МИНИСТЕРСТВО ОБРАЗОВАНИЯ И НАУКИ
ФЕДЕРАЛЬНОЕ ГОСУДАРСТВЕННОЕ БЮДЖЕТНОЕ
ИНКЛЮЗИВНОГО ВЫСШЕГО ОБРАЗОВАНИЯ
Edward Fadeev, Svetlana Kaziakhmedova
The British Literature Course
Moscow – 2018
Настоящее учебное пособие, посвященное изучению истории английской литературы, составлено в соответствии с учебным планом специальности 45.05.01 «Перевод и переводоведение» и предназначено для студентов II курса факультета иностранных языков.
Целью настоящего пособия является раскрытие наиболее важных общих закономерностей развития английской литературы, выделение индивидуальных особенностей творчества отдельных писателей, начиная с эпохи Средневековья и заканчивая современностью конца ХХ века.
Эта дисциплина должна во многом способствовать формированию мировоззрения студента, художественного вкуса и умения ориентироваться в истории английской литературы, а также содействовать развитию навыков и умений студентов в работе с художественными материалами на английском языке.
Вся работа делится на три формы: наиболее принципиальные и сложные вопросы будут изложены в лекциях, часть материала будет вынесена на семинарские занятия, а весьма значительная часть – на самостоятельную проработку. Таким образом, дисциплина потребует от студента значительных затрат времени и энергии для ее освоения.
Поставленные задачи определяют структуру настоящего учебно-методического пособия, в котором даются характеристики творческого пути английских писателей, и студенты имеют возможность ознакомиться с содержанием творчества, взглядами и языковыми приемами изучаемого иностранного языка.
Представленные в пособии материалы сопровождаются заданиями, которые могут быть детально обсуждены и раскрыты на семинарских занятиях и круглых столах по предмету.
В конце учебного-методического пособия присутствует приложение, которое знакомит студентов с отдельными фрагментами художественных произведений, что делает возможным более тщательно изучить творчество английских писателей.
Общие цели преподавания дисциплины «Художественная литература стран изучаемого языка»:
дать студенту представление об особенностях литературного процесса в стране изучаемого языка,
помочь студенту овладеть современными методами историко-литературного исследования, анализа, интерпретации и оценки литературных явлений в широком историческом и культурном контекстах,
рассмотреть роль художественной литературы в культуре страны изучаемого языка.
В рамках данного курса происходит формирование литературоведческих навыков анализа творчества писателей и интерпретации художественных текстов. Ряд текстов, включенных в программу обязательного чтения по данному курсу, в оригинальном варианте используются на занятиях по аналитическому чтению и интерпретации текстов. Таким образом, курс систематизирует, обобщает и расширяет знания студентов, совершенствует умение самостоятельно мыслить и делать аргументированные выводы.
В ходе преподавания дисциплин решаются следующие задачи:
сформировать у студентов систему ориентирующих знаний о литературе страны изучаемого языка в контексте ее гражданской истории и общей истории культуры в период от древнейших времен до конца ХХ века;
познакомить студентов с основными этапами развития литературы, борьбой различных направлений, развитием важнейших литературных течений и школ в литературе страны изучаемого языка;
выявить наиболее существенные особенности художественного мастерства крупнейших писателей, своеобразие их художественного метода, образных и языковых средств, а также значением их творчества для мировой литературы.
ознакомить студентов с проблемой становления литературы страны изучаемого языка в контексте межкультурных связей.
В рамках курса происходит формирование литературоведческих навыков анализа творчества писателей и интерпретации художественных текстов. Ряд текстов, включенных в программу обязательного чтения по данному курсу, в оригинальном варианте используются на занятиях по аналитическому чтению и интерпретации текстов. Таким образом, курс систематизирует, обобщает и расширяет знания студентов, совершенствует умение самостоятельно мыслить и делать аргументированные выводы.
Данные методические указания и рекомендации являются частью УМК по предмету и могут использоваться преподавателем и студентами для аудиторной, аудиторной самостоятельной и внеаудиторной самостоятельной работы.
THE BRITONS AND THE ANGLO-SAXONS
THE STORY ON BEOWULF
THE NORMAN-FRENCH PERIOD
THE END OF MIDDLE AGES
THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY/ THE RENAISSANCE AND THE REIGN OF ELIZABETH
THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY/PROSE AND POETRY
THE ROMANTIC TRIUMPH
THE VICTORIAN PERIOD
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
THE BRITONS AND THE ANGLO-SAXONSBrainstorming and discussions:
Do you agree that the British literature as a whole includes a wide range of Scandinavian, Celtic, Germanic, Welsh and Irish components?
Are you acquainted with any kind of literature of Scandinavian or the Celtic people? If so, what are they?
Hardly much should be noticed in the study of the British literature and development in regards to the first period when one of the greatest nations was just being created. It was the time when the nation was outlining and building means of communication among hostile people from outside world.
left2794000The present English race has gradually shaped itself out of several distinct peoples, which successively occupied or conquered the island of modern Great Britain. The earliest belonged to the Celtic family and was itself divided into two branches. The Gaels were settled in the northern part of the island, which is now Scotland, and were the ancestors of the present Highland Scots. On English literature they exerted little or no influence until a late period. The Britons, from whom the present Welsh are descended, inhabited what is now England and Wales; and they were still further subdivided, like most barbarous peoples, into many tribes which were often at war with one another. Though the Britons were conquered and chiefly supplanted later on by the Anglo-Saxons, enough of them, as we shall see, were spared and intermarried with the victors to transmit something of their racial qualities to the English nation and literature.
The characteristics of the Britons, which are those of the Celtic family as a whole, appear in their history and in the scanty late remains of their literature. Two main traits include or suggest all the others: first, a vigorous but fitful emotionalism, which rendered them vivacious, lovers of novelty, and brave, but ineffective in practical affairs; second, a somewhat fantastic but sincere and delicate sensitiveness to beauty. Into impetuous action they were easily hurried; but their momentary ardor easily cooled into fatalistic despondency.
To the mysterious charm of Nature—of hills and forests and pleasant breezes; to the loveliness and grace of meadow-flowers or of a young man or a girl; to the varied sheen of rich colors—to all attractive objects of sight and sound and motion their fancy responded keenly and joyfully; but they preferred chiefly to weave these things into stories and verse of supernatural romance or vague suggestiveness; for substantial work of solider structure either in life or in literature they possessed comparatively little faculty. Here is a description (exceptionally beautiful, to be sure) from the story 'Kilhwch and Olwen': 'The maid was clothed in a robe of flame-colored silk, and about her neck was a collar of ruddy gold, on which were precious emeralds and rubies. More yellow was her head than the flowers of the broom, and her skin was whiter than the foam of the wave, and fairer were her hands and her fingers than the blossoms of the wood anemone amidst the spray of the meadow fountain. The eye of the trained hawk, the glance of the three-mewed falcon, was not brighter than hers. Her bosom was more snowy than the breast of the white swan, her cheeks were redder than the reddest roses. Who beheld her was filled with her love. Pour white trefoils sprang up wherever she trod. And therefore was she called Olwen.'
This charming fancifulness and delicacy of feeling is apparently the great contribution of the Britons to English literature; from it may perhaps be descended the fairy scenes of William Shakespeare and possibly to some extent the lyrical music of Tennyson.
Writing Skills Development: Summary Writing
A summary essay should be organized so that others can understand the source or evaluate your comprehension of it. The following format works well:
a. The introduction (usually one paragraph) 1. Contains a one-sentence thesis statement that sums up the main point of the source. This thesis statement is not your main point; it is the main point of your source. Usually, though, you have to write this statement rather than quote it from the source text. It is a one-sentence summary of the entire text that your essay summarizes. 2. Also introduces the text to be summarized: (a) Gives the title of the source (following the citation guidelines of whatever style sheet you are using); (b) Provides the name of the author of the source; (c) Sometimes also provides pertinent background information about the author of the source or about the text to be summarized. The introduction should not offer your own opinions or evaluation of the text you are summarizing.
b. The body of a summary essay (one or more paragraphs): This paraphrases and condenses the original piece. In your summary, be sure that you-- 1. Include important data but omit minor points; 2. Include one or more of the author’s examples or illustrations (these will bring your summary to life); 3. Do not include your own ideas, illustrations, metaphors, or interpretations. Look upon yourself as a summarizing machine; you are simply repeating what the source text says, in fewer words and in your own words. But the fact that you are using your own words does not mean that you are including your own ideas.
c. There is customarily no conclusion to a summary essay. When you have summarized the source text, your summary essay is finished. Do not add your own concluding paragraph unless your teacher specifically tells you to.
Exercise № 1. Read over and write a summary on the suggested themes. Use only factual information and avoid expressing your own ideas.
The Roman occupation of the British islands;
The Anglo-Saxon conquest of the British islands.
Writing Skills Development: Compound Sentence Structure:
Past Simple + for the reason that + Past Simple/Continuous/Perfect/Future in the Past
Assignment 1. Think over the situation inside the British Isles and build up a vocabulary list, which can be used by you in describing life of common inhabitants of the country.
Assignment 2. Compose a short essay using your vocabulary list and describing the following topics:
a) Life of able-bodied freemen
b) Religious beliefs of Germanic tribes
THE EARLY PAGAN POETRY AND BEOWULF
The Anglo-Saxons doubtless brought with them from the Continent the rude beginnings of poetry, such as come first in the literature of every people and consist largely of brief magical charms and of rough 'popular ballads'. The charms explain themselves as an inevitable product of primitive superstition; the ballads probably first sprang up and developed, among all races, in much the following way. At the very beginning of human society, long before the commencement of history, the primitive groups of savages who then constituted humankind were instinctively led to express their emotions together, communally, in rhythmical fashion. Perhaps after an achievement in hunting or war the village-group would mechanically fall into a dance, sometimes, it might be, about their village fire. Suddenly from among the inarticulate cries of the crowd someone excited individual would shout out a distinct rhythmical expression. This expression, which may be called a line, was taken up and repeated by the crowd; others might be added to it, and thus gradually, in the course of generations, arose the regular habit of communal composition, composition of something like complete ballads by the throng as a whole. This procedure ceased to be important everywhere long before the literary period, but it led to the frequent composition by humble versifiers of more deliberate poems which were still 'popular' because they circulated by word of mouth, only, from generation to generation, among the common people, and formed one of the best expressions of their feeling.
At an early period also professional minstrels, called by the Anglo-Saxons gleemen, disengaged themselves from the crowd and began to gain their living by wandering from village to village or tribe to tribe chanting to the harp either the popular ballads or more formal poetry of their own composition. Among all races when a certain stage of social development is reached, at least one such minstrel is to be found as a regular retainer at the court of every barbarous chief or king, ready to entertain the warriors at their feasts, with chants of heroes and battles and of the exploits of their present lord. All the earliest products of these processes of 'popular' and minstrel composition are everywhere lost long before recorded literature begins, but the processes themselves in their less formal stages continue among uneducated people even down to the present time.
Out of the popular ballads, or of the minstrel poetry, which is partly based on them, regularly develops epic poetry. Perhaps a minstrel finds a number of ballads, which deal with the exploits of a single hero or with a single event. He combines them as best he can into a unified story and recites this on important and stately occasions. As his work passes into general circulation other minstrels add other ballads, until at last, very likely after many generations, a complete epic is formed, outwardly continuous and whole, but generally more or less clearly separable on analysis into its original parts. On the other hand, on the other hand, a single great poet, who with conscious art weaves together a great mass of separate materials into the nearly finished epic, may mostly perform all at the combination once at a comparatively late period.
Not much Anglo-Saxon poetry of the pagan period has come down to us. By far the most important remaining example is the epic 'Beowulf,' of about three thousand lines. This poem seems to have originated on the Continent, but when and where are not now to be known. The Anglo-Saxons may have carried it to England in the form of ballads; or it may be Scandinavian material, later brought in by Danish or Norwegian pirates. At any rate, it seems to have taken on its present form in England during the seventh and eighth centuries. It relates, with the usual terse and unadorned power of primitive poetry, how the hero Beowulf, coming over the sea to the relief of King Hrothgar, delivers him from a monster, Grendel, and then from the vengeance of Grendel's only less formidable mother. Returned home in triumph, Beowulf much later receives the due reward of his valor by being made king of his own tribe, and meets his death while killing a fire-breathing dragon, which has become a scourge to his people.
As he appears in the poem, Beowulf is an idealized Anglo-Saxon hero, but in origin, he may have been any one of several other different things. Perhaps he was the old Germanic god Beowa, and his exploits originally allegories, like some of those in the Greek mythology, of his services to man; he may, for instance, first have been the sun, driving away the mists and cold of winter and of the swamps, hostile forces personified in Grendel and his mother. Alternatively, Beowulf may really have been a great human fighter who actually killed some especially formidable wild beasts, and whose superhuman strength in the poem results, through the similarity of names, from his being confused with Beowa. This is the more likely because there is in the poem a slight trace of authentic history.
'Beowulf' presents an interesting though very incomplete picture of the life of the upper, warrior, caste among the northern Germanic tribes during their later period of barbarism on the Continent and in England, a life more highly developed than that of the Anglo-Saxons before their conquest of the island. About King Hrothgar are grouped his immediate retainers, the warriors, with whom he shares his wealth; it is a part of the character, of a good king to be generous in the distribution of gifts of gold and weapons.
Somewhere in the background, there must be a village, where the bondmen and slaves provide the daily necessaries of life and where some of the warriors may have houses and families; but all this is beneath the notice of the courtly poet. The center of the warriors' life is the great hall of the king, built chiefly of timber. Inside, there are benches and tables for feasting, and the walls are perhaps adorned with tapestries. Near the center is the hearth, whence the smoke must escape, if it escapes at all, through a hole in the roof.
In the hall, the warrior’s banquet, sometimes in the company of their wives, but the women retire before the later revelry, which often leaves the men drunk on the floor. Sometimes, it seems there are sleeping-rooms or niches about the sides of the hall, but in 'Beowulf' Hrothgar and his followers retire to other quarters. War, feasting, and hunting are the only occupations in which the warriors care to be thought to take an interest.
The spirit of the poem is somber and grim. There is unqualified happiness of mood, and only brief hints of delight in the beauty and joy of the world. Rather, there is stern satisfaction in the performance of the warrior's and the sea-king's task, the determination of a strong-willed race to assert itself, and do, with much barbarian boasting, what its hand finds to do in the midst of a difficult life and a hostile nature. For the ultimate force in the universe of these fighters and their poets is Wyrd, the Fate of the Germanic peoples, cold as their own winters and the bleak northern sea, irresistible, despotic, and unmoved by sympathy for man. Great as the differences are, very much of this Anglo-Saxon pagan spirit persists centuries later in the English Puritans.
For the finer artistic graces, also, and the structural subtitles of a more developed literary period, we must not, of course, look in 'Beowulf.' The narrative is often more dramatic than clear, and there is no thought of any minuteness of characterization. A few typical characters stand out clearly, and they were all that the poet's turbulent and not very attentive audience could understand.
However, the barbaric vividness and power of the poem give it much more than a merely historical interest; and the careful reader cannot fail to realize that it is after all the product of a long period of poetic development.
Round Table Discussion:
What is your opinion of the epic poem of Beowulf?
What picture of a good king did the poem present?
What was the role of the Anglo-Saxons gleemen to spread up the poem of Beowulf?
The story of Beowulf
left-317500Beowulf is a classic tale of the triumph of good over evil, and divides neatly into three acts. The poem opens in Denmark, where Grendel is terrorizing the kingdom. The Geatish prince Beowulf hears of his neighbor’s plight, and sails to their aid with a band of warriors. Beowulf encounters Grendel in unarmed combat, and deals the monster its deathblow by ripping off its arm.
There is much rejoicing among the Danes; but Grendel’s loathsome mother takes her revenge, and makes a brutal attack upon the king’s hall. Beowulf seeks out the hag in her underwater lair, and slays her after an almighty struggle. Once more, there is much rejoicing, and Beowulf is rewarded with many gifts. The poem culminates 50 years later, in Beowulf’s old age. Now king of the Geats, his own realm is faced with a rampaging dragon, which had been guarding a treasure-hoard. Beowulf enters the dragon’s mound and kills his foe, but not before he himself has been fatally wounded. Beowulf closes with the king’s funeral, and a lament for the dead hero.
When was Beowulf composed?
Nobody knows for certain when the poem was first composed. Beowulf is set in the pagan world of sixth-century Scandinavia, but it also contains echoes of Christian tradition. The poem must have been passed down orally over many generations, and modified by each successive bard, until the existing copy was made at an unknown location in Anglo-Saxon England.
How old is the manuscript?
Beowulf survives in a single medieval manuscript, housed at the British Library in London. The manuscript bears no date, and so its age has to be calculated by analyzing the scribes’ handwriting. Some scholars have suggested that the manuscript was made at the end of the 10th century, others in the early decades of the 11th, perhaps as late as the reign of King Cnut, who ruled England from 1016 until 1035.
The most likely time for Beowulf to have been copied is the early 11th century, which makes the manuscript approximately 1,000 years old.
THE ANGLO-SAXON VERSE-FORM
The poetic form of 'Beowulf is that of virtually all Anglo-Saxon poetry down to the tenth century, or indeed to the end, a form which is roughly represented in the present book in a passage of imitative translation two pages below. The verse is untrimmed, not arranged in stanzas, and with lines more commonly end-stopped than is true in good modern poetry. Each line is divided into halves and each half contains two stressed syllables, generally long in quantity. The number of unstressed syllables appears to a modern eye or ear irregular and actually is very unequal, but they are really combined with the stressed ones into 'feet' in accordance with certain definite principles. At least one of the stressed syllables in each half-line must be in alliteration with one in the other half-line; and most often, the alliteration includes both stressed syllables in the first half-line and the first stressed syllable in the second, occasionally all four stressed syllables. (All vowels are held to alliterate with each other.) It will be seen therefore that (1) emphatic stress and (2) alliteration are the basal principles of the system. To a present-day reader the verse sounds crude, the more so because of the harshly consonantal character of the Anglo-Saxon language; and in comparison with modern poetry it is undoubtedly unmelodious. But it was worked out on conscious artistic principles, carefully followed; and when chanted, as it was meant to be, to the harp it possessed much power and even beauty of a vigorous sort, to which the pictorial and metaphorical wealth of the Anglo-Saxon poetic vocabulary largely contributed.
This last-named quality, the use of metaphors, is perhaps the most conspicuous one in the style, of the Anglo-Saxon poetry. The language, compared to that of our own vastly more complex time, was undeveloped; but for use in poetry, especially, there were a great number of periphrastic but vividly picturesque metaphorical synonyms (technically called kennings). Thus the spear becomes 'the slaughter-shaft'; fighting 'hand-play'; the sword 'the leavings of the hammer' (or 'of the anvil'); and a ship 'the foamy-necked floater.' These kennings add much imaginative suggestiveness to the otherwise over-terse style, and often contribute to the grim irony, which is another outstanding trait.
ANGLO-SAXON POETRY; THE NORTHUMBRIAN PERIOD
The Anglo-Saxons were for a long time fully occupied with the work of conquest and settlement, and their first literature of any importance, aside from 'Beowulf,' appears at about the time when 'Beowulf' was being put into its present form, namely in the seventh century. This was in the Northern, Anglian, kingdom of Northumbria (Yorkshire and Southern Scotland), which, as we have already said, had then won the political supremacy, and whose monasteries and capital city, York, thanks to the Irish missionaries, had become the chief centers of learning and culture in Western Christian Europe. Still pagan in spirit are certain obscure but, ingenious and skillfully developed riddles in verse, representatives of one form of popular literature only less early than the ballads and charms. There remain also a few pagan lyric poems, which are all not only somber like 'Beowulf' but distinctly elegiac, that is pensively melancholy. They deal with the hard and tragic things in life, the terrible power of ocean and storm, or the inexorableness and dreariness of death, banishment, and the separation of friends. In their frequent tender notes of pathos, there may be some influence from the Celtic spirit. The greater part of the literature of the period, however, was Christian, produced in the monasteries or under their influence. The first Christian writer was Caedmon (pronounced Kadmon), who toward the end of the seventh century paraphrased in Anglo-Saxon verse some portions of the Bible. The legend of his divine call is famous. The following is a modern rendering of the hymn, which is said to have been his first work:
Now must we worship the heaven-realm's Warder,The Maker's might and his mind's thought,
The glory-father's work as he every wonder,
Lord everlasting, of old established.
He first fashioned the firmament for mortals,
Heaven as a roof, the holy Creator.
Then the midearth mankind's Warder,
Lord everlasting, afterwards wrought,
For men a garden, God almighty.
After Caedmon comes Bede, not a poet but a monk of strong and beautiful character, a profound scholar who in nearly forty Latin prose works summarized most of the knowledge of his time. The other name to be remembered is that of Cynewulf (pronounced Kinnywulf), the author of some noble religious poetry, especially narratives dealing with Christ and Christian Apostles and heroes.
There is still other Anglo-Saxon Christian poetry, generally akin in subjects to Cynewulf’s, but in most of the poetry of the whole period, the excellence results chiefly from the survival of the old pagan spirit, which distinguishes 'Beowulf'. Where the poet writes for edification he is likely to be dull, but when his story provides him with sea-voyages, with battles, chances for dramatic dialogue, or any incidents of vigorous action or of passion, the zest for adventure and war rekindles, and we have descriptions and narratives of picturesque color and stern force.
Sometimes there is real religious yearning, and indeed the heroes of these poems are partly medieval hermits and ascetics as well as quick-striking fighters; but for the most part the Christian Providence is really only the heathen Wyrd under another name, and God and Christ are viewed in much the same way as the Anglo-Saxon kings, the objects of feudal allegiance which is sincere but rather self-assertive and worldly than humble or consecrated.
On the whole, then, Anglo-Saxon poetry exhibits the limitations of a culturally early age, but it manifests also a degree of power which gives to Anglo-Saxon literature unquestionable superiority over that of any other European country of the same period.
THE WEST SAXON, PROSE
The horrors, which the Anglo-Saxons had inflicted on the Britons, they themselves were now to suffer from their still heathen and piratical kinsmen the 'Danes' or Northmen, inhabitants or the Scandinavian Peninsula and the neighboring coasts. For a hundred years, throughout the ninth century, the Danes, appearing with unwearied persistence, repeatedly ravaged and plundered England, and they finally made complete conquest of Northumbria, destroyed all the churches and monasteries, and almost completely extinguished learning.
It is a familiar story how Alfred, king from 871 to 901 of the southern kingdom of Wessex, which had now taken first place among the Anglo-Saxon states, stemmed the tide of invasion and by ceding to the 'Danes' the whole northeastern half of the island obtained for the remainder the peace which was the first essential for the reestablishment of civilization. Peace secured, Alfred, who was one of the greatest of all English kings, labored unremittingly for learning, as for everything else that was useful, and he himself translated from Latin into Anglo-Saxon half a dozen of the best informational manuals of his time, manuals of history, philosophy, and religion. His most enduring literary work, however, was the inspiration and possibly partial authorship of the 'Anglo-Saxon Chronicle,' a series of annals beginning with the Christian era, kept at various monasteries, and recording year by year, the most important events of history, chiefly that of England.
Most of the entries in the 'Chronicle' are bare and brief, but sometimes, especially in the accounts of Alfred's own splendid exploits, a writer is roused to spirited narrative, occasionally in verse; and in the tenth century two great battles against invading Northmen, at Brunanburh and Maldon, produced the only important extant pieces of Anglo-Saxon poetry which certainly belong to the West Saxon period.
For literature, indeed, the West-Saxon period has very little permanent significance. Plenty of its other writing remains in the shape of religious prose—sermons, lives and legends of saints, biblical paraphrases, and similar work in which the monastic and priestly spirit took delight, but which is generally dull with the dullness of medieval commonplace didacticism and fantastic symbolism. The country, too, was still distracted with wars.
Within fifty years after Alfred's death, to be sure, his descendants had won back the whole of England from 'Danish' rule. But near the end of the tenth century new swarms of 'Danes' reappeared from the Baltic lands, once more slaughtering and devastating, until at last in the eleventh century the 'Danish' though Christian Canute ruled for twenty years over all England. In such a time, there could be little intellectual or literary life. However, the decline of the Anglo-Saxon literature speaks also partly of stagnation in the race itself.
The people, though still sturdy, seem to have become somewhat dull from inbreeding and to have required an infusion of altogether different blood from without. This necessary renovation was to be violently forced upon them, for in 1066 Duke William of Normandy landed at Pevensey with his army of adventurers and his ill-founded claim to the crown, and before him at Hastings fell the gallant Harold and his nobles. By the fortune of this single fight, followed only by stern suppression of spasmodic outbreaks, William established himself and his vassals as masters of the land. England ceased to be Anglo-Saxon and became, altogether politically, and partly in race, Norman-French, a change more radical and far-reaching than any which it has since undergone.
Writing Skills Development
A descriptive essay is an essay that gives a reader a mental image of an object or event. It uses senses such as sight, smell, touch and sound to give the reader a vivid impression of what is being described. Structure your descriptive essay like a regular analytical essay, but focus on showing rather than telling. Each paragraph of your descriptive essay should do something different to bring your subject as close to your reader as possible.
There are a variety of ways to introduce your topic. You can begin with an impression that conceals your subject. For instance, if you are describing a fireworks display, you could write, "There were so many bright colors and loud bangs I thought we were being attacked." Alternatively, begin with a more conventional description provides an overview of the topic, such as, "The fireworks display I attended last July was one of the best I have ever seen."
Every essay, even a descriptive one, should contain a thesis statement, which summarizes your argument, whatever that may be. It should be contained somewhere in your introduction, and usually at the end. In particular, if you begin your essay with some startling impressions, your thesis statement should clarify what your essay is about and show how you will approach the subject. In the fireworks example, a good thesis statement could read, "The fireworks display stimulated my eyes, my ears and my sense of excitement."
Your descriptive essay should contain at least three body paragraphs. Each of these should describe a different aspect of the subject under consideration. You can divide them up, for instance, by different senses if a subject stimulates your vision, hearing and taste. Alternatively, you can use your body paragraphs to divide up your subject. For example, a description of a baseball game could be broken up into the hitting, the defense and the final outcome.
A descriptive essay should end with a conclusion. The conclusion is there to wrap up the description and provide final thoughts. You might also use it to summarize your overall feelings about your encounter with the subject and to speculate on future experiences. In the fireworks example, a conclusion could recap your experiences at the display, talk about why you think it was so exciting and anticipate another fireworks show next July.
Write an essay on Anglo-Saxon poetry defining specific features prevailing in Anglo-Saxon poetry. The essay should consist of three paragraphs only and include 1000 words.
THE NORMAN-FRENCH PERIOD - 1066 TO ABOUT 1350The Normans who conquered England were originally members of the same stock as the 'Danes' who had harried and conquered it in the preceding centuries—the ancestors of both were bands of Baltic and North Sea pirates who merely happened to emigrate in different directions; and a little farther back the Normans were close cousins, in the general Germanic family, of the Anglo-Saxons themselves. The exploits of this whole race of Norse sea kings make one of the most remarkable chapters in the history of medieval Europe. In the ninth and tenth centuries, they mercilessly ravaged all the coasts not only of the West but also of all Europe from the Rhine to the Adriatic. 'From the fury of the Norsemen, good Lord, deliver us!' was a regular part of the litany of the unhappy French.
They settled Iceland and Greenland and prematurely discovered America; they established themselves as the imperial bodyguard and chief bulwark of the Byzantine Empire at Constantinople; and in the eleventh century they conquered southern Italy and Sicily, whence in the first crusade they pressed on with unabated vigor to Asia Minor. Those bands of them, who became known distinctively as Normans, fastened themselves as settlers, early in the eleventh century, on the northern shore of France, and in return for their acceptance of Christianity and acknowledgment of the nominal feudal sovereignty of the French king were recognized as rightful possessors of the large province which thus came to bear the name of Normandy.
Here by intermarriage with the native women, they rapidly developed into a race, which while retaining all their original courage and enterprise took on also, together with the French language, the French intellectual brilliancy and flexibility and in manners became the chief exponent of medieval chivalry.
The different elements contributed to the modern English character by the latest stocks, which have been united in it, have been indicated by Matthew Arnold in a famous passage: 'The Germanic genius has steadiness as its main basis, with commonness and humdrum for its defect, fidelity to nature for its excellence. The Norman genius, talent for affairs as its main basis, with strenuousness and clear rapidity for its excellence, hardness and insolence for its defect.' The Germanic element explains, then, why uneducated Englishmen of all times have been thick-headed, unpleasantly self-assertive, and unimaginative, but sturdy fighters; and the Norman strain why upper-class Englishmen have been self-contained, inclined to snobbishness, but vigorously aggressive and persevering, among the best conquerors, organizers, and administrators in the history of the world.
Assignment 1. Translate this text in English using as much original vocabulary as possible.
В первой половине IX века семь англосаксонских владений, основанных в Британии, были объединены в одно государство королем Эгбертом; хроники говорят, что он первый стал называться королем Англии. Примерно в то же время начались опустошительные набеги норманнов на остров. Слово «норманны» означает «северные люди». Так назывались германцы, поселившиеся на Скандинавском полуострове и и Ютландии. Суровая северная природа, неплодородная почва и соседство моря поддерживали их беспокойный, воинственный характер и сделали из них отчаянных мореходов. Обыкновенно старшие сыновья князей наследовали отцовские владения, а младшие набирали себе дружины удальцов и на своих двухмачтовых ладьях отправлялись в другие страны искать добычи; они стали известны под названием морских королей, или викингов. Морские бури часто разбивали их легкие суда, но те из них, кто пережил крушение, нисколько не теряли ни мужества, ни самоуверенности и смеялись над ветрами и волнами. «Буря,— говорится в их песнях.— помогает грести нашим гребцам. Ураган к нашим услугам: он бросает нас туда, куда мы хотели идти». О страхе, который внушали эти пираты Западной Европе, свидетельствует молитва: «От ярости норманнов избави нас, Господи!»
Удачи скандинавских и датских викингов привлекали к подобным предприятиям и других. Потом они перестали довольствоваться одной добычей и начали завоевывать земли. В Западной Европе главные их усилия были обращены на остров Британия. Вскоре после Эгберта почти вся Англия подпала под владычество датчан. И освободил Англию от этого владычества внук Эгберта Альфред Великий (871-900). Альфред был одним из самых образованных государей своего времени и очень любил книги. В начале своею правления молодой неопытный король возбудил неудовольствие подданных излишней самоуверенностью и неуважением к старым саксонским обычаям. Во время одного из нападений датчан он был даже покинут своими вассалами и принужден под чужим именем скрываться в хижине пастуха среди лесов и болот западной части острова. Альфред выжидал время, когда англичане, выведенные из терпения притеснениями завоевателей, опять обратятся к своему королю. Около него собралась значительная дружина, и когда время, приспело, он снова начал войну. Но перед решительной битвой Альфред под видом английского барда проник в лагерь датчан и, забавляя их своими песнями, узнал положение и силы неприятеля. При Эддингтоне датчане были разбиты наголову, и англичане возвратили свою независимость. После того не раз приплывали новые датские дружины, но постоянно терпели поражения.
SOCIAL RESULTS OF THE CONQUEST
In most respects, or all, the Norman Conquest accomplished precisely that racial rejuvenation of which, as we have seen, Anglo-Saxon England stood in need. For the Normans brought with them from France the zest for joy and beauty and dignified and stately ceremony in which the Anglo-Saxon temperament was poor—they brought the love of light-hearted song and chivalrous sports, of rich clothing, of finely-painted manuscripts, of noble architecture in cathedrals and palaces, of formal religious ritual, and of the pomp and display of all elaborate pageantry. In the outcome, they largely reshaped the heavy mass of Anglo-Saxon life into forms of grace and beauty and brightened its duller surface with varied and brilliant colors.
For the Anglo-Saxons themselves, however, the Conquest meant at first little else than that bitterest and most complete of all national disasters, hopeless subjection to a tyrannical and contemptuous foe. The Normans were not heathen, as the 'Danes' had been, and they were too few in number to wish to supplant the conquered people; but they imposed themselves, both politically and socially, as stern and absolute masters.
King William confirmed in their possessions the few Saxon nobles and lesser land-owners who accepted his rule and did not later revolt; but both pledges and interest compelled him to bestow most of the estates of the kingdom, together with the widows of their former holders, on his own nobles and the great motley throng of turbulent fighters who had made up his invading army.
In the lordships and manors, therefore, and likewise in the great places of the Church, were established knights and nobles, the secular ones holding in feudal tenure from the king or his immediate great vassals, and each supported in turn by Norman men-at-arms; and to them were subjected as serfs, workers bound to the land, the greater part of the Saxon population.
As visible signs of the changed order appeared here and there throughout the country massive and gloomy castles of stone, and in the larger cities, in place of the simple Anglo-Saxon churches, cathedrals lofty and magnificent beyond all Anglo-Saxon dreams. What sufferings, at the worst, the Normans inflicted on the Saxons is indicated in a famous passage of the 'Anglo-Saxon Chronicle,' an entry seventy years subsequent to the Conquest, of which the least distressing part may be thus paraphrased: 'They filled the land full of castles. They compelled the wretched men of the land to build their castles and wore them out with hard labor. When the castles were made, they filled them with devils and evil men. Then they took all those whom they thought to have any property, both by night and by day, both men and women, and put them in prison for gold and silver, and tormented them with tortures that cannot be told; for never were any martyrs so tormented as these were.'
THE UNION OF THE LATIN, FRENCH, AND ENGLISH
That their own race and identity were destined to be absorbed in those of the Anglo-Saxons could never have occurred to any of the Normans who stood with William at Hastings, and scarcely to any of their children. Yet this result was predetermined by the stubborn tenacity and numerical superiority of the conquered people and by the easy adaptability of the Norman temperament. Racially, and to a less extent socially, intermarriage did its work, and that within a very few generations. Little by little, also, Norman contempt and Saxon hatred were softened into tolerance, and at last even into a sentiment of national unity.
