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Ch. 2: The Augustans

The Romantic Movement in England was a part of the general European reaction against the spirit of the eighteenth century. This began somewhat earlier in England than in Germany, and very much earlier than in France, where literacy conservatism went strangely hand in hand with political radicalism. In England the reaction was at first gradual, timid, and unconscious. It did not reach importance until the seventh decade of the century, and culminated only in the early years of the nineteenth century. The medieval revival was only an incident—though a leading incident—of this movement; but it is the side of it with which the present work will mainly deal. Thus I shall have a great deal to say about Scott; very little about Byron, intensely romantic as he was in many meanings of the word. This will not preclude me from glancing occasionally at other elements besides medievalism which enter into the concept of the term "romantic."

Reverting then to our tentative definition—Heine's definition—of romanticism, as the reproduction in modern art and literature of the life of the Middle Ages, it should be explained that the expression, "Middle Ages," is to be taken here in a liberal sense. Contributions to romantic literature such as Macpherson's "Ossian," Collins' "Ode on the Superstitions of the Scottish Highlands," and Gray's translations form the Welsh and the Norse, relate to periods which antedate that era of Christian chivalry and feudalism, extending roughly from the eleventh century to the fifteenth, to which the term, "Middle Ages," more strictly applies. The same thing is true of the ground-work, at least, of ancient hero-epics like "Beowulf" and the "Nibelungen Lied," of the Icelandic "Sagas," and of similar products of old heathen Europe which have come down in the shape of mythologies, popular superstitions, usages, rites, songs, and traditions. These began to fall under the notice of scholars about the middle of the last century and made a deep impression upon contemporary letters.

Again, the influence of the Middle Age proper prolonged itself beyond the exact close of the medieval period, which it is customary to date from the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The great romantic poets of Italy, Boiardo, Ariosto, Tasso, wrote in the full flush of the pagan revival and made free use of the Greek and Roman mythologies and the fables of Homer, Vergil, and Ovid; and yet their work is hardly to be described as classical. Nor is the work of their English disciples, Spenser and Sidney; while the entire Spanish and English drama of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (down to 1640, and with an occasional exception, like Ben Jonson) is romantic. Calderon is romantic; Shakspere and Fletcher are romantic. If we agree to regard medieval literature, then, as comprising all the early literature of Europe which drew its inspiration from other than Greek-Latin sources, we shall do no great violence to the usual critical employment of the word. I say early literature, in order to exclude such writings as are wholly modern, like "Robinson Crusoe," or "Gulliver's Travels," or Fielding's novels, which are neither classic nor romantic, but are the original creation of our own time. With works like these, though they are perhaps the most characteristic output of the eighteenth century, our inquiries are not concerned.

It hardly needs to be said that the reproduction, or imitation, of mediaeval life by the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century romanticists, contains a large admixture of modern thought and feeling. The brilliant pictures of feudal society in the romances of Scott and Fouqué give no faithful image of that society, even when they are carefully correct in all ascertainable historical details.[1] They give rather the impression left upon an alien mind by the quaint, picturesque features of a way of life which seemed neither quaint nor picturesque to the men who lived it, but only to the man who turns to it for relief form the prosaic, or at least familiar, conditions of the modern world. The offspring of the modern imagination, acting upon medieval material, may be a perfectly legitimate, though not an original, form of art. It may even have a novel charm of its own, unlike either parent, but like Euphorion, child of Faust by Helen of Troy, a blend of Hellas and the Middle Age. Scott's verse tales are better poetry than the English metrical romances of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Tennyson has given a more perfect shape to the Arthurian legends than Sir Thomas Malory, their compiler, or Walter Map and Chrestien de Troyes, their possible inventors. But, of course, to study the Middle Ages, as it really was, one must go not to Tennyson and Scott, but to the "Chanson de Roland," and the "Divine Comedy," and the "Romaunt of the Rose," and the chronicles of Villehardouin, Joinville, and Froissart.

And the farther such study is carried, the more evident it becomes that "mediaeval" and "romantic" are not synonymous. The Middle Ages was not, at all points, romantic: it is the modern romanticist who makes, or finds, it so. He sees its strange, vivid peculiarities under the glamour of distance. Chaucer's temper, for instance, was by no means romantic. This "good sense" which Dryden mentions as his prominent trait; that "low tone" which Lowell praises in him, and which keeps him close to the common ground of experience, pervade his greatest work, the "Canterbury Tales," with an insistent realism. It is true that Chaucer shared the beliefs and influences of his time and was a follower of its literary fashions. In his version of the "Romaunt of the Rose," his imitations of Machault, and his early work in general he used the mediaeval machinery of allegory and dreams. In "Troilus and Cresseide" and the tale of "Palamon and Arcite," he carries romantic love and knightly honor to a higher pitch than his model, Boccaccio. But the shrewdly practical Pandarus of the former poem—a character almost wholly of Chaucer's creation—is the very embodiment of the anti-romantic attitude, and a remarkable anticipation of Sancho Panza; while the "Rime of Sir Thopas" is a distinct burlesque of the fantastic chivalry romances.[2] Chaucer's pages are picturesque with tournament, hunting parties, baronial feasts, miracles of saints, feats of magic; but they are solid, as well, with the everyday life of fourteenth-century England. They have the naïveté and garrulity which are marks of mediaeval work, but not the quaintness and grotesquerie which are held to be marks of romantic work. Not archaic speech, but a certain mental twist constitutes quaintness. Herbert and Fuller are quaint; Blake is grotesque; Donne and Charles Lamb are willfully quaint, subtle, and paradoxical. But Chaucer is always straight-grained, broad, and natural.

Even Dante, the poet of the Catholic Middle Ages; Dante, the mystic, the idealist, with his intense spirituality and his passion for symbolism, has been sometimes called classic, by virtue of the powerful construction of his great poem, and his scholastic rigidity of method.

The relation between modern romanticizing literature and the real literature of the Middle Ages, is something like that between the literature of the renaissance and the ancient literatures of Greece and Rome. But there is this difference, that, while the renaissance writers fell short of their pattern, the modern schools of romance have outgone their masters—not perhaps in the intellectual—but certainly in the artistic value of their product. Mediaeval literature, wonderful and stimulating as a whole and beautiful here and there in details of execution, affords few models of technical perfection. The civilization which it reflected, though higher in its possibilities than the classic civilization, had not yet arrived at an equal grade of development, was inferior in intelligence and the natured results of long culture. The epithets of Gothic ignorance, rudeness, and barbarism, which the eighteenth-century critics applied so freely to all the issue of the so-called dark ages, were not entirely without justification. Dante is almost the only strictly mediaeval poet in whose work the form seems adequate to the content; for Boccaccio and Petrarca stand already on the sill of the renaissance.

