, Aretina (1661), and in his later essays, he imitates the great masters of Caroline prose with considerable success. He is buried in the Greyfriars' Churchyard at Edinburgh.

HENRY NEVILLE (1620-1694), the friend of Harrington, the author of the Oceana, was also a member of

the republican party. His treatise. Plato Redivivus, or a Dialogue concerning Government (1681), shows, however, a political change, as, in a dialogue between a Venetian nobleman, an English doctor (supposed to be Harvey), and an English gentleman, it advocates the monarchical form of government.

THOMAS RYMER (1641-1713). historiographer from 1692 to his death, is principally known as the

compiler of the Fadera. His importance as a writer consists, however, in a pair of essays in which he vehemently attacked the Elizabethan drama and advocated a return to the Greek model. The first of these appeared in 1678, the year after his own frigid tragedy, Edgar, and may therefore be considered as a piece of special pleading. The second diatribe, dealing with Othello and Julius Cæsar, appeared in 1692, fourteen years later than the first. The serious attention of his closing years was devoted to the Fadera (1704-1713), one of the most important collections of state papers in existence. Fifteen volumes were issued during Rymer's lifetime, the remaining two (1715 and 1717) were edited by his assistant, Robert Sanderson.

BULSTRODE WHITELOCKE (16051675), an able lawyer and a pro

minent member of the Long Parliament, was entrusted with an embassy to Sweden, and with other high offices, by the Protector. He wrote Memorials of English Affairs from the beginning of the reign of Charles I to the Restoration (1682), which are familiar by name to all readers of Carlyle's Cromwell.

ANTHONY WOOD (1632-1695) of Merton College, Oxford, is well known as the historian (1674) of the city and University of Oxford, and as the author of Athena Oxonienses (1691-2), an account of the eminent men educated at Oxford. His extraordinary and admirable devotion to his University has done something, perhaps, to hinder his wider reputation as a writer of charming and quaint English prose; but all subsequent writers on Oxford owe almost everything to him, while his own life in Oxford was his ideal of happiness.


2 C




§ 1. POPE: his early life and poems. The Rape of the Lock and Windsor Forest. § 2. His translation of Homer. 3. Publication of his complete poems. His life at Twickenham and his edition of Shakespeare. 4. The Dunciad, the Essay on Man, etc. § 5. Criticism of The Rape of the Lock. Pope's death and character. § 6. SWIFT: his early life and connection with Sir William Temple. § 7. Settles in Ireland. The Tale of a Tub. §8. Returns to England and joins the Tories. Made dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin. § 9. Takes up his residence finally in Ireland. The Drapier's Letters. Gulliver's Travels. His death. § 10. His relation to Stella and Vanessa. § 11. Criticism of Gulliver's Travels. § 12. Of The Tale of a Tub and other works. Comparison between Swift, Rabelais, and Voltaire. § 13. ARBUTHNOT. His History of John Bull. § 14. MATTHEW PRIOR. § 15. GAY: The Beggar's Opera. § 16. GARTH, PARNELL, and TICKELL § 17. YOUNG: the Night Thoughts. § 18. ALLAN Ramsay.

§ I. THE literary period inaugurated by Dryden and the great wits of the Revolution reached its climax in the reign of Annethe so-called Augustan age of English literature. The classical spirit ruled supreme in verse and prose alike, and produced a degree of polish in both, which, in inferior hands, became dangerously like a mere mechanical regularity. It was an age pre-eminently of literary cliques, of great patrons and clients of genius. Its whole tendency was unimaginative and matter-offact; its literature deals, not with ideas, but with men and things--and, above all, politics—and studies not so much what it says as the way to say it. This is the spirit which we have seen coming in like a flood with Dryden; and, as he dominated his own age, so the epoch in which his work was carried to



perfection has its own laureate. Far above all other poets of this epoch shines the brilliant name of ALEXANDER POPE. His family was of the Roman communion; his father carried on a linen draper's business in Lombard Street, and there he was born on the 21st of May, 1688. About 1700 his father retired to a pleasant country-house at Binfield, between Windsor and Wokingham, so that, from his earliest years, Pope was familiar with the rural scenery of Windsor Forest. The boy's