This sentiment was finally to be confirmed by the loss of Normandy and other French possessions of the Norman-English kings in the thirteenth century, a loss which transformed England from a province of the Norman Continental empire and of a foreign nobility into an independent country, and further by the wars ('The Hundred Years' War') which England-Norman nobility and Saxon yeomen fighting together—carried on in France in the fourteenth century.
In language and literature, the most general immediate result of the Conquest was to make of England a trilingual country, where Latin, French, and Anglo-Saxon were spoken separately side by side. With Latin, the tongue of the Church and of scholars, the Norman clergy were much more thoroughly familiar than the Saxon priests had been; and the introduction of the richer Latin culture resulted, in the latter half of the twelfth century, at the court of Henry II, in a brilliant outburst of Latin literature. In England, as well as in the rest of Western Europe, Latin long continued to be the language of religious and learned writing—down to the sixteenth century or even later. French, that dialect of it which was spoken by the Normans—Anglo-French it has naturally come to be called—was of course introduced by the Conquest as the language of the governing and upper social class, and in it also during the next three or four centuries a considerable body of literature was produced. Anglo-Saxon, which we may now term English, remained inevitably as the language of the subject race, but their literature was at first crushed down into insignificance.
Ballads celebrating the resistance of scattered Saxons to their oppressors no doubt circulated widely on the lips of the people, but English writing of the more formal sorts, almost absolutely ceased for more than a century, to make a new beginning about the year 1200. In the interval, the 'Anglo-Saxon Chronicle' is the only important document, and even this, continued at the monastery of Peterborough, ends in 1154, in the midst of the terrible anarchy of Stephen's reign.
It must not be supposed, notwithstanding, that the Normans, however much they despised the English language and literature, made any effort to destroy it. On the other hand, gradual union of the two languages was no less inevitable than that of the races themselves. From, the very first the need of communication, with their subjects must have rendered it necessary for the Normans to acquire some knowledge of the English language; and the children of mixed parentage of course learned it from their mothers. The use of French continued in the upper strata of society, in the few children's schools that existed, and in the law courts, for something like three centuries, maintaining itself so long partly because French was then the polite language of Western Europe.
Nevertheless, the dead pressure of English was increasingly strong, and by the end of the fourteenth century and of Chaucer's life French had chiefly given way to it even at Court. As we have already implied, however, the English, which triumphed, was in fact English-French—English was enabled to triumph partly because it had now largely absorbed the French. For the first one hundred or one hundred and fifty years, it seems, the two languages remained for the most part pretty clearly distinct, but in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries English, abandoning its first aloofness, rapidly took into itself a large part of the French vocabulary; and under the influence of the French it carried much farther the process of dropping its own comparatively complicated grammatical inflections—a process which had already gained much momentum even before the Conquest. This absorption of the French was most fortunate for English. To the Anglo-Saxon vocabulary—vigorous, but harsh, limited in extent, and lacking in fine discriminations and power of abstract expression, was now added nearly the whole wealth of French, with its fullness, flexibility, and grace. As a direct consequence the resulting language, modern English, is the richest and most varied instrument of expression ever developed at any time by any race.
Questions to the text:
What languages were spoken in Britain of that time? Why?
Why English language absorbed the French language?
Why was the French language still used and supported in the upper-class society?
What kind of English society was using Latin at that time? Why?
THE ENGLISH LITERATURE AS A PART OF THE GENERAL MEDIEVAL EUROPEAN LITERATURE
One of the most striking general facts in the later Middle Ages is the uniformity of life in many of its aspects throughout all Western Europe.
It was only during this period that the modern nations, acquiring national consciousness, began definitely to shape themselves out of the chaos, which had followed the fall of the Roman Empire. The Roman Church, firmly established in every corner of every land, was the actual inheritor of much of the unifying power of the Roman government, and the feudal system everywhere gave to society the same political organization and ideals. In a truer sense, perhaps, than later, Western Europe was one great brotherhood, thinking much the same thoughts, speaking in part the same speech, and actuated by the same beliefs. At least, the literature of the period largely composed and copied by the great army of monks, exhibits everywhere a thorough uniformity in types and ideas.
We of the twentieth century should not allow ourselves to think vaguely of the Middle Ages as a benighted or shadowy period when life and the people who constituted it had scarcely anything in common with ourselves. In reality, the men of the Middle Ages were moved by the same emotions and impulses as our own, and their lives presented the same incongruous mixture of nobility and baseness. Yet it is true that the externals of their existence were strikingly different from those of more recent times.
What was the feudal system of Britain like in those years. Towns were fighting for their municipal independence. Lords and their serfs were fighting with one another while kings and nobles were performing their wills peacefully or with violence. Towns were protected against robbers and hostile armies by thick walls and the country was largely covered with dense forests and wildness. There was no education in the country at that time except among monks, priests and nobles. Roads were infested with brigands and so bad that travel was scarcely possible except on horseback.
In medieval literature, likewise the modern student encounters much, which seems at first sight grotesque. One of the most conspicuous examples is the pervasive use of allegory. The men of the Middle Ages often wrote, as we do, in direct terms and of simple things, but when they wished to rise above the commonplace they turned with a frequency which to-day appears astonishing to the devices of abstract personification and veiled meanings.
No doubt this tendency was due in part to an idealizing dissatisfaction with the crudeness of their actual life; and no doubt it was greatly furthered also by the medieval passion for translating into elaborate and fantastic symbolism all the details of the Bible narratives.
However, from whatever cause, the tendency hardened into a ruling convention; thousands upon thousands of medieval manuscripts seem to declare that the world is a mirage of shadowy forms, or that it exists merely to body forth remote and highly surprising ideas.
Of all these countless allegories, none was reiterated with more unwearied persistence than that of the Seven Deadly Sins. These sins are: Covetousness, Unchastely, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth, and, chief of all, Pride, the earliest of all, through which Lucifer was moved to his fatal rebellion against the God, whence spring all human ills. Each of the seven, however, was interpreted as including so many related offences that among them they embraced nearly the whole range of possible wickedness. Personified, the Seven Sins in themselves almost dominate medieval literature, a sort of shadowy evil pantheon. Moral and religious questions could scarcely be discussed without regard to them; and they maintain their commanding place even as late as in Spenser's 'Faerie Queen,' at the very end of the sixteenth century. To the Seven Sins were commonly opposed, but with much less emphasis, the Seven Cardinal Virtues, Faith, Hope, Charity (Love), Prudence, Temperance, Chastity, and Fortitude. Again, almost as prominent as the Seven Sins was the figure of Fortune with her revolving wheel, a goddess whom the violent vicissitudes and tragedies of life led the men of the Middle Ages, in spite of their Christianity, to bring over from classical literature and virtually to accept as a real divinity, with almost absolute control in human affairs. In the seventeenth century, Shakespeare’s plays are full of allusions to her, but so for that matter is the everyday talk of all of us in the twentieth century.
Writing Skills Development:
Think over Seven Sins of that time and compose a short essay of 200 words of their importance nowadays.
Think over the Seven Cardinal Virtues and write an essay of their importance in our modern life.
However, the chief form of secular literature during the period, beginning in the middle of the twelfth century, was the romance, especially the metrical (verse) romance. The typical romances were the literary expression of chivalry. The professional minstrels, some of whom, as in Anglo-Saxon times, were richly supported and rewarded by kings, composed them and nobles, while others still wandered about the country, always welcome in the manor-houses. There, like Scott's Last Minstrel, they recited their sometimes almost endless works from memory, in the great halls or in the ladies' bowers, to the accompaniment of occasional strains on their harps.
For two or three centuries the romances were to the lords and ladies, and to the wealthier citizens of the towns, much what novels are to the reading public of our own day. By far the greater part of the romances current in England were written in French, whether by Normans or by French natives of the English provinces in France, and the English ones which have been preserved are mostly translations or imitations of French originals. The romances are extreme representatives of the whole class of literature of all times to which they have given the name. Frankly abandoning in the main the world of reality, they carry into that of idealized and glamorous fancy the chief interests of the medieval lords and ladies, namely, knightly exploits in war, and lovemaking. Love in the romances, also, retains all its courtly affectations, together with that worship of woman by man, which in the twelfth century was exalted into a sentimental art by the poets of wealthy and luxurious Provence in Southern France. Side by side, again, with war and love, appears in the romances medieval religion, likewise conventionalized and childishly superstitious, but in some inadequate degree a mitigation of cruelty and a restrainer of lawless passion. Artistically, in some respects or all, the greater part of the romances are crude and immature. Their usual main or only purpose is to hold attention by successions of marvellous adventures, natural or supernatural; of structure, therefore, they are often destitute; the characters are ordinarily mere types; and motivation is little considered. There were, however, exceptional authors, genuine artists, masters of meter and narrative, possessed by a true feeling for beauty; and in some of the romances the psychological analysis of love, in particular, is powerful, the direct precursor of one of the main developments in modern fiction.
The romances may be grouped into four great classes. First in time, perhaps, come those which are derived from the earlier French epics and in which love, if it appears at all, is subordinated to the military exploits of Charlemagne and his twelve peers in their wars against the Saracens.
Second are the romances which, battered salvage from a greater past, retell in strangely altered romantic fashion the great stories of classical antiquity, mainly the achievements of Alexander the Great and the tragic fortunes of Troy.
Third come the Arthurian romances, and fourth those scattering miscellaneous ones which do not belong to the other classes, dealing, most of them, with native English heroes. Of these, two, 'King Horn' and 'Havelok,' spring direct from the common people and in both substance and expression reflect the hard reality of their lives, while 'Guy of Warwick' and 'Bevis of Hampton,' which are among the best known but most tedious of all the list, belong, in their original form, to the upper classes.
Of all the romances, the Arthurian ones are by far the most important. They belong peculiarly to English literature, because they are based on traditions of British history, but they have assumed a very prominent place in the literature of the completely western world. Rich in varied characters and incidents to which a universal significance could be attached, in their own time they were the most popular works of their class; and living on vigorously after the others were forgotten, they have continued to form one of the chief quarries of literary material and one of the chief sources of inspiration for modern poets and romancers. It seems well worthwhile, therefore, to outline briefly their literary history.
The period in which their scene is nominally laid is that of the Anglo-Saxon conquest of Great Britain. Of the actual historical events of this period, extremely little is known, and even the capital question whether such a person as Arthur ever really existed can never receive a definite answer. The only contemporary writer of the least importance is the Briton, Gildas, who in a violent Latin pamphlet of about the year 550 ('The Destruction and Conquest of Britain') denounces his compatriots for their sins and urges them to unite against the Saxons; and Gildas gives only the slightest sketch of what had actually happened.
He tells how a British king invited in the Anglo-Saxons as allies against the troublesome northern Scots and Picts, and how the Anglo-Saxons, victorious against these tribes, soon turned in furious conquest against the Britons themselves, until, under a certain Ambrosius Aurelianus, a man 'of Roman race,' the Britons successfully defended themselves and at last in the battle of Mount Badon checked the Saxon advance.
For three hundred years, the traditions about Arthur continued to develop among the Welsh people. The most important change, which took place, was Arthur's elevation to the position of chief hero of the British race and the subordination to him, as his followers, of all the other native heroes, most of whom had originally been gods. To Arthur himself certain divine attributes were added, such as his possession of magic weapons, among them the sword Excalibur.
It also came to be passionately believed among the Welsh that he was not dead but would someday return from the mysterious Other World to which he had withdrawn and reconquer the island for his people. It was not until the twelfth century that these Arthurian traditions, the cherished heritage of the Welsh and their cousins, the Bretons across the English Channel in France, were suddenly adopted as the property of all Western Europe, so that Arthur became a universal Christian hero.
This remarkable transformation, no doubt in some degree inevitable, was actually brought about chiefly through the instrumentality of a single man, a certain English archdeacon of Welsh descent, Geoffrey of Monmouth. Geoffrey, a literary and ecclesiastical adventurer looking about for a means of making himself famous, put forth about the year 1136, in Latin, a 'History of the Britons' from the earliest times to the seventh century, in which, imitating the form of the serious chronicles, he combined in cleverly impudent fashion all the adaptable miscellaneous material, fictitious, legendary, or traditional, which he found at hand. In dealing with Arthur, Geoffrey greatly enlarges on Gildas and Nennius; in part, no doubt, from his own invention, in part, perhaps, from Welsh tradition. He provides Arthur with a father, King Uther, makes of Arthur's wars against the Saxons only his youthful exploits, relates at length how Arthur conquered almost all of Western Europe, and adds to the earlier story the figures of Merlin, Guenevere, Modred, Gawain, Kay, and Bedivere. What is not least important, he gives to Arthur's reign much of the atmosphere of feudal chivalry, which was that of the ruling class of his own age.
Geoffrey may or may not have intended his astonishing story to be seriously accepted, but in fact, it was received with almost universal credence. For centuries, it was incorporated in outline or in excerpts into almost all the sober chronicles, and what is of much more importance for literature, it was taken up and rehandled in various fashions by very numerous romancers. About twenty years after Geoffrey wrote, the French poet Wace, an English subject, paraphrased his entire 'History' in vivid, fluent, and diffuse verse. Wace imparts to the whole, in a thorough-going way, the manners of chivalry, and adds, among other things, a mention of the Round Table, which Geoffrey, somewhat chary of the supernatural, had chosen to omit, though it was one of the early elements of the Welsh tradition.
Other poets followed, chief among them the delightful Chretien of Troyes, all writing mostly of the exploits of single knights at Arthur's court, which they made over, probably, from scattering tales of Welsh and Breton mythology. To declare that most romantic heroes had been knights of Arthur's circle now became almost a matter of course. Prose romances also appeared, vast formless compilations, which gathered up into themselves story after story, according to the fancy of each successive editor. Greatest of the additions to the substance of the cycle was the story of the Holy Grail, originally an altogether independent legend. Important changes necessarily developed. Arthur himself, in many of the romances, was degraded from his position of the bravest knight to be the inactive figurehead of a brilliant court; and the only historical element in the story, his struggle against the Saxons, was thrust far into the background, while all the emphasis was laid on the romantic achievements of the single knights.
A Ballad Sent to King Richard written by Geoffrey Chaucer
Sometime this world was so steadfast and stable,
That man's word was held obligation;
And now it is so false and deceivable,
That word and work, as in conclusion,
Be nothing one; for turned up so down
Is all this world, through meed and wilfulness,
That all is lost for lack of steadfastness.
What makes this world to be so variable,But lust that folk have in dissension?
For now-a-days a man is held unable
But if he can, by some collusion,
Do his neighbour wrong or oppression.
What causeth this but wilful wretchedness,That all is lost for lack of steadfastness?
Truth is put down, reason is holden fable;
Virtue hath now no domination;
Pity exil'd, no wight is merciable;
Through covetise is blent discretion;
The worlde hath made permutation
From right to wrong, from truth to fickleness,
That all is lost for lack of steadfastness.
O Prince! desire to be honourable;
Cherish thy folk, and hate extortion;
Suffer nothing that may be reprovableTo thine estate, done in thy region;
Show forth the sword of castigation;
Dread God, do law, love thorough worthiness,
And wed thy folk again to steadfastness.
THE END OF THE MIDDLE AGES
ABOUT 1350 TO ABOUT 1500The middle of the fourteenth century was also the middle of the externally brilliant fifty years' reign of Edward III. In 1337, Edward had begun the terrible though often-interrupted series of campaigns in France, which historians group together as the Hundred Tears' War, and having won the battle of Crecy against amazing odds, he had inaugurated at his court a period of splendor and luxury.
The country as a whole was really increasing in prosperity; Edward was fostering trade, and the towns and some of the town-merchants were becoming wealthy; but the oppressiveness of the feudal system, now becoming outgrown, was apparent, abuses in society and state and church were almost intolerable, and the spirit which was to create our modern age, beginning already in Italy to move toward the Renaissance, was felt in faint stirrings even so far to the North as England.
The towns, indeed, were achieving their freedom. Thanks to compact organization, they were loosening the bonds of their dependence on the lords or bishops to whom most of them paid taxes; and the alliance of their representatives with the knights of the shire (country gentlemen) in the House of Commons, now a separate division of Parliament, was laying the foundation of the political power of the whole middle class. However, the feudal system continued to rest cruelly on the peasants. Still bound, most of them, to the soil, as serfs of the land or tenants with definite and heavy obligations of service, living in dark and filthy hovels under indescribably unhealthy conditions, earning a wretched subsistence by ceaseless labor, and almost altogether at the mercy of masters who regarded them as scarcely better than beasts, their lot was indeed pitiable. Nevertheless, their spirit was not broken nor their state as hopeless as it seemed. It was by the archers of the class of yeomen (small free-holders), men akin in origin and interests to the peasants, that the victories in the French wars were won, and the knowledge that this was so created in the peasants an increased self-respect and an increased dissatisfaction. Their groping efforts to better their condition received strong stimulus also from the ravages of the terrible Black Death, a pestilence which, sweeping off at its first visitation, in 1348, at least half the population, and on two later recurrences only smaller proportions, led to a scarcity of laborers and added strength to their demand for commutation of personal services by money-payments and for higher wages. The ruling classes with sternly repressive measures, and the socialistic Peasants’ Revolt of John Ball met this demand and Wat Tyler in 1381 was violently crushed out in blood, but it expressed a great human cry for justice, which could not permanently be denied.
Hand in hand with the State and its institutions, in this period as before, stood the Church. Holding in the theoretical belief of almost every one the absolute power of all men's salvation or spiritual death, monopolizing almost all learning and education, the Church exercised in the spiritual sphere, and to no small extent in the temporal, a despotic tyranny, a tyranny employed sometimes for good, sometimes for evil. As the only even partially democratic institution of the age it attracted to itself the most ambitious and able men of all classes.
Though social and personal influence were powerful within its doors, as always in all human organizations, nevertheless the son of a serf for whom there was no other means of escape from his servitude might steal to the nearest monastery and there, gaining his freedom by a few months of concealment, might hope, if he proved his ability, to rise to the highest position, to become abbot, bishop or perhaps even Pope. Within the Church were many sincere and able men unselfishly devoting their lives to the service of their fellows; but the moral tone of the organization as a whole had suffered from its worldly prosperity and power.
The monasteries, though still performing important public functions as centers of education, charity, and hospitality, had relaxed their discipline, and the lives of the monks were often scandalous. The Dominican and Franciscan friars, also, who had come to England in the thirteenth century, soon after the foundation of their orders in Italy, and who had been full at first of passionate zeal for the spiritual and physical welfare of the poor, had now departed widely from their early character and become selfish, luxurious, ignorant, and unprincipled. Much the same was true of the 'secular' clergy (those not members of monastic orders, corresponding to the entire clergy of Protestant churches). Then there were such unworthy charlatans as the pardoners and professional pilgrims, traveling everywhere under special privileges and fleecing the credulous of their money with fraudulent relics and preposterous stories of edifying adventure.
All this corruption was clear enough to every intelligent person, and we shall find it an object of constant satire by the authors of the age, but it was too firmly established to be easily or quickly rooted out.
This name came into the world probably in 1338, the first important author who was born and lived in London, which with him becomes the center of English literature. About his life, as about those of many of our earlier writers, there remains only very fragmentary information, which in his case is largely pieced together from scattering entries of various kinds in such documents as court account books and public records of state matters and of lawsuits. His father, a wine merchant, may have helped supply the cellars of the king (Edward III) and so have been able to bring his son to royal notice; at any rate, while still in his teens Geoffrey became a page in the service of one of the king's daughters-in-law. In this position, his duty would be partly to perform various humble work in the household, partly also, to help amuse the leisure of the inmates, and it is easy to suppose that he soon won favor as a fluent storyteller. He early became acquainted with the seamy as well as the brilliant side of courtly life; for in 1359 he was in the campaign in France and was taken a prisoner. That he was already valued appears from the king's subscription of the equivalent of a thousand dollars of present-day money toward his ransom; and after his release he was transferred to the king's own service, where about 1368 he was promoted to the rank of esquire. He was probably already married to one of the queen's ladies-in-waiting. Chaucer was then thirty years of age, and his practical sagacity and knowledge of men had been recognized; for from this time on he held important public positions.
34290-86487000He was often sent to the Continent—to France, Flanders, and Italy—on diplomatic missions; and for eleven years, he was in charge of the London customs, where the uncongenial drudgery occupied almost all his time until through the intercession of the queen he was allowed to perform it by deputy. In 1386 he was a member of Parliament, knight of the shire for Kent; but in that year his fortune turned—he lost all his offices at the overthrow of the faction of his patron, Duke John of Gaunt.
Chaucer's party and himself were soon restored to power, but although during the remaining dozen years of his life he received from the Court various temporary appointments and rewards, he appears often to have been poor and in need. When Duke Henry of Bolingbroke, son of John of Gaunt, deposed the king and himself assumed the throne as Henry IV, Chaucer's prosperity seemed assured, but he lived after this for less than a year, dying suddenly in 1400. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, the first of the men of letters to be laid in the book, which has since become the Poets' Corner.
Chaucer's poetry falls into three rather clearly marked periods. First is that of French influence, when, though writing in English, he drew inspiration from the rich French poetry of the period, which was produced partly in France, partly in England.
Chaucer experimented with the numerous lyric forms which the French poets had brought to perfection; he also translated, in whole or in part, the most important of medieval French narrative poems, the thirteenth century 'Romance of the Rose' of Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meung, a very clever satirical allegory, in many thousand lines, of medieval love and medieval religion. This poem, with its Gallic brilliancy and audacity, long exercised over Chaucer's mind the same dominant influence, which it possessed over most secular poets of the age.
Chaucer's second period, that of Italian influence, dates from his first visit to Italy in 1372, where at Padua he may perhaps have met the fluent Italian poet Petrarch, and where at any rate the revelation of Italian life and literature must have aroused his intense enthusiasm. From this time, and especially after his other visit to Italy, five years later, he made much direct use of the works of Petrarch and Boccaccio and to a less degree of those of their greater predecessor, Dante, whose severe spirit was too unlike Chaucer's for his thorough appreciation.
The longest and finest of Chaucer's poems of this period, 'Troilus and Criseyde' is based on a work of Boccaccio; here Chaucer details with compelling power the sentiment and tragedy of love, and the psychology of the heroine who had become for the Middle Ages a central figure in the tale of Troy. Chaucer's third period, covering his last fifteen years, is called his English period, because then at last his genius, mature and self-sufficient, worked in essential independence.
First in time among his poems of these years stands 'The Legend of Good Women,' a series of romantic biographies of famous ladies of classical legend and history, whom it pleases Chaucer to designate as martyrs of love; but more important than the stories themselves is the Prolog, where he chats with delightful frankness about his own ideas and tastes.
The great work of the period, however, and the crowning achievement of Chaucer's life, is 'The Canterbury Tales.' Everyone is familiar with the plan of the story: how Chaucer finds himself one April evening with thirty other men and women, all gathered at the Tabard Inn in Southwark, ready to start next morning, as thousands of Englishmen did every year, on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket at Canterbury. The travelers readily accept the proposal of Harry Bailey, their jovial and domineering host, that he go with them as leader and that they enliven the journey with a story-telling contest for the prize of a dinner at his inn on their return. Next morning, therefore, the Knight begins the series of tales and the others follow in order.
The literary form—a collection of disconnected stories bound together in a fictitious framework—goes back almost to the beginning of literature itself; but Chaucer may well have been directly influenced by Boccaccio's famous book of prose tales, 'The Decameron'. Between the two works, however, there is a striking contrast, which has often been pointed out. While the Italian author represents his gentlemen and ladies as selfishly fleeing from the misery of a frightful plague in Florence to a charming villa and a holiday of unreflecting pleasure, the gaiety of Chaucer's pilgrims rests on a basis of serious purpose, however conventional it may be.
Perhaps the easiest way to make clear the sources of Chaucer's power will be by means of a rather formal summary.
His Personality. Chaucer's personality stands out in his writings plainly and most delightfully. It must be borne in mind that, like some others of the greatest poets, he was not a poet merely, but also a man of practical affairs, in the eyes of his associates first and mainly a courtier, diplomat, and government official. His wide experience of men and things is manifest in the life-likeness and mature power of his poetry, and it accounts in part for the broad truth of all but his earliest work, which makes it essentially poetry not of an age but for all time. Something of conventional medievalism still clings to Chaucer in externals, as we shall see, but in alertness, independence of thought, and a certain directness of utterance, he speaks for universal humanity.
His practical experience helps to explain as well why, unlike most great poets, he does not belong primarily with the idealists. Fine feeling he did not lack; he loved external beauty—some of his most pleasing passages voice his enthusiasm for Nature; and down to the end of his life, he never lost the zest for fanciful romance.
His mind and eye were keen, besides, for moral qualities; he penetrated directly through all the pretenses of falsehood and hypocrisy; while how thoroughly he understood and respected honest worth appears in the picture of the Poor Parson in the Prolog to 'The Canterbury Tales.' Himself quiet and self-contained, moreover, Chaucer was genial and sympathetic toward all humankind. But all this does not declare him a positive idealist, and in fact, rather, he was willing to accept the world as he found it—he had no reformer's dream of 'shattering it to bits and remolding it nearer to the heart's desire.'
His moral nature, indeed, was easy-going; he was the appropriate poet of the Court circle, with very much of the better courtier's point of view. At the day's tasks, he worked long and faithfully, but he also loved comfort, and he had nothing of the martyr's instinct. To him human life was a vast procession, of boundless interest, to be observed keenly and reproduced for the reader's enjoyment in works of objective literary art. The countless tragedies of life he noted with kindly pity, but he felt no impulse to dash himself against the existing barriers of the world in the effort to assure a better future for the coming generations. In a word, Chaucer is an artist of broad artistic vision to whom art is its own excuse for being. And when everything is said few readers would have it otherwise with him; for in his art he has accomplished what no one else in his place could have done, and he has left besides the picture of himself, very real and human across the gulf of half a thousand years. Religion, we should add, was for him, as for so many men of the world, a secondary and formal thing. In his early works, there is much conventional piety, no doubt sincere as far as it goes; and he always took a strong intellectual interest in the problems of medieval theology; but he became steadily and quietly independent in his philosophic outlook and indeed rather skeptical of all definite dogmas.
His Humor. Chaucer's personality and his poetry are more pleasing than in the rich humor, which pervades them through and through. Sometimes, as in his treatment of the popular medieval beast-epic material in the Nun's Priest's Tale of the Fox and the Cock, the humor takes the form of boisterous farce; but much more often it is of the finer intellectual sort, the sort which a careless reader may not catch, but which touches with perfect sureness and charming lightness on all the incongruities of life, always, too, in kindly spirit. No foible is too trifling for Chaucer's quiet observation; while if he does not choose to denounce the hypocrisy of the Pardoner and the worldliness of the Monk, he has made their weaknesses sources of amusement for all the coming generations.
He is one of the greatest of all narrative poets. Chaucer is an exquisite lyric poet, but only a few of his lyrics have come down to us, and his fame must always rest largely on his narratives. Here, first, he possesses unfailing fluency. It was with rapidity, evidently with ease, and with masterful certainty, that he poured out his long series of vivid and delightful tales. It is true that in his early, imitative, work he shares the medieval faults of wordiness, digression, and abstract symbolism; and, like most medieval writers, he chose rather to reshape material from the great contemporary store than to invent stories of his own. Nevertheless, these are minor matters. He has great variety, also, of narrative forms: elaborate allegories; love stories of many kinds; romances, both religious and secular; tales of chivalrous exploit, like that related by the Knight; humorous extravaganzas; and jocose renderings of coarse popular material—something, at least, in virtually every medieval type.
The thorough knowledge and sure portrayal of men and women which, belong to his mature work extend through, many various types of character. It is a commonplace to say that the Prolog to 'The Canterbury Tales' presents in its twenty portraits virtually every contemporary English class except the very lowest, made to live forever in the finest series of character sketches preserved anywhere in literature; and in his other work the same power appears in only less conspicuous degree.
His poetry is also essentially and thoroughly dramatic, dealing very vividly with life in genuine and varied action. To be sure, Chaucer possesses all the medieval love for logical reasoning, and he takes a keen delight in psychological analysis; but when he introduces these things (except for the tendency to medieval diffuseness), they are true to the situation and really serve to enhance the suspense. There is much interest in the question often raised whether, if he had lived in an age like the Elizabethan, when the drama was the dominant literary form, he too would have been a dramatist.
As a descriptive poet, he displays equal skill. Whatever his scenes or objects, he sees them with perfect clearness and brings them in full life-likeness before the reader's eyes, sometimes even with the minuteness of a nineteenth century novelist. In addition, no one understands more thoroughly the art of conveying the general impression with perfect sureness, with a foreground where a few characteristic details stand out in picturesque and telling clearness.
Chaucer is an unerring master of poetic form. His stanza combinations reproduce all the well-proportioned grace of his French models, and to the pentameter-riming couplet of his later work, he gives the perfect ease and metrical variety, which match the fluent, thought. In all his poetry, there is probably not a single faulty line. And yet within a hundred years after his death, such was the irony of circumstances, English pronunciation had so greatly altered that his meter was held to be rude and barbarous, and not until the nineteenth century were its principles again fully understood. His language, we should add, is modern, according to the technical classification, and is really as much like the form of our own day as like that of a century before his time; but it is still only early modern English, and a little definitely directed study is necessary for any present-day reader before its beauty can be adequately recognized.
With Chaucer's death in 1400 the half century of original creative literature in which he is the main figure comes to an end, and for a hundred and fifty years thereafter there is only a single author of the highest rank. For this decline political confusion is the chief cause; first, in the renewal of the Hundred Years' War, with its sordid effort to deprive another nation of its liberty, and then in the brutal and meaningless War of the Roses, a mere cutthroat civil butchery of rival factions with no real principle at stake. Throughout the fifteenth century, the leading poets were avowed imitators of Chaucer, and therefore at best only second-rate writers. Most of them were Scots, and best known is the Scottish king, James I. For tradition seems correct in naming this monarch as the author of a pretty poem, 'The King's Quair', which relates in a medieval dream allegory of fourteen hundred lines how the captive author sees and falls in love with a lady whom in the end Fortune promises to bestow upon him. This may well be the poetic record of King James' eighteen-year captivity in England and his actual marriage to a noble English wife.
Now welcome Summer with thy sunne soft,
That hast this winter`s weathers overshake,
And driven away the longe nighties black.
Saint Valentine, that art full high aloft,
Thus singen smalle fowles for thy sake:
Now welcome Summer with tye sunne soft,
That hast this winter`s weathers overshake.
Well have they cause for to gladden oft,
Wince each of them recovered hath his make.
Full blissful may they singe when they wake:
Now welcome Summer with they sunne soft,
That has this winters weathers overshake,
And driven away the longe nighties black.
Questions to be discussed and presented verbally during seminar classes:
What kind of education and upbringing was provided to Geoffrey Chaucer?
What three periods of his literary activity can be determined in general?
What were the reasons of Geoffrey Chaucer to be engaged into political life of Britain?
What features of his romantic poetry could be stated as the most important and essential?
SIR THOMAS MALORY AND HIS 'MORTE DARTHUR
The one fifteenth century author of the first rank, above referred to, is Sir Thomas Malory. He is probably to be identified with the Sir Thomas Malory who during the wars in France and the civil strife of the Roses that followed was an adherent of the Earls of Warwick and who died in 1471 under sentence of outlawry by the victorious Edward IV. Moreover, some passing observations, at least, in his book seem to indicate that if he knew and had shared all the splendor and inspiration of the last years of medieval chivalry, he had experienced also the disappointment and bitterness of defeat and prolonged captivity. Further than this we know of him only that he wrote 'Le Morte Darthur' and had finished it by 1467.
-2286046355000 Malory's purpose was to collect in a single work the great body of important Arthurian romance and to arrange it in the form of a continuous history of King Arthur and his knights. He called his book 'Le Morte Darthur,' The Death of Arthur, from the title of several popular Arthurian romances to which, since they dealt only with Arthur's later years and death, it was properly enough applied, and from which it seems to have passed into general currency as a name for the entire story of Arthur's life. Actually to get together all the Arthurian romances was not possible for any man in Malory's day, or in any other, but he gathered up a goodly number, most of them, at least, written in French, and combined them, on the whole with unusual skill, into a work of about one-tenth their original bulk, which still ranks, with all qualifications, as one of the masterpieces of English literature. Dealing with such miscellaneous material, he could not wholly avoid inconsistencies, so that, for example, he sometimes introduces in full health in a later book a knight whom a hundred pages earlier he had killed and regularly buried; but this need not cause the reader anything worse than mild amusement. Not Malory but his age, also, is to blame for his sometimes hazy and puzzled treatment of the supernatural element in his material. In the remote earliest form of the stories, as Celtic myths, this supernatural element was no doubt frank and very large, but Malory's authorities, the more skeptical French romancers, adapting it to their own age, had often more or less fully rationalized it; transforming, for instance, the black river of Death which the original heroes often had to cross on journeys to the Celtic Other World into a rude and forbidding moat about the hostile castle into which the romancers degraded the Other World itself. Countless magic details, however, remained recalcitrant to such treatment; and they evidently troubled Malory, whose devotion to his story was earnest and sincere. Some of them he omits, doubtless as incredible, but others he retains, often in a form where the impossible is merely garbled into the unintelligible. For a single instance, in his seventh book he does not satisfactorily explain why the valiant Gareth on his arrival at Arthur's court asks at first only for a year's food and drink. In the original story, we can see to-day, Gareth must have been under a witch's spell, which compelled him to a season of distasteful servitude; but this motivating bit of superstition Malory discards, or rather, in this case, it had been lost from the story at a much earlier stage. It results, therefore, that Malory's supernatural incidents are often far from clear and satisfactory; yet the reader is little troubled by this difficulty either in so thoroughly romantic a work.
Other technical faults may easily be pointed out in Malory's book. Thorough unity, either in the whole or in the separate stories so loosely woven together, could not be expected; in continual reading the long succession of similar combat after combat and the constant repetition of stereotyped phrases become monotonous for a present-day reader; and it must be confessed that Malory has little of the modern literary craftsman's power of close-knit style or proportion and emphasis in details.