In the arts of design the case was partly reversed. If the artists of the renaissance did not equal the Greeks in sculpture and architecture, they probably excelled them in painting. On the other hand, the restorers of Gothic have never quite learned the secret of the mediaeval builders. However, if the analogy is not pushed too far, the romantic revival may be regarded as a faint counterpart, the fragments of a half-forgotten civilization were pieced together; Greek manuscripts sought out, cleaned, edited, and printed: statues, coins, vases dug up and ranged in museums: debris cleared away from temples, amphitheaters, basilicas; till gradually the complete image of the antique world grew forth in august beauty, kindling an excitement of mind to which there are few parallels in history; so, in the eighteenth century, the despised ages of monkery, feudalism, and superstition began to reassert their claims upon the imagination. Ruined castles and abbeys, coats of mail, illuminated missals, manuscript romances, black-letter ballads, old tapestries, and wood carvings acquired a new value. Antiquaries and virtuosos first, and then poets and romancers, reconstructed in turn an image of medieval society.

True, the later movement was much the weaker of the two. No such fissure yawned between modern times and the Middle Ages as had been opened between the ancient world and the Middle Ages by the ruin of the Roman state and by the barbarian migrations. Nor had ten centuries of rubbish accumulated over the remains of mediaeval culture. In 1700 the Middle Ages were not yet so very remote. The nations and languages of Europe continued in nearly the same limits which had bounded them two centuries before. The progress in the sciences and mechanic arts, the discovery and colonizing of America, the invention of printing and gunpowder, and the Protestant reformation had indeed drawn deep lines between modern and mediaeval life. Christianity, however, formed a connecting link, though, in Protestant countries, the continuity between the earlier and later forms of the religion had been interrupted. One has but to compare the list of the pilgrims whom Chaucer met at the Tabard, with the company that Captain Sentry or Peregrine Pickle would be likely to encounter at a suburban inn, to see how the face of English society had changed between 1400 and 1700. What has become of the knight, the prioress, the sumner, the monk, pardoner, squire, alchemist, friar; and where can they or their equivalents be found in all England?

The limitations of my subject will oblige me to treat the English romantic movement as a chapter in literary history, even at the risk of seeming to adopt a narrow method. Yet it would be unphilosophical to consider it as a merely aesthetic affair, and to lose sight altogether of its deeper springs in the religious and ethical currents of the time. For it was, in part, a return of warmth and color into English letters; and that was only a symptom of the return of warmth and color—that is, of emotion and imagination—into English life and thought: into the Church, into politics, into philosophy. Romanticism, which sought to evoke from the past a beauty that it found wanting in the present, was but one phase of that revolt against the coldness and spiritual deadness of the first half of the eighteenth century which had other sides in the idealism of Berkeley, in the Methodist and Evangelical revival led by Wesley and Whitefield, and in the sentimentalism which manifested itself in the writings of Richardson and Sterne. Corresponding to these on the Continent were German pietism, the transcendental philosophy of Kant and his continuators, and the emotional excesses of works like Rousseau's "Nouvelle Héloise" and Goethe's "Sorrows of Werther."

Romanticism was something more, then, than a new literary mode; a taste cultivated by dilettante virtuosos, like Horace Walpole, college recluses like Gray, and antiquarian scholars like Joseph and Thomas Warton. It was the effort of the poetic imagination to create for itself a richer environment; but it was also, in its deeper significance, a reaching out of the human spirit after a more ideal type of religion and ethics than it could find in the official churchmanship and the formal morality of the time. Mr. Leslie Stephen[3] points out the connection between the three currents of tendency known as sentimentalism, romanticism, and naturalism. He explains, to be sure, that the first English sentimentalists, such as Richardson and Sterne, were anything but romantic. "A more modern sentimentalist would probably express his feelings[4] by describing some past state of society. He would paint some ideal society in mediaeval times and revive the holy monk and the humble nun for our edification." He attributes the subsequent interest in the Middle Ages to the progress made in historical inquiries during the last half of the eighteenth century, and to the consequent growth of antiquarianism. "Men like Malone and Stevens were beginning those painful researches which have accumulated a whole literature upon the scanty records of our early dramatists. Gray, the most learned of poets, had vaguely designed a history of English poetry, and the design was executed with great industry by Thomas Warton. His brother Joseph ventured to uphold the then paradoxical thesis that Spenser was as great a man as Pope. Everywhere a new interest was awakening in the minuter details of the past." At first, Mr. Stephen says, the result of these inquiries was "an unreasonable contempt for the past. The modern philosopher, who could spin all knowledge out of his own brain; the skeptic, who had exploded the ancient dogma; or the free-thinker of any shade, who rejoiced in the destruction of ecclesiastical tyranny, gloried in his conscious superiority to his forefathers. Whatever was old was absurd; and Gothic—an epithet applied to all medieval art, philosophy, or social order—became a simple term of contempt." But an antiquarian is naturally a conservative, and men soon began to love the times whose peculiarities they were so diligently studying. Men of imaginative minds promptly made the discovery that a new source of pleasure might be derived from these dry records. . . The 'return to nature' expresses a sentiment which underlies . . . both the sentimental and romantic movements. . . To return to nature is, in one sense, to find a new expression for emotions which have been repressed by existing conventions; or, in another, to return to some simpler social order which had not yet suffered from those conventions. The artificiality attributed to the eighteenth century seems to mean that men were content to regulate their thoughts and lives by rules not traceable to first principles, but dependent upon a set of special and exceptional conditions. . . To get out of the ruts, or cast off the obsolete shackles, two methods might be adopted. The intellectual horizon might be widened by including a greater number of ages and countries; or men might try to fall back upon the thoughts and emotions common to all races, and so cast off the superficial incrustation. The first method, that of the romanticists, aims at increasing our knowledge: the second, that of the naturalistic school, at basing our philosophy on deeper principles.[5]

The classic, or pseudo-classic, period of English literature lasted from the middle of the seventeenth till the end of the eighteenth century. Inasmuch as the romantic revival was a protest against this reigning mode, it becomes necessary to inquire a little more closely what we mean when we say that the time of Queen Anne and the first two Georges was our Augustan or classical age. In what sense was it classical? And was it any more classical than the time of Milton, for example, or the time of Landor? If the "Dunciad," and the "Essay on Man," are classical, what is Keats' "Hyperion"? And with what propriety can we bring under a common rubric things so far asunder as Prior's "Carmen Seculare" and Tennyson's "Ulysses," or as Gay's "Trivia" and Swinburne's "Atalanta in Calydon"? Evidently the Queen Anne writers took hold of the antique by a different side from our nineteenth-century poets. Their classicism was of a special type. It was, as has been often pointed out, more Latin than Greek, and more French than Latin.[6] It was, as has likewise been said, "a classicism in red heels and a periwig." Victor Hugo speaks of "cette poésie fardée, mouchetée, poudrée, du dix-huitième siècle, cette litèrature à paniers, à pompons et à falbalas."[7] The costumes of Watteau contrast with the simple folds of Greek drapery very much as the "Rape of the Lock," contrasts with the Iliad, or one of Pope's pastorals with an idyl of Theocritus. The times were artificial in poetry as in dress—

"Tea-cup times of hood and hoop,
And when the patch was worn."

