Slike strani

genius, while Douglas, a voluminous and miscellaneous poet, improved and shaped the national dialect and enriched the national literature. The body of Dunbar's work is considerable, and includes a number of compositions of every kind usual at that time. He followed the allegorical tendency of the age very closely. His chief work in this direction was his Dance of the Seven Deadly Sins, a satire which, following the strict theological category, is nevertheless marked by a grim and grotesque capacity for invention. And, when we regard such poems as the beautiful Lament for the Makers, with its Latin refrain, “ Timor mortis conturbat me,” we can only endorse the opinion of most recent critics, that between Chaucer and Spenser there is no more considerable poet than Dunbar, who, in this poem, stands on the very border line between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Douglas, in his sense of natural

beauty, was a true follower of his master Virgil and Style of

a child of the Renaissance. The chief external charDouglas.

acteristic of his work is the comparative preponderance of French and Latin words over English. This is partly to be attributed to the close political connection maintained by Scotland with France as a safeguard against English encroachments ; but it may also be regarded as the sign of an early attempt at an estilo culto, that is, as a Scottish precursor of Euphuism in England and Gongorism in Spain. Douglas was, indeed, before his time in many ways, but his poems, The Palace of Honour and King Hart, are examples of the contemporary love of allegory.. A somewhat earlier but less important

member of the same school was ROBERT HENRYSON,

a graduate of Glasgow University and probably HENRYSON (1430 ?-1506?). schoolmaster to the Abbey of Dunfermline, who in

his Testament of Cresseid continued Chaucer's story of Cressida, and was also the author of the pastoral called Robene and Makyne. This melodious piece of verse is to be found in Percy's Reliques : its motive was frequently used in after days by other ballad writers. Henryson was well known to contemporary men of letters, and Dunbar speaks with regret of "gude Master Robert Henryson,” in his Lament for the Makers (about 1506). Another Scottish poet, known as


long-rhymed couplets, a narrative of the exploits of HARRY 11.1470-1492). the second great national hero, William Wallace.

The details of Blind Harry's life are unknown, but his work is full of picturesque and vigorous passages.

It must be remembered that he probably belonged to the class of rhyming bards, often itinerant, who extemporised and rhapsodised for the amusement of the baronial class, and that we cannot therefore expect any very full account of him. It is enough to mention his position. JOHN BARBOUR and the rhyming chroniclers of the fourteenth century have already been mentioned.



$ 3. The activity of Henry VII's reign was political rather than literary. During that period the nation gradually recovered from the effects of civil war : her politic

English ruler, like Louis XI in France and Ferdinand and prose Isabella in Spain, brought his people under the under the domination of an absolute monarchy—a process which had its influence on literature, as upon everything else. Henry VIII, however, was a prince of great learning-in the catholicity of his tastes a true son of the Renaissance. As a theologian and skilled controversialist HENRY VIII

(1491-1547). he attacked Martin Luther in a Latin treatise, for which Clement VII rewarded him with the title of Defender of the Faith. Under himself and his successors this complimentary title has suffered some vicissitude. But Henry added nothing to English literature beyond the example of a royal scholar. His chief fame in this direction lies in his patronage of learned men and in the intellectual brilliance of a Court which contained Surrey, Wyatt, and Sir Thomas More. The fame of SIR THOMAS MORE as a patron of men of letters is Sur THOMAS greater even than that of his master.