But these faults also may be overlooked, and the work is truly great, partly because it is an idealist's dream of chivalry, as chivalry might have been, a chivalry of faithful knights who went about redressing human wrongs and were loyal lovers and zealous servants of Holy Church; great also because Malory's heart is in his stories, so that he tells them in the main well, and invests them with a delightful atmosphere of romance which can never lose its fascination.
Questions to be discussed and presented verbally during seminar classes:
Why his “Tales of the King Arthur and Knights of the Round Table” were so much popular and desirable for the public and noblemen?
What inconsistencies could have been traced in “Tales of the King Arthur and Knights of the Round Table”?
THE INTRODUCTION OF PRINTING TO ENGLAND
The invention of printing took place in Germany not long after the middle of the fifteenth century, and the development of the art was rapid. Caxton, a shrewd and enterprising Kentishman, was by first profession a cloth merchant, and having taken up his residence across the Channel, was appointed by the king to the important post of Governor of the English Merchants in Flanders. Employed later in the service of the Duchess of Burgundy, his ardent delight in romances led him to translate into English a French 'Recueil des Histoires de Troye' (Collection of the Troy Stories). To supply the large demand for copies he investigated and mastered the new art by which they might be so wonderfully multiplied and about 1475, at fifty years of age, set up a press at Bruges in the modern Belgium, where he issued his 'Recueil,' which was thus the first English book ever put into print. During the next year, 1476, just a century before the first theater was to be built in London, Caxton returned to England and established his shop in Westminster, then a London suburb. During the fifteen remaining years of his life, he labored diligently, printing an aggregate of more than a hundred books, which together comprised over fourteen thousand pages. Aside from Malory's romance, which he put out in 1485, the most important of his publications was an edition of Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales.' While laboring as a publisher Caxton himself continued to make translations, and in spite of many difficulties, he, together with his assistants, turned into English from French no fewer than twenty-one distinct works. From every point of view, Caxton's services were great. As translator and editor, his style is careless and uncertain, but like Malory's it is sincere and manly, and vital with energy and enthusiasm. As printer, in a time of rapid changes in the language, when through the wars in France and her growing influence the second great infusion of Latin-French words was coming into the English language, he did what could be done for consistency in forms and spelling. Partly medieval and partly modern in spirit, he may fittingly stand at the close, or nearly at the close, of our study of the medieval period.THE MEDIEVAL DRAMAAt the fall of the Roman Empire, which marks the beginning of the Middle Ages, the corrupt Roman drama, proscribed by the Church, had come to an unhonored end, and the actors had been merged into the great body of disreputable jugglers and inferior minstrels who wandered over all Christendom. The performances of these social outcasts, crude and immoral as they were, continued for centuries unsuppressed, because they responded to the demand for dramatic spectacle which is one of the deepest though not least troublesome instincts in human nature.
The same demand was partly satisfied also by the rude country folk-plays, survivals of primitive heathen ceremonials, performed at such festival occasions as the harvest season, which in all lands continue to flourish among the country people long after their original meaning has been forgotten. In England, the folk-plays, throughout the Middle Ages and in remote spots down almost to the present time, sometimes took the form of energetic dances. Others of them, however, exhibited in the midst of much rough-and-tumble fighting and buffoonery, a slight thread of dramatic action. Their characters gradually came to be a conventional set, partly famous figures of popular tradition, such as St. George, Robin Hood, Maid Marian, and the Green Dragon. Other offshoots of the folk-play were the 'mumming' and 'disguising,' collective names for many forms of processions, shows, and other entertainments, such as, among the upper classes, that precursor of the Elizabethan Mask in which a group of persons in disguise, invited or uninvited, attended a formal dancing party. In the later part of the Middle Ages, also, there were the secular pageants, spectacular displays given on such occasions as when a king or other person of high rank made formal entry into a town. They consisted of an elaborate scenic background set up near the city gate or on the street, with figures from allegorical or traditional history who engaged in some pantomime or declamation, but with very little dramatic dialog, or none.
THE MORALITY PLAYS
The Mystery Plays seem to have reached their greatest popularity in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In the dawning light of the Renaissance and the modern spirit they gradually waned, though in exceptional places and in special revivals they did not altogether cease to be given until the seventeenth century. On the Continent of Europe, indeed, they still survive, after a fashion, in a single somewhat modernized form, the celebrated Passion Play of Oberammergau. In England by the end of the fifteenth century, they had been for the most part replaced by a kindred species, which had long been growing up beside them, namely the Morality Plays.
The Morality Play probably arose in part from the desire of religious writers to teach the principles of Christian living in a more direct and compact fashion than was possible through the Bible stories of the Mysteries. In its strict form, the Morality Play was a dramatized moral allegory. It was in part an offshoot from the Mysteries, in some of which there had appeared among the actors abstract allegorical figures, either good or bad, such as The Seven Deadly Sins, Contemplation, and Raise-Slander. In the Moralities, the majority of the characters are of this sort—though not to the exclusion of supernatural persons such as God and the Devil—and the hero is generally a type-figure standing for all Mankind. For the control of the hero, the two definitely opposing groups of Virtues and Vices contend; the commonest type of Morality presents in brief glimpses the entire story of the hero's life that is of the life of every man. It shows how he yields to temptation and lives for the most part in reckless sin, but at last in spite of all his flippancy and folly is saved by Perseverance and Repentance, pardoned through God's mercy, and assured of salvation.
As compared with the usual type of Mystery plays the Moralities had for the writers this advantage, that they allowed some independence in the invention of the story; and how powerful they might be made in the hands of a really gifted author has been finely demonstrated in our own time by the stage-revival of the best of them, 'Everyman'.
In most cases, however, the spirit of medieval allegory proved fatal, the genuinely abstract characters are mostly shadowy and unreal, and the speeches of the Virtues are extreme examples of intolerable sanctimonious declamation. Against this tendency, on the other hand, the persistent instinct for realism provided a partial antidote; the Vices are often very lifelike rascals, abstract only in name. In these cases, the whole plays become vivid studies in contemporary low life, largely human and interesting except for their prolixity and the coarseness, which they inherited from the Mysteries and multiplied on their own account. During the Reformation period, in the early sixteenth century, the character of the Moralities, more strictly so called, underwent something of a change, and they were—sometimes made the vehicle for religious argument, especially by Protestants.
THE RENAISSANCE AND THE REIGN OF ELIZABETHTHE RENAISSANCE
The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are the period of the European Renaissance or New Birth, one of the three or four great transforming movements of European history. The impulse by which the medieval society of scholasticism, feudalism, and chivalry was to be made over into what we call the modern world came first from Italy. Italy, like the rest of the Roman Empire, had been overrun and conquered in the fifth century by the barbarian Teutonic tribes, but the devastation had been less complete there than in the more northern lands, and there, even more, perhaps, than in France, the bulk of the people remained Latin in blood and in character. Hence, it resulted that though the Middle Ages were in Italy a period of terrible political anarchy, yet Italian culture recovered far more rapidly than that of the northern nations, whom the Italians continued down to the modern period to regard contemptuously as still mere barbarians. By the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, further, the Italians had become intellectually one of the keenest races whom the world has ever known, though in morals they were sinking to almost incredible corruption. Already in fourteenth century Italy, therefore, the movement for a much fuller and freer intellectual life had begun, and we have seen that Petrarch and Boccaccio transmitted something of this spirit to Chaucer. In England Chaucer was followed by the medievalizing fifteenth century, but in Italy there was no such interruption.
The Renaissance movement first received definite direction from the rediscovery and study of Greek literature, which clearly revealed the unbounded possibilities of life to men who had been groping dissatisfied within the now narrow limits of medieval thought. Before Chaucer was dead the study of Greek, almost forgotten in Western Europe during the Middle Ages, had been renewed in Italy, and it received a still further impulse when at the taking of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 Greek scholars and manuscripts were scattered to the West. It is hard for us to-day to realize the meaning for the men of the fifteenth century of this revived knowledge of the life and thought of the Greek race.
The medieval Church, at first merely from the brutal necessities of a period of anarchy, had for the most part frowned on the joy and beauty of life, permitting pleasure, indeed, to the laity, but as a thing half dangerous, and declaring that there was perfect safety only within the walls of the nominally ascetic Church itself. The intellectual life, also, nearly restricted to priests and monks, had been formalized and conventionalized, until in spite of the keenness of its methods and the brilliancy of many of its scholars, it had become largely barren and unprofitable. The whole sphere of knowledge had been subjected to the mere authority of the Bible and of a few great minds of the past, such as Aristotle. All questions were argued and decided on the basis of their assertions, which had often become wholly inadequate and were often warped into grotesquely impossible interpretations and applications. Scientific investigation was almost entirely stifled, and progress was impossible. The whole field of religion and knowledge had become largely stagnant under an arbitrary despotism.
To the minds, which were being paralyzed under this system, Greek literature brought the inspiration for which they longed. For it was the literature of a great and brilliant people who, far from attempting to make a divorce within man's nature, had aimed to 'see life steadily and see it whole,' who, giving free play to all their powers, had found in pleasure and beauty some of the most essential constructive forces, and had embodied beauty in works of literature and art where the significance of the whole spiritual life was more splendidly suggested than in the achievements of any, or almost any, other period.
The enthusiasm, therefore, with which the Italians turned to the study of Greek literature and Greek life, was boundless, and it constantly found fresh nourishment. Every year restored from forgotten recesses of libraries or from the ruins of Roman villas another Greek author or volume or work of art, and those, which had never been lost, were reinterpreted with much deeper insight. Aristotle was again vitalized, and Plato's noble idealistic philosophy was once more appreciatively studied and understood. In the light of this new revelation Latin literature, also, which had never ceased to be almost superstitiously studied, took on a far greater human significance.
Vergil and Cicero were regarded no longer as mysterious prophets from a dimly imagined past, but as real men of flesh and blood, speaking out of experiences remote in time from the present but no less humanly real. The word 'human,' indeed, became the chosen motto of the Renaissance scholars; 'humanists' was the title, which they applied to themselves as to men for whom 'nothing human was without appeal.' New creative enthusiasm, also, and magnificent actual new creation, followed the discovery of the old treasures, creation in literature and all the arts; culminating particularly in the early sixteenth century in the greatest group of painters whom any country has ever seen, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo. In Italy, to be sure, the light of the Renaissance had its palpable shadow; in breaking away from the medieval bondage into the unhesitating enjoyment of all pleasure, the humanists too often overleaped all restraints and plunged into wild excess, often into mere sensuality.
Hence, the Italian Renaissance is commonly called Pagan, and hence when young English nobles began to travel to Italy to drink at the fountainhead of the new inspiration moralists at home protested with much reason against the ideas and habits, which many of them brought back with their new clothes and flaunted as evidences of intellectual emancipation. History, however, shows no great progressive movement unaccompanied by exaggerations and extravagances.
The Renaissance, penetrating northward, past first from Italy to France, but as early as the middle of the fifteenth century English students were frequenting the Italian universities. Soon the study of Greek was introduced into England, also, first at Oxford; and it was cultivated with such good results that when, early in the sixteenth century, the great Dutch student and reformer, Erasmus, unable through poverty to reach Italy, came to Oxford instead, he found there a group of accomplished scholars and gentlemen whose instruction and hospitable companionship aroused his unbounded delight.
One member of this group was the fine-spirited John Colet, later Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, who was to bring new life into the secondary education of English boys by the establishment of St. Paul's Grammar School, based on the principle of kindness in place of the merciless severity of the traditional English system.
Great as was the stimulus of literary culture, it was only one of several influences that made up the Renaissance. While Greek was speaking so powerfully to the cultivated class, other forces were contributing to revolutionize life as a whole and all men's outlook upon it. The invention of printing, multiplying books in unlimited quantities where before there had been only a few manuscripts laboriously copied page by page, absolutely transformed all the processes of knowledge and almost of thought. Not much later began the vast expansion of the physical world through geographical exploration.
Toward the end of the fifteenth century the Portuguese sailor, Vasco da Gama, finishing the work of Diaz, discovered the sea route to India around the Cape of Good Hope. A few years earlier Columbus had revealed the New World and virtually proved that the earth is round, a proof scientifically completed a generation after him when Magellan's ship actually circled the globe. Following close after Columbus, the Cabots, Italian-born, but naturalized Englishmen, discovered North America, and for a hundred years, the rival ships of Spain, England, and Portugal filled the waters of the new West and the new East.
The whole of England was profoundly stirred by the Renaissance to a new and most energetic life, but not least was this true of the Court, where for a time literature was very largely to center. Since the old nobility had mostly perished in the wars, both Henry VII, the founder of the Tudor line, and his son, Henry VIII, adopted the policy of replacing it with able and wealthy men of the middle class, who would be strongly devoted to themselves. The court therefore became a brilliant and crowded circle of unscrupulous but unusually adroit political leaders, and a center of lavish entertainments and display. Under this new aristocracy, the rigidity of the feudal system was relaxed, and life became somewhat easier for all the dependent classes. Modern comforts, too, were largely introduced, and with them the Italian arts; Tudor architecture, in particular, exhibited the originality and splendor of an energetic and self-confident age. Further, both Henries, though perhaps as essentially selfish and tyrannical as almost any of their predecessors, were politic and far-sighted, and they took a genuine pride in the prosperity of their kingdom. They encouraged trade; and in the peace, which was their best, gift the well-being of the nation as a whole increased by leaps and bounds.
Lastly, the literature of the sixteenth century and later was profoundly influenced by that religious result of the Renaissance, which we know as the Reformation. While in Italy the new impulses were chiefly turned into secular and often corrupt channels, in the Teutonic lands they deeply stirred the Teutonic conscience. In 1517, Martin Luther, protesting against the unprincipled and flippant practices that were disgracing religion, began the breach between Catholicism, with its insistence on the supremacy of the Church, and Protestantism, asserting the independence of the individual judgment. In England Luther's action revived the spirit of Lollardism, which had nearly been crushed out, and in spite of a minority devoted to the older system, the nation as a whole began to move rapidly toward change. Advocates of radical revolution thrust themselves forward in large numbers, while cultured and thoughtful men, including the Oxford group, indulged the too ideal hope of a gradual and peaceful reform.
The actual course of the religious movement was determined largely by the personal and political projects of Henry VIII. Conservative at the outset, Henry even attacked Luther in a pamphlet, which won from the Pope for himself and his successors the title 'Defender of the Faith.' However, when the Pope finally refused Henry's demand for the divorce from Katharine of Spain, which would make possible a marriage with Anne Boleyn, Henry angrily threw off the papal authority and declared himself the Supreme Head of the Church in England, thus establishing the separate English church. In the brief reign of Henry's son, Edward VI, the separation was made more decisive; under Edward's sister, Mary, Catholicism was restored; but the last of Henry's children, Elizabeth, coming to the throne in 1558, gave the final victory to the English communion. Under all these sovereigns (to complete our summary of the movement) the more radical Protestants, Puritans as they came to be called, were active in agitation, undeterred by frequent cruel persecution and largely influenced by the corresponding sects in Germany and by the Presbyterianism established by Calvin in Geneva and later by John Knox in Scotland. Elizabeth's skillful management long kept the majority of the Puritans within the English Church, where they formed an important element, working for simpler practices and introducing them in congregations, which they controlled. However, toward the end of the century and of Elizabeth's reign, feeling grew tenser, and groups of the Puritans, sometimes under persecution, definitely separated themselves from the State Church and established various sectarian bodies. Shortly after 1600, in particular, the Independents, or Congregationalists, founded in Holland the church, which was soon to colonize New England. At home, under James I, the breach widened, until the nation was divided into two hostile camps, with results most radically decisive for literature. However, for the present we must return to the early part of the sixteenth century.
SIR THOMAS MORE AND HIS 'UTOPIA
Out of the confused and bitter strife of churches and parties, while the outcome was still uncertain, somewhat issued a great mass of controversial writing, which does not belong to literature. A few works, however, more or less directly connected with the religious agitation, cannot be passed by.
left508000One of the most attractive and finest spirits of the reign of Henry VIII was Sir Thomas More. A member of the Oxford group in its second generation, a close friend of Erasmus, his house a center of humanism, he became even more conspicuous in public life. A highly successful lawyer, he was rapidly advanced by Henry VIII in court and in national affairs, until on the fall of Cardinal Wolsey in 1529 he was appointed, much against his will, to the highest office open to a subject, that of Lord Chancellor.
A devoted Catholic, he took a part which must have been revolting to himself in the torturing and burning of Protestants; but his absolute loyalty to conscience showed itself to better purpose when in the almost inevitable reverse of fortune he chose harsh imprisonment and death rather than to take the formal oath of allegiance to the king in opposition to the Pope.
His quiet jests on the scaffold suggest the never-failing sense of humor which was one sign of the completeness and perfect poise of his character; while the hair-shirt which he wore throughout his life and the severe penances to which he subjected himself reveal strikingly how the expression of the deepest convictions of the best natures may be determined by inherited and outworn modes of thought.
The most important work was his 'Utopia,' published in 1516. The name, which is Greek, means No-Place, and the book is one of the most famous of that series of attempts to outline an imaginary ideal condition of society which begins with Plato's 'Republic' and has continued to our own time. 'Utopia,' broadly considered, deals primarily with the question which is common to most of these books and in which both ancient Greece and Europe of the Renaissance took a special interest, namely the question of the relation of the State and the individual.
It consists of two parts. In the first there is a vivid picture of the terrible evils which England was suffering through war, lawlessness, the wholesale and foolish application of the death penalty, the misery of the peasants, the absorption of the land by the rich, and the other distressing corruptions in Church and State.
In the second part, in contrast to all this, a certain imaginary Raphael Hythlodaye describes the customs of Utopia, a remote island in the New World, to which chance has carried him. To some of the ideals thus set forth More can scarcely have expected the world ever to attain; and some of them will hardly appeal to the majority of readers of any period; but in the main he lays down an admirable program for human progress, no small part of which has been actually realized in the four centuries which have since elapsed.
The controlling purpose in the life of the Utopians is to secure both the welfare of the State and the full development of the individual under the ascendancy of his higher faculties. The State is democratic, socialistic, and communistic, and the will of the individual is subordinated to the advantage of all, but the real interests of each and all are recognized as identical.
Everyone is obliged to work, but not to overwork; six hours a day make the allotted period; and the rest of the time is free, but with plentiful provision of lectures and other aids for the education of mind and spirit. All the citizens are taught the fundamental art, that of agriculture and in addition, each has a particular trade or profession of his own. There is no surfeit, excess, or ostentation. Clothing is made for durability, and every one's garments are precisely like those of everyone else, except that there is a difference between those of men and women and those of married and unmarried persons. The sick are carefully tended, but the victims of hopeless or painful disease are mercifully put to death if they so desire. Crime is naturally at a minimum, but those who persist in it are made slaves (not executed, for why should the State be deprived of their services?). Detesting war, the Utopians make a practice of hiring certain barbarians who, conveniently, are their neighbors, to do whatever fighting is necessary for their defense, and they win if possible, not by the revolting slaughter of pitched battles, but by the assassination of their enemies' generals. In especial, there is complete religious toleration, except for atheism, and except for those who urge their opinions with offensive violence.
'Utopia' was written and published in Latin; among the multitude of translations into many languages the earliest in English, in which it is often reprinted, is that of Ralph Robinson, made in 1551.
WYATT, SURREY, AND THE NEW POETRY
The fine arts literature made its beginning during the reign of Henry VIII. This was through the introduction by Sir Thomas Wyatt of the Italian fashion of lyric poetry. Wyatt, a man of gentle birth, entered Cambridge at the age of twelve and received his degree of M. A. seven years later. His mature life was that of a courtier to whom the king's favor brought high appointments, with such vicissitudes of fortune, including occasional imprisonments, as formed at that time a 4762537147500common part of the courtier's lot. Wyatt, however, was not a merely worldly person, but a Protestant seemingly of high and somewhat severe moral character. He died in 1542 at the age of thirty-nine of a fever caught as he was hastening, at the king's command, to meet and welcome the Spanish ambassador.
On one of his missions to the Continent, Wyatt, like Chaucer, had visited Italy. Impressed with the beauty of Italian verse and the contrasting rudeness of that of contemporary England, he determined to remodel the latter in the style of the former. Here a brief historical retrospect is necessary.
The Italian poetry of the sixteenth century had itself been originally an imitation, namely of the poetry of Provence in Southern France. There, in the twelfth century, under a delightful climate and in a region of enchanting beauty, had arisen a luxurious civilization whose poets, the troubadours, many of them men of noble birth, had carried to the furthest extreme the woman-worship of medieval chivalry and had enshrined it in lyric poetry of superb and varied sweetness and beauty. In this highly conventionalized poetry the lover is forever sighing for his lady, a correspondingly obdurate being whose favor is to be won only by years of the most unqualified and unreasoning devotion. From Provence, Italy had taken up the style, and among the other forms for its expression, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, had devised the poem of a single fourteen-line stanza, which we call the sonnet. The whole movement had found its great master in Petrarch, who, in hundreds of poems, mostly sonnets, of perfect beauty, had sung the praises and cruelty of his nearly imaginary Laura.A particular and characteristic part of the conventional Italian lyric apparatus, which Wyatt transplanted, was the 'conceit.' A conceit may be defined as an exaggerated figure of speech or play on words in which intellectual cleverness figures at least as largely as real emotion and which is often dragged out to extremely complicated lengths of literal application. An example is Wyatt's declaration (after Petrarch) that his love, living in his heart, advances to his face and there encamps, displaying his banner (which merely means that the lover blushes with his emotion). In introducing the conceit, Wyatt fathered the most conspicuous of the superficial general features, which were to dominate English poetry for a century to come.
Still another, minor, innovation of Wyatt was the introduction into English verse of the Haitian 'satire' (moral poem, reflecting on current follies) in the form of three metrical letters to friends. In these the meter is the terza rima of Dante.
His poetical disciple and successor, Henry Howard, who, as son of the Duke of Norfolk, held the courtesy title of Earl of Surrey, continued Wyatt’s work. A brilliant though willful representative of Tudor chivalry, and distinguished in war, Surrey seems to have occupied at Court almost the same commanding position as Sir Philip Sidney in the following generation. His career was cut short in tragically ironical fashion at the age of thirty by the plots of his enemies and the dying bloodthirstiness of King Henry, which together led to his execution on a trumped-up charge of treason. It was only one of countless brutal court crimes, but it seems the more hateful because if the king had died a single day earlier Surrey could have been saved.
Surrey's services to poetry were two: 1. He improved on the versification of Wyatt's sonnets, securing fluency and smoothness. 2. In a translation of two books of Vergil's 'Aneid' he introduced, from the Italian, pentameter blank verse, which was destined thenceforth to be the meter of English poetic drama and of much of the greatest English non-dramatic poetry. Further, though his poems are less numerous than those of Wyatt, his range of subjects is somewhat broader, including some appreciative treatment of external Nature. He seems, however, somewhat less sincere than his teacher. In his sonnets he abandoned the form followed by Wyatt and adopted the one which was subsequently used by Shakespeare, consisting of three independent quatrains followed, as with Wyatt, by a couplet which sums up the thought with epigrammatic force, thus: a b a b c d c d e f e f g g.
Questions to be discussed during seminars:
How can poetry of Thomas Wyatt be characterized?
What are typical characteristics of poetry of Surrey?
THE ELIZABETHAN PERIOD
The earlier half of Elizabeth's reign, also, though not lacking in literary effort produced no work of permanent importance. After the religious convulsions of half a century, time was required for the development of the internal quiet and confidence from which a great literature could spring. At length, however, the hour grew ripe and there came the greatest outburst of creative energy in the whole history of English literature. Under Elizabeth's wise guidance the prosperity and enthusiasm of the nation had risen to the highest pitch and London in particular was overflowing with vigorous life. A special stimulus of the most intense kind came from the struggle with Spain. After a generation of half-piratical depredations by the English seadogs against the Spanish, treasure fleets and the Spanish settlements in America, King Philip, exasperated beyond all patience and urged on by a bigot's zeal for the Catholic Church, began deliberately to prepare the Great Armada, which was to crush at one blow the insolence, the independence, and the religion of England. There followed several long years of breathless suspense; then in 1588 the Armada sailed and was utterly overwhelmed in one of the most complete disasters of the world's history. Thereupon the released energy of England broke out exultantly into still more impetuous achievement in almost every line of activity. The great literary period is taken by common consent to begin with the publication of Spenser's 'Shepherd's Calendar' in 1579, and to end in some sense at the death of Elizabeth in 1603, though in the drama, at least, it really continues many years longer.
Several general characteristics of Elizabethan literature and writers should be indicated at the outset.
1. The period has the great variety of almost unlimited creative force; it includes works of many kinds in both verse and prose, and ranges in spirit from the loftiest Platonic idealism or the most delightful romance to the level of very repulsive realism.
2. It was mainly dominated, however, by the spirit of romance.
3. It was full also of the spirit of dramatic action, as befitted an age whose restless enterprise was eagerly extending itself to every quarter of the globe.
4. In style it often exhibits romantic luxuriance, which sometimes takes the form of elaborate affectations of which the favorite 'conceit' is only the most apparent.
5. It was in part a period of experimentation, when the proper material and limits of literary forms were being determined, oftentimes by means of false starts and grandiose failures. In particular, many efforts were made to give prolonged poetical treatment to many subjects essentially prosaic, for example to systems of theological or scientific thought, or to the geography of all England.
6. It continued to be largely influenced by the literature of Italy, and to a less degree by those of France and Spain.
7. The literary spirit was all-pervasive, and the authors were men of almost every class, from distinguished courtiers, like Ralegh and Sidney, to the company of hack writers, who starved in garrets and hung about the outskirts of the bustling taverns.
The period saw the beginning, among other things, of English prose fiction of something like the later modern type. First appeared a series of collections of short tales chiefly translated from Italian authors, to which tales the Italian name 'novella' (novel) was applied. Most of the separate tales are crude or amateurish and have only historical interest; though as a class, they furnished the plots for many Elizabethan dramas, including several of Shakespeare’s. The most important collection was Painter's 'Palace of Pleasure,' in 1566. The earliest original, or partly original, English prose fictions to appear were handbooks of morals and manners in story form, and here the beginning was made by John Lyly, who is also of some importance in the history of the Elizabethan drama. In 1578 Lyly, at the age of twenty-five, came from Oxford to London, full of the enthusiasm of Renaissance learning, and evidently determined to fix himself as a new and dazzling star in the literary sky. In this ambition he achieved a remarkable and immediate success, by the publication of a little book entitled 'Euphues and His Anatomie of Wit.' 'Euphues' means 'the well-bred man,' and though there is a slight action, the work is mainly a series of moralizing disquisitions on love, religion, and conduct.
Most influential, however, for the time-being, was Lyly's style, which is the most conspicuous English example of the later Renaissance craze, then rampant throughout Western Europe, for refining and beautifying the art of prose expression in a mincingly affected fashion. Witty, clever, and sparkling at all costs, Lyly takes especial pains to balance his sentences and clauses antithetically, phrase against phrase and often word against word, sometimes emphasizing the balance also by an exaggerated use of alliteration and assonance. A representative sentence is this: 'Although there be none so ignorant that doth not know, neither any so impudent that will not confesse, friendship to be the jewell of humaine joye; yet whosoever shall see this amitie grounded upon a little affection, will soone conjecture that it shall be dissolved upon a light occasion.'
Others of Lyly's affectations are rhetorical questions, hosts of allusions to classical history, and literature, and an unfailing succession of similes from all the recondite knowledge that he can command, especially from the fantastic collection of fables which, coming down through the Middle Ages from the Roman writer Pliny, went at that time by the name of natural history and which we have already encountered in the medieval Bestiaries. Preposterous by any reasonable standard, Lyly's style, 'Euphuism,' precisely hit the Court taste of his age and became for a decade its most approved conversational dialect.
In literature the imitations of 'Euphues' which flourished for a while gave way to a series of romances inaugurated by the 'Arcadia' of Sir Philip Sidney. Sidney's brilliant position for a few years as the noblest representative of chivalrous ideals in the intriguing Court of Elizabeth is a matter of common fame, as is his death in 1586 at the age of thirty-two during the siege of Zutphen in Holland. He wrote 'Arcadia' for the amusement of his sister, the Countess of Pembroke, during a period of enforced retirement beginning in 1580, but the book was not published until ten years later. It is a pastoral romance, in the general style of Italian and Spanish romances of the earlier part of the century. The pastoral is the most artificial literary form in modern fiction. It may be said to have begun in the third century B. C. with the perfectly sincere poems of the Greek Theocritus, who gives genuine expression to the life of actual Sicilian shepherds. But with successive Latin, Medieval, and Renaissance writers in verse and prose the country characters and setting had become mere disguises, sometimes allegorical, for the expression of the very far from simple sentiments of the upper classes, and sometimes for their partly genuine longing, the outgrowth of sophisticated weariness and ennui, for rural naturalness. Sidney's very complicated tale of adventures in love and war, much longer than any of its successors, is by no means free from artificiality, but it finely mirrors his own knightly spirit and remains a permanent English classic. Among his followers were some of the better hack-writers of the time, who were also among the minor dramatists and poets, especially Robert Greene and Thomas Lodge. Lodge's 'Rosalynde,' also much influenced by Lyly, is in itself a pretty story and is noteworthy as the original of Shakespeare's 'As You Like It.'
Lastly, in the concluding decade of the sixteenth century, came a series of realistic stories depicting chiefly, in more or less farcical spirit, the life of the poorer classes. They belonged mostly to that class of realistic fiction which is called picaresque, from the Spanish word 'picaro,' a rogue, because it began in Spain with the 'Lazarillo de Tormes' of Diego de Mendoza, in 1553, and because its heroes are knavish serving-boys or similar characters whose unprincipled tricks and exploits formed the substance of the stories. In Elizabethan England it produced nothing of individual note.
EDMUND SPENSER, 1552-1599
The first really commanding figure in the Elizabethan period, and one of the chief of all English poets, is Edmund Spenser. He was born in London in 1552, the son of a clothmaker, Spenser past from the newly established Merchant Taylors' school to Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, as a poor student, and during the customary seven years of residence took the degrees of B. A. and, in 1576, of M.A. At Cambridge he assimilated two of the controlling forces of his life, the moderate Puritanism of his college and Platonic idealism. Next, after a year or two with his kinspeople in Lancashire, in the North of England, he came to London, hoping through literature to win high political place, and attached himself to the household of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Queen Elizabeth's worthless favorite. Together with Sidney, who was Leicester's nephew, he was for a while a member of a little group of students who called themselves 'The Areopagus' and who, like occasional other experimenters of the later Renaissance period, attempted to make over English versification by substituting for rime and accentual meter the Greek and Latin system based on exact quantity of syllables. Spenser, however, soon outgrew this folly and in 1579 published the collection of poems which, as we have already said, is commonly taken as marking the beginning of the great Elizabethan literary period, namely 'The Shepherd's Calendar.' This is a series of pastoral pieces (eclogues, Spenser calls them, by the classical name) twelve in number, 12001522288500artificially assigned one to each month in the year. The subjects are various—the conventionalized love of the poet for a certain Rosalind; current religious controversies in allegory; moral questions; the state of poetry in England; and the praises of Queen Elizabeth, whose almost incredible vanity exacted the most fulsome flattery from every writer who hoped to win a name at her court. The significance of 'The Shepherd's Calendar' lies partly in its genuine feeling for external Nature, which contrasts strongly with the hollow conventional phrases of the poetry of the previous decade, and especially in the vigor, the originality, and, in some of the eclogues, the beauty, of the language and of the varied verse. It was at once evident that here a real poet had appeared. An interesting innovation, diversely judged at the time and since, was Spenser's deliberate employment of rustic and archaic words, especially of the Northern dialect, which he introduced partly because of their appropriateness to the imaginary characters, partly for the sake of freshness of expression. They, like other features of the work, point forward to 'The Faerie Queen.'
In the uncertainties of court intrigue literary success did not gain for Spenser the political rewards which he was seeking, and he was obliged to content himself, the next year, with an appointment, which he viewed as substantially a sentence of exile, as secretary to Lord Grey, the governor of Ireland. In Ireland, therefore, the remaining twenty years of Spenser's short life were for the most part spent, amid distressing scenes of English oppression and chronic insurrection among the native Irish. After various activities during several years Spenser secured a permanent home in Kilcolman, a fortified tower and estate in the southern part of the island, where the romantic scenery furnished fit environment for a poet's imagination. And Spenser, able all his life to take refuge in his art from the crass realities of life, now produced many poems, some of them short, but among the others the immortal 'Faerie Queen.' The first three books of this, his crowning achievement, Spenser, under enthusiastic encouragement from Ralegh, brought to London and published in 1590. The dedication is to Queen Elizabeth, to whom, indeed, as its heroine, the poem pays perhaps the most splendid compliment ever offered to any human being in verse. She responded with an uncertain pension of £50, but not with the gift of political preferment which was still Spenser's hope; and in some bitterness of spirit he retired to Ireland, where in satirical poems he proceeded to attack the vanity of the world and the fickleness of men. His courtship and, in 1594, his marriage produced his sonnet sequence, called 'Amoretti', and his 'Epithalamium,' the most magnificent of marriage hymns in English and probably in world-literature; though his Epithalamium,' in honor of the marriage of two noble sisters, is a near rival to it.
Spenser, a zealous Protestant as well as a fine-spirited idealist, was in entire sympathy with Lord Grey's policy of stern repression of the Catholic Irish, to whom, therefore, he must have appeared merely as one of the hated crew of their pitiless tyrants. In 1598 he was appointed sheriff of the county of Cork; but a rebellion which broke out proved too strong for him, and he and his family barely escaped from the sack and destruction of his tower. He was sent with dispatches to the English Court and died in London in January, 1599, no doubt in part as a result of the hardships that he had suffered. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Spenser's 'Faerie Queen' is not only one of the longest but one of the greatest of English poems; it is also very characteristically Elizabethan. To deal with so delicate a thing by the method of mechanical analysis seems scarcely less than profanation, but accurate criticism can proceed in no other way.