Gentlemen wore powdered wigs instead of their own hair, and the power and the wig both got into their writing. Perruque was the nickname applied to the classicists by the French romanticists of Hugo's generation, who wore their hair long and flowing—cheveaux mérovigiennes—and affected an outré freedom in the cut and color of their clothes. Similarly the Byronic collar became, all over Europe, the symbol of daring independence in matters of taste and opinion. Its careless roll, which left the throat exposed, seemed to assist the liberty of nature against cramping conventions.

The leading Queen Anne writers are so well known that a somewhat general description of the literary situation in England at the time of Pope's death (1744) will serve as an answer to the question, how was the eighteenth century classical. It was remarked by Thomas Warton[8] that, at the first revival of letters in the sixteenth century, our authors were more struck by the marvelous fables and inventions of ancient poets than by the justness of their conceptions and the purity of their style. In other words, the men of the renaissance apprehended the ancient literature as poets: the men of the Éclaircissement apprehended them as critics. In Elizabeth's day the new learning stimulated English genius to creative activity. In royal progresses, court masques, Lord Mayors' shows, and public pageants of all kinds, mythology ran mad. "Every procession was a pantheon." But the poets were not careful to keep the two worlds of pagan antiquity and mediaeval Christianity distinct. The art of the renaissance was the flower of a double root, and the artists used their complex stuff naïvely. The "Faërie Queene" is the typical work of the English renaissance; there hamadryads, satyrs, and river gods mingle unblushingly with knights, dragons, sorcerers, hermits, and personified vices and virtues. The "machinery" of Homer and Vergil—the "machinery" of the "Seven Champions of Christendom" and the "Roman de la Rose"! This was not shocking to Spenser's contemporaries, but it seemed quite shocking to classical critics a century later. Even Milton, the greatest scholar among English poets, but whose imagination was a strong agent, holding strange elements in solution, incurred their censure for bringing Saint Peter and the sea-nymphs into dangerous juxtaposition in "Lycidas."

But by the middle of the seventeenth century the renaissance schools of poetry had become effete in all European countries. They had run into extravagances of style, into a vicious manner known in Spain as Gongorism, in Italy as Marinism, and in England best exhibited in the verse of Donne and Cowley and the rest of the group whom Dr. Johnson called the metaphysical poets, and whose Gothicism of taste Addison ridiculed in his Spectator papers on true and false wit. It was France that led the reform against this fashion. Malherbe and Boileau insisted upon the need of discarding tawdry ornaments of style and cultivating simplicity, clearness, propriety, decorum, moderation; above all, good sense. The new Academy, founded to guard the purity of the French language, lent its weight to the precepts of the critics, who applied the rules of Aristotle, as commented by Longinus and Horace, to modern conditions. The appearance of a number of admirable writers—Corneille, Molière, Racine, Bossuet, La Fontaine, La Bruyère—simultaneously with this critical movement, gave an authority to the new French literature which enabled it to impose its principles upon England and Germany for over a century. For the creative literature of France conformed its practice, in the main, to the theory of French criticism; though not, in the case of Regnier, without open defiance. This authority was re-enforced by the political glories and social éclat of the siècle de Louis Quatorze

It happened that at this time the Stuart court was in exile, and in the train of Henrietta Maria at Paris, or scattered elsewhere through France, were many royalist men of letters, Etherege, Waller, Cowley, and others, who brought back with them to England in 1660 an acquaintance with this new French literature and a belief in its aesthetic code. That French influence would have spread into England without the aid of these political accidents is doubtless true, as it is also true that a reform of English versification and poetic style would have worked itself out upon native lines independent of foreign example, and even had there been so such thing as French literature. Mr. Gosse has pointed out couplets of Waller, written as early as 1623, which have the formal precision of Pope's; and the famous passage about the Thames in Denham's "Cooper's Hill" (1642) anticipates the best performance of Augustan verse:

"O could I flow like thee, and make thy stream
My great example, as it is my theme!
Though deep, yet clear, though gentle, yet not dull,
Strong without rage, without o'erflowing full."

However, as to the general fact of the powerful impact of French upon English literary fashions, in the latter half of the seventeenth century, there can be no dispute.[9]

This change of style was symptomatic of a corresponding change in the national temper. It was the mission of the eighteenth century to assert the universality of law and, at the same time, the sufficiency of the reason to discover the laws, which govern in every province: a service which we now, perhaps, undervalue in our impatience with the formalism which was its outward sign. Hence its dislike of irregularity in art and irrationality in religion. England, in particular, was tired of unchartered freedom, of spiritual as well as of literary anarchy. The religious tension of the Commonwealth period had relaxed—men cannot be always at the heroic pitch—and theological disputes had issued in indifference and a skepticism which took the form of deism, or "natural religion." But the deists were felt to be a nuisance. They were unsettling opinions and disturbing that decent conformity with generally received beliefs which it is the part of a good citizen to maintain. Addison instructs his readers that, in the absence of certainty, it is the part of a prudent man to choose the safe side and make friends with God. The freethinking Chesterfield[10] tells his son that the profession of atheism is ill-bred. De Foe, Swift, Richardson, Fielding, Johnson all attack infidelity. "Conform! Conform!" said in effect the most authoritative writers of the century. "Be sensible: go to church: pay your rates: don't be a vulgar deist—a fellow like Toland who is poor and has no social position. But, on the other hand, you need not be a fanatic or superstitious, or an enthusiast. Above all, pas de zèle!"