growth was retarded by a severe illness in childhood; he remained almost a dwarf, and so deformed that his after-life was "one long disease," which not only precluded him from the possibility of embracing any active profession, but made constant care and nursing necessary to the preservation of his life. Like many other deformed persons, he had a face which was singularly intellectual and expressive, and his eyes were remarkable for their tenderness and fire. He was sent to school for a short time, but returned home when he was twelve. His intellect was extraordinarily precocious, and the literary ambition by which he was devoured from his early boyhood at once pointed out his destined career. He said of himself, "I lisped in numbers, for the numbers came," and his earliest attempts at poetry were made when he had hardly left his nursery. His father was in easy circumstances; and thus the boy was able to indulge that taste for study and poetical reading which continued to be the passion of his life. He was so struck with reverence for Dryden's glory that, at the age of twelve, he is said to have persuaded a friend to accompany him to Will's Coffee-house, which the illustrious veteran frequented; and so obtained a glance at the patriarch of letters, whose mantle he himself was destined to wear. Dryden died in that very year, 1700; and Pope's first work belongs to 1702 or 1703, when, although only fifteen, he translated the first book of Statius' Thebais; and he composed a collection of Pastorals, if his own statement is to be trusted, in 1704. These Pope's early poetry. were not published till 1709, when they appeared in one of Tonson's Miscellanies, side by side with the Pastorals of Pope's future enemy, Ambrose Philips. To nearly the same time as the Pastorals, which are stiff imitations from Virgil, belong certain paraphrases of Chaucer, which prove him eager in all things to follow the example of his great master, Dryden. In 1705, or about that time, he met Wycherley; and the famous but ill-assorted friendship of the old and young poets lasted, with considerable heart-burnings on either side, and one serious break, till Wycherley's death in 1715. Another early friend, to whom Pope was apparently introduced by Wycherley, was William Walsh, something of a poet himself and a considerable critic. His influence and advice appear to have had much to do with the formation of Pope's style. At any rate, he receives a fine tribute of praise in the Essay on Criticism, which, written in 1710 and published in 1711, was the first poem to fix Pope's reputation, and to give a foretaste of his immense popularity. His precepts are those inculcated by Horace, repeated by Boileau, and by all the poets and critics of the classical school; but they are expressed by Pope with such an union of force and delicacy, such ripeness of judgment, such grace of expression and melody of verse, that the poem appears less like the effort of a young writer than the result of consummate experience and practice


tion of the Essay on Criticism" (1711).

"The Rape of the Lock" (1712-14).

in composition. This is closely followed by the first sketch of The Rape of the Lock, which appeared in two cantos in Lintot's Miscellany for 1712. The tiny mock-heroic poem was greeted by Addison as "merum sal," but Pope set himself to still further improvement of it, and the whole poem, as we have it, was published in in 1714. This masterpiece, the successful rival of Boileau's Lutrin, which had been translated into English about this time by Nicholas Rowe, and incomparably superior to all other mock-heroic poems the world had hitherto seen, stamped Pope at once the chief poet of his age. The Rape of the Lock was his longest work between 1712 and 1715. In 1712 a number of The Spectator contained the famous pastoral, The Messiah, which was modelled on Virgil's fifth eclogue. In 1713 was published Windsor Forest, whose extraordinary neatness of versification and beauty of diction must be taken into account, if we compare it with the work of other and more natural poets. Pope, who, like Wycherley, had a suspicious fondness for referring to his own precocity, said that he had written Windsor Forest in 1704. The plan of the work is borrowed principally from Sir John Denham's Cooper's Hill, but Pope has hardly any passage to be compared with those few but unequalled lines which have preserved the vitality of Denham's poem. Pope's work was received, on the one hand, by hard criticism, notably from the pen of John Dennis; but, on the other, it provoked a somewhat undiscriminating praise. Certainly, few people would be found nowadays to congratulate the poet upon his Temple of Fame, which, resorting to his old fashion of imitation and paraphrase, he adapted from Chaucer's House of Fame.



§ 2. În 1715 the first volume of his translation of the Iliad appeared. This work, upon which Dryden had feared to venture, has its origin in 1709, when a detached Translation episode appeared in Lintot's Miscellany, and was of Homer received so well that Pope determined to complete the undertaking. The work was to be published by subscription, and he was at first almost reduced to despair when brought face to face with so prodigious a task; but with practice came facility, and the whole of the Iliad was at last completed by the publication of the sixth volume in 1720. The whole work, as is well known, was dedicated to Congreve. It excited a frenzy of admiration, and various enthusiasts wrote laudatory epigrams which, by the extravagance of the honour paid to Pope, prove how little the authors understood of Homer. In a pecuniary sense this was a most successful venture. Pope received for his labour upwards of £5000, and laid Translation of the the foundation of that competence which he enjoyed "Odyssey" with sense and moderation. The Odyssey did not (1725) appear till five years later, in 1725; but of this Pope himself translated only twelve out of the twenty-four books;

« PrejšnjaNaprej »