Sources and Plan. Few poems more clearly illustrate the variety of influences from which most great literary works result. In many respects the most direct source was the body of Italian romances of chivalry, especially the 'Orlando Furioso' of Ariosto, which was written in the early part of the sixteenth century.
These romances, in turn, combine the personages of the medieval French epics of Charlemagne with something of the spirit of Arthurian romance and with a Renaissance atmosphere of magic and of rich fantastic beauty. Spenser borrows and absorbs all these things and moreover he imitates Ariosto closely, often merely translating whole passages from his work. But this use of the Italian romances, further, carries with it a large employment of characters, incidents, and imagery from classical mythology and literature, among other things the elaborated similes of the classical epics. Spenser himself is directly influenced, also, by the medieval romances. Most important of all, all these elements are shaped to the purpose of the poem by Spenser's high moral aim, which in turn springs largely from his Platonic idealism.
What the plan of the poem is Spenser explains in a prefatory letter to Sir Walter Ralegh. The whole is a vast epic allegory, aiming, in the first place, to portray the virtues which make up the character of a perfect knight; an ideal embodiment, seen through Renaissance conceptions, of the best in the chivalrous system which in Spenser's time had passed away, but to which some choice spirits still looked back with regretful admiration. As Spenser intended, twelve moral virtues of the individual character, such as Holiness and Temperance, were to be presented, each personified in the hero of one of twelve Books; and the crowning virtue, which Spenser, in Renaissance terms, called Magnificence, and which may be interpreted as Magnanimity, was to figure as Prince Arthur, nominally the central hero of the whole poem, appearing and disappearing at frequent intervals. Spenser states in his prefatory letter that if he shall carry this first projected labor to a successful end he may continue it in still twelve other Books, similarly allegorizing twelve political virtues. The allegorical form, we should hardly need to be reminded, is another heritage from medieval literature, but the effort to shape a perfect character, completely equipped to serve the State, was characteristically of the Platonizing Renaissance. That the reader may never be in danger of forgetting his moral aim, Spenser fills the poem with moral observations, frequently setting them as guides at the beginning of the cantos.
The Allegory. Lack of Unity. So complex and vast a plan could scarcely have been worked out by any human genius in a perfect and clear unity, and besides this, Spenser, with all his high endowments, was decidedly weak in constructive skill. The allegory, at the outset, even in Spenser's own statement, is confused and hazy. For beyond the primary moral interpretation, Spenser applies it in various secondary or parallel ways. In the widest sense, the entire struggle between the good and evil characters is to be taken as figuring forth the warfare both in the individual soul and in the world at large between Righteousness and Sin; and in somewhat narrower senses, between Protestantism and Catholicism, and between England and Spain. In some places, also, it represents other events and aspects of European politics. Many of the single persons of the story, entering into each of these overlapping interpretations, bear double or triple roles. Gloriana, the Fairy Queen, is abstractly Glory, but humanly she is Queen Elizabeth; and from other points of view Elizabeth is identified with several of the lesser heroines. So likewise the witch Duessa is both Papal Falsehood and Mary Queen of Scots; Prince Arthur both Magnificence and the Earl of Leicester; and others of the characters stand with more or less consistency for such actual persons as Philip II of Spain,
Henry IV of France, and Spenser's chief, Lord Grey. In fact, in Renaissance spirit, and following Sidney's 'Defense of Poesie,' Spenser attempts to harmonize history, philosophy, ethics, and politics, subordinating them all to the art of poetry. The plan is grand but impracticable, and except for the original moral interpretation, to which in the earlier books the incidents are skillfully adapted, it is fruitless as one reads to undertake to follow the allegories. Many readers are able, no doubt, merely to disregard them, but there are others, like Lowell, to whom the moral, 'when they come suddenly upon it, gives a shock of unpleasant surprise, as when in eating strawberries one's teeth encounter grit.'
The same lack of unity pervades the external story. The first Book begins abruptly, in the middle; and for clearness' sake Spenser had been obliged to explain in his prefatory letter that the real commencement must be supposed to be a scene like those of Arthurian romance, at the court and annual feast of the Fairy Queen, where twelve adventures had been assigned to as many knights. Spenser strangely planned to narrate this beginning of the whole in his final Book, but even if it had been properly placed at the outset it would have served only as a loose enveloping action for a series of stories essentially as distinct as those in Malory. More serious, perhaps, is the lack of unity within the single books. Spenser's genius was never for strongly condensed narrative, and following his Italian originals, though with less firmness, he wove his story as a tangled web of intermingled adventures, with almost endless elaboration and digression. Incident after incident is broken off and later resumed and episode after episode is introduced, until the reader almost abandons any effort to trace the main design. A part of the confusion is due to the mechanical plan. Each Book consists of twelve cantos (of from forty to ninety stanzas each) and oftentimes Spenser has difficulty in filling out the scheme. No one, certainly, can regret that he actually completed only a quarter of his projected work. In the six existing books he has given almost exhaustive expression to a richly creative imagination, and additional prolongation would have done little but to repeat.
The Lack of Dramatic Reality. A romantic allegory like 'The Faerie Queen' does not aim at intense lifelikeness—a certain remoteness from the actual is one of its chief attractions. But sometimes in Spenser's poem the reader feels too wide a divorce from reality. Part of this fault is ascribable to the use of magic, to which there is repeated but inconsistent resort, especially, as in the medieval romances, for the protection of the good characters. Oftentimes, indeed, by the persistent loading of the dice against the villains and scapegoats, the reader's sympathy is half aroused in their behalf. Thus in the fight of the Red Cross Knight with his special enemy, the dragon, where, of course, the Knight must be victorious, it is evident that without the author's help the dragon is incomparably the stronger. Once, swooping down on the Knight, he seizes him in his talons and bears him aloft into the air. The valor of the Knight compels him to relax his hold, but instead of merely dropping the Knight to certain death, he carefully flies back to earth and sets him down in safety. More definite regard to the actual laws of life would have given the poem greater firmness without the sacrifice of any of its charm.
The Romantic Beauty. General Atmosphere and Description. Critical sincerity has required us to dwell thus long on the defects of the poem; but once recognized we should dismiss them altogether from mind and turn attention to the far more important beauties. The great qualities of 'The Faerie Queen' are suggested by the title, 'The Poets' Poet,' which Charles Lamb, with happy inspiration, applied to Spenser. Most of all are we indebted to Spenser's high idealism. No poem in the world is nobler than 'The Faerie Queen' in atmosphere and entire effect. Spenser himself is always the perfect gentleman of his own imagination, and in his company we are secure from the intrusion of anything morally base or mean. But in him, also, moral beauty is in full harmony with the beauty of art and the senses. Spenser was a Puritan, but a Puritan of the earlier English Renaissance, to whom the foes of righteousness were also the foes of external loveliness. Of the three fierce Saracen brother-knights who repeatedly appear in the service of Evil, two are Sansloy, the enemy of law, and Sansfoy, the enemy of religion, but the third is Sansjoy, enemy of pleasure. And of external beauty there has never been a more gifted lover than Spenser. We often feel, with Lowell, that 'he is the pure sense of the beautiful incarnated.' The poem is a romantically luxuriant wilderness of dreamily or languorously delightful visions, often rich with all the harmonies of form and motion and color and sound. As Lowell says, 'The true use of Spenser is as a gallery of pictures which we visit as the mood takes us, and where we spend an hour or two, long enough to sweeten our perceptions, not so long as to cloy them.' His landscapes, to speak of one particular feature, are usually of a rather vague, often of a vast nature, as suits the unreality of his poetic world, and usually, since Spenser was not a minute observer, follow the conventions of Renaissance literature. They are commonly great plains, wide and gloomy forests (where the trees of many climates often grow together in impossible harmony), cool caves—in general, lonely, quiet, or soothing scenes, but all unquestionable portions of a delightful fairyland. To him, it should be added, as to most men before modern Science had subdued the world to human uses, the sublime aspects of Nature were mainly dreadful; the ocean, for example, seemed to him a raging 'waste of waters, wide and deep,' a mysterious and insatiate devourer of the lives of men.
To the beauty of Spenser's imagination, ideal and sensuous, corresponds his magnificent command of rhythm and of sound. As a verbal melodist, especially a melodist of sweetness and of stately grace, and as a harmonist of prolonged and complex cadences, he is unsurpassable. But he has full command of his rhythm according to the subject, and can range from the most delicate suggestion of airy beauty to the roar of the tempest or the strident energy of battle. In vocabulary and phraseology his fluency appears inexhaustible. Here, as in 'The Shepherd's Calendar,' he deliberately introduces, especially from Chaucer, obsolete words and forms, such as the inflectional ending in —en, which distinctly contribute to his romantic effect. His constant use of alliteration is very skillful; the frequency of the alliteration on w is conspicuous but apparently accidental.
The Spenserian Stanza. For the external medium of all this beauty Spenser, modifying the ottava rima of Ariosto, invented the stanza which bears his own name and which is the only artificial stanza of English origin that has ever passed into currency. The rime-scheme is ababbcbcc, and in the last line the iambic pentameter gives place to an Alexandrine. Whether or not any stanza form is as well adapted as blank verse or the rimed couplet for prolonged narrative is an interesting question, but there can be no doubt that Spenser's stanza, firmly unified, in spite of its length, by its central couplet and by the finality of the last line, is a discovery of genius, and that the Alexandrine, 'forever feeling for the next stanza,' does much to bind the stanzas together. It has been adopted in no small number of the greatest subsequent English poems, including such various ones as Burns' 'Cotter's Saturday Night,' Byron's 'Childe Harold,' Keats' 'Eve of St. Agnes,' and Shelley's 'Adonais.'
In general style and spirit, it should be added, Spenser has been one of the most powerful influences on all succeeding English romantic poetry. Two further sentences of Lowell well summarize his whole general achievement: 'His great merit is in the ideal treatment with which he glorified common things and gilded them with a ray of enthusiasm. He is a standing protest against the tyranny of the Commonplace, and sows the seeds of a noble discontent with prosaic views of life and the dull uses to which it may be put.'
ELIZABETHAN LYRIC POETRY
'The Faerie Queen' is the only long Elizabethan poem of the very highest rank, but Spenser, as we have seen, is almost equally conspicuous as a lyric poet. In that respect he was one among a throng of melodists who made the Elizabethan age in many respects the greatest lyric period in the history of English or perhaps of any literature. Still grander, to be sure, by the nature of the two forms, was the Elizabethan achievement in the drama, which we shall consider in the next chapter; but the lyrics have the advantage in sheer delightfulness and, of course, in rapid and direct appeal.
The zest for lyric poetry somewhat artificially inaugurated at Court by Wyatt and Surrey seems to have largely subsided, like any other fad, after some years, but it vigorously revived, in much more genuine fashion, with the taste for other imaginative forms of literature, in the last two decades of Elizabeth's reign. It revived, too, not only among the courtiers but among all classes; in no other form of literature was the diversity of authors so marked; almost every writer of the period who was not purely a man of prose seems to have been gifted with the lyric power.
The qualities which especially distinguish the Elizabethan lyrics are fluency, sweetness, melody, and an enthusiastic joy in life, all spontaneous, direct, and exquisite. Uniting the genuineness of the popular ballad with the finer sense of conscious artistic poetry, these poems possess a charm different, though in an only half definable way, from that of any other lyrics. In subjects they display the usual lyric variety. There are songs of delight in Nature; a multitude of love poems of all moods; many pastorals, in which, generally, the pastoral conventions sit lightly on the genuine poetical feeling; occasional patriotic outbursts; and some reflective and religious poems.
In stanza structure the number of forms is unusually great, but in most cases stanzas are internally varied and have a large admixture of short, ringing or musing, lines. The lyrics were published sometimes in collections by single authors, sometimes in the series of anthologies which succeeded to Tottel's 'Miscellany.' Some of these anthologies were books of songs with the accompanying music; for music, brought with all the other cultural influences from Italy and France, was now enthusiastically cultivated, and the soft melody of many of the best Elizabethan lyrics is that of accomplished composers. Many of the lyrics, again, are included as songs in the dramas of the time; and Shakespeare's comedies show him nearly as preeminent among the lyric poets as among the playwrights.
In the last decade, especially, of the century, no other lyric form compared in popularity with the sonnet. Here England was still following in the footsteps of Italy and France; it has been estimated that in the course of the century over three hundred thousand sonnets were written in Western Europe. In England as elsewhere most of these poems were inevitably of mediocre quality and imitative in substance, ringing the changes with wearisome iteration on a minimum of ideas, often with the most extravagant use of conceits. Petrarch's example was still commonly followed; the sonnets were generally composed in sequences (cycles) of a hundred or more, addressed to the poet's more or less imaginary cruel lady, though the note of manly independence introduced by Wyatt is frequent. First of the important English sequences is the 'Astrophel and Stella' of Sir Philip Sidney, written about 1580, published in 1591. 'Astrophel' is a fanciful half-Greek anagram for the poet's own name, and Stella (Star) designates Lady Penelope Devereux, who at about this time married Lord Rich. The sequence may very reasonably be interpreted as an expression of Platonic idealism, though it is sometimes taken in a sense less consistent with Sidney's high reputation. Of Spenser's 'Amoretti' we have already spoken. By far the finest of all the sonnets are the best ones of Shakespeare's one hundred and fifty-four, which were not published until 1609 but may have been mostly written before 1600. Their interpretation has long been hotly debated.
THE DRAMA FROM ABOUT 1550 TO 1642The first new formative force was the influence of the classical drama, for which, with other things classical, the Renaissance had aroused enthusiasm. This force operated mainly not through writers for popular audiences, like the authors of most Moralities and Interludes, but through men of the schools and the universities, writing for performances in their own circles or in that of the Court. It had now become a not uncommon thing for boys at the large schools to act in regular dramatic fashion, at first in Latin, afterward in English translation, some of the plays of the Latin comedians which had long formed a part of the school curriculum.
Shortly after the middle of the century, probably, the head-master of Westminister School, Nicholas Udall, took the further step of writing for his boys on the classical model an original farce-comedy, the amusing 'Ralph Roister Doister.' This play is so close a copy of Plautus' 'Miles Gloriosus' and Terence's 'Eunuchus' that there is little that is really English about it; a much larger element of local realism of the traditional English sort, in a classical framework, was presented in the coarse but really skillful 'Gammer Gurton's Needle,' which was probably written at about the same time, apparently by the Cambridge student William Stevenson.
Meanwhile students at the universities, also, had been acting Plautus and Terence, and further, had been writing and acting Latin tragedies, as well as comedies, of their own composition. Their chief models for tragedy were the plays of the first-century Roman Seneca, who may or may not have been identical with the philosopher who was the tutor of the Emperor Nero. Both through these university imitations and directly, Seneca's very faulty plays continued for many years to exercise a great influence on English tragedy. Falling far short of the noble spirit of Greek tragedy, which they in turn attempt to copy, Seneca's plays do observe its mechanical conventions, especially the unities of Action and Time, the use of the chorus to comment on the action, the avoidance of violent action and deaths on the stage, and the use of messengers to report such events. For proper dramatic action they largely substitute ranting moralizing declamation, with crudely exaggerated passion, and they exhibit a great vein of melodramatic horror, for instance in the frequent use of the motive of implacable revenge for murder and of a ghost who incites to it. In the early Elizabethan period, however, an age when life itself was dramatically intense and tragic, when everything classic was looked on with reverence, and when standards of taste were unformed, it was natural enough that such plays should pass for masterpieces.
A direct imitation of Seneca, famous as the first tragedy in English on classical lines, was the 'Gorboduc, or Ferrex and Porrex,' of Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville, acted in 1562. Its story, like those of some of Shakspere's plays later, goes back ultimately to the account of one of the early reigns in Geoffrey of Monmouth's 'History.' 'Gorboduc' outdoes its Senecan models in tedious moralizing, and is painfully wooden in all respects; but it has real importance not only because it is the first regular English tragedy, but because it was the first play to use the iambic pentameter blank verse which Surrey had introduced to English poetry and which was destined to be the verse-form of really great English tragedy. When they wrote the play Norton and Sackville were law students at the Inner Temple, and from other law students during the following years came other plays, which were generally acted at festival seasons, such, as Christmas, at the lawyers' colleges, or before the Queen, though the common people were also admitted among the audience. Unlike 'Gorboduc,' these other university plays were not only for the most part crude and coarse in the same manner as earlier English plays, but in accordance also with the native English tradition and in violent defiance of the classical principle of Unity, they generally combined tragical classical stories with realistic scenes of English comedy (somewhat later with Italian stories). Nevertheless, and this is the main thing, the more thoughtful members of the Court and University circles, were now learning from the study of classical plays a sense for form and the fundamental distinction between tragedy and comedy.
THE CHRONICLE-HISTORY PLAY
About twenty years before the end of the century there began to appear, at first at the Court and the Universities, later on the popular stage, a form of play which was to hold, along with tragedy and comedy, an important place in the great decades that were to follow, namely the Chronicle-History Play. This form of play generally presented the chief events in the whole or a part of the reign of some English king. It was largely a product of the pride which was being awakened among the people in the greatness of England under Elizabeth, and of the consequent desire to know something of the past history of the country, and it received a great impulse from the enthusiasm aroused by the struggle with Spain and the defeat of the Armada. It was not, however, altogether a new creation, for its method was similar to that of the university plays which dealt with monarchs of classical history. It partly inherited from them the formless mixture of farcical humor with historical or supposedly historical fact which it shared with other plays of the time, and sometimes also an unusually reckless disregard of unity of action, time, and place. Since its main serious purpose, when it had one, was to convey information, the other chief dramatic principles, such as careful presentation of a few main characters and of a universally significant human struggle, were also generally disregarded. It was only in the hands of Shakespeare that the species was to be moulded into true dramatic form and to attain real greatness; and after a quarter century of popularity it was to be reabsorbed into tragedy, of which in fact it was always only a special variety.
The first Elizabethan dramatist of permanent individual importance is the comedian John Lyly, of whose early success at Court with the artificial romance 'Euphues' we have already spoken. From 'Euphues' Lyly turned to the still more promising work of writing comedies for the Court entertainments with which Queen Elizabeth was extremely lavish. The character of Lyly's plays was largely determined by the light and spectacular nature of these entertainments, and further by the fact that on most occasions the players at Court were boys. These were primarily the 'children [choir-boys] of the Queen's Chapel,' who for some generations had been sought out from all parts of England for their good voices and were very carefully trained for singing and for dramatic performances. The choir-boys of St. Paul's Cathedral, similarly trained, also often acted before the Queen. Many of the plays given by these boys were of the ordinary sorts, but it is evident that they would be most successful in dainty comedies especially adapted to their boyish capacity. Such comedies Lyly proceeded to write, in prose. The subjects are from classical mythology or history or English folklore, into which Lyly sometimes weaves an allegorical presentation of court intrigue. The plots are very slight, and though the structure is decidedly better than in most previous plays, the humorous sub-actions sometimes have little connection with the main action. Characterization is still rudimentary, and altogether the plays present not so much a picture of reality as 'a faint moonlight reflection of life.' Nonetheless the best of them, such as 'Alexander and Campaspe,' are delightful in their sparkling delicacy, which is produced partly by the carefully-wrought style, similar to that of 'Euphues,' but less artificial, and is enhanced by the charming lyrics which are scattered through them. For all this the elaborate scenery and costuming of the Court entertainments provided a very harmonious background.
These plays were to exert a strong influence on Shakespeare's early comedies, probably suggesting to him: the use of prose for comedy; the value of snappy and witty dialog; refinement, as well as affectation, of style; lyric atmosphere; the characters and tone of high comedy, contrasting so favorably with the usual coarse farce of the period; and further such details as the employment of impudent boy-pages as a source of amusement.
Here is a set of some similes used by John Lyly: Weake as sheepe, Whyning like a Pigge halfe rosted, White as alabaster, White as driven snow, Work like a brick, Proud as the day is long and many, many others.
CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE, 1564-1593
Marlowe was born in 1564 (the same year as Shakespeare), the son of a shoemaker at Canterbury. Taking his master's degree after seven years at Cambridge, in 1587, he followed the other 'university wits' to London. There, probably the same year and the next, he astonished the public with the two parts of 'Tamburlaine the Great,' a dramatization of the stupendous career of the bloodthirsty Mongol fourteenth-century conqueror. These plays, in spite of faults now conspicuous enough, are splendidly imaginative and poetic, and were by far the most powerful that had yet been written in England. Marlowe followed them with 'The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus,' a treatment of the medieval story which two hundred years later was to serve Goethe for his masterpiece; with 'The Jew of Malta,' which was to give Shakespeare suggestions for 'The Merchant of Venice'; and with 'Edward the Second,' the first really artistic Chronicle History play. Among the literary adventurers of the age who led wild lives in the London taverns Marlowe is said to have attained a conspicuous reputation for violence and irreligion. He was killed in 1593 in a reckless and foolish brawl, before he had reached the age of thirty.
If Marlowe's life was unworthy, the fault must be laid rather at the door of circumstances than of his own genuine nature. His plays show him to have been an ardent idealist and a representative of many of the qualities that made the greatness of the Renaissance. The Renaissance learning, the apparently boundless vistas which it had opened to the human spirit, and the consciousness of his own power, evidently intoxicated Marlowe with a vast ambition to achieve results which in his youthful inexperience he could scarcely even picture to himself. His spirit, cramped and outraged by the impassable limitations of human life and by the conventions of society, beat recklessly against them with an impatience fruitless but partly grand. This is the underlying spirit of almost all his plays, struggling in them for expression. The Prolog to 'Tamburlaine' makes pretentious announcement that the author will discard the usual buffoonery of the popular stage and will set a new standard of tragic majesty:
From jigging veins of rhyming mother wits,
And such conceits as clownage keeps in pay,
We'll lead you to the stately tent of war,
Where you shall hear the Scythian Tamburlaine Threatening the world with high astounding terms, And scourging kingdoms with his conquering sword.
Tamburlaine himself as Marlowe presents him is a titanic, almost superhuman, figure who by sheer courage and pitiless unbending will raises himself from shepherd to general and then emperor of countless peoples, and sweeps like a whirlwind over the stage of the world, carrying everywhere overwhelming slaughter and desolation. His speeches are outbursts of incredible arrogance, equally powerful and bombastic. Indeed his blasphemous boasts of superiority to the gods seem almost justified by his apparently irresistible success. But at the end he learns that the laws of life are inexorable even for him; all his indignant rage cannot redeem his son from cowardice, or save his wife from death, or delay his own end. As has been said, 'Tamburlaine' expresses with 'a profound, lasting, noble sense and in grandly symbolic terms, the eternal tragedy inherent in the conflict between human aspiration and human power.'
For several other reasons 'Tamburlaine' is of high importance. It gives repeated and splendid expression to the passionate haunting Renaissance zest for the beautiful. It is rich with extravagant sensuous descriptions, notable among those which abound gorgeously in all Elizabethan poetry. But finest of all is the description of beauty by its effects which Marlowe puts into the mouth of Faustus at the sight of Helen of Troy: Was this the face that launched a thousand ships And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Much of Marlowe's strength, again, lies in his powerful and beautiful use of blank verse. First among the dramatists of the popular stage he discarded rime, and taking and vitalizing the stiff pentameter line of 'Gorboduc,' gave it an immediate and lasting vogue for tragedy and high comedy.
Marlowe, virtually a beginner, could not be expected to carry blank verse to that perfection which his success made possible for Shakespeare; he did not altogether escape monotony and commonplaceness; but he gained a high degree of flexibility and beauty by avoiding a regularly end-stopped arrangement, by taking pains to secure variety of pause and accent, and by giving his language poetic condensation and suggestiveness. His workmanship thoroughly justifies the characterization 'Marlowe's mighty line,' which Ben Jonson in his tribute to Shakespeare bestowed on it long after Marlowe's death.
The greatest significance of 'Tamburlaine,' lastly, lies in the fact that it definitely established tragedy as a distinct form on the English popular stage, and invested it with proper dignity.
These are Marlowe's great achievements both in 'Tamburlaine' and in his later more restrained plays. His limitations must also be suggested. Like other Elizabethans he did not fully understand the distinction between drama and other literary forms; 'Tamburlaine' is not so much a regularly constructed tragedy, with a struggle between nearly equal persons and forces, artistically complicated and resolved, as an epic poem, a succession of adventures in war (and love). Again, in spite of the prolog in 'Tamburlaine,' Marlowe, in almost all his plays, and following the Elizabethan custom, does attempt scenes of humor, but he attains only to the coarse and brutal horse-play at which the English audiences had laughed for centuries in the Mystery plays and the Interludes. Elizabethan also (and before that medieval) is the lack of historical perspective which gives to Mongol shepherds the manners and speech of Greek classical antiquity as Marlowe had learned to know it at the university. More serious is the lack of mature skill in characterization. Tamburlaine the man is an exaggerated type; most of the men about him are his faint shadows, and those who are intended to be comic are preposterous. The women, though they have some differentiating touches, are certainly not more dramatically and vitally imagined. In his later plays Marlowe makes gains in this respect, but he never arrives at full easy mastery and trenchantly convincing lifelikeness either in characterization, in presentation of action, or in fine poetic finish. It has often been remarked that at the age when Marlowe died Shakespeare had produced not one of the great plays on which his reputation rests; but Shakspere's genius came to maturity more surely, as well as more slowly, and there is no basis for the inference sometimes drawn that if Marlowe had lived he would ever have equalled or even approached Shakespeare's supreme achievement.Interesting to Know Facts:
Marlowe was much loved and honoured by his contemporaries for his love poetry, and his translations of Lucan and Ovid. Without Marlowe as guide and leader, Shakespeare and other Elizabethan poets and dramatists would not have achieved the reputation they enjoy nowadays. Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote of Marlowe, “If Shakespeare is the dazzling sun of this mighty period, Marlowe is certainly the morning star”.
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, 1564-1616
William Shakespeare, by universal consent the greatest author of England, occupies chronologically a central position in the Elizabethan drama. He was born in 1564 in the good-sized village of Stratford-on-Avon in Warwickshire, near the middle of England, where the level but beautiful country furnished full external stimulus for a poet's eye and heart. His father, John Shakespeare, who was a general dealer in agricultural products and other commodities, was one of the chief citizens of the village, and during his son's childhood was chosen an alderman and shortly after mayor, as we should call it. But by 1577 his prosperity declined, apparently through his own shiftlessness, and for many years he was harassed with legal difficulties.
152401841500In the village 'grammar' school William Shakespeare had acquired the rudiments of book-knowledge, consisting largely of Latin, but his chief education was from Nature and experience. As his father's troubles thickened he was very likely removed from school, but at the age of eighteen, under circumstances not altogether creditable to himself, he married Anne Hathaway, a woman eight years his senior, who lived in the neighboring village of Shottery. The suggestion that the marriage proved positively unhappy is supported by no real evidence, but what little is known of Shakspere's later life implies that it was not exceptionally congenial. Two girls and a boy were born from it.
In his early manhood, apparently between 1586 and 1588, Shakespeare left Stratford to seek his fortune in London. As to the circumstances, there is reasonable plausibility in the later tradition that he had joined in poaching raids on the deer-park of Sir Thomas Lucy, a neighboring country gentleman, and found it desirable to get beyond the bounds of that gentleman authority. It is also likely enough that Shakespeare had been fascinated by the performances of traveling dramatic companies at Stratford and by the Earl of Leicester's costly entertainment of Queen Elizabeth in 1575 at the castle of Kenilworth, not many miles away. At any rate, in London he evidently soon secured mechanical employment in a theatrical company, presumably the one then known as Lord Leicester's company, with which, in that case, he was always thereafter connected.
His energy and interest must soon have won him the opportunity to show his skill as actor and also reviser and collaborator in play-writing, then as independent author; and after the first few years of slow progress his rise was rapid. He became one of the leading members, later one of the chief shareholders, of the company, and evidently enjoyed a substantial reputation as a playwright and a good, though not a great, actor. This was both at Court and in the London dramatic circle. Of his personal life only the most fragmentary record has been preserved, through occasional mentions in miscellaneous documents, but it is evident that his rich nature was partly appreciated and thoroughly loved by his associates. His business talent was marked and before the end of his dramatic career he seems to have been receiving as manager, shareholder, playwright and actor, a yearly income equivalent to $25,000 in money of the present time. He early began to devote attention to paying the debts of his father, who lived until 1601, and restoring the fortunes of his family in Stratford.
The death of his only son, Hamnet, in 1596, must have been a severe blow to him, but he obtained from the Heralds' College the grant of a family coat of arms, which secured the position of the family as gentlefolks; in 1597 he purchased New Place, the largest house in Stratford; and later on he acquired other large property rights there. How often he may have visited Stratford in the twenty-five years of his career in London we have no information; but however enjoyable London life and the society of the writers at the 'Mermaid' Tavern may have been to him, he probably always looked forward to ending his life as the chief country gentleman of his native village. Thither he retired about 1610 or 1612, and there he died prematurely in 1616, just as he was completing his fifty-second year.
Shakespeare's dramatic career falls naturally into four successive divisions of increasing maturity. To be sure, no definite record of the order of his plays has come down to us, and it can scarcely be said that we certainly know the exact date of a single one of them; but the evidence of the title-page dates of such of them as were hastily published during his lifetime, of allusions to them in other writings of the time, and other scattering facts of one sort or another, joined with the more important internal evidence of comparative maturity of mind and art which shows 'Macbeth' and 'The Winter's Tale,' for example, vastly superior to 'Love's Labour's Lost'—all this evidence together enables us to arrange the plays in a chronological order which is certainly approximately correct.
The first of the four periods thus disclosed is that of experiment and preparation, from about 1588 to about 1593, when Shakespeare tried his hand at virtually every current kind of dramatic work. Its most important product is 'Richard III,' a melodramatic chronicle-history play, largely imitative of Marlowe and yet showing striking power. At the end of this period Shakespeare issued two rather long narrative poems on classical subjects, 'Venus and Adonis,' and 'The Rape of Lucrece,' dedicating them both to the young Earl of Southampton, who thus appears as his patron. Both display great fluency in the most luxuriant and sensuous Renaissance manner, and though they appeal little to the taste of the present day 'Venus and Adonis,' in particular, seems to have become at once the most popular poem of its own time. Shakespeare himself regarded them very seriously, publishing them with care, though he, like most Elizabethan dramatists, never thought it worth while to put his plays into print except to safeguard the property rights of his company in them.
The second period of Shakespeare's work, extending from about 1594 to about 1601, is occupied chiefly with chronicle-history plays and happy comedies. The chronicle-history plays begin with the fascinating study of contrasting characters in 'Richard II'; continue through the two parts of 'Henry IV,' where the realistic comedy action of Falstaff and his group makes history familiarly vivid; and end with the epic glorification of a typical English hero-king in 'Henry V.'
The comedies include the charmingly fantastic 'Midsummer Night's Dream'; 'The Merchant of Venice,' where a story of tragic sternness is strikingly contrasted with the most poetical idealizing romance and yet is harmoniously blended into it; 'Much Ado About Nothing,' a magnificent example of high comedy of character and wit; 'As You Like It,' the supreme delightful achievement of Elizabethan and all English pastoral romance; and 'Twelfth Night,' where again charming romantic sentiment is made believable by combination with a story of comic realism. Even in the one, unique, tragedy of the period, 'Romeo and Juliet,' the main impression is not that of the predestined tragedy, but that of ideal youthful love, too gloriously radiant to be viewed with sorrow even in its fatal outcome.
The third period, extending from about 1601 to about 1609, includes Shakspere's great tragedies and certain cynical plays, which formal classification mis-names comedies. In these plays as a group Shakespeare sets himself to grapple with the deepest and darkest problems of human character and life; but it is only very uncertain inference that he was himself passing at this time through a period of bitterness and disillusion. 'Julius Ceasar' presents the material failure of an unpractical idealist; 'Hamlet' the struggle of a perplexed and divided soul; 'Othello' the ruin of a noble life by an evil one through the terrible power of jealousy; 'King Lear' unnatural ingratitude working its hateful will and yet thwarted at the end by its own excess and by faithful love; and 'Macbeth' the destruction of a large nature by material ambition. Without doubt this is the greatest continuous group of plays ever wrought out by a human mind, and they are followed by 'Antony and Cleopatra,' which magnificently portrays the emptiness of a sensual passion against the background of a decaying civilization.
Shakespeare did not solve the insoluble problems of life, but having presented them as powerfully, perhaps, as is possible for human intelligence, he turned in his last period, of only two or three years, to the expression of the serene philosophy of life in which he himself must have now taken refuge. The noble and beautiful romance-comedies, 'Cymbeline,' 'The Winter's Tale,' and 'The Tempest,' suggest that men do best to forget what is painful and center their attention on the pleasing and encouraging things in a world where there is at least an inexhaustible store of beauty and goodness and delight.
Shakespeare may now well have felt, as his retirement to Stratford suggests, that in his nearly forty plays he had fully expressed himself and had earned the right to a long and peaceful old age. The latter, as we have seen, was denied him; but seven years after his death two of his fellow-managers assured the preservation of the plays whose unique importance he himself did not suspect by collecting them in the first folio edition of his complete dramatic works.
Shakespeare's greatness rests on supreme achievement—the result of the highest genius matured by experience and by careful experiment and labor—in all phases of the work of a poetic dramatist. The surpassing charm of his rendering of the romantic beauty and joy of life and the profundity of his presentation of its tragic side we have already suggested. Equally sure and comprehensive is his portrayal of characters. With the certainty of absolute mastery he causes men and women to live for us, a vast representative group, in all the actual variety of age and station, perfectly realized in all the diversities and inconsistencies of protean human nature. Not less notable than his strong men are his delightful young heroines, romantic Elizabethan heroines, to be sure, with an unconventionality, many of them, which does not belong to such women in the more restricted world of reality, but pure embodiments of the finest womanly delicacy, keenness, and vivacity. Shakespeare, it is true, was a practical dramatist. His background characters are often present in the plays not in order to be entirely real but in order to furnish amusement; and even in the case of the chief ones, just as in the treatment of incidents, he is always perfectly ready to sacrifice literal truth to dramatic effect. But these things are only the corollaries of all successful playwriting and of all art.