"Theology," says Leslie Stephen, "was, for the most part, almost as deistical as the deists. A hatred for enthusiasm was as strongly impressed upon the whole character of contemporary thought as a hatred of skepticism. . . A good common-sense religion should be taken for granted and no questions asked. . . With Shakspere, or Sir Thomas Browne, or Jeremy Taylor, or Milton, man is contemplated in his relations to the universe; he is in presence of eternity and infinity; life is a brief drama; heaven and hell are behind the veil of phenomena; at every step our friends vanish into the abyss of ever present mystery. To all such thoughts the writers of the eighteenth century seemed to close their eyes as resolutely as possible. . . The absence of any deeper speculative ground makes the immediate practical questions of life all the more interesting. We know not what we are, nor whither we are going, nor whence we come; but we can, by the help of common sense, discover a sufficient share of moral maxims for our guidance in life. . . Knowledge of human nature, as it actually presented itself in the shifting scene before them, and a vivid appreciation of the importance of the moral law, are the staple of the best literature of the time."[11]

The God of the deists was, in truth, hardly more impersonal than the abstraction worshiped by the orthodox—the "Great Being" of Addison's essays, the "Great First Cause" of Pope's "Universal Prayer," invoked indifferently as "Jehovah, Jove, or Lord." Dryden and Pope were professed Catholics, but there is nothing to distinguish their so-called sacred poetry from that of their Protestant contemporaries. Contrast the mere polemics of "The Hind and the Panther" with really Catholic poems like Southwell's "Burning Babe" and Crashaw's "Flaming Heart," or even with Newman's "Dream of Gerontius." In his "Essay on Man," Pope versified, without well understanding, the optimistic deism of Leibnitz, as expounded by Shaftesbury and Bolingbroke. The Anglican Church itself was in a strange condition, when Jonathan Swift, a dean and would-be bishop, came to its defense with his "Tale of a Tub" and his ironical "Argument against the Abolition of Christianity." Among the Queen Anne wits Addison was the man of most genuine religious feeling. He is always reverent, and "the feeling infinite" stirs faintly in one or two of his hymns. But, in general, his religion is of the rationalizing type, a religion of common sense, a belief resting upon logical deductions, a system of ethics in which the supernatural is reduced to the lowest terms, and from which the glooms and fervors of a deep spiritual experience are almost entirely absent. This "parson in a tie-wig" is constantly preaching against zeal, enthusiasm, superstition, mysticism, and recommending a moderate, cheerful, and reason religion.[12] It is instructive to contrast his amused contempt for popular beliefs in ghosts, witches, dreams, prognostications, and the like, with the reawakened interest in folk lore evidenced by such a book as Scott's "Demonology and Witchcraft."

Queen Anne literature was classical, then, in its lack of those elements of mystery and aspiration which we have found described as of the essence of romanticism. It was emphatically a literature of this world. It ignored all vague emotion, the phenomena of subconsciousness, "the electric chain wherewith we are darkly bound," the shadow that rounds man's little life, and fixed its attention only upon what it could thoroughly comprehend.[13] Thereby it escaped obscurity. The writings of the Augustans in both verse and prose are distinguished by a perfect clearness, but it is a clearness without subtlety or depth. They never try to express a thought, or to utter a feeling, that is not easily intelligible. The mysticism of Wordsworth, the incoherence of Shelley, the darkness of Browning—to take only modern instances—proceed, however, not from inferior art, but from the greater difficulty of finding expression for a very different order of ideas.

Again the literature of the Restoration and Queen Anne periods—which may be regarded as one, for present purposes—was classical, or at least unromantic, in its self-restraint, its objectivity, and its lack of curiosity; or, as a hostile criticism would put it, in its coldness of feeling, the tameness of its imagination, and its narrow and imperfect sense of beauty. It was a literature not simply of this world, but of the world, of the beau monde, high life, fashion, society, the court and the town, the salons, clubs, coffee-houses, assemblies, ombre-parties. It was social, urban, gregarious, intensely though not broadly human. It cared little for the country or outward nature, and nothing for the life of remote times and places. Its interest was centered upon civilization and upon that peculiarly artificial type of civilization which it found prevailing. It was as indifferent to Venice, Switzerland, the Alhambra, the Nile, the American forests, and the islands of the South Sea as it was to the Middle Ages and the manners of Scotch Highlanders. The sensitiveness to the picturesque, the liking for local color and for whatever is striking, characteristic, and peculiarly national in foreign ways is a romantic note. The eighteenth century disliked "strangeness added to beauty"; it disapproved of anything original, exotic, tropical, bizarre for the same reason that it disapproved of mountains and Gothic architecture.

Professor Gates says that the work of English literature during the first quarter of the present century was "the rediscovery and vindication of the concrete. The special task of the eighteenth century had been to order, and to systematize, and to name; its favorite methods had been analysis and generalization. It asked for no new experience. . . The abstract, the typical, the general—these were everywhere exalted at the expense of the image, the specific experience, the vital fact."[14] Classical tragedy, e.g., undertook to present only the universal, abstract, permanent truths of human character and passion.[15] The impression of the mysterious East upon modern travelers and poets like Byron, Southey, De Quincey, Moore, Hugo,[16] Ruckert, and Gérard de Nerval, has no counterpart in the eighteenth century. The Oriental allegory or moral apologue, as practiced by Addison in such papers as "The Vision of Mirza," and by Johnson in "Rasselas," is rather faintly colored and gets what color it has from the Old Testament. It is significant that the romantic Collins endeavored to give a novel turn to the decayed pastoral by writing a number of "Oriental Eclogues," in which dervishes and camel-drivers took the place of shepherds, but the experiment was not a lucky one. Milton had more of the East in his imagination than any of his successors. His "vulture on Imaus bred, whose snowy ridge the roving Tartar bounds"; his "plain of Sericana where Chinese drive their cany wagons light"; his "utmost Indian isle Taprobane," are touches of the picturesque which anticipate a more modern mood than Addison's.

"The difference," says Matthew Arnold, "between genuine poetry and the poetry of Dryden, Pope, and all their school is briefly this: their poetry is conceived and composed in their wits, genuine poetry is conceived and composed in the soul." The representative minds of the eighteenth century were such as Voltaire, the master of persiflage, destroying superstition with his souriere hideux; Gibbon, "the lord of irony," "sapping a solemn creed with solemn sneer"; and Hume, with his thorough-going philosophic skepticism, his dry Toryism, and cool contempt for "zeal" of any kind. The characteristic products of the era were satire, burlesque, and travesty: "Hudibras," "Absalom and Achitophel," "The Way of the World," "Gulliver's Travels" and "The Rape of the Lock." There is a whole literature of mockery: parodies like Prior's "Ballad on the Taking of Namur" and "The Country Mouse and the City Mouse"; Buckingham's "Rehearsal" and Swift's "Meditation on a Broomstick"; mock-heroics, like the "Dunciad" and "MacFlecknoe" and Garth's "Dispensary," and John Phillips' "Splendid Shilling" and Addison's "Machinae Gesticulantes"; Prior's "Alma," a burlesque of philosophy; Gay's "Trivia" and "The Shepherd's Week," and "The Beggars' Opera"-a "Newgate pastoral"; "Town Eclogues" by Swift and Lady Montague and others. Literature was a polished mirror in which the gay world saw its own grinning face. It threw back a most brilliant picture of the surface of society, showed manners but not the elementary passions of human nature. As a whole, it leaves an impression of hardness, shallowness, and levity. The polite cynicism of Congreve, the ferocious cynicism of Swift, the malice of Pope, the pleasantry of Addison, the early worldliness of Prior and Gay are seldom relieved by any touch of the ideal. The prose of the time was excellent, but the poetry was merely rhymed prose. The recent Queen Anne revival in architecture, dress, and bric-a-brac, the recrudescence of society verse in Dobson and others, is perhaps symptomatic of the fact that the present generation has entered upon a prosaic reaction against romantic excesses and we are finding our picturesque in that era of artifice which seemed so picturesque to our forerunners. The sedan chair, the blue china, the fan, farthingale, and powdered head dress have now got the "rime of age" and are seen in fascinating perspective, even as the mailed courser, the buff jerkin, the cowl, and the cloth-yard shaft were seen by the men of Scott's generation.

