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popularity, from his own age to obtained his degree of Master, that of Shakespeare, who introduces taught in the University. The medihim in the Prologue to Pericles and eval degree, in an age when promakes him speak thus :
fessorships were unknown, conferred “To sing a song that old was sung,
the right of teaching ; and the terms From ashes ancient Gower is come;
Master and Doctor are really synonyAssuming man's infirmities,
mous. Wycliffe was, however, a very To glad your ear and please your eyes." | important person at Oxford in his
day. He held a fellowship or fellowThe Confessio Amantis was first ships, probably at Merton and Balprinted by Caxton (London, 1483 ; liol; he also rose to the position of fol.) The British Museum has two Master of Balliol. He left Balliol copies of this rare work. Another after about a year and took the folio edition, in black-letter, was rectory of Fillingham in Lincolnprinted by T. Berthelette (London, shire, but returned to Oxford in 1363, 1532), and reprinted in 1554. None residing first at Queen's and then as of the modern editions deserve men- Warden of the recently founded tion beside that by Dr. Reinhold | Canterbury Hall. He began early to Pauli (London, 1857: 3 vols. 8vo), attack some abuses in the Church ; whose Introductory Essay contains and, after his deposition from his all that is known of the poet and his wardenship by Archbishop Langham works.
and the Pope's rejection of his appeal, he gave all his energies to the work of
reform, both by his writings and his C.-WYCLIFFE AND HIS theological lectures at Oxlord. It is SCHOOL.
useful to remember, first, that his
ideas, thus brought into prominence, The revolution effected by Chaucer were by no means new, but that he in poetry was accompanied and aided had had predecessors at Oxford, by an entirely new development of chief among whom were his masreligious literature which, apart from ter Armachanus, otherwise Richard its higher aspect, rendered a similar Fitz-Ralph, Archbishop of Armagh, service to English prose. The new and the “ Profound Doctor," Archliberty of thought, which found bishop Bradwardine. Secondly, he expression in popular literature and was a Schoolman, and not a Reforin the exercise of private judgment mer in our sense of the word; to in matters of faith, led to a direct mix him up or identify him with appeal to Scripture ; and the reform- later Lutherans or Calvinists is ing teachers satisfied this demand by highly misleading. His theological translating the Bible into the mother position, like that of every Schooltongue. In the other countries of man, was complicated by his philosoEurope which were affected by the phy; the orthodoxy of the one was Reformation, the revival of national impaired by the speculative heresy of literature has been connected with a the other. As a matter of fact, he similar work; and if the German belongs to the abstract and idealistic Bible of Luther and the Dutch school of Ockham, which, differing version of 1550 exercised a more from the Realists in no particular powerful influence over their respec- of orthodox belief, placed its faith tive languages than the Wycliffite upon different and more intangible translations, one chief reason is that grounds. For a long time Wycliffe they appeared after the invention of remained unmolested, and was even printing, and were immediately and regarded as a champion of the indefinitely multiplied by that art. In National Church. In 1374 he was England, this great work is ascribed a member of a commission sent to to JOHN DE WYCLIFFE (circ, 1324- | Avignon, which obtained concessions 1384), whose name is spelt in many from the Pope on the question of different ways. He was born at induction into benefices. He was Wycliffe-on-Tees near Darlington ; rewarded by the Crown with a prestudied at Oxford ; and, having bendal stall at Worcester and the vicarage of Lutterworth in Leicesterof the fourteenth century. Cheap shire, which he held till his death, editions of certain portions of the being secured from the storm of per- Wycliffite version have been issued secution that soon arose by the pro- by the Clarendon Press. under the tection of the king's son, John of editorship of Professor Skeat. Gaunt. It was in the retirement of The excellence of the version is to Lutterworth, after he had been driven be ascribed to two chief causes, the from his post at Oxford, that Wy- religious sensibility of the translators, cliffe, aided by his friends and dis whose spirit was absorbed in their ciples, undertook the work of Bible work, and the simple vocabulary and translation. Their version was the structure of the language, which basis of that of Tyndale, as Tyn- presented itself newly formed to their dale's was of the authorised versions hand. 