To Shakespeare's mastery of poetic expression similarly strong superlatives must be applied. For his form he perfected Marlowe's blank verse, developing it to the farthest possible limits of fluency, variety, and melody; though he retained the riming couplet for occasional use (partly for the sake of variety) and frequently made use also of prose, both for the same reason and in realistic or commonplace scenes. As regards the spirit of poetry, it scarcely need be said that nowhere else in literature is there a like storehouse of the most delightful and the greatest ideas phrased with the utmost power of condensed expression and figurative beauty. In dramatic structure his greatness is on the whole less conspicuous. Writing for success on the Elizabethan stage, he seldom attempted to reduce its romantic licenses to the perfection of an absolute standard. 'Romeo and Juliet, 'Hamlet,' and indeed most of his plays, contain unnecessary scenes, interesting to the Elizabethans, which Sophocles as well as Racine would have pruned away. Yet when Shakespeare chooses, as in 'Othello,' to develop a play with the sternest and most rapid directness, he proves essentially the equal even of the most rigid technician.
Shakespeare was in every respect a thorough Elizabethan also, and does not escape the superficial Elizabethan faults. Chief of these, perhaps, is his fondness for 'conceits,' with which he makes his plays, especially some of the earlier ones, sparkle, brilliantly, but often inappropriately. In his prose style, again, except in the talk of commonplace persons, he never outgrew, or wished to outgrow, a large measure of Elizabethan self-conscious elegance. Scarcely a fault is his other Elizabethan habit of seldom, perhaps never, inventing the whole of his stories, but drawing the outlines of them from previous works—English chronicles, poems, or plays, Italian 'novels,' or the biographies of Plutarch.
But in the majority of cases these sources provided him only with bare or even crude sketches, and perhaps nothing furnishes clearer proof of his genius than the way in which he has seen the human significance in stories baldly and wretchedly told, where the figures are merely wooden types, and by the power of imagination has transformed them into the greatest literary masterpieces, profound revelations of the underlying forces of life.
Shakespeare, like every other great man, has been the object of much unintelligent, and misdirected adulation, but his greatness, so far from suffering diminution, grows more apparent with the passage of time and the increase of study.
We have already observed that, as Shakespeare's career suggests, there was no abrupt change in either life or literature at the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603; and in fact the Elizabethan period of literature is often made to include the reign of James I, 1603-1625, or even, especially in the case of the drama, that of Charles I, 1625-1649. Certainly the drama of all three reigns forms a continuously developing whole, and should be discussed as such. None the less the spirit of the first half of the seventeenth century came gradually to be widely different from that of the preceding fifty years, and before going on to Shakespeare's successors we must stop to indicate briefly wherein the difference consists and for this purpose to speak of the determining events of the period. Before the end of Elizabeth's reign, indeed, there had been a perceptible change; as the queen grew old and morose the national life seemed also to lose its youth and freshness. Her successor and distant cousin, James of Scotland, was a bigoted pedant, and under his rule the perennial Court corruption, striking in, became foul and noisome. The national Church, instead of protesting, steadily identified itself more closely with the Court party, and its ruling officials, on the whole, grew more and more worldly and intolerant.
Little by little the nation found itself divided into two great factions; on the one hand the Cavaliers, the party of the Court, the nobles, and the Church, who continued to be largely dominated by the Renaissance zest for beauty and, especially, pleasure; and on the other hand the Puritans, comprising the bulk of the middle classes, controlled by the religious principles of the Reformation, often, in their opposition to Cavalier frivolity, stern and narrow, and more and more inclined to separate themselves from the English Church in denominations of their own. The breach steadily widened until in 1642, under the arbitrary rule of Charles I, the Civil War broke out. In three years the Puritan Parliament was victorious, and in 1649 the extreme minority of the Puritans, supported by the army, took the unprecedented step of putting King Charles to death, and declared England a Commonwealth. But in four years more the Parliamentary government, bigoted and inefficient, made itself impossible, and then for five years, until his death, Oliver Cromwell strongly ruled England as Protector. Another year and a half of chaos confirmed the nation in a natural reaction, and in 1660 the unworthy Stuart race was restored in the person of the base and frivolous Charles II. The general influence of the forces which produced these events shows clearly in the changing tone of the drama, the work of those dramatists who were Shakespeare's later contemporaries and successors.
Round Table Discussion:
Who was William Shakespeare?
What did he write?
What are the Quartos?
Explain how plays were printed, published and sold when he was writing for the stage.
Why do plays of William Shakespeare are so much popular and demanded in the modern life?
THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY, PROSE AND POETRYThe first half of the seventeenth century as a whole, compared with the Elizabethan age, was a period of relaxing vigor. The Renaissance enthusiasm had spent itself, and in place of the danger and glory which had long united the nation there followed increasing dissension in religion and politics and uncertainty as to the future of England and, indeed, as to the whole purpose of life. Through increased experience men were certainly wiser and more sophisticated than before, but they were also more self-conscious and sadder or more pensive. The output of literature did not diminish, but it spread itself over wider fields, in general fields of somewhat recondite scholarship rather than of creation. Nevertheless this period includes in prose one writer greater than any prose writer of the previous century, namely Francis Bacon, and, further, the book which unquestionably occupies the highest place in English literature, that is the King James version of the Bible; and in poetry it includes one of the very greatest figures, John Milton, together with a varied and highly interesting assemblage of lesser lyrists.
JOHN MILTON, 1608-1674.
Conspicuous above all his contemporaries as the representative poet of Puritanism, and, by almost equally general consent, distinctly the greatest of English poets except Shakespeare, stands John Milton. His life falls naturally into three periods: 1. Youth and preparation, 1608-1639, when he wrote his shorter poems. 2. Public life, 1639-1660, when he wrote, or at least published, in poetry, only a few sonnets. 3. Later years, 1660-1674, of outer defeat, but of chief poetic achievement, the period of 'Paradise Lost,' 'Paradise Regained,' and 'Samson Agonistes.'
Milton was born in London in December, 1608. His father was a prosperous scrivener, or lawyer of the humbler sort, and a Puritan, but broad-minded, and his children were brought up in the love of music, beauty, and learning. At the age of twelve the future poet was sent to St. Paul's School, and he tells us that from this time on his devotion to study seldom allowed him to leave his books earlier than midnight. At sixteen, in 1625, he entered Cambridge, where he remained during the seven years required for the M. A. degree, and where he was known as 'the lady of Christ's' [College], perhaps for his beauty, of which all his life he continued proud, perhaps for his moral scrupulousness. Milton was never, however, a conventional prig, and a quarrel with a self-important tutor led at one time to his informal suspension from the University. His nature, indeed, had many elements quite inconsistent with the usual vague popular conception of him. He was always not only inflexible in his devotion to principle, but—partly, no doubt, from consciousness of his intellectual superiority—haughty as well as reserved, self-confident, and little respectful of opinions and feelings that clashed with his own. Nevertheless in his youth he had plenty of animal spirits and always for his friends warm human sympathies.
To his college years belong two important poems. His Christmas hymn, the 'Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity,' shows the influence of his early poetical master, Spenser, and of contemporary pastoral poets, though it also contains some conceits—truly poetic conceits, however, not exercises in intellectual cleverness like many of those of Donne and his followers. With whatever qualifications, it is certainly one of the great English lyrics, and its union of Renaissance sensuousness with grandeur of conception and sureness of expression foretell clearly enough at twenty the poet of 'Paradise Lost.' The sonnet on his twenty-third birthday, further, is known to almost every reader of poetry as the best short expression in literature of the dedication of one's life and powers to God.
Milton had planned to enter the ministry, but the growing predominance of the High-Church party made this impossible for him, and on leaving the University in 1632 he retired to the country estate which his parents now occupied at Horton, twenty miles west of London. Here, for nearly six years, amid surroundings which nourished his poet's love for Nature, he devoted his time chiefly to further mastery of the whole range of approved literature, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, and English. His poems of these years also are few, but they too are of the very highest quality. 'L'Allegro' and 'Il Penseroso' are idealized visions, in the tripping Elizabethan octosyllabic couplet, of the pleasures of suburban life viewed in moods respectively of light-hearted happiness and of reflection. 'Comus,' the last of the Elizabethan and Jacobean masks, combines an exquisite poetic beauty and a real dramatic action more substantial than that of any other mask with a serious moral theme (the security of Virtue) in a fashion that renders it unique. 'Lycidas' is one of the supreme English elegies; though the grief which helps to create its power sprang more from the recent death of the poet's mother than from that of the nominal subject, his college acquaintance, Edward King, and though in the hands of a lesser artist the solemn denunciation of the false leaders of the English Church might not have been wrought into so fine a harmony with the pastoral form.
Milton's first period ends with an experience designed to complete his preparation for his career, a fifteen months' tour in France and Italy, where the highest literary circles received him cordially. From this trip he returned in 1639, sooner than he had planned, because, he said, the public troubles at home, foreshadowing the approaching war, seemed to him a call to service; though in fact some time intervened before his entrance on public life.
The twenty years which follow, the second period of Milton's career, developed and modified his nature and ideas in an unusual degree and fashion. Outwardly the occupations which they brought him appear chiefly as an unfortunate waste of his great poetic powers. The sixteen sonnets which belong here show how nobly this form could be adapted to the varied expression of the most serious thought, but otherwise Milton abandoned poetry, at least the publication of it, for prose, and for prose which was mostly ephemeral. Taking up his residence in London, for some time he carried on a small private school in his own house, where he much overworked his boys in the mistaken effort to raise their intellectual ambitions to the level of his own. Naturally unwilling to confine himself to a private sphere, he soon engaged in a prose controversy supporting the Puritan view against the Episcopal form of church government, that is against the office of bishops. There shortly followed the most regrettable incident in his whole career, which pathetically illustrates also the lack of a sense of humor which was perhaps his greatest defect. At the age of thirty-four, and apparently at first sight, he suddenly married Mary Powell, the seventeen-year-old daughter of a royalist country gentleman with whom his family had long maintained some business and social relations. Evidently this daughter of the Cavaliers met a rude disillusionment in Milton's Puritan household and in his Old Testament theory of woman's inferiority and of a wife's duty of strict subjection to her husband; a few weeks after the marriage she fled to her family and refused to return. Thereupon, with characteristic egoism, Milton put forth a series of pamphlets on divorce, arguing, contrary to English law, and with great scandal to the public, that mere incompatibility of temper was adequate ground for separation. He even proceeded so far as to make proposals of marriage to another woman. But after two years and the ruin of the royalist cause his wife made unconditional submission, which Milton accepted, and he also received and supported her whole family in his house. Meanwhile his divorce pamphlets had led to the best of his prose writings. He had published the pamphlets without the license of Parliament, then required for all books, and a suit was begun against him. He replied with 'Areopagitica,' an, eloquent and noble argument against the licensing system and in favor of freedom of publication within the widest possible limits. (The name is an allusion to the condemnation of the works of Protagoras by the Athenian Areopagus.) In the stress of public affairs the attack on him was dropped, but the book remains, a deathless plea for individual liberty.
Now at last Milton was drawn into active public life. The execution of the King by the extreme Puritan minority excited an outburst of indignation not only in England but throughout Europe. Milton, rising to the occasion, defended the act in a pamphlet, thereby beginning a paper controversy, chiefly with the Dutch scholar Salmasius, which lasted for several years. By 1652 it had resulted in the loss of Milton's eyesight, previously over-strained by his studies—a sacrifice in which he gloried but which lovers of poetry must always regret, especially since the controversy largely consisted, according to the custom of the time, in a disgusting exchange of personal scurrilities. Milton's championship of the existing government, however, together with his scholarship, had at once secured for him the position of Latin secretary, or conductor of the diplomatic correspondence of the State with foreign countries. He held this office, after the loss of his eyesight, with Marvell as a colleague, under both Parliament and Cromwell, but it is an error to suppose that he exerted any influence in the management of affairs or that he was on familiar terms with the Protector. At the Restoration he necessarily lost both the position and a considerable part of his property, and for a while he went into hiding; but through the efforts of Marvell and others he was finally included in the general amnesty.
In the remaining fourteen years which make the third period of his life Milton stands out for subsequent ages as a noble figure. His very obstinacy and egoism now enabled him, blind, comparatively poor, and the representative of a lost cause, to maintain his proud and patient dignity in the midst of the triumph of all that was most hateful to him, and, as he believed, to God. His isolation, indeed, was in many respects extreme, though now as always he found the few sympathetic friends on whom his nature was quite dependent. His religious beliefs had become what would at present be called Unitarian, and he did not associate with any of the existing denominations; in private theory he had even come to believe in polygamy. At home he is said to have suffered from the coldness or more active antipathy of his three daughters, which is no great cause for wonder if we must credit the report that he compelled them to read aloud to him in foreign languages of which he had taught them the pronunciation but not the meaning. Their mother had died some years before, and he had soon lost the second wife who is the subject of one of his finest sonnets. In 1663, at the age of fifty-four, he was united in a third marriage to Elizabeth Minshull, a woman of twenty-four, who was to survive him for more than fifty years.
The important fact of this last period, however, is that Milton now had the leisure to write, or to complete, 'Paradise Lost.' For a quarter of a century he had avowedly cherished the ambition to produce 'such a work as the world would not willingly let die' and had had in mind, among others, the story of Man's Fall. Outlines for a treatment of it not in epic but in dramatic form are preserved in a list of a hundred possible subjects for a great work which he drew up as early as 1640, and during the Commonwealth period he seems not only to have been slowly maturing the plan but to have composed parts of the existing poem; nevertheless the actual work of composition belongs chiefly to the years following 1660. The story as told in Genesis had received much elaboration in Christian tradition from a very early period and Milton drew largely from this general tradition and no doubt to some extent from various previous treatments of the Bible narrative in several languages which he might naturally have read and kept in mind. But beyond the simple outline the poem, like every great work, is essentially the product of his own genius. He aimed, specifically, to produce a Christian epic which should rank with the great epics of antiquity and with those of the Italian Renaissance.
In this purpose he was entirely successful. As a whole, by the consent of all competent judges, 'Paradise Lost' is worthy of its theme, perhaps the greatest that the mind of man can conceive, namely 'to justify the ways of God.' Of course there are defects. The seventeenth century theology, like every successive theological, philosophical, and scientific system, has lost its hold on later generations, and it becomes dull indeed in the long expository passages of the poem. The attempt to express spiritual ideas through the medium of the secular epic, with its battles and councils and all the forms of physical life, is of course rationally paradoxical. It was early pointed out that in spite of himself Milton has in some sense made Satan the hero of the poem—a reader can scarcely fail to sympathize with the fallen archangel in his unconquerable Puritan-like resistance to the arbitrary decrees of Milton's despotic Deity. Further, Milton's personal, English, and Puritan prejudices sometimes intrude in various ways. But all these things are on the surface. In sustained imaginative grandeur of conception, expression, and imagery 'Paradise Lost' yields to no human work, and the majestic and varied movement of the blank verse, here first employed in a really great non-dramatic English poem, is as magnificent as anything else in literature. It cannot be said that the later books always sustain the greatness of the first two; but the profusely scattered passages of sensuous description, at least, such as those of the Garden of Eden and of the beauty of Eve, are in their own way equally fine. Stately and more familiar passages alike show that however much his experience had done to harden Milton's Puritanism, his youthful Renaissance love of beauty for beauty's sake had lost none of its strength, though of course it could no longer be expressed with youthful lightness of fancy and melody. The poem is a magnificent example of classical art, in the best Greek spirit, united with glowing romantic feeling. Lastly, the value of Milton's scholarship should by no means be overlooked. All his poetry, from the 'Nativity Ode' onward, is like a rich mosaic of gems borrowed from a great range of classical and modern authors, and in 'Paradise Lost' the allusions to literature and history give half of the romantic charm and very much of the dignity. The poem could have been written only by one who combined in a very high degree intellectual power, poetic feeling, religious idealism, profound scholarship and knowledge of literature, and also experienced knowledge of the actual world of men.
'Paradise Lost' was published in 1677. It was followed in 1671 by 'Paradise Regained,' only one-third as long and much less important; and by 'Samson Agonistes' (Samson in his Death Struggle). In the latter Milton puts the story of the fallen hero's last days into the majestic form of a Greek drama, imparting to it the passionate but lofty feeling evoked by the close similarity of Samson's situation to his own. This was his last work, and he died in 1674. Whatever his faults, the moral, intellectual and poetic greatness of his nature sets him apart as in a sense the grandest figure in English literature.
Interesting Facts to Know in John Milton Quotes:
None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but licence.
Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.
To be blind is not miserable; not to be able to bear blindness, that is miserable.
PSEUDO-CLASSICISM AND THE BEGINNINGS OF MODERN ROMANTICISMThe writers of the reigns of Anne and George I called their period the Augustan Age, because they flattered themselves that with them English life and literature had reached a culminating period of civilization and elegance corresponding to that which existed at Rome under the Emperor Augustus. They believed also that both in the art of living and in literature they had rediscovered and were practising the principles of the best periods of Greek and Roman life. In our own time this judgment appears equally arrogant and mistaken. In reality the men of the early eighteenth century, like those of the Restoration, largely misunderstood the qualities of the classical spirit, and thinking to reproduce them attained only a superficial, pseudo-classical, imitation. The main characteristics of the period and its literature continue, with some further development, those of the Restoration, and may be summarily indicated as follows:
1. Interest was largely centered in the practical well-being either of society as a whole or of one's own social class or set. The majority of writers, furthermore, belonged by birth or association to the upper social stratum and tended to overemphasize its artificial conventions, often looking with contempt on the other classes. To them conventional good breeding, fine manners, the pleasures of the leisure class, and the standards of 'The Town' (fashionable London society) were the only part of life much worth regarding.
2. The men of this age carried still further the distrust and dislike felt by the previous generation for emotion, enthusiasm, and strong individuality both in life and in literature, and exalted Reason and Regularity as their guiding stars. The terms 'decency' and 'neatness' were forever on their lips. They sought a conventional uniformity in manners, speech, and indeed in nearly everything else, and were uneasy if they deviated far from the approved, respectable standards of the body of their fellows. Great poetic imagination, therefore, could scarcely exist among them, or indeed supreme greatness of any sort.
3. They had little appreciation for external Nature or for any beauty except that of formalized Art. A forest seemed to most of them merely wild and gloomy, and great mountains chiefly terrible, but they took delight in gardens of artificially trimmed trees and in regularly plotted and alternating beds of domestic flowers. The Elizabethans also, as we have seen, had had much more feeling for the terror than for the grandeur of the sublime in Nature, but the Elizabethans had had nothing of the elegant primness of the Augustans.
4. In speech and especially in literature, most of all in poetry, they were given to abstractness of thought and expression, intended to secure elegance, but often serving largely to substitute superficiality for definiteness and significant meaning. They abounded in personifications of abstract qualities and ideas ('Laughter, heavenly maid,' Honor, Glory, Sorrow, and so on, with prominent capital letters), a sort of a pseudo-classical substitute for emotion.
5. They were still more fully confirmed than the men of the Restoration in the conviction that the ancients had attained the highest possible perfection in literature, and some of them made absolute submission of judgment to the ancients, especially to the Latin poets and the Greek, Latin, and also the seventeenth century classicizing French critics. Some authors seemed timidly to desire to be under authority and to glory in surrendering their independence, individuality, and originality to foreign and long-established leaders and principles.
6. Under these circumstances the effort to attain the finished beauty of classical literature naturally resulted largely in a more or less shallow formal smoothness.
7. There was a strong tendency to moralizing, which also was not altogether free from conventionality and superficiality.
Although the 'Augustan Age' must be considered to end before the middle of the century, the same spirit continued dominant among many writers until near its close, so that almost the whole of the century may be called the period of pseudo-classicism.
The two earliest notable writers of the period, however, though they display some of these characteristics, were men of strong individual traits which in any age would have directed them largely along paths of their own choosing. The first of them is Daniel Defoe, who belongs, furthermore, quite outside the main circle of high-bred and polished fashion.
Defoe was born in London about 1660, the son of James Foe, a butcher, to whose name the son arbitrarily and with characteristic eye to effect prefixed the 'De' in middle life. Educated for the Dissenting ministry, Defoe, a man of inexhaustible practical energy, engaged instead in several successive lines of business, and at the age of thirty-five, after various vicissitudes, was in prosperous circumstances. He now became a pamphleteer in support of King William and the Whigs. His first very significant work, a satire against the High-Church Tories entitled 'The Shortest Way with Dissenters,' belongs early in the reign of Queen Anne. Here, parodying extreme Tory bigotry, he argued, with apparent seriousness, that the Dissenters should all be hanged. The Tories were at first delighted, but when they discovered the hoax became correspondingly indignant and Defoe was set in the pillory, and (for a short time) imprisoned. In this confinement he began The Review, a newspaper which he continued for eleven years and whose department called 'The Scandal Club' suggested 'The Tatler' to Steele. During many years following his release Defoe issued an enormous number of pamphlets and acted continuously as a secret agent and spy of the government. Though he was always at heart a thorough-going Dissenter and Whig, he served all the successive governments, Whig and Tory, alike; for his character and point of view were those of the 'practical' journalist and middle-class money-getter. This of course means that all his professed principles were superficial, or at least secondary, that he was destitute of real religious feeling and of the gentleman's sense of honor.
Defoe's influence in helping to shape modern journalism and modern every-day English style was large; but the achievement which has given him world-wide fame came late in life. In 1706 he had written a masterly short story, 'The Apparition of Mrs. Veal.' Its real purpose, characteristically enough, was the concealed one of promoting the sale of an unsuccessful religious book, but its literary importance lies first in the extraordinarily convincing mass of minute details which it casts about an incredible incident and second in the complete knowledge (sprung from Defoe's wide experience in journalism, politics, and business) which it displays of a certain range of middle-class characters and ideas. It is these same elements, together with the vigorous presentation and emphasis of basal practical virtues, that distinguished 'Robinson Crusoe,' of which the First Part appeared in 1719, when Defoe was nearly or quite sixty years of age. The book, which must have been somewhat influenced by 'Pilgrim's Progress,' was more directly suggested by a passage in William Dampier's 'Voyage Round the World,' and also, as every one knows, by the experience of Alexander Selkirk, a sailor who, set ashore on the island of Juan Fernandez, off the coast of Chile, had lived there alone from 1709 to 1713. Selkirk's story had been briefly told in the year of his return in a newspaper of Steele, 'The Englishman'; it was later to inspire the most famous poem of William Cowper. 'Robinson Crusoe,' however, turned the material to account in a much larger, more clever, and more striking fashion. Its success was immediate and enormous, both with the English middle class and with a wider circle of readers in the other European countries; it was followed by numerous imitations and it will doubtless always continue to be one of the best known of world classics. The precise elements of its power can be briefly indicated. As a story of unprecedented adventure in a distant and unknown region it speaks thrillingly to the universal human sense of romance. Yet it makes a still stronger appeal to the instinct for practical, every-day realism which is the controlling quality in the English dissenting middle class for whom Defoe was writing. Defoe has put himself with astonishingly complete dramatic sympathy into the place of his hero. In spite of not a few errors and oversights (due to hasty composition) in the minor details of external fact, he has virtually lived Crusoe's life with him in imagination and he therefore makes the reader also pass with Crusoe through all his experiences, his fears, hopes and doubts. Here also, as we have implied, Defoe's vivid sense for external minutiae plays an important part. He tells precisely how many guns and cheeses and flasks of spirit Crusoe brought away from the wreck, how many days or weeks he spent in making his earthen vessels and his canoe—in a word, thoroughly actualizes the whole story. More than this, the book strikes home to the English middle class because it records how a plain Englishman completely mastered apparently insuperable obstacles through the plain virtues of courage, patience, perseverance, and mechanical ingenuity. Further, it directly addresses the dissenting conscience in its emphasis on religion and morality. This is none the less true because the religion and morality are of the shallow sort characteristic of Defoe, a man who, like Crusoe, would have had no scruples about selling into slavery a dark-skinned boy who had helped him to escape from the same condition. Of any really delicate or poetic feeling, any appreciation for the finer things of life, the book has no suggestion. In style, like Defoe's other writings, it is straightforward and clear, though colloquially informal, with an entire absence of pretense or affectation. Structurally, it is a characteristic story of adventure—a series of loosely connected experiences not unified into an organic plot, and with no stress on character and little treatment of the really complex relations and struggles between opposing characters and groups of characters. Yet it certainly marks a step in the development of the modern novel, as will be indicated in the proper place.
Defoe's energy had not diminished with age and a hard life, and the success of 'Robinson Crusoe' led him to pour out a series of other works of romantic-realistic fiction. The second part of 'Robinson Crusoe' is no more satisfactory than any other similar continuation, and the third part, a collection of moralizings, is today entirely and properly forgotten. On the other hand, his usual method, the remarkable imaginative re-creation and vivifying of a host of minute details, makes of the fictitious 'Journal of the Plague Year' (1666) a piece of virtual history. Defoe's other later works are rather unworthy attempts to make profit out of his reputation and his full knowledge of the worst aspects of life; they are mostly very frank presentations of the careers of adventurers or criminals, real or fictitious. In this coarse realism they are picaresque, and in structure also they, like 'Robinson Crusoe,' are picaresque in being mere successions of adventures without artistic plot.
In Defoe's last years he suffered a great reverse of fortune, paying the full penalty for his opportunism and lack of ideals. His secret and unworthy long-standing connection with the Government was disclosed, so that his reputation was sadly blemished, and he seems to have gone into hiding, perhaps as the result of half-insane delusions. He died in 1731. His place in English literature is secure, though he owes it to the lucky accident of finding not quite too late special material exactly suited to his peculiar talent.
Round Table Discussion:
What was Daniel Defoe education like?
What aspects of life were perfectly presented in his novel of ‘Robinson Crusoe’?
Interesting Quotes of Daniel Defoe
It is better to have a lion at the head of an army of sheep, than a sheep at the head of an army of lions.It is never too late to be wise.
Justice is always violent to the party offending, for every man is innocent in his own eyes
Jonathan Swift, another unique figure of very mixed traits, is like Defoe in that he connects the reign of William III with that of his successors and that, in accordance with the spirit of his age, he wrote for the most part not for literary but for practical purposes; in many other respects the two are widely different. Swift is one of the best representatives in English literature of sheer intellectual power, but his character, his aims, his environment, and the circumstances of his life denied to him also literary achievement of the greatest permanent significance. Swift, though of unmixed English descent, related to both Dryden and Robert Herrick, was born in Ireland, in 1667. Brought up in poverty by his widowed mother, he spent the period between his fourteenth and twentieth years recklessly and without distinction at Trinity College,
Dublin. From the outbreak attending the Revolution of 1688 he fled to England, where for the greater part of nine years he lived in the country as a sort of secretary to the retired statesman, Sir William Temple, who was his distant relative by marriage. Here he had plenty of time for reading, but the position of dependence and the consciousness that his great though still unformed powers of intellect and of action were rusting away in obscurity undoubtedly did much to increase the natural bitterness of his disposition. As the result of a quarrel he left Temple for a time and took holy orders, and on the death of Temple he returned to Ireland as chaplain to the English Lord Deputy. He was eventually given several small livings and other church positions in and near Dublin, and at one of these, Laracor, he made his home for another nine years. During all this period and later the Miss Esther Johnson whom he has immortalized as 'Stella' holds a prominent place in his life. A girl of technically gentle birth, she also had been a member of Sir William Temple's household, was infatuated with Swift, and followed him to Ireland. About their intimacy there has always hung a mystery. It has been held that after many years they were secretly married, but this is probably a mistake; the essential fact seems to be that Swift, with characteristic selfishness, was willing to sacrifice any other possible prospects of 'Stella' to his own mere enjoyment of her society. It is certain, however, that he both highly esteemed her and reciprocated her affection so far as it was possible for him to love any woman.
In 1704 Swift published his first important works (written earlier, while he was living with Temple), which are among the masterpieces of his satirical genius. In 'The Battle of the Books' he supports Temple, who had taken the side of the Ancients in a hotly-debated and very futile quarrel then being carried on by French and English writers as to whether ancient or modern authors are the greater. 'The Tale of a Tub' is a keen, coarse, and violent satire on the actual irreligion of all Christian Churches. It takes the form of a burlesque history of three brothers, Peter (the Catholics, so called from St. Peter), Martin (the Lutherans and the Church of England, named from Martin Luther), and Jack (the Dissenters, who followed John Calvin); but a great part of the book is made up of irrelevant introductions and digressions in which Swift ridicules various absurdities, literary and otherwise, among them the very practice of digressions.
Swift's instinctive dominating impulse was personal ambition, and during this period he made long visits to London, attempting to push his fortunes with the Whig statesmen, who were then growing in power; attempting, that is, to secure a higher position in the Church; also, be it added, to get relief for the ill-treated English Church in Ireland. He made the friendship of Addison, who called him, perhaps rightly, 'the greatest genius of the age,' and of Steele, but he failed of his main purposes; and when in 1710 the Tories replaced the Whigs he accepted their solicitations and devoted his pen, already somewhat experienced in pamphleteering, to their service. It should not be overlooked that up to this time, when he was already more than forty years of age, his life had been one of continual disappointment, so that he was already greatly soured. Now, in conducting a paper, 'The Examiner,' and in writing masterly political pamphlets, he found occupation for his tremendous energy and gave very vital help to the ministers. During the four years of their control of the government he remained in London on intimate terms with them, especially with Bolingbroke and Harley, exercising a very large advisory share in the bestowal of places of all sorts and in the general conduct of affairs. This was Swift's proper sphere; in the realization and exercise of power he took a fierce and deep delight. His bearing at this time too largely reflected the less pleasant side of his nature, especially his pride and arrogance. Yet toward professed inferiors he could be kind; and real playfulness and tenderness, little evident in most of his other writings, distinguish his 'Journal to Stella,' which he wrote for her with affectionate regularity, generally every day, for nearly three years. The 'Journal' is interesting also for its record of the minor details of the life of Swift and of London in his day. His association, first and last, with literary men was unusually broad; when politics estranged him from Steele and Addison he drew close to Pope and other Tory writers in what they called the Scriblerus Club.
Despite his political success, Swift was still unable to secure the definite object of his ambition, a bishopric in England, since the levity with which he had treated holy things in 'A Tale of a Tub' had hopelessly prejudiced Queen Anne against him and the ministers could not act altogether in opposition to her wishes. In 1713 he received the unwelcome gift of the deanship of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, and the next year, when the Queen died and the Tory ministry fell, he withdrew to Dublin, as he himself bitterly said, 'to die like a poisoned rat in a hole.'
In Swift's personal life there were now events in which he again showed to very little advantage. In London he had become acquainted with a certain Hester Vanhomrigh, the 'Vanessa' of his longest poem, 'Cadenus and Vanessa'. Miss Vanhomrigh, like 'Stella,' was infatuated with Swift, and like her followed him to Ireland, and for nine years, as has been said, he 'lived a double life' between the two. 'Vanessa' then died, probably of a broken heart, and 'Stella' a few years later. Over against this conduct, so far as it goes, may be set Swift's quixotic but extensive and constant personal benevolence and generosity to the poor.
In general, this last period of Swift's life amounted to thirty years of increasing bitterness. He devoted some of his very numerous pamphlets to defending the Irish, and especially the English who formed the governing class in Ireland, against oppression by England. Most important here were 'The Drapier's Letters,' in which Swift aroused the country to successful resistance against a very unprincipled piece of political jobbery whereby a certain Englishman was to be allowed to issue a debased copper coinage at enormous profit to himself but to the certain disaster of Ireland. 'A Modest Proposal,' the proposal, namely, that the misery of the poor in Ireland should be alleviated by the raising of children for food, like pigs, is one of the most powerful, as well as one of the most horrible, satires which ever issued from any human imagination. In 1726 appeared Swift's masterpiece, the only one of his works still widely known, namely, 'The Travels of Lemuel Gulliver.' The remarkable power of this unique work lies partly in its perfect combination of two apparently inconsistent things, first, a story of marvelous adventure which must always remain (in the first parts) one of the most popular of children's classics; and second, a bitter satire against mankind. The intensity of the satire increases as the work proceeds. In the first voyage, that to the Lilliputians, the tone is one mainly of humorous irony; but in such passages as the hideous description of the Struldbrugs in the third voyage the cynical contempt is unspeakably painful, and from the distorted libel on mankind in the Yahoos of the fourth voyage a reader recoils in indignant disgust.
During these years Swift corresponded with friends in England, among them Pope, whom he bitterly urged to 'lash the world for his sake,' and he once or twice visited England in the hope, even then, of securing a place in the Church on the English side of St. George's Channel. His last years were melancholy in the extreme. Long before, on noticing a dying tree, he had observed, with the pitiless incisiveness which would spare neither others nor himself: 'I am like that. I shall die first at the top.' His birthday he was accustomed to celebrate with lamentations. At length an obscure disease which had always afflicted him, fed in part, no doubt, by his fiery spirit and his fiery discontent, reached his brain. After some years of increasing lethargy and imbecility, occasionally varied by fits of violent madness and terrible pain, he died in 1745, leaving all his money to found a hospital for the insane. His grave in St. Patrick's Cathedral bears this inscription of his own composing, the best possible epitome of his career: 'Ubi saeva indignatio cor ulterius lacerare nequit' (Where fierce indignation can no longer tear his heart).