Once more, the eighteenth century was classical in its respect for authority. It desired to put itself under discipline, to follow the rules, to discover a formula of correctness in all the arts, to set up a tribunal of taste and establish canons of composition, to maintain standards, copy models and patterns, comply with conventions, and chastise lawlessness. In a word, its spirit was academic. Horace was its favorite master—not Horace of the Odes, but Horace of the Satires and Epistles, and especially Horace as interpreted by Boileau.[17] The "Ars Poetica" had been englished by the Earl of Roscommon, and imitated by Boileau in his "L'Art Poetique," which became the parent of a numerous progeny in England; among others as "Essay on Satire" and an "Essay on Poetry," by the Earl of Mulgrave;[18] an "Essay on Translated Verse" by the Earl of Roscommon, who, says Addison, "makes even rules a noble poetry";[19] and Pope's well-known "Essay on Criticism."

The doctrine of Pope's essay is, in brief, follow Nature, and in order that you may follow nature, observe the rules, which are only "Nature methodized," and also imitate the ancients.

"Learn hence for ancient rules a just esteem;
To copy nature is to copy them."

Thus Vergil when he started to compose the Aeneid may have seemed above the critic's law, but when he came to study Homer, he found that Nature and Homer were the same. Accordingly,

"he checks the bold design,
And rules as strict his labor'd work confine."

Not to stimulate, but to check, to confine, to regulate, is the unfailing precept of this whole critical school. Literature, in the state in which they found it, appeared to them to need the curb more than the spur.

Addison's scholarship was almost exclusively Latin, though it was Vergilian rather than Horatian. Macaulay[20] says of Addison's "Remarks on Italy"; "To the best of our remembrance, Addison does not mention Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Bolardo, Berni, Lorenzo de' Medici, or Machiavelli. He coldly tells us that at Ferrara he saw the tomb of Ariosto, and that at Venice he heard the gondoliers sing verses of Tasso. But for Tasso and Ariosto he cared far less than for Valerius Flaccus and Sidonius Apollinaris. The gentle flow of the Ticino brings a line of Silius to his mind. The sulphurous stream of Albula suggests to him several passages of Martial. But he has not a word to say of the illustrious dead of Santa Croce; he crosses the wood of Ravenna[21] without recollecting the specter huntsman, and wanders up and down Rimini without one thought of Francesca. At Paris he had eagerly sought an introduction to Boileau; but he seems not to have been at all aware that at Florence he was in the vicinity of a poet with whom Boileau could not sustain a comparison: of the greatest lyric poet of modern times [!] Vincenzio Filicaja. . . The truth is that Addison knew little and cared less about the literature of modern Italy. His favorite models were Latin. His favorite critics were French. Half the Tuscan poetry that he had read seemed to him monstrous and the other half tawdry."[22]

There was no academy in England, but there was a critical tradition that was almost as influential. French critical gave the law: Boileau, Dacier, LeBossu, Rapin, Bouhours; English critics promulgated it: Dennis, Langbaine, Rymer, Gildon, and others now little read. Three writers of high authority in three successive generations—Dryden, Addison, and Johnson—consolidated a body of literary opinion which may be described, in the main, as classical, and as consenting, though with minor variations. Thus it was agreed on all hands that it was a writer's duty to be "correct." It was well indeed to be "bold," but bold with discretion. Dryden thought Shakspere a great poet than Jonson, but an inferior artist. He was to be admired, but not approved. Homer, again, it was generally conceded, was not so correct as Vergil, though he had more "fire." Chesterfield preferred Vergil to Homer, and both of them to Tasso. But of all epics the one he read with most pleasure was the "Henriade." As for "Paradise Lost," he could not read it through. William Walsh, "the muses' judge and friend," advised the youthful Pope that "there was one way still left open for him, by which he might excel any of his predecessors, which was by correctness; that though indeed we had several great poets, we as yet could boast of none that were perfectly correct; and that therefore he advised him to make this quality his particular study." "The best of the moderns in all language," he wrote to Pope, "are those that have the nearest copied the ancients." Pope was thankful for the counsel and mentions its giver in the "Essay on Criticism" as one who had

"taught his muse to sing,
Prescribed her heights and pruned her tender wing."

But what was correct? In the drama, e.g., the observance of the unities was almost universally recommended, but by no means universally practiced. Johnson, himself a sturdy disciple of Dryden and Pope, exposed the fallacy of that stage illusion, on the supposed necessity of which the unities of time and place were defended. Yet Johnson, in his own tragedy "Irene," conformed to the rules of Aristotle. He pronounced "Cato" "unquestionably the noblest production of Addison's genius," but acknowledge that its success had "introduced, or confirmed among us, the use of dialogue too declamatory, of unaffecting elegance and chill philosophy." On the other hand Addison had small regard for poetic justice, which Johnson thought ought to be observed. Addison praised old English ballads, which Johnson thought mean and foolish; and he guardedly commends[23] "the fairy way of writing," a romantic foppery that Johnson despised.[24]

Critical opinion was pronounced in favor of separating tragedy and comedy, and Addison wrote one sentence which condemns half the plays of Shakspere and Fletcher: "The tragi-comedy, which is the product of the English theater, is one the most monstrous inventions that ever entered into a poet's thought."[25] Dryden made some experiments in tragi-comedy, but, in general, classical comedy was pure comedy—the prose comedy of manners—and classical tragedy admitted no comic intermixture. Whether tragedy should be in rhyme, after the French manner, or in blank verse, after the precedent of the old English stage, was a moot point. Dryden at first argued for rhyme and used it in his "heroic plays"; and it is significant that he defended its use on the ground that it would act as a check upon the poet's fancy. But afterward he grew "weary of his much-loved mistress, rhyme," and went back to blank verse in his later plays.