'Translated as it was from of 1536 (Coverdale's) and 1611 (King the Vulgate, it naturalised, chiefly in James', which is still in use); but a Latin form, a large stock of re. three centuries and a half elapsed ligious terms which had been before before Wycliffe's original translation almost confined to theologians, and of the New Testament, and nearly at the same time enlarged and modifive centuries before his whole version fied them. Above all, by preserving appeared in print. The New Testa- the uniformity of diction and gramment was edited by the Rev. John mar suited to the sacred dignity Lewis (1731 ; fol.); by the Rev. of the work —a uniformity, by the H. H. Baker (1810; 4to); and in way, not found in nearly so high a Bagster's English Hexapla (1841 degree in Wycliffe's own treatisesand 1846; 410). The Old Testament it laid the foundation of that rewas first published in the splendid ligious or sacred dialect which has edition by the Rev. J. Forshall and contributed to secure dignity and Sir Frederick Madden (Oxford, earnestness as the prevailing char1850 ; 4 vols. 4to). The authorship acter of our common speech. While of the various parts has long been satires of the type of Piers Plowthe subject of discussion. Accord. man gratified the popular disgust at ing to the latest editions, the Old corruptions in high places, the newlyTestament and Apocrypha, from opened well-spring of truth supplied Genesis to Baruch (in the order of the cure for these evils ; and the the LXX), was translated by a priest readiness with which the people renamed NICHOLAS OF HEREFORD ceived both classes of works enriched (A. 1390), and the rest of the Old their language, while it exercised an Testament and Apocrypha, as well influence on their thoughts. Wycliffe's as the New Testament, by Wycliffe. | English works have been published, The whole work was revised, in a in part, under Mr. Arnold's editorsecond edition, by JOHN PURVEY ship, for the Clarendon Press, the (1353 ?-1428?), who has left us a rest by the Early English Text very interesting essay on the prin- Society, 1880. A full catalogue of ciples of translation. The first edition his original works, by Dr. Shirley, is seems to have been completed about also published by the Clarendon 1380, and Purvey's edition about Press. There are also modern 1388; so that this English Bible editions of his scholastic works was generally circulated by the end published by the Wycliffe Society,
FROM THE DEATH OF CHAUCER TO THE AGE OF
§ 1. Slow progress of English literature from Chaucer to the age of
Elizabeth. Introduction of printing by CAXTON, Improvement of prose. § 2. Scottish literature in the fifteenth century: KING JAMES I ; DUNBAR; GAVIN DOUGLAS; ROBERT HENRYSON; BLIND HARRY. § 3. Reign of Henry VII sterile in literature. $ 4. Religious literature: Translations of the Bible ; Book of Common Prayer ; LATIMER; FOXE. § 5. Chroniclers and Historians : LORD BERNERS' Froissart; FABYAN ; HALL. $ 6. Philosophy and Education : Wilson's Logic; SIR JOHN CHEKE; ROGER ASCHAM's Schoolmaster and Toxophilus. $ 7. Poets : SKELTON, HAWES, and BARCLAY. § 8. Wyatt. $ 9. SURREY : the English Sonnet. § 10. Ballads of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries : their sources, metre, and modes of circulation. Modern collections by Percy, Scott, etc. Influence on the revival of romantic literature. Balads of the Scottish Borders and of Robin Hood.
$ 1. The progress of the literature which had been so manifestly inaugurated by the genius of Chaucer, although uninterrupted, was for a time comparatively slow. Many social
Growth and political causes contributed to retard it. At the of English same time, these very circumstances were the forces literature to which accumulated the nation's energies for the
ating point greatest display of intellect it was to give. The the age of age of Elizabeth, following on this period of in. Elisabeth. action, is the most splendid epoch in the history of the English people, if not in the annals of the world. But, in the meantime, the causes of delay were the intestine commotions of the Wars of the Roses, the struggle between the dying energies of feudalism and the growing liberties of our municipal institutions, and the great changes consequent upon the Reformation.