He was (1478–1535). the chief of that illustrious band of Oxford men who welcomed Erasmus to England-Colet, Grocyn, and Linacre are other illustrious names in this assembly of scholars. William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard Foxe, Bishop of Winchester, and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, are also prominently connected with the new movement, and aided it with money and by the establishment of foundations for the growth of learning. More, whether as statesman, controversialist, or man of letters, is unquestionably one of the most prominent intellectual figures of the reign. With an extraordinary gentleness and good humour he combined an ardent attachment to the Holy See ; and his faith, tested by his logical and philosophical mind, made him the advocate of persecution and induced him to commit acts entirely contrary io his nature. When persecuted himself, and in the presence cf a cruel and ignominious death, he retained all the heroic courage of his convictions, His most important work is the philosophical romance of Utopia, written in Latin, which is a striking example of the extreme freedom


(1515-16). of political and speculative discussion exercised under the sternest tyranny not only with impunity but even with approbation. The fanciful shape into which the project is cast must have prevented any very strict censorship, especially in an age when style and wit were considered more essential than matter. The fundamental idea of the work is Platonic, like so much that was produced by the intellectual energy of the time. It is one of the earliest attempts to give, under the form of a voyage to an imaginary island, the theory of an ideal republic, where the laws, the institutions, the social and political usages, are in strict accordance with philosophical

literature :

perfection. England has been peculiarly fertile in these sports of a politician's fancy. Bacon left a similar work, The New Atlantis, unfinished; and James Harrington's Oceana is another attempt at the realisation of ideal political theory. This fashion may safely be regarded as a variation upon the serious political treatises of Italian statesmen-Machiavelli's Prince, or Guicciardini's Discourse on the Regiment of Florence. In Italy itself the same fantastic treatment is to be observed in Tommaso Campanella's City of the Sun, published about the end of the sixteenth century. Utopia, often translated into English, remains More's chief work ; but his English style finds a good example in his Life of Richard III, of which Hallam said that it was “the first example of good English language."

§ 4. Parallel with the improvement of general literature, and connected with it in no small measure, must be noted the very Religious

general diffusion of religious controversy, consequent upon the spread of the Reformation.

Side by the Bible and side with the doctrinal treatise came the translaPrayer Book.

tion of the Holy Scriptures. WILLIAM TYNDALE, who was burned at Vilvorde in 1536, and MILES COVERDALE, Bishop of Exeter (1488-1568), shared between them and at different times the credit of the first English version of the Bible, translated from the original, and their translation was soon followed by the first edition of The Book of Common Prayer in 1549. Thus the nation received two models of the finest possible style, grave and dignified without ostentation, and at the same time thoroughly vigorous and intelligible. The Liturgy itself was, in the main, a free adaptation from the missal and office-books of the medieval Church ; but the simple and majestic style of the version has given the Anglican Church a singularly noble and sonorous religious diction of its own. The authorised version of the Bible, published in 1611, under the auspices of James I, and the Prayer Book in its final edition of 1662, remain the chief authorities of English style. These events took place at the critical period when the simplicity of a more ancient language was still living, and had not yet been superseded by the polished tongue of a new refinement and civilisation. The effect of this is easily seen, in every period of English literature, in the survival of the force and picturesqueness of the Tudor epoch throughout all changes. Our common talk is, to an immense extent, under the influence of the noble and massive language of the Bible and Prayer Book ; and, with their phrases constantly leavening our daily speech, it is impossible that the splendid style of our older writers will ever cease to exercise its living influence in our literature.

This fervent, simple, idiomatic style, with its rolling periods and virile cadences, is echoed in the writings of many preachers


and controversialists. HUGH LATIMER, Bishop of Worcester, was a powerful orator, whose sermons, rugged in their style, homely in their metaphor, and artless in their choice of words, are still worth reading. He was burned in Hugh Mary's reign. Latimer, however, is infinitely sur

(14858-1555). passed in fire and enthusiasm by the Scottish reformer and controversial writer, JOHN KNOX. Knox cared very little about the graces of style, and cannot be accused of perspicuity ; his sentences have no obvious middle or end, nor did he choose his words with any care.