As to poetry other than dramatic, the Restoration critics were at one in judging blank verse too "low" for a poem of heroic dimensions; and though Addison gave it the preference in epic poetry, Johnson was its persistent foe, and regarded it as little short of immoral. But for that matter, Gray could endure no blank verse outside of Milton. This is curious, that rhyme, a mediaeval invention, should have been associated in the last century with the classical school of poetry; while blank verse, the nearest English equivalent of the language of Attic tragedy, was a shibboleth of romanticizing poets, like Thomson and Akenside. The reason was twofold: rhyme came stamped with the authority of the French tragic alexandrine; and, secondly, it meant constraint where blank verse meant freedom, "ancient liberty, recovered to heroic poem from the troublesome and modern bondage of rhyming."[26] Pope, among his many thousand rhymed couplets, has left no blank verse except the few lines contributed to Thomson's "Seasons." Even the heroic couplet as written by earlier poets was felt to have been too loose in structure. "The excellence and dignity of it," says Dryden, "were never fully known till Mr. Waller taught it; he first made writing easily an art; first showed us how to conclude the sense most commonly in distichs, which, in the verse of those before him, runs on for so many lines together, that the reader is out of breath to overtake it."[27] All through the classical period the tradition is constant that Waller was the first modern English poet, the first correct versifier. Pope is praised by Johnson because he employed but sparingly the triplets and alexandrines by which Dryden sought to vary the monotony of the couplet; and he is censured by Cowper because, by force of his example, he "made poetry a mere mechanic art." Henceforth the distich was treated as a unit: the first line was balanced against the second, and frequently the first half of the line against the second half.

"To err is human, to forgive divine."
"And so obliging, that he ne'er obliged."
"Charms strike the eye, but merit wins the soul," etc., etc.

This type of verse, which Pope brought to perfection, and to which he gave all the energy and variety of which it was capable, so prevailed in our poetry for a century or more that one almost loses sight of the fact that any other form was employed. The sonnet, for instance, disappeared entirely, until revived by Gray, Stillingfleet, Edwards, and Thomas Warton, about the middle of the eighteenth century.[28] When the poets wished to be daring and irregular, they were apt to give vent in that species of pseudo-Pindaric ode which Cowley had introduced—a literary disease which, Dr. Johnson complained, infected the British muse with the notion that "he who could do nothing else could write like Pindar."

Sir Charles Eastlake in his "History of the Gothic Revival" testifies to this formal spirit from the point of view of another art than literature. "The age in which Batty Langley lived was an age in which it was customary to refer all matters of taste to rule and method. There was one standard of excellence in poetry—a standard that had its origin in the smooth distichs of heroic verse which Pope was the first to perfect, and which hundreds of later rhymers who lacked his nobler powers soon learned to imitate. In pictorial art, it was the grand school which exercised despotic sway over the efforts of genius and limited the painter's inventions to the field of Pagan mythology. In architecture, Vitruvius was the great authority. The graceful majesty of the Parthenon—the noble proportions of the temple of Theseus—the chaste enrichment which adorns the Choragic monument of Lysicrates, were ascribed less to the fertile imagination and refined perceptions of the ancient Greek, than to the dry and formal precepts which were invented centuries after their erection. Little was said of the magnificent sculpture which filled the metopes of the temple of the Minerva; but the exact height and breadth of the triglyphs between them were considered of the greatest importance. The exquisite drapery of caryatids and canephorae, no English artist, a hundred years ago, thought fit to imitate; but the cornices which they supposed were measured inch by inch with the utmost nicety. Ingenious devices were invented for enabling the artificer to reproduce, by a series of complicated curves, the profile of a Doric capital, which probably owed its form to the steady hand and uncontrolled taste of the designer. To put faith in many of the theories propounded by architectural authorities in the last century, would be to believe that some of the grandest monuments which the world has ever seen raised, owe their chief beauty to an accurate knowledge of arithmetic. The diameter of the column was divided into modules: the modules were divided into minutes; the minutes into fractions of themselves. A certain height was allotted to the shaft, another to the entablature. . . Sometimes the learned discussed how far apart the columns of a portico might be."[29]

This kind of mensuration reminds one of the disputes between French critics as to whether the unity of time meant thirty hours, or twenty-four, or twelve, or the actual time that it took to act the play; or of the geometric method of the "Saturday papers" in the Spectator. Addison tries "Paradise Lost" by Aristotle's rules for the composition of an epic. Is it the narrative of a single great action? Does it begin in medias res, as is proper, or ab ovo Ledae, as Horace has said that an epic ought not? Does it bring in the introductory matter by way of episode, after the approved recipe of Homer and Vergil? Has it allegorical characters, contrary to the practice of the ancients? Does the poet intrude personally into his poem, thus mixing the lyric and epic styles? etc. Not a word as to Milton's puritanism, or his Weltanschauung, or the relation of his work to its environment. Nothing of that historical and sympathetic method—that endeavor to put the reader at the poet's point of view—by which modern critics, from Lessing to Sainte-Beuve, have revolutionized their art. Addison looks at "Paradise Lost" as something quite distinct from Milton: as a manufactured article to be tested by comparing it with standard fabrics by recognized makers, like the authors of the Iliad and Aeneid.

When the Queen Anne poetry took a serious turn, the generalizing spirit of the age led it almost always into the paths of ethical and didactic verse. "It stooped to truth and moralized its song," finding its favorite occupation in the sententious expression of platitudes—the epigram in satire, the maxim in serious work. It became a poetry of aphorisms, instruction us with Pope that

"Virtue alone is happiness below;"

or, with Young, that

"Procrastination is the thief of time;"

or, with Johnson, that

"Slow rises worth by poverty depressed."

When it attempted to deal concretely with the passions, it found itself impotent. Pope's "Epistle of Eloisa to Abelard" rings hollow: it is rhetoric, not poetry. The closing lines of "The Dunciad"—so strangely overpraised by Thackeray—with their metallic clank and grandiose verbiage, are not truly imaginative. The poet is simply working himself up to a climax of the false sublime, as an orator deliberately attaches a sounding peroration to his speech. Pope is always "heard," never "overheard."