The complexity of Swift's character and the great difference between the viewpoints of his age and of ours make it easy at the present time to judge him with too great harshness. Apart from his selfish egotism and his bitterness, his nature was genuinely loyal, kind and tender to friends and connections; and he hated injustice and the more flagrant kinds of hypocrisy with a sincere and irrepressible violence. Whimsicalness and a contemptuous sort of humor were as characteristic of him as biting sarcasm, and his conduct and writings often veered rapidly from the one to the other in a way puzzling to one who does not understand him. Nevertheless he was dominated by cold intellect and an instinct for the practical. To show sentiment, except under cover, he regarded as a weakness, and it is said that when he was unable to control it he would retire from observation. He was ready to serve mankind to the utmost of his power when effort seemed to him of any avail, and at times he sacrificed even his ambition to his convictions; but he had decided that the mass of men were hopelessly foolish, corrupt, and inferior, personal sympathy with them was impossible to him, and his contempt often took the form of sardonic practical jokes, practised sometimes on a whole city. Says Sir Leslie Stephen in his life of Swift: 'His doctrine was that virtue is the one thing which deserves love and admiration, and yet that virtue in this hideous chaos of a world involves misery and decay.' Of his extreme arrogance and brutality to those who offended him there are numerous anecdotes; not least in the case of women, whom he, like most men of his age, regarded as man's inferiors. He once drove a lady from her own parlor in tears by violent insistence that she should sing, against her will, and when he next met her, inquired, 'Pray, madam, are you as proud and ill-natured to-day as when I saw you last?' It seems, indeed, that throughout his life Swift's mind was positively abnormal, and this may help to excuse the repulsive elements in his writings. For metaphysics and abstract principles, it may be added, he had a bigoted antipathy. In religion he was a staunch and sincere High Churchman, but it was according to the formal fashion of many thinkers of his day; he looked on the Church not as a medium of spiritual life, of which he, like his generation, had little conception, but as one of the organized institutions of society, useful in maintaining decency and order.
Swift's 'poems' require only passing notice. In any strict sense they are not poems at all, since they are entirely bare of imagination, delicacy, and beauty. Instead they exhibit the typical pseudo-classical traits of matter-of-factness and clearness; also, as Swift's personal notes, cleverness, directness, trenchant intellectual power, irony, and entire ease, to which latter the prevailing octosyllabic couplet meter contributes. This is the meter of 'L'Allegro' and 'Il Penseroso,' and the contrast between these poems and Swift's is instructive.
Swift's prose style has substantially the same qualities. Writing generally as a man of affairs, for practical ends, he makes no attempt at elegance and is informal even to the appearance of looseness of expression. Of conscious refinements and also, in his stories, of technical artistic structural devices, he has no knowledge; he does not go out of the straight path in order to create suspense, he does not always explain difficulties of detail, and sometimes his narrative becomes crudely bare. He often displays the greatest imaginative power, but it is always a practical imagination; his similes, for example, are always from very matter-of-fact things. But more notable are his positive merits. He is always absolutely clear, direct, and intellectually forceful; in exposition and argument he is cumulatively irresistible; in description and narration realistically picturesque and fascinating; and he has the natural instinct for narration which gives vigorous movement and climax. Indignation and contempt often make his style burn with passion, and humor, fierce or bitterly mirthful, often enlivens it with startling flashes.
The great range of the satires which make the greater part of Swift's work is supported in part by variety of satiric method. Sometimes he pours out a savage direct attack. Sometimes, in a long ironical statement, he says exactly the opposite of what he really means to suggest. Sometimes he uses apparently logical reasoning where either, as in 'A Modest Proposal,' the proposition, or, as in the 'Argument Against Abolishing Christianity,' the arguments are absurd. He often shoots out incidental humorous or satirical shafts. But his most important and extended method is that of allegory. The pigmy size of the Lilliputians symbolizes the littleness of mankind and their interests; the superior skill in rope-dancing which with them is the ground for political advancement, the political intrigues of real men; and the question whether eggs shall be broken on the big or the little end, which has embroiled Lilliput in a bloody war, both civil and foreign, the trivial causes of European conflicts. In Brobdingnag, on the other hand, the coarseness of mankind is exhibited by the magnifying process. Swift, like Defoe, generally increases the verisimilitude of his fictions and his ironies by careful accuracy in details, which is sometimes arithmetically genuine, sometimes only a hoax. In Lilliput all the dimensions are scientifically computed on a scale one-twelfth as large as that of man; in Brobdingnag, by an exact reversal, everything is twelve times greater than among men. But the long list of technical nautical terms which seem to make a spirited narrative at the beginning of the second of Gulliver's voyages is merely an incoherent hodge-podge.
Swift, then, is the greatest of English satirists and the only one who as a satirist claims large attention in a brief general survey of English literature. He is one of the most powerfully intellectual of all English writers, and the clear force of his work is admirable; but being first a man of affairs and only secondarily a man of letters, he stands only on the outskirts of real literature. In his character the elements were greatly mingled, and in our final judgment of him there must be combined something of disgust, something of admiration, and not a little of sympathy and pity.
Interesting Facts of Jonathan Swift
’Gulliver’s Travels’, first published on 28 October 1726 and then amended in 1735, is his most famous work. Considered a classic of English literature, many mistakenly consider it to be a children’s book. In reality, it is a prose satire, which he wrote "to vex the world rather than divert it."
His ‘A Modest Proposal’ is also a straight face satire. It not only mocks the British policy toward the Irish, but also the heartless attitudes harbored towards the poor.
He kept saying “Every man desires to live long, but no man wishes to be old”.
The chief representative of pseudo-classicism in its most particular field of poetry, is Dryden's successor, Alexander Pope.
Pope was bom in 1688, the son of a Catholic linen-merchant in London. Scarcely any other great writer has ever had to contend against such hard and cruel handicaps as he. He inherited a deformed and dwarfed body and an incurably sickly constitution, which carried with it abnormal sensitiveness of both nerves and mind. Though he never had really definite religious convictions of his own, he remained all his life formally loyal to his parents' faith, and under the laws of the time this closed to him all the usual careers of a gentleman. But he was predestined by Nature to be a poet. Brought up chiefly at the country home near Windsor to which his father had retired, and left to himself for mental training, he never acquired any thoroughness of knowledge or power of systematic thought, but he read eagerly the poetry of many languages. He was one of the most precocious of the long list of precocious versifiers; his own words are: 'I lisped in numbers, for the numbers came.' The influences which would no doubt have determined his style in any case were early brought to a focus in the advice given him by an amateur poet and critic, William Walsh. Walsh declared that England had had great poets, 'but never one great poet that was correct'. Pope accepted this hint as his guiding principle and proceeded to seek correctness by giving still further polish to the pentameter couplet of Dryden.
At the age of twenty-one, when he was already on familiar terms with prominent literary men, he published some imitative pastorals, and two years later his 'Essay on Criticism.' This work is thoroughly representative both of Pope and of his period. In the first place the subject is properly one not for poetry but for expository prose. In the second place the substance is not original with Pope but is a restatement of the ideas of the Greek Aristotle, the Roman Horace, especially of the French critic Boileau, who was Pope's earlier contemporary, and of various other critical authorities, French and English. But in terse and epigrammatic expression of fundamental or pseudo-classical principles of poetic composition and criticism the 'Essay' is amazingly brilliant, and it shows Pope already a consummate master of the couplet. The reputation which it brought him was very properly increased by the publication the next year of the admirable mock-epic 'The Rape of the Lock,' which Pope soon improved, against Addison's advice, by the delightful 'machinery' of the Rosicrucian sylphs. In its adaptation of means to ends and its attainment of its ends Lowell has boldly called this the most successful poem in English. Pope now formed his lifelong friendship with Swift, with Bolingbroke, and other distinguished persons, and at twenty-five or twenty-six found himself acknowledged as the chief man of letters in England, with a wide European reputation.
For the next dozen years he occupied himself chiefly with the formidable task of translating 'The Iliad' and 'The Odyssey.' 'The Iliad' he completed unaided, but then, tiring of the drudgery, he turned over half of 'The Odyssey' to two minor writers. So easy, however, was his style to catch that if the facts were not on record the work of his assistants would generally be indistinguishable from his own. From an absolute point of view many criticisms must be made of Pope's version. That he knew little Greek when he began the work and from first to last depended much on translations would in itself have made his rendering inaccurate. Moreover, the noble but direct and simple spirit and language of Homer were as different as possible from the spirit and language of the London drawing-rooms for which Pope wrote; hence he not only expands, as every author of a verse-translation must do in filling out his lines, but inserts new ideas of his own and continually substitutes for Homer's expressions the periphrastic and, as he held, elegant ones of the pseudo-classic diction. The polished rimed couplet, also, pleasing as its precision and smoothness are for a while, becomes eventually monotonous to most readers of a romantic period. Equally serious is the inability which Pope shared with most of the men of his time to understand the culture of the still half-barbarous Homeric age. He supposes (in his Preface) that it was by a deliberate literary artifice that Homer introduced the gods into his action, supposes, that is, that Homer no more believed in the Greek gods than did he, Pope, himself; and in general Pope largely obliterates the differences between the Homeric warrior-chief and the eighteenth century gentleman. The force of all this may be realized by comparing Pope's translation with the very sympathetic and skillful one made (in prose) in our own time by Messrs. Lang, Leaf, and Myers. A criticism of Pope's work which Pope never forgave but which is final in some aspects was made by the great Cambridge professor, Bentley: 'It's a pretty poem, Mr. Pope, but you must not call it Homer.' Yet after all, Pope merited much higher praise than this, and his work was really, a great achievement. It has been truly said that every age must have the great classics translated into its own dialect, and this work could scarcely have been better done for the early eighteenth century than it is done by Pope.
The publication of Pope's Homer marks an important stage in the development of authorship. Until the time of Dryden no writer had expected to earn his whole living by publishing works of real literature. The medieval minstrels and romancers of the higher class and the dramatists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had indeed supported themselves largely or wholly by their works, but not by printing them. When, in Dryden's time, with the great enlargement of the reading public, conditions were about to change, the publisher took the upper hand; authors might sometimes receive gifts from the noblemen to whom they inscribed dedications, but for their main returns they must generally sell their works outright to the publisher and accept his price. Pope's 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey' afforded the first notably successful instance of another method, that of publication by subscription—individual purchasers at a generous price being secured beforehand by solicitation and in acknowledgment having their names printed in a conspicuous list in the front of the book. From the two Homeric poems together, thanks to this device, Pope realized a profit of nearly L9000, and thus proved that an author might be independent of the publisher. On the success of 'The Iliad' alone Pope had retired to an estate at a London suburb, Twickenham, where he spent the remainder of his life. Here he laid out five acres with skill, though in the formal landscape-garden taste of his time. In particular, he excavated under the road a 'grotto,' which he adorned with mirrors and glittering stones and which was considered by his friends, or at least by himself, as a marvel of artistic beauty.
Only bare mention need here be made of Pope's edition of Shakespeare, prepared with his usual hard work but with inadequate knowledge and appreciation, and published in 1725. His next production, 'The Dunciad,' can be understood only in the light of his personal character. Somewhat like Swift, Pope was loyal and kind to his friends and inoffensive to persons against whom he did not conceive a prejudice. He was an unusually faithful son, and, in a brutal age, a hater of physical brutality. But, as we have said, his infirmities and hardships had sadly warped his disposition and he himself spoke of 'that long disease, my life.' He was proud, vain, abnormally sensitive, suspicious, quick to imagine an injury, incredibly spiteful, implacable in resentment, apparently devoid of any sense of honesty—at his worst hateful and petty-minded beyond any other man in English literature. His trickiness was astonishing. Dr. Johnson observes that he 'hardly drank tea without a stratagem,' and indeed he seems to have been almost constitutionally unable to do anything in an open and straightforward way. Wishing, for example, to publish his correspondence, he not only falsified it, but to preserve an appearance of modesty engaged in a remarkably complicated series of intrigues by which he trapped a publisher into apparently stealing a part of it—and then loudly protested at the theft and the publication. It is easy to understand, therefore, that Pope was readily drawn into quarrels and was not an agreeable antagonist. He had early taken a violent antipathy to the host of poor scribblers who are known by the name of the residence of most of them, Grub Street—an antipathy chiefly based, it would seem, on his contempt for their worldly and intellectual poverty. For some years he had been carrying on a pamphlet war against them, and now, it appears, he deliberately stirred them up to make new attacks upon him. Determined, at any rate, to overwhelm all his enemies at once in a great satire, he bent all his energies, with the utmost seriousness, to writing 'The Dunciad' on the model of Dryden's 'Mac Flecknoe' and irresponsibly 'dealt damnation 'round the land.' Clever and powerful, the poem is still more disgusting—grossly obscene, pitifully rancorous against scores of insignificant creatures, and no less violent against some of the ablest men of the time, at whom Pope happened to have taken offense. Yet throughout the rest of his life Pope continued with keen delight to work the unsavory production over and to bring out new editions.
During his last fifteen years Pope's original work was done chiefly in two very closely related fields, first in a group of what he called 'Moral' essays, second in the imitation of a few of the Satires and Epistles of Horace, which Pope applied to circumstances of his own time. In the 'Moral' Essays he had intended to deal comprehensively with human nature and institutions, but such a systematic plan was beyond his powers. The longest of the essays which he accomplished, the 'Essay on Man,' aims, like 'Paradise Lost,' to 'vindicate the ways of God to man,' but as regards logic chiefly demonstrates the author's inability to reason. He derived the ideas, in fragmentary fashion, from Bolingbroke, who was an amateur Deist and optimist of the shallow eighteenth century type, and so far was Pope from understanding what he was doing that he was greatly disturbed when it was pointed out to him that the theology of the poem was Deistic rather than Christian In this poem, as in all Pope's others of this period, the best things are the detached observations. Some of the other poems, especially the autobiographical 'Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot,' are notable for their masterly and venomous satirical sketches of various contemporary characters.
Pope's physical disabilities brought him to premature old age, and he died in 1744. His declining years were saddened by the loss of friends, and he had never married, though his dependent and sensitive nature would have made marriage especially helpful to him. During the greater part of his life, however, he was faithfully watched over by a certain Martha Blount, whose kindness he repaid with only less selfishness than that which 'Stella' endured from Swift. Indeed, Pope's whole attitude toward woman, which appears clearly in his poetry, was largely that of the Restoration. Yet after all that must be said against Pope, it is only fair to conclude, as does his biographer, Sir Leslie Stephen: 'It was a gallant spirit which got so much work out of this crazy carcase, and kept it going, spite of all its feebleness, for fifty-six years.'
The question of Pope's rank among authors is of central importance for any theory of poetry. In his own age he was definitely regarded by his adherents as the greatest of all English poets of all time. As the pseudo-classic spirit yielded to the romantic this judgment was modified, until in the nineteenth century it was rather popular to deny that in any true sense Pope was a poet at all. Of course the truth lies somewhere between these extremes. Into the highest region of poetry, that of great emotion and imagination, Pope scarcely enters at all; he is not a poet in the same sense as Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Shelley, or Browning; neither his age nor his own nature permitted it. In lyric, original narrative, and dramatic poetry he accomplished very little, though the success of his 'Elegy on an Unfortunate Lady' and 'Eloisa to Abelard' must be carefully weighed in this connection. On the other hand, it may well be doubted if he can ever be excelled as a master in satire and kindred semi-prosaic forms. He is supreme in epigrams, the terse statement of pithy truths; his poems have furnished more brief familiar quotations to our language than those of any other writer except Shakespeare. For this sort of effect his rimed couplet provided him an unrivalled instrument, and he especially developed its power in antithesis, very frequently balancing one line of the couplet, or one half of a line, against the other. He had received the couplet from Dryden, but he polished it to a greater finish, emphasizing, on the whole, its character as a single unit by making it more consistently end-stopped. By this means he gained in snap and point, though for purposes of continuous narrative or exposition he increased the monotony and somewhat decreased the strength. Every reader must decide for himself how far the rimed couplet, in either Dryden's or Pope's use of it, is a proper medium for real poetry. But it is certain that within the limits which he laid down for himself, there never was a more finished artist than Pope. He chooses every word with the greatest care for its value as both sound and sense; his minor technique is well-night perfect, except sometimes in the matter of rimes; and in particular the variety which he secures, partly by skillful shifting of pauses and use of extra syllables, is remarkable; though it is a variety less forceful than Dryden's.
Interesting Facts in Quotes of Alexander Pope
To be angry is to revenge the faults of others on ourselves.Strength of mind is exercise, not rest.O peace! how many wars were waged in thy name.ROBERT BURNS.
Robert Burns, the oldest of the seven children of two sturdy Scotch peasants of the best type, was born in 1759 in Ayrshire, just beyond the northwest border of England. In spite of extreme poverty, the father joined with some of his neighbors in securing the services of a teacher for their children, and the household possessed a few good books, including Shakespeare and Pope, whose influence on the future poet was great. But the lot of the family was unusually hard. The father's health failed early and from childhood the boys were obliged to do men's work in the field. Robert later declared, probably with some bitter exaggeration, that his life had combined 'the cheerless gloom of a hermit with the unceasing moil of a galley slave.' His genius, however, like his exuberant spirit, could not be crushed out. His mother had familiarized him from the beginning with the songs and ballads of which the country was full, and though he is said at first to have had so little ear for music that he could scarcely distinguish one tune from another, he soon began to compose songs (words) of his own as he followed the plough. In the greatness of his later success his debt to the current body of song and music should not be overlooked. He is only the last of a long succession of rural Scottish song-writers; he composed his own songs to accompany popular airs; and many of them are directly based on fragments of earlier songs. None the less his work rises immeasurably above all that had gone before it.
The story of Bums' mature life is the pathetic one of a very vigorous nature in which genius, essential manliness, and good impulses struggled against and were finally overcome by violent passions, aggravated by the bitterness of poverty and repeated disappointments. His first effort, at eighteen, to better his condition, by the study of surveying at a neighboring town, resulted chiefly in throwing him into contact with bad companions; a venture in the business of flax-dressing ended in disaster; and the same ill-fortune attended the several successive attempts which he made at general farming. He became unfortunately embroiled also with the Church, which (the Presbyterian denomination) exercised a very strict control in Scotland. Compelled to do public penance for some of his offenses, his keen wit could not fail to be struck by the inconsistency between the rigid doctrines and the lives of some of the men who were proceeding against him; and he commemorated the feud in his series of overwhelming but painfully flippant satires.
His brief period of dazzling public success dawned suddenly out of the darkest moment of his fortunes. At the age of twenty-seven, abandoning the hope which he had already begun to cherish of becoming the national poet of Scotland, he had determined in despair to emigrate to Jamaica to become an overseer on a plantation. (That this chief poet of democracy, the author of 'A Man's a Man for a' That,' could have planned to become a slave-driver suggests how closely the most genuine human sympathies are limited by habit and circumstances.) To secure the money for his voyage Burns had published his poems in a little volume. This won instantaneous and universal popularity, and Burns, turning back at the last moment, responded to the suggestion of some of the great people of Edinburgh that he should come to that city and see what could be done for him. At first the experiment seemed fortunate, for the natural good breeding with which this untrained countryman bore himself for a winter as the petted lion of the society of fashion and learning (the University) was remarkable. None the less the situation was unnatural and necessarily temporary, and unluckily Burns formed associations also with such boon companions of the lower sort as had hitherto been his undoing. After a year Edinburgh dropped him, thus supplying substantial fuel for his ingrained poor man's jealousy and rancor at the privileged classes. Too near his goal to resume the idea of emigrating, he returned to his native moors, rented another farm, and married Jean Armour, one of the several heroines of his love-poems. The only material outcome of his period of public favor was an appointment as internal revenue collector, an unpopular and uncongenial office which he accepted with reluctance and exercised with leniency. It required him to occupy much of his time in riding about the country, and contributed to his final failure as a farmer. After the latter event he removed to the neighboring market-town of Dumfries, where he again renewed his companionship with unworthy associates. At last prospects for promotion in the revenue service began to open to him, but it was too late; his naturally robust constitution had given way to over-work and dissipation, and he died in 1796 at the age of thirty-seven.
Burns' place among poets is perfectly clear. It is chiefly that of a song-writer, perhaps the greatest songwriter of the world. At work in the fields or in his garret or kitchen after the long day's work was done, he composed songs because he could not help it, because his emotion was irresistibly stirred by the beauty and life of the birds and flowers, the snatch of a melody which kept running through his mind, or the memory of the girl with whom he had last talked. And his feelings expressed themselves with spontaneous simplicity, genuineness, and ease. He is a thoroughly romantic poet, though wholly by the grace of nature, not at all from any conscious intention—he wrote as the inspiration moved him, not in accordance with any theory of art. The range of his subjects and emotions is nearly or quite complete—love; comradeship; married affection, as in 'John Anderson, My Jo'; reflective sentiment; feeling for nature; sympathy with animals; vigorous patriotism, as in 'Scots Wha Hae' (and Burns did much to revive the feeling of Scots for Scotland); deep tragedy and pathos; instinctive happiness; delightful humor; and the others. It should be clearly recognized, however, that this achievement, supreme as it is in its own way, does not suffice to place Burns among the greatest poets.
The brief lyrical outbreaks of the song-writer are no more to be compared with the sustained creative power and knowledge of life and character which make the great dramatist or narrative poet than the bird's song is to be compared with an opera of Wagner. But such comparisons need not be pressed; and the song of bird or poet appeals instantly to every normal hearer, while the drama or narrative poem requires at least some special accessories and training. Burns' significant production, also, is not altogether limited to songs. 'The Cotter's Saturday Night' (in Spenser's stanza) is one of the perfect descriptive poems of lyrical sentiment; and some of Bums' meditative poems and poetical epistles to acquaintances are delightful in a free-and-easy fashion. The exuberant power in the religious satires and the narrative 'Tam o' Shanter' is undeniable, but they belong to a lower order of work.
Many of Burns' poems are in the Lowland Scots dialect; a few are wholly in ordinary English; and some combine the two idioms. It is an interesting question whether Burns wins distinctly greater success in one than in the other. In spite of his prevailing literary honesty, it may be observed, his English shows some slight traces of the effort to imitate Pope and the feeling that the pseudo-classical style with its elegance was really the highest—a feeling which renders some of his letters painfully affected.
Interesting to know quotes by Robert Burns
My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here; My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer; A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe, My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.
I am little acquainted with politeness, but I know a good deal of benevolence of temper and goodness of heart.
We have traced the literary production of the eighteenth century in many different forms, but it still remains to speak of one of the most important, the novel, which in the modern meaning of the word had its origin not long before 1750. Springing at that time into apparently sudden popularity, it replaced the drama as the predominant form of literature and has continued such ever since. The reasons are not hard to discover. The drama is naturally the most popular literary form in periods like the Elizabethan when the ability (or inclination) to read is not general, when men are dominated by the zest for action, and when cities have become sufficiently large to keep the theaters well filled. It is also the natural form in such a period as that of the Restoration, when literary life centers about a frivolous upper class who demand an easy and social form of entertainment. But the condition is very different when, as in the eighteenth and still more in the nineteenth century, the habit of reading, and some recognition of its educating influence, had spread throughout almost all classes and throughout the country, creating a public far too large, too scattered, and too varied to gain access to the London and provincial theaters or to find all their needs supplied by a somewhat artificial literary form. The novel, on the other hand, gives a much fuller portrayal of life than does the drama, and allows the much more detailed analysis of characters and situations which the modern mind has come more and more to demand.
The novel, which for our present purpose must be taken to include the romance, is, of course, only a particular and highly developed kind of long story, one of the latest members of the family of fiction, or the larger family of narrative, in prose and verse. The medieval romances, for example, included most of the elements of the novel, even, sometimes, psychological analysis; but the romances usually lacked the unity, the complex and careful structure, the thorough portrayal of character, and the serious attention to the real problems of life which in a general way distinguish the modern novel. Much the same is true of the Elizabethan 'novels,' which, besides, were generally short as well as of small intellectual and ethical caliber. During the Restoration period and a little later there began to appear several kinds of works which perhaps looked more definitely toward the later novel. Bunyan's religious allegories may likely enough have had a real influence on it, and there were a few English tales and romances of chivalry, and a few more realistic pieces of fiction. The habit of journal writing and the letters about London life sent by some persons in the city to their friends in the country should also be mentioned. The De Coverly papers in 'The Spectator' approach distinctly toward the novel. They give real presentation of both characters and setting (social life) and lack only connected treatment of the story (of Sir Roger). Defoe's fictions, picaresque tales of adventure, come still closer, but lack the deeper artistic and moral purpose and treatment suggested a moment ago. The case is not very different with Swift's 'Gulliver's Travels,' which, besides, is primarily a satire. Substantially, therefore, all the materials were now ready, awaiting only the fortunate hand which should arrange and shape them into a real novel. This proved to be the hand of a rather unlikely person, the outwardly commonplace printer, Samuel Richardson.
Henry Fielding was born of an aristocratic family in Somersetshire in 1707. At Eton School and the University of Leyden (in Holland) he won distinction, but at the age of twenty he found himself, a vigorous young man with instincts for fine society, stranded in London without any tangible means of support. He turned to the drama and during the next dozen years produced many careless and ephemeral farces, burlesques, and light plays, which, however, were not without value as preparation for his novels. Meanwhile he had other activities—spent the money which his wife brought him at marriage in an extravagant experiment as gentleman farmer; studied law and was admitted to the bar; and conducted various literary periodicals. His attacks on the government in his plays helped to produce the severe licensing act, which put an end to his dramatic work and that of many other light playwrights. When Richardson's 'Pamela' appeared Fielding was disgusted with what seemed to him its hypocritical silliness, and in vigorous artistic indignation he proceeded to write 'The History of Joseph Andrews,' representing Joseph as the brother of Pamela and as a serving-man, honest, like her, in difficult circumstances. Beginning in a spirit of sheer burlesque, Fielding soon became interested in his characters, and in the actual result produced a rough but masterful picture of contemporary life. The coarse Parson Trulliber and the admirable Parson Adams are among the famous characters of fiction. However, even in the later part of the book Fielding did not altogether abandon his ridicule of Richardson. He introduced among the characters the 'Squire B' of 'Pamela,' only filling out the blank by calling him 'Squire Booby and taking pains to make him correspondingly ridiculous.
Fielding now began to pay the penalty for his youthful dissipations in failing health, but he continued to write with great expenditure of time and energy. 'The History of Jonathan Wild the Great,' a notorious ruffian whose life Defoe also had narrated, aims to show that great military conquerors are only bandits and cutthroats really no more praiseworthy than the humbler individuals who are hanged without ceremony. Fielding's masterpiece, 'The History of Tom Jones,' followed hard after Richardson's 'Clarissa,' in 1749. His last novel, 'Amelia,' is a half-autobiographic account of his own follies. His second marriage, to his first wife's maid, was intended, as he frankly said, to provide a nurse for himself and a mother for his children, but his later years were largely occupied with heroic work as a police justice in Westminster, where, at the sacrifice of what health remained to him, he rooted out a specially dangerous band of robbers. Sailing for recuperation, but too late, to Lisbon, he died there at the age of forty-seven, in 1754.
The chief characteristics of Fielding's nature and novels, mostly directly opposite or complementary to those of Richardson, are these:
He is a broad realist, giving to his romantic actions a very prominent background of actual contemporary life. The portrayal is very illuminating; we learn from Fielding a great deal, almost everything, one is inclined to say, about conditions in both country and city in his time—about the state of travel, country inns, city jails, and many other things; but with his vigorous masculine nature he makes abundant use of the coarser facts of life and character which a finer art avoids. However, he is extremely human and sympathetic; in view of their large and generous naturalness, the defects of his character and works are at least pardonable.
His structure is that of the rambling picaresque story of adventure, not lacking, in his case, in definite progress toward a clearly designed end, but admitting many digressions and many irrelevant elements. The number of his characters, especially in 'Tom Jones,' is enormous. Indeed, the usual conception of a novel in his day, as the word 'History,' which was generally included in the title, indicates, was that of the complete story of the life of the hero or heroine, at least up to the time of marriage. It is virtually the old idea of the chronicle-history play. Fielding himself repeatedly speaks of his masterpiece as an 'epic.'
His point of view is primarily humorous. He avowedly imitates the manner of Cervantes in 'Don Quixote' and repeatedly insists that he is writing a mock epic. His very genuine and clear-sighted indignation at social abuses expresses itself through his omnipresent irony and satire, and however serious the situations he almost always keeps the ridiculous side in sight. He offends some modern readers by refusing to take his art in any aspect over-seriously; especially, he constantly asserts and exercises his 'right' to break off his story and chat quizzically about questions of art or conduct in a whole chapter at a time.
His knowledge of character that of a generous-hearted man of the world, is sound but not substile, and is deeper in the case of men than of women, especially in the case of men who resemble himself. Tom Jones is virtually Henry Fielding in his youth and is thoroughly lifelike, but Squire Allworthy, intended as an example of benevolent perfection, is no less of a pale abstraction than Sir Charles Grandison. The women, cleverly as their typical feminine traits are brought out, are really viewed only from without.
Quotes of Henry Fielding
When children are doing nothing, they are doing mischief.
Life may as properly be called an art as any other.
NOVELS OF PURPOSE.
Much the greatest of this trio of authoresses is the last, Jane Austen, who perhaps belongs as much to the nineteenth century as the eighteenth. The daughter of a clergyman, she past an absolutely uneventful life of forty-two years (1775-1817) in various villages and towns in Southern England. She had finished her masterpiece, 'Pride and Prejudice,' at the age of twenty-two, but was unable for more than a dozen years to find a publisher for this and her other earlier works. When at last they were brought out she resumed her writing, but the total number of her novels is only six. Her field, also, is more limited than that of any other great English novelist; for she deliberately restricted herself, with excellent judgment, to portraying what she knew at first-hand, namely the life of the well-to-do classes of her own 'provincial' region. Moreover, her theme is always love; desirable marriage for themselves or their children seems to be the single object of almost all her characters; and she always conducts her heroine successfully to this goal. Her artistic achievement, like herself, is so well-bred and unobtrusive that a hasty reader may easily fail to appreciate it. Her understanding of character is almost perfect, her sense for structure and dramatic scenes (quiet ones) equally good, and her quiet and delightful humor and irony all-pervasive. Scott, with customary generosity, praised her 'power of rendering ordinary things and characters interesting from the truth of her portrayal,' in favorable contrast with his own facility in 'the Big Bow-Wow strain.' Nevertheless, the assertion of some present-day critics that she is the greatest of all English authoresses is certainly extravagant. Her novels, though masterly in their own field and style, do not have the fullness of description or the elaboration of action, which add beauty and power to most later ones, and her lack of a sense for the greater issues of life denies her legitimate comparison with such a writer as George Eliot.
Quotes of Jane Austen
There are people who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves
Life may as properly be called an art as any other.
Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.
THE ROMANTIC TRIUMPH, 1798 TO ABOUT 1830THE GREAT WRITERS OF 1798-1830.
As we look back to-day over the literature of the last three quarters of the eighteenth century, here just surveyed, the progress of the Romantic Movement seems the most conspicuous general fact which it presents. But at the, death of Cowper in 1800 the movement still remained tentative and incomplete, and it was to arrive at full maturity only in the work of the great writers of the following quarter century, who were to create the finest body of literature which England had produced since the Elizabethan period. All the greatest of these writers were poets, wholly or in part, and they fall roughly into two groups: first, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, and Walter Scott; and second, about twenty years younger, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats. This period of Romantic Triumph, or of the lives of its authors, coincides in time, and not by mere accident, with the period of the success of the French Revolution, the prolonged struggle of England and all Europe against Napoleon, and the subsequent years when in Continental Europe despotic government reasserted itself and sternly suppressed liberal hopes and uprisings, while in England liberalism and democracy steadily and doggedly gathered force until by the Reform Bill of 1832 political power was largely transferred from the former small governing oligarchy to the middle class. How all these events influenced literature we shall see as we proceed. The beginning of the Romantic triumph is found, by general consent, in the publication in 1798 of the little volume of 'Lyrical Ballads' which contained the first significant poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge.
Even during this its greatest period, however, Romanticism had for a time a hard battle to fight, and a chief literary fact of the period was the founding and continued success of the first two important English literary and political quarterlies, 'The Edinburgh Review' and 'The Quarterly Review,' which in general stood in literature for the conservative eighteenth century tradition and violently attacked all, or almost all, the Romantic poets. These quarterlies are sufficiently important to receive a few words in passing. In the later eighteenth century there had been some periodicals devoted to literary criticism, but they were mere unauthoritative booksellers' organs, and it was left for the new reviews to inaugurate literary journalism of the modern serious type. 'The Edinburgh Review,' suggested and first conducted, in 1802, by the witty clergyman and reformer Sydney Smith, passed at once to the hands of Francis (later Lord) Jeffrey, a Scots lawyer who continued to edit it for nearly thirty years. Its politics were strongly liberal, and to oppose it the Tory 'Quarterly Review' was founded in 1808, under the editorship of the satirist William Gifford and with the cooperation of Sir Walter Scott, who withdrew for the purpose from his connection with the 'Edinburgh.'
These reviews were followed by other high-class periodicals, such as 'Blackwood's Magazine,' and most of the group have maintained their importance to the present day.
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.
The poets Wordsworth and Coleridge are of special interest not only from the primary fact that they are among the greatest of English authors, but also secondarily because in spite of their close personal association each expresses one of the two main contrasting or complementary tendencies in the Romantic movement; Coleridge the delight in wonder and mystery, which he has the power to express with marvelous poetic suggestiveness, and Wordsworth, in an extreme degree, the belief in the simple and quiet forces, both of human life and of Nature.
To Coleridge, who was slightly the younger of the two, attaches the further pathetic interest of high genius largely thwarted by circumstances and weakness of will. Born in Devonshire in 1772, the youngest of the many children of a self-made clergyman and schoolmaster, he was a precocious and abnormal child, then as always a fantastic dreamer, despised by other boys and unable to mingle with them. After the death of his father he was sent to Christ's Hospital, the 'Blue-Coat' charity school in London, where he spent nine lonely years in the manner briefly described in an essay of Charles Lamb, where Coleridge appears under a thin disguise. The very strict discipline was no doubt of much value in giving firmness and definite direction to his irregular nature, and the range of his studies, both in literature and in other fields, was very wide. Through the aid of scholarships and of contributions from his brothers he entered Cambridge in 1791, just after
Wordsworth had left the University; but here his most striking exploit was a brief escapade of running away and enlisting in a cavalry troop. Meeting Southey, then a student at Oxford, he drew him into a plan for a 'Pantisocracy' (a society where all should be equal), a community of twelve young couples to be founded in some 'delightful part of the new back settlements' of America on the principles of communistic cooperation in all lines, broad mental culture, and complete freedom of opinion. Naturally, this plan never past beyond the dream stage.