Splendour, fecundity, intense originality, the presence of the national spirit-these are the qualities which give the Elizabethan era so high a place in the history of mankind. In universality of scope, in the influence it was des- bethan era tined to exert upon the thought and knowledge of part of the future generations, no other epoch can be brought European into comparison with it. The influence of the age of Pericles or Augustus, of Lorenzo de' Medici or Louis XIV
is partial when set beside the influence of the age, not only of a multitude of brilliant poets and philosophers, but of Shakespeare and Bacon. It must not be forgotten, on the other hand, that the Elizabethan age cannot be taken by itself, but must be considered as part of a great movement, as the English counterpart of the age of Raffaelle and Michael Angelo, as a derivation, in a sense, from that age-in short, the English manifestation of that intellectual revolution which took place, to a greater or less degree, in every European country, and is known as the Renaissance. Meanwhile, the interval between the end of the fourteenth century and the latter part of the sixteenth, although destitute of any names which can compare in respect of creative energy with that of Chaucer, was a period of great literary activity. The importation of the art of printing,
which was first exercised among us by WILLIAM
CAXTON, himself a diligent translator, whose style (d. 1491). did something towards the formation of a literary
standard, unquestionably gave a more regular and distinctly literary form to the productions of the age. The improvement of prose style kept pace with the increase in the number of printed books, while the circle of readers was enlarged, and the influence of popular intellectual activity was extended—for instance, by the dissemination of political and religious discussion as a general habit. Thus an innovation in
the art of prose-writing was effected by the Chief Sir JOHN Justice, SIR JOHN FORTESCUE, who, beside his cele(1394 ?-1476?). brated Latin work De Laudibus Legum Anglia,
also wrote one in English on the Difference between an Absolute and Limited Monarchy. This clever lawyer had his share in the political troubles of the time. As a Lancastrian, he accompanied Henry VI into exile, and afterwards, being taken prisoner at Tewkesbury (1471), was attainted. He obtained his pardon by making peace with the White Rose and acknowledging Edward IV.
§ 2. But, at the beginning of our interval, the greatest names belong to Scotsmen, and of these the greatest is the name
of a king. JAMES I is the pathetic hero of one
of the most melancholy romances in history, He JAMES I was the younger brother of that Duke of Rothesay (1394-1437).
who, by the machinations of his uncle, Albany, was so cruelly starved to death in 1402. The young prince, sent to France by his father, as a precaution against a repetition of such measures, was taken prisoner on the voyage by an English vessel. He remained in captivity from 1406 to 1424, first in the Tower, and afterwards at Windsor. It was during
this time that he composed the allegorical poem
called The Kingis Quair (i.e. Quire or Book). * One Kingis Quair.” day in 1423 he saw, walking in the garden below
his window, Joan Beaufort, daughter of the Earl of Somerset, and, falling then and there in love, composed his
Scottish literature :
poem in her honour. Of more actual importance to us is the source from which his work was derived. Its allegorical setting strongly testifies to the influence, conveyed through the French rhetorical poets, of Petrarch, who was at this time, and for many generations to come, the chief intellectual guide of Europe. Its English is, however, clearly the result of the study of Chaucer, to whom, in company with Gower, the king appeals at the close of his book. In spite of the allegorical machinery, which, however excellent, must almost certainly lay any poem under the heavy charge of artificiality, there is a very artless simplicity and directness about The Kingis Quair, and constantly the flow of the verse is quickened by a spontaneous outburst of the purest lyric poetry. It is satisfactory to know that the Regent Bedford smiled upon the union of the captive poet with the lady who was the subject of his performance ; and, not long after, James was sent back to Scotland and crowned king. He was nevertheless destined
James I. to play the leading part in a sad tragedy, for in 1437 he was assassinated at Perth by his nobles, whose unbridled power he had endeavoured to destroy. The extraordinary details of the murder-the warning of the spaewife, the heroism of the Queen and of Catherine Douglas-are familiar to all readers of Rossetti's wonderful ballad, The King's Tragedy. James, as a popular king, left his mark behind him in the ballads which he composed in his national dialect, the famous Lowland Scots—a dialect which
His ballads. was then, and long after, the language of literature, of courtly society, and of theology, and is by no means to be regarded in the modern light of a patois or provincial dialect. Even long after the Union of 1707 it was spoken in the best society of Edinburgh, and even now its presence is evident in the speech of the most cultivated Lowlanders. James' Scottish ballads, dealing with the common life of the people, show a remarkable humour, untrammelled and exuberant. One of them, Christ's Kirk upon the Green, with Allan Ramsay's excellent but vastly inferior conclusion, is within reach of all students, and attests, perhaps as strongly as The Kingis Quair, the powerful and versatile genius of the royal poet. Their authenticity is, however, a matter of opinion.
Beside King James, Scotland produced about this time several poets of great merit, the chief of whom are WILLIAM DUNBAR and GAVIN DOUGLAS, son of the famous earl, Archibald Bell the Cat," and Bishop of Dunkeld.
1530) and "More pleased that, in a barbarous age, GAVIN He gave rude Scotland Virgil's page, Than that beneath his rule he held
(1474-1522). The bishopric of fair Dunkeld."
Of these, Dunbar was a powerful and remarkably original