The poverty of the classical period in lyrical verse is particularly significant, because the song is the most primitive and spontaneous kind of poetry, and the most direct utterance of personal feeling. Whatever else the poets of Pope's time could do, they could not sing. They are the despair of the anthologists.[30] Here and there among the brilliant reasoners, raconteurs, and satirists in verse, occurs a clever epigrammatist like Prior, or a ballad writer like Henry Carey, whose "Sally in Our Alley" shows the singing, and not talking, voice, but hardly the lyric cry. Gay's "Blackeyed Susan" has genuine quality, though its rococo graces are more than half artificial. Sweet William is very much such an opera sailor-man as Bumkinet or Grubbinol is a shepherd, and his wooing is beribboned with conceits like these:

"If to fair India's coast we sail,
Thy eyes are seen in diamonds bright,
Thy breath is Afric's spicy gale,
Thy skin is ivory so white.
Thus every beauteous prospect that I view,
Wakes in my soul some charm of lovely Sue."

It was the same with the poetry of outward nature as with the poetry of human passion.[31] In Addison's "Letter from Italy," in Pope's "Pastorals," and "Windsor Forest," the imagery, when not actually false, is vague and conventional, and the language abounds in classical insipidities, epithets that describe nothing, and generalities at second hand from older poets, who may once, perhaps, have written with their "eyes upon the object." Blushing Flora paints the enameled ground; cheerful murmurs fluctuate on the gale; Eridanus through flowery meadows strays; gay gilded[32] scenes and shining prospects rise; while everywhere are balmy zephyrs, sylvan shades, winding vales, vocal shores, silver floods, crystal springs, feathered quires, and Phoebus and Philomel and Ceres' gifts assist the purple year. It was after this fashion that Pope rendered the famous moonlight passage in his translation of the Iliad:

"Then shine the vales, the rocks in prospect rise,
A flood of glory bursts from all the skies," etc.

"Strange to think of an enthusiast," says Wordsworth, "reciting these verses under the cope of a moonlight sky, without having his raptures in the least disturbed by a suspicion of their absurdity." The poetic diction against which Wordsworth protested was an outward sign of the classical preference for the general over the concrete. The vocabulary was Latinized because, in English, the mot propre is commonly a Saxon word, while its Latin synonym has a convenient indefiniteness that keeps the subject at arm's length. Of a similar tendency was the favorite rhetorical figure of personification, which gave a false air of life to abstractions by the easy process of spelling them with a capital letter. Thus:

"From bard to bard the frigid caution crept,
Till Declamation roared whilst Passion slept;
Yet still did Virtue deign the stage to tread,
Philosophy remained though Nature fled,. . .
Exulting Folly hailed the joyful day,
And Pantomime and Song confirmed her sway."[33]

Everything was personified; Britannia, Justice, Liberty, Science, Melancholy, Night. Even vaccination for the smallpox was invoked as a goddess,

"Inoculation, heavenly maid, descend!"[34]

But circumstances or periphrasis was the capital means by which the Augustan poet avoided precision and attained nobility of style. It enabled him to speak of a woman as a "nymph," or a "fair"; of sheep as "the fleecy care"; of fishes as "the scaly tribe"; and of a picket fence as a "spiculated paling." Lowell says of Pope's followers: "As the master had made it an axiom to avoid what was mean or low, so the disciples endeavored to escape from what was common. This they contrived by the ready expedient of the periphrasis. They called everything something else. A boot with them was

"'The shining leather that encased the limb.'

"Coffee became

"'The fragrant juice of Mocha's berry brown.'"[35]

"For the direct appeal to Nature, and the naming of specific objects," says Mr. Gosse,[36] "they substituted generalities and second-hand allusions. They no longer mentioned the gillyflower and the daffodil, but permitted themselves a general reference to Flora's vernal wreath. It was vulgar to say that the moon was rising; the gentlemanly expression was, 'Cynthia is lifting her silver horn!' Women became nymphs in this new phraseology, fruits became 'the treasures of Pomona,' a horse became 'the impatient courser.' The result of coining these conventional counters for groups of ideas was that the personal, the exact, was lost in literature. Apples were the treasures of Pomona, but so were cherries, too, and if one wished to allude to peaches, they also were the treasures of Pomona. This decline from particular to general language was regarded as a great gain in elegance. It was supposed that to use one of these genteel counters, which passed for coin of poetic language, brought the speaker closer to the grace of Latinity. It was thought that the old direct manner of speaking was crude and futile; that a romantic poet who wished to allude to caterpillars could do so without any exercise of his ingenuity by simply introducing the word 'caterpillars,' whereas the classical poet had to prove that he was a scholar and a gentleman by inventing some circumlocution, such as 'the crawling scourge that smites the leafy plain.'. . . In the generation that succeeded Pope really clever writers spoke of a 'gelid cistern,' when they meant a cold bath, and 'the loud hunter-crew' when they meant a pack of foxhounds."

It would be a mistake to suppose that the men of Pope's generation, including Pope himself, were altogether wanting in romantic feeling. There is a marked romantic accent in the Countess of Winchelsea's ode "To the Nightingale"; in her "Nocturnal Reverie"; in Parnell's "Night Piece on Death," and in the work of several Scotch poets, like Allan Ramsay and Hamilton of Bangour, whose ballad, "The Braces of Yarrow," is certainly a strange poem to come out of the heart of the eighteenth century. But these are eddies and back currents in the stream of literary tendency. We are always in danger of forgetting that the literature of an age does not express its entire, but only its prevailing, spirit. There is commonly a latent, silent body of thought and feeling underneath which remains inarticulate, or nearly so. It is this prevailing spirit and fashion which I have endeavored to describe in the present chapter. If the picture seems to lack relief, or to be in any way exaggerated, the reader should consult the chapters on "Classicism" and "The Pseudo-Classicists" in M. Pellisier's "Literary Movement in France," already several times referred to. They describe a literary situation which had a very exact counterpart in England.


Footnotes:


[1] As another notable weakness of the age is its habit of looking, to the past ages—not understanding them all the while . . . so Scott gives up nearly the half of his intellectual power to a fond yet purposeless dreaming over the past; and spends half his literary labors in endeavors to revive it, not in reality, but on the stage of fiction: endeavors which were the best of the kind that modernism made, but still successful only so far as Scott put under the old armor the everlasting human nature which he knew; and totally unsuccessful so far as concerned the painting of the armor itself, which he knew not. . . His romance and antiquarianism, his knighthood and monkery, are all false, and he knows them to be false.—Ruskin, "Modern Painters," Vol. III. p. 279 (First American Edition, 1860).

[2] See also the sly hit at popular fiction in the Nonnë Prestës Tale:

"This story is also trewe, I undertake,
As is the book of Launcelot de Lake,
That women hold in ful gret reverence."

[3] "History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century," Vol. II. chap xii, section vii.

[4] Sentimentalism approaches its subject through the feelings; romanticism through the imagination.