Coleridge left the University in 1794 without a degree, tormented by a disappointment in love. He had already begun to publish poetry and newspaper prose, and he now attempted lecturing. He and Southey married two sisters, whom Byron in a later attack on Southey somewhat inaccurately described as 'milliners of Bath'; and Coleridge settled near Bristol. After characteristically varied and unsuccessful efforts at conducting a periodical, newspaper writing, and preaching as a Unitarian (a creed which was then considered by most Englishmen disreputable and which Coleridge later abandoned), he moved with his wife in 1797 to Nether Stowey in Somersetshire. Expressly in order to be near him, Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy soon leased the neighboring manor-house of Alfoxden, and there followed the memorable year of intellectual and emotional stimulus when Coleridge's genius suddenly expanded into short-lived but wonderful activity and he wrote most of his few great poems, 'The Ancient Mariner,' 'Kubla Khan,' and the First Part of 'Christabel.' 'The Ancient Mariner' was planned by Coleridge and Wordsworth on one of their frequent rambles, and was to have been written in collaboration; but as it proceeded, Wordsworth found his manner so different from that of Coleridge that he withdrew altogether from the undertaking. The final result of the incident, however, was the publication in 1798 of 'Lyrical Ballads,' which included of Coleridge's work only this one poem, but of Wordsworth's several of his most characteristic ones. Coleridge afterwards explained that the plan of the volume contemplated two complementary sorts of poems. He was to present supernatural or romantic characters, yet investing them with human interest and semblance of truth; while Wordsworth was to add the charm of novelty to everyday things and to suggest their kinship to the supernatural, arousing readers from their accustomed blindness to the loveliness and wonders of the world around us. No better description could be given of the poetic spirit and the whole poetic work of the two men. Like some other epoch-marking books, 'Lyrical Ballads' attracted little attention. Shortly after its publication Coleridge and the Wordsworths sailed for Germany, where for the greater part of a year Coleridge worked hard, if irregularly, at the language, literature, and philosophy.
The remaining thirty-five years of his life are a record of ambitious projects and fitful efforts, for the most part turned by ill-health and lack of steady purpose into melancholy failure, but with a few fragmentary results standing out brilliantly. At times Coleridge did newspaper work, at which he might have succeeded; in 1800, in a burst of energy, he translated Schiller's tragedy 'Wallenstein' into English blank verse, a translation which in the opinion of most critics surpasses the original; and down to 1802, and occasionally later, he wrote a few more poems of a high order. For a few years from 1800 on he lived at Greta Hall in the village of Keswick (pronounced Kesick), in the northern end of the Lake Region, fifteen miles from Wordsworth; but his marriage was incompatible, and he finally left his wife and children, who were thenceforward supported largely by Southey, his successor at Greta Hall. Coleridge himself was maintained chiefly by the generosity of friends; later, in part, by public pensions. It was apparently about 1800, to alleviate mental distress and great physical suffering from neuralgia, that he began the excessive use of opium which for many years had a large share in paralyzing his will. For a year, in 1804-5, he displayed decided diplomatic talent as secretary to the Governor of Malta. At several different times, also, he gave courses, of lectures on Shakespeare and Milton; as a speaker, he was always eloquent; and the fragmentary notes of the lectures, which have been, preserved rank very high in Shakespearean criticism. His main interest, however, was now in philosophy; perhaps no Englishman has ever had a more profoundly philosophical mind; and through scattered writings and through his stimulating though prolix talks to friends and disciples he performed a very great service to English thought by introducing the viewpoint and ideas of the German transcendentalists, such as Kant, Schelling, and Fichte. During his last eighteen years he lived mostly in sad acceptance of defeat, though still much honored, in the house of a London physician. He died in 1834.
As a poet Coleridge's first great distinction is that which we have already pointed out, namely that he gives wonderfully subtile and appealing expression to the Romantic sense for the strange and the supernatural, and indeed for all that the word 'Romance' connotes at the present day. He accomplishes this result partly through his power of suggesting the real unity of the inner and outer worlds, partly through his skill, resting in a large degree on vivid impressionistic description, in making strange scenes appear actual, in securing from the reader what he himself called 'that willing suspension of disbelief which constitutes poetic faith.' Almost every one has felt the weird charm of 'The Ancient Mariner,' where all the unearthly story centers about a moral and religious idea, and where we are dazzled by a constant succession of such pictures as these:
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.
We were the first that ever burst Into that silent sea.
The western wave was all aflame:
The day was well nigh done:
Almost upon the western wave Rested the broad, bright sun;
When that strange shape drove suddenly Betwixt us and the sun.
'Christabel' achieves what Coleridge himself described as the very difficult task of creating witchery by daylight; and 'Kubla Khan,' worthy, though a brief fragment, to rank with these two, is a marvelous glimpse of fairyland.
In the second place, Coleridge is one of the greatest English masters of exquisite verbal melody, with its tributary devices of alliteration and haunting onomatopoeia. In this respect especially his influence on subsequent English poetry has been incalculable. The details of his method students should observe for themselves in their study of the poems, but one particular matter should be mentioned. In 'Christabel' and to a somewhat less degree in 'The Ancient Mariner' Coleridge departed as far as possible from eighteenth century tradition by greatly varying the number of syllables in the lines, while keeping a regular number of stresses. Though this practice, as we have seen, was customary in Old English poetry and in the popular ballads, it was supposed by Coleridge and his contemporaries to be a new discovery, and it proved highly suggestive to other romantic poets. From hearing 'Christabel' read Scott caught the idea for the free-and-easy meter of his poetical romances.
With a better body and will Coleridge might have been one of the supreme English poets; as it is, he has left a small number of very great poems and has proved one of the most powerful influences on later English poetry.
In the eighteenth century Scotland had contributed Thomson and Burns to the Romantic movement; now, early in the nineteenth, she supplied a writer of unexcelled and marvelous creative energy, who confirmed the triumph of the movement with work of the first importance in both verse and prose, namely Walter Scott. Scott, further, is personally one of the most delightful figures in English literature, and he is probably the most famous of all the Scotsmen who have ever lived.
He was descended from an ancient Border fighting clan, some of whose pillaging heroes he was to celebrate in his poetry, but he himself was born, in 1771, in Edinburgh, the son of an attorney of a privileged, though not the highest, class. In spite of some serious sicknesses, one of which left him permanently lame, he was always a very active boy, more distinguished at school for play and fighting than for devotion to study. But his unconscious training for literature began very early; in his childhood his love of poetry was stimulated by his mother, and he always spent much time in roaming about the country and picking up old ballads and traditional lore. Loyalty to his father led him to devote six years of hard work to the uncongenial study of the law, and at twenty he was admitted to the Edinburgh bar as an advocate. Though his geniality and high-spirited brilliancy made him a social favorite he never secured much professional practice; but after a few years he was appointed permanent Sheriff of Selkirk, a county a little to the south of Edinburgh, near the English Border. Later, in 1806, he was also made one of the Principal Clerks of Session, a subordinate but responsible office with a handsome salary which entailed steady attendance and work at the metropolitan law court in Edinburgh during half of each year.
His instinct for literary production was first stimulated by the German Romantic poets. In 1796 he translated Burger's fiery and melodramatic ballad 'Lenore,' and a little later wrote some vigorous though hasty ballads of his own. In 1802-1803 he published 'Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,' a collection of Scottish ballads and songs, which he carefully annotated. He went on in 1805, when he was thirty-four, to his first original verse-romance, 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel.' Carelessly constructed and written, this poem was nevertheless the most spirited reproduction of the life of feudal chivalry which the Romantic Movement had yet brought forth, and its popularity was immediate and enormous. Always writing with the greatest facility, though in brief hours snatched from his other occupations, Scott followed up 'The Lay' during the next ten years with the much superior 'Marmion,' 'The Lady of the Lake,' and other verse-romances, most of which greatly increased both his reputation and his income. In 1813 he declined the offer of the Poet Laureateship, then considered a position of no great dignity for a successful man, but secured the appointment of Southey, who was his friend. In 1811 he moved from the comparatively modest country house which he had been occupying to the estate of Abbotsford, where he proceeded to fulfill his ambition of building a great mansion and making himself a sort of feudal chieftain. To this project he devoted for years a large part of the previously unprecedented profits from his writings. For a dozen years before, it should be added, his inexhaustible energy had found further occupation in connection with a troop of horse which he had helped to organize on the threat of a French invasion and of which he acted as quartermaster, training in barracks, and at times drilling for hours before breakfast.
The amount and variety of his literary work was much greater than is understood by most of his admirers today. He contributed largely, in succession, to the 'Edinburgh' and 'Quarterly' reviews, and having become a secret partner in the printing firm of the Ballantyne brothers, two of his school friends, exerted himself not only in the affairs of the company but in vast editorial labors of his own, which included among other things voluminously annotated editions of Dryden and Swift. His productivity is the more astonishing because after his removal to Abbotsford he gave a great part of his time not only to his family but also to the entertainment of the throngs of visitors who pressed upon him in almost continuous crowds. The explanation is to be found partly in his phenomenally vigorous constitution, which enabled him to live and work with little sleep; though in the end he paid heavily for this indiscretion.
The circumstances which led him to turn from poetry to prose fiction are well known. His poetical vein was really exhausted when in 1812 and 1813 Byron's 'Childe Harold' and flashy Eastern tales captured the public fancy. Just about as Scott was goodnaturedly confessing to himself that it was useless to dispute Byron's supremacy he accidentally came across the first chapters of 'Waverley,' which he had written some years before and had thrown aside in unwillingness to risk his fame by a venture in a new field. Taking it up with renewed interest, in the evenings of three weeks he wrote the remaining two-thirds of it; and he published it with an ultimate success even greater than that of his poetry. For a long time, however, Scott did not acknowledge the authorship of 'Waverley' and the novels which followed it (which, however, was obvious to every one), chiefly because he feared that the writing of prose fiction would seem undignified in a Clerk of Session. The rapidity of the appearance of his novels testified to the almost unlimited accumulation of traditions and incidents with which his astonishing memory was stored; in seventeen years he published nearly thirty 'Waverley' novels, equipping most of them, besides, with long fictitious introductions, which the present-day reader almost universally skips. The profits of Scott's works, long amounting apparently to from ten to twenty thousand pounds a year, were beyond the wildest dream of any previous author, and even exceeded those of most popular authors of the twentieth century, though partly because the works were published in unreasonably expensive form, each novel in several volumes. Still more gratifying were the great personal popularity which Scott attained and his recognition as the most eminent of living Scotsmen, of which a symbol was his elevation to a baronetcy in 1820.
But the brightness of all this glory was to be pathetically dimmed. In 1825 a general financial panic, revealing the laxity of Scott's business partners, caused his firm to fail with liabilities of nearly a hundred and twenty thousand pounds. Always magnanimous and the soul of honor, Scott refused to take advantage of the bankruptcy laws, himself assumed the burden of the entire debt, and set himself the stupendous task of paying it with his pen. Amid increasing personal sorrows he labored on for six years and so nearly attained his object that the debt was actually extinguished some years after his death. But in the effort he completed the exhaustion of his long-overtaxed strength, and, a trip to Italy proving unavailing, returned to Abbotsford, and died, a few weeks after Goethe, in 1832.
As a man Scott was first of all a true and thorough gentleman, manly, open hearted, friendly and lovable in the highest degree. Truthfulness and courage were to him the essential virtues, and his religious faith was deep though simple and unobtrusive. Like other forceful men, he understood his own capacity, but his modesty was extreme. He always insisted with all sincerity that the ability to compose fiction was not for a moment to be compared with the ability to act effectively in practical activities; and he was really displeased at the suggestion that he belonged among the greatest men of the age. He clung strongly to the conservatism of the feudal aristocracy with which he had labored so hard to connect himself; he was vigorously hostile to the democratic spirit, and, in his later years, to the Reform Bill; and he felt and expressed almost childish delight in the friendship of the contemptible George IV, because George IV was his king. The conservatism was closely connected, in fact, with his Romantic interest in the past, and in politics it took the form, theoretically, of Jacobitism, loyalty to the worthless Stuart race whose memory his novels have done so much to keep alive. All these traits are made abundantly clear in the extended life of Scott written by his son-in-law, J. G. Lockhart, which is one of the two or three greatest English biographies.
Scott's long poems, the best of them, are the chief examples in English of dashing verse romances of adventure and love. They are hastily done, as we have said, and there is no attempt at subtilty of characterization or at any moral or philosophical meaning; nevertheless the reader's interest in the vigorous and picturesque action is maintained throughout at the highest pitch. Furthermore, they contain much finely sympathetic description of Scottish scenery, impressionistic, but poured out with enthusiasm. Scott's numerous lyrics are similarly stirring or moving expressions of the primal emotions, and some of them are charmingly musical.
The qualities of the novels, which represent the culmination of Romantic historical fiction, are much the same. Through his bold and active historical imagination Scott vivifies the past magnificently; without doubt, the great majority of English readers know English history chiefly through his works. His dramatic power, also, at its best, is superb; in his great scenes, he is masterly as a narrator and a describer. In the presentation of the characters there is often much of the same superficiality as in the poems, but there is much also of the highest skill. The novels may be roughly divided into three classes: first those, like 'Ivanhoe,' whose scene is laid in the twelfth or thirteenth century; second those, like 'Kenilworth,' which are located in the fifteenth or sixteenth; and third, those belonging to England and Scotland of the seventeenth and eighteenth. In the earlier ones sheer romance predominates and the hero and heroine are likely to be more or less conventional paragons, respectively, of courage and tender charm; but in the later ones Scott largely portrays the life and people which he himself knew; and he knew them through and through. His Scottish characters in particular, often especially the secondary ones, are delightfully realistic portraits of a great variety of types. Mary Queen of Scots in 'The Abbot' and Caleb Balderstone in 'The Bride of Lammermoor' are equally convincing in their essential but very personal humanity. Descriptions of scenery are correspondingly fuller in the novels than in the poems and are equally useful for atmosphere and background.
In minor matters, in the novels also, there is much carelessness. The style, more formal than that of the present day, is prevailingly wordy and not infrequently slipshod, though its vitality is a much more noticeable characteristic. The structure of the stories is far from compact. Scott generally began without any idea how he was to continue or end and sent off each day's instalment of his manuscript in the first draft as soon as it was written; hence the action often wanders, or even, from the structural point of view, drags. But interest seldom greatly slackens until the end, which, it must be further confessed, is often suddenly brought about in a very inartistic fashion. It is of less consequence that in the details of fact Scott often commits errors, not only, like all historical novelists, deliberately manipulating the order and details of the actual events to suit his purposes, but also making frequent sheer mistakes. In 'Ivanhoe,' for example, the picture of life in the twelfth century is altogether incorrect and misleading. In all these matters scores of more self-conscious later writers are superior to Scott, but mere correctness counts for far less than genius.
When all is said, Scott remains the greatest historical novelist, and one of the greatest creative forces, in world literature.
Quotes of Walter Scott
For Success, attitude is equally important as ability;
What I have to say is far more important than how long eyelashes are;Success or failure in business is caused more by the mental attitude even than by mental capacities.
THE LAST GROUP OF ROMANTIC POETS.
Coleridge, Wordsworth, Southey, and Scott had mostly ceased to produce poetry by 1815. The group of younger men, the last out-and-out Romanticists, who succeeded them, writing chiefly from about 1810 to 1825, in some respects contrast strongly with them.
Byron and Shelley were far more radically revolutionary; and Keats, in his poetry, was devoted wholly to the pursuit and worship of beauty with no concern either for a moral philosophy of life or for vigorous external adventure. It is a striking fact also that these later men were all very short-lived; they died at ages ranging only from twenty-six to thirty-six.
Lord Byron, 1788-1824.
Byron (George Gordon Byron) expresses mainly the spirit of individual revolt, revolt against all existing institutions and standards. This was largely a matter of his own personal temperament, but the influence of the time also had a share in it, the time when the apparent failure of the French Revolution had thrown the pronounced liberals back upon their own resources in bitter dissatisfaction with the existing state of society. Byron was born in 1788. His father, the violent and worthless descendant of a line of violent and worthless nobles, was just then using up the money which the poet's mother had brought him, and soon abandoned her. She in turn was wildly passionate and uncontrolled, and in bringing up her son indulged alternately in fits of genuine tenderness and capricious outbursts of mad rage and unkindness. Byron suffered also from another serious handicap; he was born with deformed feet, so that throughout life he walked clumsily—a galling irritation to his sensitive pride. In childhood his poetic instincts were stimulated by summers spent among the scenery of his mother's native Scottish Highlands. At the age of ten, on the death of his great-uncle, he succeeded to the peerage as Lord Byron, but for many years, he continued to be heavily in debt, partly because of lavish extravagance, which was one expression of his inherited reckless willfulness. Throughout his life he was obliged to make the most heroic efforts to keep in check another inherited tendency, to corpulence; he generally restricted his diet almost entirely to such meager fare as potatoes and soda-water, though he often broke out also into periods of unlimited self-indulgence.
From Harrow School he passed to Trinity College, Cambridge, where Macaulay and Tennyson were to be among his successors. Aspiring to be an athlete, he made himself respected as a fighter, despite his deformity, by his strength of arm, and he was always a powerful swimmer. Deliberately aiming also at the reputation of a debauchee, he lived wildly, though now as later probably not altogether so wickedly as he represented. After three years of irregular attendance at the University his rank secured him the degree of M. A., in 1808. He had already begun to publish verse, and when 'The Edinburgh Review' ridiculed his very juvenile 'Hours of Idleness' he added an attack on Jeffrey to a slashing criticism of contemporary poets which he had already written in rimed couplets (he always professed the highest admiration for Pope's poetry), and published the piece as 'English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.'
He was now settled at his inherited estate of Newstead Abbey (one of the religious foundations given to members of the nobility by Henry VIII when he confiscated them from the Church), and had made his appearance in his hereditary place in the House of Lords; but following his instinct for excitement and for doing the expensively conspicuous thing he next spent two years on a European tour, through Spain, Greece, and Turkey. In Greece he traveled, as was necessary, with a large native guard, and he allowed reports to become current that he passed through a succession of romantic and reckless adventures. The first literary result of his journey was the publication in 1812 of the first two cantos of 'Childe Harold's Pilgrimage.' This began as the record of the wanderings of Childe Harold, a dissipated young noble who was clearly intended to represent the author himself; but Byron soon dropped this figure as a useless impediment in the series of descriptions of Spain and Greece of which the first two cantos consist. He soon abandoned also the attempt to secure an archaic effect by the occasional use of Spenserian words, but he wrote throughout in Spenser's stanza, which he used with much power. The public received the poem with the greatest enthusiasm; Byron summed up the case in his well-known comment: 'I awoke one morning and found myself famous.' In fact, 'Childe Harold' is the best of all Byron's works, though the third and fourth cantos, published some years later, and dealing with Belgium, the battle of Waterloo, and central Europe, are superior to the first two. Its excellence consists chiefly in the fact that while it is primarily a descriptive poem, its pictures, dramatically and finely vivid in themselves, are permeated with intense emotion and often serve only as introductions to passionate rhapsodies, so that the effect is largely lyrical.
Though Byron always remained awkward in company he now became the idol of the world of fashion. He followed up his first literary success by publishing during the next four years his brief and vigorous metrical romances, most of them Eastern in setting, 'The Giaour', 'The Bride of Abydos,' 'The Corsair,' 'Lara,' 'The Siege of Corinth,' and 'Parisina.' These were composed not only with remarkable facility but in the utmost haste, sometimes a whole poem in only a few days and sometimes in odds and ends of time snatched from social diversions. The results are only too clearly apparent; the meter is often slovenly, the narrative structure highly defective, and the characterization superficial or flatly inconsistent. In other respects the poems are thoroughly characteristic of their author. In each of them stands out one dominating figure, the hero, a desperate and terrible adventurer, characterized by Byron himself as possessing 'one virtue and a thousand crimes,' merciless and vindictive to his enemies, tremblingly obeyed by his followers, manifesting human tenderness only toward his mistress, and above all inscrutably enveloped in a cloud of pretentious romantic melancholy and mystery. Like Childe Harold, this impossible and grandiose figure of many incarnations was well-understood by everyone to be meant for a picture of Byron himself, who thus posed for and received in full measure the horrified admiration of the public. But in spite of all this melodramatic clap-trap the romances, like 'Childe Harold,' are filled with the tremendous Byronic passion, which, as in 'Childe Harold,' lends great power alike to their narrative and their description.
Byron now made a strangely ill-judged marriage with a Miss Milbanke, a woman of the fashionable world but of strict and perhaps even prudish moral principles. After a year she left him, and 'society,' with characteristic inconsistency, turned on him in a frenzy of superficial indignation. He shortly fled from England, never to return, both his colossal vanity and his truer sensitive self stung by the injustice to fury against the hypocrisy and conventionalities of English life, which, in fact, he had always despised. He spent the following seven years as a wanderer over Italy and central Europe. He often lived scandalously; sometimes he was with the far more fine-spirited Shelley; and he sometimes furnished money to the Italians who were conducting the agitation against their tyrannical foreign governments. All the while he was producing a great quantity of poetry. In his half dozen or more poetic dramas he entered a new field. In the most important of them, 'Manfred,' a treatment of the theme which Marlowe and Goethe had used in 'Faust,' his real power is largely thwarted by the customary Byronic mystery and swagger. 'Cain' and 'Heaven and Earth,' though wretchedly written, have also a vaguely vast imaginative impressiveness. Their defiant handling of Old Testament material and therefore of Christian theology was shocking to most respectable Englishmen and led Southey to characterize Byron as the founder of the 'Satanic School' of English poetry. More significant is the longest and chief of his satires, 'Don Juan,' on which he wrote intermittently for years as the mood took him. It is ostensibly the narrative of the adventures of a young Spaniard, but as a story it rambles on formlessly without approaching an end, and its real purpose is to serve as an utterly cynical indictment of mankind, the institutions of society, and accepted moral principles. Byron often points the cynicism by lapsing into brilliant doggerel, but his double nature appears in the occasional intermingling of tender and beautiful passages.
Byron's fiery spirit was rapidly burning itself out. In his uncontrolled zest for new sensations he finally tired of poetry, and in 1823 he accepted the invitation of the European committee in charge to become a leader of the Greek revolt against Turkish oppression. He sailed to the Greek camp at the malarial town of Missolonghi, where he showed qualities of leadership but died of fever after a few months, in 1824, before he had time to accomplish anything.
It is hard to form a consistent judgment of so inconsistent a being as Byron. At the core of his nature there was certainly much genuine goodness—generosity, sympathy, and true feeling. However much we may discount his sacrifice of his life in the cause of a foreign people, his love of political freedom and his hatred of tyranny were thoroughly and passionately sincere, as is repeatedly evident in such poems as the sonnet on 'Chillon,' 'The Prisoner of Chillon,' and the 'Ode on Venice.' On the other hand his violent contempt for social and religious hypocrisy had as much of personal bitterness as of disinterested principle; and his persistent quest of notoriety, the absence of moderation in his attacks on religious and moral standards, his lack of self-control, and his indulgence in all the vices of the worser part of the titled and wealthy class require no comment. Whatever allowances charity may demand on the score of tainted heredity, his character was far too violent and too shallow to approach to greatness.
As a poet he continues to occupy a conspicuous place through the power of his volcanic emotion. It was this quality of emotion, perhaps the first essential in poetry, which enrolled among his admirers a clear spirit in most respects the antithesis of his own, that of Matthew Arnold. In 'Memorial Verses' Arnold says of him:
He taught us little, but our soul
Had felt him like the thunder's roll.
With shivering heart the strife we saw
Of passion with eternal law.
His poetry has also an elemental sweep and grandeur. The majesty of Nature, especially of the mountains and the ocean, stirs him to feeling which often results in superb stanzas, like the well-known ones at the end of 'Childe Harold' beginning 'Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean, roll'! Too often, however, Byron's passion and facility of expression issue in bombast and crude rhetoric. Moreover, his poetry is for the most part lacking in delicacy and fine shading; scarcely a score of his lyrics are of the highest order. He gives us often the blaring music of a military band or the loud, swelling volume of an organ, but very seldom the softer tones of a violin or symphony.
To his creative genius and power the variety as well as the amount of his poetry offers forceful testimony.
In moods of moral and literary severity, to summarize, a critic can scarcely refrain from dismissing Byron with impatient contempt; nevertheless his genius and his in part splendid achievement are substantial facts. He stands as the extreme but significant exponent of violent Romantic individualism in a period when Romantic aspiration was largely disappointed and disillusioned, but was indignantly gathering its strength for new efforts.
Quotes of Lord Byron
Friendship may, and often does, grow into love, but love never subsides into friendship.
Love will find a way through paths where wolves fear to pray;
Truth is always strange, stranger than fiction.
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY, 1792-1832.
Shelley resembles Byron in his thorough-going revolt against society, but he is totally unlike Byron in several important respects. His first impulse was an unselfish love for his fellowmen, with an aggressive eagerness for martyrdom in their behalf; his nature was unusually, even abnormally, fine and sensitive; and his poetic quality was a delicate and ethereal lyricism unsurpassed in the literature of the world. In both his life and his poetry his visionary reforming zeal and his superb lyric instinct are inextricably intertwined.
Shelley, born in 1792, belonged to a family of Sussex country gentry; a baronetcy bestowed on his grandfather during the poet's youth passed from his father after his own death to his descendants. Matthew Arnold has remarked that while most of the members of any aristocracy are naturally conservative, confirmed advocates of the system under which they enjoy great privileges, any one of them who happens to be endowed with radical ideas is likely to carry these to an extreme. In Shelley's case this general tendency was strengthened by reaction against the benighted Toryism of his father and by most of the experiences of his life from the very outset. At Eton his hatred of tyranny was fiercely aroused by the fagging system and the other brutalities of an English school; he broke into open revolt and became known as 'mad Shelley,' and his schoolfellows delighted in driving him into paroxysms of rage. Already at Eton he read and accepted the doctrines of the French pre-Revolutionary philosophers and their English interpreter William Godwin. He came to believe not only that human nature is essentially good, but that if left to itself it can be implicitly trusted; that sin and misery are merely the results of the injustice springing from the institutions of society, chief of which are organized government, formal religion, law, and formal marriage; and that the one essential thing is to bring about a condition where these institutions can be abolished and where all men may be allowed to follow their own inclinations. The great advance which has been made since Shelley's time in the knowledge of history and the social sciences throws a pitiless light on the absurdity of this theory, showing that social institutions, terribly imperfect as they are, are by no means chiefly bad but rather represent the slow gains of thousands of years of painful progress; none the less the theory was bound to appeal irresistibly to such an impulsive and inexperienced idealism as that of Shelley. It was really, of course, not so much against social institutions themselves that Shelley revolted as against their abuses, which were still more flagrantly apparent in his time than in ours. When he repudiated Christianity and declared himself an atheist, what he actually had in mind was the perverted parody of religion mainly offered by the Church of his time; and, as some one has observed, when he pronounced for love without marriage it was because of the tragedies that he had seen in marriages without love. Much must be ascribed also to his sheer radicalism—the instinct to fly violently against whatever was conventionally accepted and violently to flaunt his adherence to whatever was banned.
In 1810 Shelley entered Oxford, especially exasperated by parental interference with his first boyish love, and already the author of some crude prose-romances and poetry. In the university he devoted his time chiefly to investigating subjects not included or permitted in the curriculum, especially chemistry; and after a few months, having written a pamphlet on 'The Necessity of Atheism' and sent it with conscientious zeal to the heads of the colleges, he was expelled. Still a few months later, being then nineteen years old, he allowed himself to be led, admittedly only through pity, into a marriage with a certain Harriet Westbrook, a frivolous and commonplace schoolgirl of sixteen. For the remaining ten years of his short life he, like Byron, was a wanderer, sometimes in straits for money, though always supported, after some time generously enough, by his father. At first he tried the career of a professional agitator; going to Ireland he attempted to arouse the people against English tyranny by such devices as scattering copies of addresses from his window in Dublin or launching them in bottles in the Bristol Channel; but he was soon obliged to flee the country. It is hard, of course, to take such conduct seriously; yet in the midst of much that was wild, his pamphlets contained also much of solid wisdom, no small part of which has since been enacted into law.
Unselfish as he was in the abstract, Shelley's enthusiast's egotism and the unrestraint of his emotions rendered him fitful, capricious, unable to appreciate any point of view but his own, and therefore when irritated or excited capable of downright cruelty in concrete cases. The most painful illustration is afforded by his treatment of his first wife. Three years after his marriage he informed her that he considered the connection at an end and abandoned her to what proved a few years of a wretched existence. Shelley himself formed a union with Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, the daughter of his revolutionary teacher. Her sympathetic though extravagant admiration for his genius, now beginning to express itself in really great poetry, was of the highest value to him, the more so that from this time on he was viewed by most respectable Englishman with the same abhorrence which they felt for Byron. In 1818 the Shelleys also abandoned England for Italy, where they moved from place to place, living sometimes, as we have said, with Byron, for whose genius, in spite of its coarseness, Shelley had a warm admiration. Shelley's death came when he was only thirty, in 1822, by a sudden accident—he was drowned by the upsetting of his sailboat in the Gulf of Spezia, between Genoa and Pisa. His body, cast on the shore, was burned in the presence of Byron and another radical, Leigh Hunt, and the ashes were buried in the Protestant cemetery just outside the wall of Rome, where Keats had been interred only a year earlier.
Some of Shelley's shorter poems are purely poetic expressions of poetic emotion, but by far the greater part are documents in his attack on existing customs and cruelties. Matthew Arnold, paraphrasing Joubert's description of Plato, has characterized him as 'a beautiful and ineffectual angel, beating in the void his luminous wings in vain.' This is largely true, but it overlooks the sound general basis and the definite actual results which belong to his work, as to that of every great idealist.
On the artistic side the most conspicuous thing in his poetry is the ecstatic aspiration for Beauty and the magnificent embodiment of it. Shelley is the poetic disciple, but a thoroughly original disciple, of Coleridge. His esthetic passion is partly sensuous, and he often abandons himself to it with romantic unrestraint. His 'lyrical cry,' of which Matthew Arnold has spoken, is the demand, which will not be denied, for beauty that will satisfy his whole being. Sensations, indeed, he must always have, agreeable ones if possible, or in default of them, painful ones; this explains his occasional touches of repulsive morbidness. But the repulsive strain is exceptional. No other poetry is crowded in the same way as his with pictures glorious and delicate in form, light, and color, or is more musically palpitating with the delight which they create. To Shelley as a follower of Plato, however, the beauty of the senses is only a manifestation of ideal Beauty, the spiritual force which appears in other forms as Intellect and Love; and Intellect and Love as well are equal objects of his unbounded devotion. Hence his sensuousness is touched with a real spiritual quality. In his poetic emotion, as in his social ambitions, Shelley is constantly yearning for the unattainable. One of our best critics has observed: 'He never shows his full power in dealing separately with intellectual or moral or physical beauty. His appropriate sphere is swift sensibility, the intersecting line between the sensuous and the intellectual or moral. Mere sensation is too literal for him, mere feeling too blind and dumb, mere thought too cold.... Wordsworth is always exulting in the fulness of Nature, Shelley is always chasing its falling stars.'
The contrast, here hinted at, between Shelley's view of Nature and that of Wordsworth, is extreme and entirely characteristic; the same is true, also, when we compare Shelley and Byron. Shelley's excitable sensuousness produces in him in the presence of Nature a very different attitude from that of Wordsworth's philosophic Christian-mysticism. For the sensuousness of Shelley gets the upper hand of his somewhat shadowy Platonism, and he creates out of Nature mainly an ethereal world of delicate and rapidly shifting sights and sounds and sensations. And while he is not unresponsive to the majestic greatness of Nature in her vast forms and vistas, he is never impelled, like Byron, to claim with them the kinship of a haughty elemental spirit.
A rather long passage of appreciative criticism is sufficiently suggestive for quotation: “From the world of [Shelley's] imagination the shapes of the old world had disappeared, and their place was taken by a stream of radiant vapors, incessantly forming, shifting, and dissolving in the 'clear golden dawn,' and hymning with the voices of seraphs, to the music of the stars and the 'singing rain,' the sublime ridiculous theories of Godwin. In his heart were emotions that responded to the vision—an aspiration or ecstasy, a dejection or despair, like those of spirits rapt into Paradise or mourning over its ruin. And he wrote not like Shakespeare or Pope, for Londoners sitting in a theatre or a coffee-house, intelligence's vivid enough but definitely embodied in a definite society, able to fly, but also able to sit; he wrote, or rather he sang, to his own soul, to other spirit-sparks of the fire of Liberty scattered over the dark earth, to spirits in the air, to the boundless spirit of Nature or Freedom or Love, his one place of rest and the one source of his vision, ecstasy, and sorrow. He sang to this, and he sang of it, and of the emotions it inspired, and of its world-wide contest with such shapes of darkness as Faith and Custom. And he made immortal music; now in melodies as exquisite and varied as the songs of Schubert, and now in symphonies where the crudest of Philosophies of History melted into golden harmony. For although there was something always working in Shelley's mind and issuing in those radiant vapors, he was far deeper and truer than his philosophic creed; its expression and even its development were constantly checked or distorted by the hard and narrow framework of his creed. And it was one which in effect condemned nine-tenths of the human nature that has formed the material of the world's great poems.”