Јонх Кхох

(1505-1572). remedied this last defect by a copious vocabulary, full of strong monosyllables and out-of-the-way Lowland terms. His work, in its general roughness and unexpectedness, is almost prophetic of his great countryman, Carlyle. Like most people with a good dictionary behind them, he was apt to mistake the abusive for the forcible, and his manner in addressing his opponents was never marked by sensitive reticence. Most people have heard of his History of the Reformation in Scotland ; and the scholar will recall his half theological, half political attack on the “monstrous Regiment” (q.e. government) of women, directed against Mary of England and Mary of Guise. But the fiery eloquence of his writings, unsurpassed in profound conviction, is ample compensation for his eccentricity and abusiveness. His friend JOHN Fox E, the author of the Acts and Monuments, chronicled with some- John Foxe thing of the same zeal the lives and deaths of the

(1516–1587). men who were burned for their opinions during Mary's reign. There can be no doubt that the simplicity and popularity of his work was not only the great cause of the movement of the common people in the direction of Protestantism, but spread among them a habit of religious discussion and a consequent tendency to intellectual activity. Somewhat later, in 1562, the same type of thought found an active defender in JOHN JEWEL, Bishop of Salisbury,

JEWEL whose scholarly and liberal Apology is still one of (1522–1571). the classics of Anglican theology.

$ 5. Apart from purely religious disquisition, the preElizabethan period was not without literary productions of more general interest. JOHN BOURCHIER, LORD BERNERS, governor of Calais under Henry VIII, literature: made a lively and picturesque translation of Frois- LORD sart's great Chronicle, that inexhaustible store

(14673-1533). house of chivalrous incident and medieval detail. The translation is not only remarkable for its faithfulness and vivacity, but its archaism, preserving for the modern reader the quaintness of its original, produces exactly the same impression as Froissart's obsolete French.

It is curious to trace the gradual transformation of historical literature. Its first and earliest type, in the ancient as well as in the modern world, is invariably mythical or legendary and







the form in which it then appears is universally poetical. The rhymed chronicles of the Turkish conquests and the

innumerable ballads dealing with Spanish history Historical

cases in point. The legend, by a natural

transition, gives way to the chronicle or regular compilation of legends-e.g. the extraordinary fiction attributed to Geoffrey of Monmouth-and the chronicle eventually becomes the mine from which the philosophical historian extracts his rude material. In ancient times Herodotus and Livy produced their histories from legendary materials, just as Mariana used the ballads and early chronicles for his Spanish history at a much later period. In England the fabulous legends were combined and arranged in the chronicles of the monks and Trouvères, and these, in their turn, gave birth to the prosaic but useful narratives which are the original authorities of the modern historian. The earliest English chronicle is John de Trevisa's translation of Higden's Polychronicon, which Caxton continued down to 1460. John

Hardyng's metrical chronicle brings us down to the

reign of Edward IV. Then follows ROBERT FABYAN (d. 1513).

with his Concordance of Histories, embracing the

wide period between Brutus the Trojan and his own time. Fabyan was an alderman and sheriff of London, and EDWARD HALL, his successor in the art of historical

gossip, was a prominent London lawyer. Hall,

in his Union of the Two Noble and Illustrious (d. 1547).

Families of York and Lancaster, which was first

printed in 1542, relates the Wars of the Roses and the history of Henry VII and Henry VIII. These writings, totally devoid of philosophical system or general knowledge, Lack of

and guiltless of any discrimination between system in

trifling and important events, are nevertheless the early chronicles.

valuable, not only as vast storehouses of facts

which the historian has to sift and classify, but as monuments of language and examples of the popular feeling of their time. In England these chronicles wear a peculiarly bourgeois air, and were indeed generally the production of worthy but not very highly cultivated citizens. This was the case with Fabyan. Mixed with much childish and insignificant detail, we find an abundant store of facts and pictures, invaluable to the modern and more scientific historian. Yet, it must be confessed, the interest of these quaint compilations is almost entirely antiquarian ; the insight which their tedious detail allows us into the manners of their age is all that can engross the student of literature. It is curious to reflect that, while Englishmen, with the use of a robust and adolescent language, were writing these credulous and garrulous collections of fact and legend, the science of history was progressing abroad under some of the greatest masters of the art. Philippe de Commines had opened the way for French historians,


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