[5] Ruskin, too indicates the common element in romanticism and naturalism—a desire to escape from the Augustan formalism. I condense the passage slightly: "To powder the hair, to patch the cheek, to hoop the body, to buckle the foot, were all part and parcel of the same system which reduced streets to brick walls and pictures to brown stains. Reaction from this state was inevitable, and accordingly men steal out to the fields and mountains; and, finding among these color and liberty and variety and power, rejoice in all the wildest shattering of the mountain side, as an opposition to Gower Street. It is not, however, only to existing inanimate nature that our want of beauty in person and dress has driven us. The imagination of it, as it was seen in our ancestors, haunts us continually. We look fondly back to the manners of the age sought in the centuries which we profess to have surpassed in everything. . . This romantic love of beauty, forced to seek in history and in external nature the satisfaction it cannot find in ordinary life."—Modern Painters, Vol. III. p. 260.

[6] Although devout in their admiration for antiquity, the writers of the seventeenth century have by no means always clearly grasped the object of their cult. Though they may understand Latin tradition, they have certainly never entered into the freer, more original spirit of Greek art. They have but an incomplete, superficial conception of Hellenism. . . Boileau celebrates but does not understand Pindar. . . The seventeenth century comprehended Homer no better than Pindar. What we miss in them is exactly what we like best in his epopee—the vast living picture of semi-barbarous civilization. . . No society could be less fitted than that of the seventeenth century to feel and understand the spirit of primitive antiquity. In order to appreciate Homer, it was thought necessary to civilize the barbarian, make him a scrupulous writer, and convince him that the word "ass" is a "very noble" expression in Greek—_Pellisier: "The Literary Movement in France" (Brinton's translation, _1897), pp. 8-10. So Addison apologizes for Homer's failure to observe those qualities of nicety, correctness, and what the French call bienséance (decorum,) the necessity of which had only been found out in later times. See The Spectator, No. 160.

[7] Preface to "Cromwell."

[8] "History of English Poetry," section lxi. Vol III. p. 398 (edition of 1840).

[9] See, for a fuller discussion of this subject, "From Shakspere to Pope: An Inquiry into the Causes and Phenomena of the Rise of Classical Poetry in England," by Edmund Gosse, 1885.

[10] The cold-hearted, polished Chesterfield is a very representative figure. Johnson, who was really devout, angrily affirmed that his celebrated letters taught: "the morality of a whore with the manners of a dancing-master."

[11] "History of English Thought in the Eighteen Century," Vol. II. chap. xii. Section iv. See also "Selections from Newman," by Lewis E. Gates, Introduction, pp. xlvii-xlviii. (1895).

[12] See especially Spectator, Nos. 185, 186, 201, 381, and 494.

[13] The classical Landor's impatience of mysticism explains his dislike of Plato, the mystic among Greeks. Diogenes says to Plato: "I meddle not at present with infinity or eternity: when I can comprehend them, I will talk about them," "Imaginary Conversations," 2d series, Conversation XV. Landor's contempt for German literature is significant.

[14] "Selections from Newman," Introduction, pp. xlvii-xlviii.

[15] Racine observes that good sense and reason are the same in all ages. What is the result of this generalization? Heroes can be transported from epoch to epoch, from country to country, without causing surprise. Their Achilles is no more a Greek than is Porus an Indian; Andromache feels and talks like a seventeenth-century princess: Phaedra experiences the remorse of a Christian.—Pellissier, "Literary Movement in France," p. 18.

In substituting men of concrete, individual lives for the ideal figures of tragic art, romanticism was forced to determine their physiognomy by a host of local, casual details. In the name of universal truth the classicists rejected the coloring of time and place; and this is precisely what the romanticists seek under the name of particular reality.—Ibid. p. 220. Similarly Montezuma's Mexicans in Dryden's "Indian Emperor" have no more national individuality than the Spanish Moors in his "Conquest of Granada." The only attempt at local color in "Aurungzebe"—an heroic play founded on the history of a contemporary East Indian potentate who died seven years after the author—is the introduction of the suttee, and one or two mentions of elephants.

[16] See "Les Orientales" (Hugo) and Nerval's "Les Nuits de Rhamadan" and "La Légende du Calife Hakem."

[17] The rules a nation, born to serve, obeys;
And Boileau still in right of Horace sways.
Pope, "Essay on Criticism,"

[18] These critical verse essays seem to have been particularly affected by this order of the peerage; for, somewhat later, we have one, "On Unnatural Flights in Poetry," by the Earl of Lansdowne—"Granville the polite."

[19] "Epistle to Sacheverel."

[20] "Essay on Addison."

[21] Sweet hour of twilight!—in the solitude
Of the pine forest, and the silent shore
Which bounds Ravenna's immemorial wood,
Rooted where once the Adrian wave flowed o'er,
To where the last Caesarian fortress stood,
Evergreen forest! which Boccaccio's lore
And Dryden's lay made haunted ground to me,
How have I loved the twilight hour and thee!
Don Juan

[22] I must entirely agree with Monsieur Boileau, that one verse of Vergil is worth all the _clinquant _or tinsel of Tasso.—Spectator, No. 5.

[23] Spectator, No. 419.

[24] See his "Life of Collins."

[25] Spectator, No. 40.

[26] "The Verse": Preface to "Paradise Lost."

[27] Dedicatory epistle to "The Rival Ladies."

[28] Mr. Gosse says that a sonnet by Pope's friend Walsh is the only one "written in English between Milton's in 1658, and Warton's about 1750," Ward's "English Poets," Vol. III, p. 7. The statement would have been more precise if he had said published instead of written.

[29] "History of the Gothic Revival," pp. 49-50 (edition of 1872).

[30] Palgrave says that the poetry of passion was deformed, after 1660, by "levity and an artificial time"; and that it lay "almost dormant for the hundred years between the days of Wither and Suckling and the days of Burns and Cowper," "Golden Treasury" (Sever and Francis edition, 1866). pp. 379-80.

[31] Excepting the "Nocturnal Reverie" of Lady Winchelsea, and a passage or two in the "Windsor Forest" of Pope, the poetry of the period intervening between the publication of the "Paradise Lost" and the "Seasons" [1667-1726] does not contain a single new image of external nature.—Wordsworth. Appendix to Lyrical Ballads, (1815).

[32] Gild is a perfect earmark of eighteenth-century descriptive verse: the shore is gilded and so are groves, clouds, etc. Contentment gilds the scene, and the stars gild the gloomy night (Parnell) or the glowing pole (Pope).

[33] Johnson, "Prologue at the Opening of Drury Lane," 1747.

[34] See Coleridge, "Biographia Literaria," chap. Xviii

[35] Essay on Pope, in "My Study Windows."

[36] "From Shakespere to Pope," pp. 9-11.

Henry Augustin Beers

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