The finest of Shelley's poems, are his lyrics. 'The Skylark' and 'The Cloud' are among the most dazzling and unique of all outbursts of poetic genius. Of the 'Ode to the West Wind,' a succession of surging emotions and visions of beauty swept, as if by the wind itself, through the vast spaces of the world, Swinburne exclaims: 'It is beyond and outside and above all criticism, all praise, and all thanksgiving.' The 'Lines Written among the Euganean Hills,' 'The Indian Serenade,' 'The Sensitive Plant', and not a few others are also of the highest quality. In 'Adonais,' an elegy on Keats and an invective against the reviewer whose brutal criticism, as Shelley wrongly supposed, had helped to kill him, splendid poetic power, at least, must be admitted. Much less satisfactory but still fascinating are the longer poems, narrative or philosophical, such as the early 'Alastor,' a vague allegory of a poet's quest for the beautiful through a gorgeous and incoherent succession of romantic wildernesses; the 'Hymn to Intellectual Beauty'; 'Julian and Maddalo,' in which Shelley and Byron (Maddalo) are portrayed; and 'Epipsychidion,' an ecstatic poem on the love which is spiritual sympathy. Shelley's satires may be disregarded. To the dramatic form belong his two most important long poems. 'Prometheus Unbound' partly follows AEschylus in treating the torture of the Titan who is the champion or personification of Mankind, by Zeus, whom Shelley makes the incarnation of tyranny and on whose overthrow the Golden Age of Shelleyan anarchy succeeds. The poem is a lyrical drama, more on the Greek than on the English model. There is almost no action, and the significance lies first in the lyrical beauty of the profuse choruses and second in the complete embodiment of Shelley's passionate hatred of tyranny.
'The Cenci' is more dramatic in form, though the excess of speech over action makes of it also only a 'literary drama.' The story, taken from family history of the Italian Renaissance, is one of the most horrible imaginable, but the play is one of the most powerful produced in English since the Elizabethan period. That the quality of Shelley's genius is unique is obvious on the slightest acquaintance with him, and it is equally certain that in spite of his premature death and all his limitations he occupies an assured place among the very great poets.
On the other hand, the vagueness of his imagination and expression has recently provoked severe criticism. It has even been declared that the same mind cannot honestly enjoy both the carefully wrought classical beauty of Milton's 'Lycidas' and Shelley's mistily shimmering 'Adonais.' The question goes deep and should receive careful consideration.
Quotes of Percy B. Shelley
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds.
When my cats aren't happy, I'm not happy. Not because I care about their mood but because I know they're just sitting there thinking up ways to get even.
THE VICTORIAN PERIOD, ABOUT 1830 TO 1901The last completed period of English literature, almost coincident in extent with the reign of the queen whose name it bears (Victoria, queen 1837-1901), stands nearly beside The Elizabethan period in the significance and interest of its work. The Elizabethan literature to be sure, in its imaginative and spiritual enthusiasm, is the expression of a period more profoundly great than the Victorian. But the Victorian literature speaks for an age which witnessed incomparably greater changes than any that had gone before in all the conditions of life—material comforts, scientific knowledge, and, absolutely speaking, in intellectual and spiritual enlightenment. Moreover, to twentieth century students the Victorian literature makes a strong appeal because it is in part the literature of our own time and its ideas and point of view are in large measure ours. We must begin by glancing briefly at some of the general determining changes and conditions to which reference has just been made, and we may naturally begin with the merely material ones.
Before the accession of Queen Victoria the 'industrial revolution,' the vast development of manufacturing made possible in the latter part of the eighteenth century by the introduction of coal and the steam engine, had rendered England the richest nation in the world, and the movement continued with steadily accelerating momentum throughout the period. Hand in hand with it went the increase of population from less than thirteen millions in England in 1825 to nearly three times as many at the end of the period. The introduction of the steam railway and the steamship, at the beginning of the period, in place of the lumbering stagecoach and the sailing vessel, broke up the old stagnant and stationary habits of life and increased the amount of travel at least a thousand times. The discovery of the electric telegraph in 1844 brought almost every important part of Europe, and eventually of the world, nearer to every town dweller than the nearest county had been in the eighteenth century; and the development of the modern newspaper out of the few feeble sheets of 1825 (dailies and weeklies in London, only weeklies elsewhere), carried full accounts of the doings of the whole world, in place of long-delayed fragmentary rumors, to every door within a few hours. No less striking was the progress in public health and the increase in human happiness due to the enormous advance in the sciences of medicine, surgery, and hygiene. Indeed these sciences in their modern form virtually began with the discovery of the facts of bacteriology about 1860, and the use of antiseptics fifteen years later, and not much earlier began the effective opposition to the frightful epidemics which had formerly been supposed to be dependent only on the will of Providence.
Political and social progress, though less astonishing, was substantial. In 1830 England, nominally a monarchy, was in reality a plutocracy of about a hundred thousand men—landed nobles, gentry, and wealthy merchants—whose privileges dated back to fifteenth century conditions. The first Reform Bill, of 1832, forced on Parliament by popular pressure, extended the right of voting to men of the 'middle class,' and the subsequent bills of 1867 and 1885 made it universal for men. Meanwhile the House of Commons slowly asserted itself against the hereditary House of Lords, and thus England became perhaps the most truly democratic of the great nations of the world. At the beginning of the period the social condition of the great body of the population was extremely bad. Laborers in factories and mines and on farms were largely in a state of virtual though not nominal slavery, living, many of them, in unspeakable moral and physical conditions. Little by little improvement came, partly by the passage of laws, partly by the growth of trades-unions. The substitution in the middle of the century of free-trade for protection through the passage of the 'Corn-Laws' afforded much relief by lowering the price of food. Socialism, taking shape as a definite movement in the middle of the century, became one to be reckoned with before its close, though the majority of the more well-to-do classes failed to understand even then the growing necessity for far-reaching economic and social changes. Humanitarian consciousness, however, gained greatly during the period. The middle and upper classes awoke to some extent to their duty to the poor, and sympathetic benevolent effort, both organized and informal, increased very largely in amount and intelligence. Popular education, too, which in 1830 had no connection with the State and was in every respect very incomplete, was developed and finally made compulsory as regards the rudiments.
Still more permanently significant, perhaps, was the transformation of the former conceptions of the nature and meaning of the world and life, through the discoveries of science. Geology and astronomy now gradually compelled all thinking people to realize the unthinkable duration of the cosmic processes and the comparative littleness of our earth in the vast extent of the universe. Absolutely revolutionary for almost all lines if thought was the gradual adoption by almost all thinkers of the theory of Evolution, which, partly formulated by Lamarck early in the century, received definite statement in 1859 in Charles Darwin's 'Origin of Species.' The great modification in the externals of religious belief thus brought about was confirmed also by the growth of the science of historical criticism.
This movement of religious change was met in its early stages by the very interesting reactionary 'Oxford' or 'Tractarian' Movement, which asserted the supreme authority of the Church and its traditional doctrines. The most important figure in this movement, who connects it definitely with literature, was John Henry Newman, author of the hymn 'Lead, Kindly Light,' a man of winning personality and great literary skill. For fifteen years, as vicar of the Oxford University Church, Newman was a great spiritual force in the English communion, but the series of 'Tracts for the Times' to which he largely contributed, ending in 1841 in the famous Tract 90, tell the story of his gradual progress toward Rome. Thereafter as an avowed Roman Catholic and head of a monastic establishment Newman showed himself a formidable controversialist, especially in a literary encounter with the clergyman-novelist Charles Kingsley which led to Newman's famous 'Apologia pro Vita Sua' (Apology for My Life), one of the secondary literary masterpieces of the century. His services to the Catholic Church were recognized in 1879 by his appointment as a Cardinal. More than one of the influences thus hastily surveyed combine in creating the moral, social, and intellectual strenuousness which is one of the main marks of the literature of the period. More conspicuously than ever before the majority of the great writers, not least the poets and novelists, were impelled not merely by the emotional or dramatic creative impulse but by the sense of a message for their age which should broaden the vision and elevate the ideals of the masses of their fellows. The literature of the period, therefore, lacks the disinterested and joyous spontaneity of, for example, the Elizabethan period, and its mood is far more complex than that of the partly socially-minded pseudo-classicists.
While all the new influences were manifesting themselves in Victorian literature they did not, of course, supersede the great general inherited tendencies. This literature is in the main romantic. On the social side this should be evident; the Victorian social humanitarianism is merely the developed form of the eighteenth century romantic democratic impulse. On the esthetic side the romantic traits are also present, though not so aggressively as in the previous period; with romantic vigor the Victorian literature often combines exquisite classical finish; indeed, it is so eclectic and composite that all the definite older terms take on new and less sharply contrasting meanings when applied to it.
So long a period naturally falls into sub-divisions; during its middle part in particular, progress and triumphant romanticism, not yet largely attacked by scientific scepticism, had created a prevailing atmosphere of somewhat passive sentiment and optimism both in society and in literature which has given to the adjective 'mid-Victorian' a very definite denotation. The adjective and its period are commonly spoken of with contempt in our own day by those persons who pride themselves on their complete sophistication and superiority to all intellectual and emotional weakness. But during the 'mid-Victorian' years, there was also a comparative healthiness in the lives of the well-to-do classes and in literature which had never before been equalled and which may finally prove no less praiseworthy than the rather self-conscious freedom and unrestraint of the early twentieth century.
The most important literature of the whole period falls under the three heads of essays, poetry, and prose fiction, which we may best consider in that order.
THE NOVEL - THE EARLIER SECONDARY NOVELISTS
To Scott's position of unquestioned supremacy among romancers and novelists Charles Dickens succeeded almost immediately on Scott's death, but certain secondary early Victorian novelists may be considered before him. In the lives of two of these, Bulwer-Lytton and Benjamin Disraeli, there are interesting parallels. Both were prominent in politics, both began writing as young men before the commencement of the Victorian period, and both ended their literary work only fifty years later. Edward Bulwer, later created Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, and finally raised to the peerage as Lord Lytton (1803-1873), was almost incredibly fluent and versatile. Much of his life a member of Parliament and for a while of the government, he was a vigorous pamphleteer. His sixty or more really literary works are of great variety; perhaps the best known of them are his second novel, the trifling 'Pelham' (1828), which inaugurated a class of so-called 'dandy' novels, giving sympathetic presentation to the more frivolous social life of the 'upper' class, and the historical romances 'The Last Days of Pompeii' (1834) and 'Harold' (1843). In spite of his real ability, Bulwer was a poser and sentimentalist, characteristics for which he was vigorously ridiculed by Thackeray. Benjamin Disraeli, later Earl of Beaconsfield (1804-1881), a much less prolific writer, was by birth a Jew. His immature earliest novel, 'Vivian Grey' (1826), deals, somewhat more sensibly, with the same social class as Bulwer's 'Pelham.' In his novels of this period, as in his dress and manner, he deliberately attitudinized, a fact which in part reflected a certain shallowness of character, in part was a device to attract attention for the sake of his political ambition. After winning his way into Parliament he wrote in 1844-7 three political novels,' Coningsby,' 'Sybil,' and 'Tancred,' which set forth his Tory creed of opposition to the dominance of middle-class Liberalism. For twenty-five years after this he was absorbed in the leadership of his party, and he at last became Prime Minister. In later life he so far returned to literature as to write two additional novels.
Vastly different was the life and work of Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855). Miss Bronte, a product and embodiment of the strictest religious sense of duty, somewhat tempered by the liberalizing tendency of the time, was the daughter of the rector of a small and bleak Yorkshire village, Haworth, where she was brought up in poverty. The two of her sisters who reached maturity, Emily and Anne, both still more short-lived than she, also wrote novels, and Emily produced some lyrics which strikingly express the stern, defiant will that characterized all the children of the family. Their lives were pitifully bare, hard, and morbid, scarcely varied or enlivened except by a year which Charlotte and Emily spent when Charlotte was twenty-six in a private school in Brussels, followed on Charlotte's part by a return to the same school for a year as teacher. In 1847 Charlotte's novel 'Jane Eyre' (pronounced like the word 'air') won a great success. Her three later novels are less significant. In 1854 she was married to one of her father's curates, a Mr. Nicholls, a sincere but narrow-minded man. She was happy in the marriage, but died within a few months, worn out by the unremitting physical and moral strain of forty years.
The significance of 'Jane Eyre' suggested by calling it the last striking expression of extravagant Romanticism, partly Byronic, but grafted on the stern Bronte moral sense. One of its two main theses is the assertion of the supreme authority of religious duty, but it vehemently insists also on the right of the individual conscience to judge of duty for itself, in spite of conventional opinion, and, difficult as this may be to understand to-day, it was denounced at the time as irreligious. The Romanticism appears further in the volcanic but sometimes melodramatic power of the love story, where the heroine is a somewhat idealized double of the authoress and where the imperfect portrayal of the hero reflects the limitations of Miss Bronte's own experience.
Miss Bronte is the subject of one of the most delightfully sympathetic of all biographies, written by Mrs. Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell. Mrs. Gaskell was authoress also of many stories, long and short, of which the best known is 'Cranford' (1853), a charming portrayal of the quaint life of a secluded village.
CHARLES DICKENS. The most popular of all English novelists, Charles Dickens, was born in 1812, the son of an unpractical and improvident government navy clerk whom, with questionable taste, he later caricatured in 'David Copperfield' as Mr. Micawber. The future novelist's schooling was slight and irregular, but as a boy he read much fiction, especially seventeenth and eighteenth century authors, whose influence is apparent in the picaresque lack of structure of his own works. From childhood also he showed the passion for the drama and the theater which resulted from the excitably dramatic quality of his own temperament and which always continued to be the second moving force of his life. When he was ten years old his father was imprisoned for debt, and he was put to work in the cellar of a London shoe-blacking factory. On his proud and sensitive disposition this humiliation, though it lasted only a few months, inflicted a wound which never thoroughly healed; years after he was famous he would cross the street to avoid the smell from an altogether different blacking factory, with its reminder 'of what he once was.' To this experience, also, may evidently be traced no small part of the intense sympathy with the oppressed poor, especially with helpless children, which is so prominent in his novels. Obliged from the age of fifteen to earn his own living, for the most part, he was for a while a clerk in a London lawyer's office, where he observed all sorts and conditions of people with characteristic keenness. Still more valuable was his five or six years' experience in the very congenial and very active work of a newspaper reporter, where his special department was political affairs. This led up naturally to his permanent work. The successful series of lively 'Sketches by Boz' dealing with people and scenes about London was preliminary to 'The Pickwick Papers,' which made the author famous at the age of twenty-four.
During the remaining thirty-three years of his life Dickens produced novels at the rate of rather more than one in two years. He composed slowly and carefully but did not revise greatly, and generally published by monthly installments in periodicals which, latterly, he himself established and edited. Next after 'The Pickwick Papers' came 'Oliver Twist,' and 'David Copperfield' ten years later. Of the others, 'Martin Chuzzlewit,' 'Dombey and Son,' 'Bleak House,' and 'A Tale of Two Cities,' are among the best. For some years Dickens also published an annual Christmas story, of which the first two, 'A Christmas Carol' and 'The Chimes,' rank highest.
His exuberant physical energy gave to his life more external variety than is common with authors. At the age of thirty he made a visit to the United States and travelled as far as to the then extreme western town of St. Louis, everywhere received and entertained with the most extravagant enthusiasm. Even before his return to England, however, he excited a reaction, by his abundantly justified but untactful condemnation of American piracy of English books; and this reaction was confirmed by his subsequent caricature of American life in 'American Notes' and 'Martin Chuzzlewit.' For a number of years during the middle part of his career Dickens devoted a vast amount of energy to managing and taking the chief part in a company of amateur actors, who performed at times in various cities. Later on he substituted for this several prolonged series of semi-dramatic public readings from his works, an effort which drew heavily on his vitality and shortened his life, but which intoxicated him with its enormous success. One of these series was delivered in America, where, of course, the former ill-feeling had long before worn away.
Dickens lived during the greater part of his life in London, but in his later years near Rochester, at Gadshill, the scene of Falstaffs exploit. He made long sojourns also on the Continent. Much social and outdoor life was necessary to him; he had a theory that he ought to spend as much time out of doors as in the house. He married early and had a large family of children, but pathetically enough for one whose emotions centered so largely about the home, his own marriage was not well-judged; and after more than twenty years he and his wife (the Dora Spenlow of 'David Copperfield') separated, though with mutual respect. He died in 1870 and was buried in Westminster Abbey in the rather ostentatiously unpretentious way which, with his deep-seated dislike for aristocratic conventions, he had carefully prescribed in his will.
Dickens' popularity, in his own day and since, is due chiefly: (1) to his intense human sympathy; (2) to his unsurpassed emotional and dramatic power; and (3) to his aggressive humanitarian zeal for the reform of all evils and abuses, whether they weigh upon the oppressed classes or upon helpless individuals. Himself sprung from the lower middle class, and thoroughly acquainted with the life of the poor and apparently of sufferers in all ranks, he is one of the most moving spokesmen whom they have ever had. The pathos and tragedy of their experiences—aged and honest toilers subjected to pitiless task-masters or to the yoke of social injustice; lonely women uncomplainingly sacrificing their lives for unworthy men; sad-faced children, the victims of circumstances, of cold-blooded parents, or of the worst criminals—these things play a large part in almost all of Dickens' books. In almost all, moreover, there is present, more or less in the foreground, a definite humanitarian aim, an attack on some time-consecrated evil—the poor-house system, the cruelties practised in private schools, or the miscarriage of justice in the Court of Chancery. In dramatic vividness his great scenes are masterly, for example the storm in 'David Copperfield,' the pursuit and discovery of Lady Dedlock in 'Bleak House,' and the interview between Mrs. Dombey and James Carker in 'Dombey and Son.'
Dickens' magnificent emotional power is not balanced, however, by a corresponding intellectual quality; in his work, as in his temperament and bearing, emotion is always in danger of running to excess. One of his great elements of strength is his sense of humor, which has created an almost unlimited number of delightful scenes and characters; but it very generally becomes riotous and so ends in sheer farce and caricature, as the names of many of the characters suggest at the outset. Indeed Dickens has been rightly designated a grotesque novelist—the greatest of all grotesque novelists. Similarly his pathos is often exaggerated until it passes into mawkish sentimentality, so that his humbly-bred heroines, for example, are made to act and talk with all the poise and certainty which can really spring only from wide experience and broad education. Dickens' zeal for reform, also, sometimes outruns his judgment or knowledge and leads him to assault evils that had actually been abolished long before he wrote.
No other English author has approached Dickens in the number of characters whom he has created; his twenty novels present literally thousands of persons, almost all thoroughly human, except for the limitations that we have already noted. Their range is of course very great, though it never extends successfully into the 'upper' social classes. For Dickens was violently prejudiced against the nobility and against all persons of high social standing, and when he attempted to introduce them created only pitifully wooden automatons. For the actual English gentleman we must pass by his Sir Leicester Dedlocks and his Mr. Veneerings to novelists of a very different viewpoint, such as Thackeray and Meredith.
Dickens' inexhaustible fertility in characters and scenes is a main cause of the rather extravagant lack of unity which is another conspicuous feature of his books. He usually made a good preliminary general plan and proceeded on the whole with firm movement and strong suspense. But he always introduces many characters and sub-actions not necessary to the main story, and develops them quite beyond their real artistic importance. Not without influence here was the necessity of filling a specified number of serial instalments, each of a definite number of pages, and each requiring a striking situation at the end. Moreover, Dickens often follows the eighteenth-century picaresque habit of tracing the histories of his heroes from birth to marriage.
In most respects, however, Dickens' art improved as he proceeded. The love element, it should be noted, as what we have already said implies, plays a smaller part than usual among the various aspects of life which his books present.
Not least striking among Dickens' traits is his power of description. His observation is very quick and keen, though not fine; his sense for the characteristic features, whether of scenes in Nature or of human personality and appearance, is unerring; and he has never had a superior in picturing and conveying the atmosphere both of interiors and of all kinds of scenes of human life. London, where most of his novels are wholly or chiefly located, has in him its chief and most comprehensive portrayer.
Worthy of special praise, lastly, is the moral soundness of all Dickens' work, praise which is not seriously affected by present-day sneers at his 'middle-class' and 'mid-Victorian' point of view. Dickens' books, however, like his character, are destitute of the deeper spiritual quality, of poetic and philosophic idealism.
His stories are all admirable demonstrations of the power and beauty of the nobler practical virtues, of kindness, courage, humility, and all the other forms of unselfishness; but for the underlying mysteries of life and the higher meanings of art his positive and self-formed mind had very little feeling. From first to last he speaks authentically for the common heart of humanity, but he is not one of the rarer spirits, like Spenser or George Eliot or Meredith, who transport us into the realm of the less tangible realities. All his limitations, indeed, have become more conspicuous as time has passed; and critical judgment has already definitely excluded him from the select ranks of the truly greatest authors.
Quotes of Charles Dickens
The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.
Charity begins at home, and justice begins next door.
A loving heart is the truest wisdom.
WILLIAM M. THACKERAY.
Dickens' chief rival for fame during his later lifetime and afterward was Thackeray, who presents a strong contrast with him, both as man and as writer.
Thackeray, the son of an East India Company official, was born at Calcutta in 1811. His father died while he was a child and he was taken to England for his education; he was a student in the Charterhouse School and then for a year at Cambridge. Next, on the Continent, he studied drawing, and though his unmethodical and somewhat idle habits prevented him from ever really mastering the technique of the art, his real knack for it enabled him later on to illustrate his own books in a semi-grotesque but effective fashion. Desultory study of the law was interrupted when he came of age by the inheritance of a comfortable fortune, which he managed to lose within a year or two by gambling, speculations, and an unsuccessful effort at carrying on a newspaper. Real application to newspaper and magazine writing secured him after four years a place on 'Eraser's Magazine,' and he was married. Not long after, his wife became insane, but his warm affection for his daughters gave him throughout his life genuine domestic happiness.
For ten years Thackeray's production was mainly in the line of satirical humorous and picaresque fiction, none of it of the first rank. During this period he chiefly attacked current vices, snobbishness, and sentimentality, which latter quality, Thackeray's special aversion, he found rampant in contemporary life and literature, including the novels of Dickens. The appearance of his masterpiece, 'Vanity Fair' (the allegorical title taken from a famous incident in 'Pilgrim's Progress'), in 'Fraser's Magazine' in 1847-8 (the year before Dickens' 'David Copperfield') brought him sudden fame and made him a social lion. Within the next ten years he produced his other important novels, of which the best are 'Pendennis,' 'Henry Esmond,' and 'The Newcomes,' and also his charming essays (first delivered as lectures) on the eighteenth century in England, namely 'English Humorists,' and 'The Four Georges.' All his novels except 'Henry Esmond' were published serially, and he generally delayed composing each instalment until the latest possible moment, working reluctantly except under the stress of immediate compulsion. He was for three years, at its commencement, editor of 'The Cornhill Magazine.' He died in 1863 at the age of fifty-two, of heart failure.
The great contrast between Dickens and Thackeray results chiefly from the predominance in Thackeray of the critical intellectual quality and of the somewhat fastidious instinct of the man of society and of the world which Dickens so conspicuously lacked. As a man Thackeray was at home and at ease only among people of formal good breeding; he shrank from direct contact with the common people; in spite of his assaults on the frivolity and vice of fashionable society, he was fond of it; his spirit was very keenly analytical; and he would have been chagrined by nothing more than by seeming to allow his emotion to get the better of his judgment. His novels seem to many readers cynical, because he scrutinizes almost every character and every group with impartial vigor, dragging forth every fault and every weakness into the light. On the title page of 'Vanity Fair' he proclaims that it is a novel without a hero; and here, as in some of his lesser works, most of the characters are either altogether bad or worthless and the others very largely weak or absurd, so that the impression of human life which the reader apparently ought to carry away is that of a hopeless chaos of selfishness, hypocrisy, and futility. One word, which has often been applied to Thackeray, best expresses his attitude—disillusionment. The last sentences of 'Vanity Fair' are characteristic: 'Oh! Vanitas Vanitatum! which, of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?—Come, children, let us shut the box and the puppets, for our play is played out.'
Yet in reality Thackeray is not a cynic and the permanent impression left by his books is not pessimistic. Beneath his somewhat ostentatious manner of the man of the world were hidden a heart and a human sympathy as warm as ever belonged to any man. However he may ridicule his heroes and his heroines (and there really are a hero and heroine in 'Vanity Fair'), he really feels deeply for them, and he is repeatedly unable to refrain from the expression of his feeling. Nothing is more truly characteristic of him than the famous incident of his rushing in tears from the room in which he had been writing of the death of Colonel Newcome with the exclamation, 'I have killed the Colonel!' In his books as clearly as in those of the most explicit moralizer the reader finds the lessons that simple courage, honesty, kindliness, and unselfishness are far better than external show, and that in spite of all its brilliant interest a career of unprincipled self-seeking like that of Becky Sharp is morally squalid. Thackeray steadily refuses to falsify life as he sees it in the interest of any deliberate theory, but he is too genuine an artist not to be true to the moral principles which form so large a part of the substratum of all life.
Thackeray avowedly took Fielding as his model, and though his spirit and manner are decidedly finer than Fielding's, the general resemblance between them is often close. Fielding's influence shows partly in the humorous tone which, in one degree or another, Thackeray preserves wherever it is possible, and in the general refusal to take his art, on the surface, with entire seriousness. He insists, for instance, on his right to manage his story, and conduct the reader, as he pleases, without deferring to his readers' tastes or prejudices. Fielding's influence shows also in the free-and-easy picaresque structure of his plots; though this results also in part from his desultory method of composition. Thackeray's great fault is prolixity; he sometimes wanders on through rather uninspired page after page where the reader longs for severe compression. But when the story reaches dramatic moments there is ample compensation; no novelist has more magnificent power in dramatic scenes, such, for instance, as in the climactic series in 'Vanity Fair.' This power is based largely on an absolute knowledge of character: in spite of a delight in somewhat fanciful exaggeration of the ludicrous, Thackeray when he chooses portrays human nature with absolute finality.
'Henry Esmond' should be spoken of by itself as a special and unique achievement. It is a historical novel dealing with the early eighteenth century, and in preparing for it Thackeray read and assimilated most of the literature of the period, with the result that he succeeded in reproducing the 'Augustan' spirit and even its literary style with an approach to perfection that has never been rivaled. On other grounds as well the book ranks almost if not quite beside 'Vanity Pair.' Henry Esmond himself is Thackeray's most thoroughly wise and good character, and Beatrix is as real and complex a woman as even Becky Sharp.
Quotes of William Thackeray
Dinner was made for eating, not for talking.
There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write.
A clever, ugly man every now and then is successful with the ladies, but a handsome fool is irresistible.
The perspective of time has made it clear that among the Victorian novelists, as among the poets, three definitely surpass the others. With Dickens and Thackeray is to be ranked only 'George Eliot' (Mary Anne Evans).
George Eliot was born in 1819 in the central county of Warwick from which Shakespeare had sprung two centuries and a half before. Her father, a manager of estates for various members of the landed gentry, was to a large extent the original both of her Adam Bede and of Caleb Garth in 'Middlemarch,' while her own childish life is partly reproduced in the experiences of Maggie in 'The Mill on the Floss.' Endowed with one of the strongest minds that any woman has ever possessed, from her very infancy she studied and read widely. Her nature, however, was not one-sided; all her life she was passionately fond of music; and from the death of her mother in her eighteenth year she demonstrated her practical capacity in the management of her father's household. Circumstances. combined with her unusual ability to make her entire life one of too high pressure, and her first struggle was religious. She was brought up a Methodist, and during her girlhood was fervently evangelical, in the manner of Dinah Morris in 'Adam Bede'; but moving to Coventry she fell under the influence of some rationalistic acquaintances who led her to adopt the scientific Positivism of the French philosopher Comte. Her first literary work, growing out of the same interest, was the formidable one of translating the 'Life of Jesus' of the German professor Strauss. Some years of conscientious nursing of her father, terminated by his death, were followed by one in Geneva, nominally a year of vacation, but she spent it largely in the study of experimental physics. On her return to England she became a contributor and soon assistant editor of the liberal periodical 'The Westminster Review.' This connection was most important in its personal results; it brought her into contact with a versatile man of letters, George Henry Lewes, and in 1854 they were united as man and wife. Mr. Lewes had been unhappily married years before to a woman who was still alive, and English law did not permit the divorce which he would have secured in America. Consequently the new union was not a legal marriage, and English public opinion was severe in its condemnation. In the actual result the sympathetic companionship of Mr. Lewes was of the greatest value to George Eliot and brought her much happiness; yet she evidently felt keenly the equivocal social position, and it was probably in large part the cause of the increasing sadness of her later years.
She was already thirty-six when in 1856 she entered on creative authorship with the three 'Scenes from Clerical Life.' The pseudonym which she adopted for these and her later stories originated in no more substantial reason than her fondness for 'Eliot' and the fact that Mr. Lewes' first name was 'George.' 'Adam Bede' in 1859 completely established her reputation, and her six or seven other books followed as rapidly as increasingly laborious workmanship permitted. 'Romola.' in 1863, a powerful but perhaps over-substantial historical novel, was the outcome partly of residence in Florence. Not content with prose, she attempted poetry also, but she altogether lacked the poet's delicacy of both imagination and expression. The death of Mr. Lewes in 1878 was a severe blow to her, since she was always greatly dependent on personal sympathy; and after a year and a half, to the surprise of every one, she married Mr. John W. Cross, a banker much younger than herself. But her own death followed within a few months in 1880.
George Eliot's literary work combines in an interesting way the same distinct and even strangely contrasting elements as her life, and in her writings their relative proportions alter rather markedly during the course of her career. One of the most attractive qualities, especially in her earlier books, is her warm and unaffected human sympathy, which is temperamental, but greatly enlarged by her own early experience. The aspiration, pathos and tragedy of life, especially among the lower and middle classes in the country and the small towns, can scarcely be interpreted with more feeling, tenderness, or power than in her pages. But her sympathy does not blind her to the world of comedy; figures like Mrs. Poyser in 'Adam Bede' are delightful. Even from the beginning, however, the really controlling forces in George Eliot's work were intellectual and moral. She started out with the determination to render the facts of life with minute and conscientious accuracy, an accuracy more complete than that of Mrs. Gaskell, who was in large degree her model; and as a result her books, from the beginning, are masterpieces of the best sort of realism. The characters, life, and backgrounds of many of them are taken from her own Warwickshire acquaintances and country, and for the others she made the most painstaking study. More fundamental than her sympathy, indeed, perhaps even from the outset, is her instinct for scientific analysis. Like a biologist or a botanist, and with much more deliberate effort than most of her fellow-craftsmen, she traces and scrutinizes all the acts and motives of her characters until she reaches and reveals their absolute inmost truth. This objective scientific method has a tendency to become sternly judicial, and in extreme cases she even seems to be using her weak or imperfect characters as deterrent examples. Inevitably, with her disposition, the scientific tendency grew upon her. Beginning with 'Middlemarch' (1872), which is perhaps her masterpiece, it seems to some critics decidedly too preponderant, giving to her novels too much the atmosphere of psychological text-books; and along with it goes much introduction of the actual facts of nineteenth century science. Her really primary instinct, however, is the moral one. The supremacy of moral law may fairly be called the general theme of all her works; to demonstrating it her scientific method is really in the main auxiliary; and in spite of her accuracy it makes of her more an idealist than a realist. With unswerving logic she traces the sequence of act and consequence, showing how apparently trifling words and deeds reveal the springs of character and how careless choices and seemingly insignificant self-indulgences may altogether determine the issues of life. The couplet from Aeschylus which she prefixed to one of the chapters of 'Felix Holt' might stand at the outset of all her work:
'Tis law as steadfast as the throne of Zeus—
Our days are heritors of days gone by.
Her conviction, or at least her purpose, is optimistic, to show that by honest effort the sincere and high-minded man or woman may win happiness in the face of all difficulties and disappointments; but her own actual judgment of life was somber, not altogether different from that which Carlyle repudiated in 'The Everlasting Yea'; so that the final effect of her books, though stimulating, is subdued rather than cheerful.
In technique her very hard work generally assured mastery. Her novels are firmly knit and well-proportioned, and have the inevitable movement of life itself; while her great scenes equal those of Thackeray in dramatic power and, at their best, in reserve and suggestiveness. Perhaps her chief technical faults are tendencies to prolixity and too much expository analysis of characters and motives.
Quotes of George Eliot
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.
Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.
SECONDARY MIDDLE AND LATER VICTORIAN NOVELISTS
GEORGE MEREDITH (1828-1910).
Except for a lack of the elements which make for popularity, George Meredith would hold an unquestioned place in the highest rank of novelists. In time he is partly contemporary with George Eliot, as he began to publish a little earlier than she. But he long outlived her and continued to write to the end of his life; and his recognition was long delayed; so that he may properly be placed in the group of later Victorian novelists. His long life was devoid of external incident; he was long a newspaper writer and afterward literary reader for a publishing house; he spent his later years quietly in Surrey, enjoying the friendship of Swinburne and other men of letters.
Among novelists he occupies something the same place which Browning, a person of very different temperament and ideas, holds among poets. He writes only for intelligent and thoughtful people and aims to interpret the deeper things of life and character, not disregarding dramatic external incident, but using it as only one of the means to his main purpose. His style is brilliant, epigrammatic, and subtile; and he prefers to imply many things rather than to state them directly. All this makes large, perhaps sometimes too large, demands on the reader's attention, but there is, of course, corresponding stimulation. Meredith's general attitude toward life is the fine one of serene philosophic confidence, the attitude in general of men like Shakespeare and Goethe. He despises sentimentality, admires chiefly the qualities of quiet strength and good breeding which are exemplified among the best members of the English aristocracy; and in all his interpretation is very largely influenced by modern science. His virile courage and optimism are as pronounced as those of Browning; he wrote a noteworthy 'Essay on Comedy' and oftentimes insists on emphasizing the comic rather than the tragic aspect of things, though he can also be powerful in tragedy; and his enthusiasms for the beauty of the world and for the romance of youthful love are delightful. He may perhaps best be approached through 'Evan Harrington' (1861) and 'The Ordeal of Richard Feverel' (1859).
'The Egoist' (1879) and 'Diana of the Crossways' (1885) are among his other strongest books. In his earlier years he wrote a considerable body of verse, which shows much the same qualities as his prose. Some of it is rugged in form, but other parts magnificently dramatic, and some few poems, like the unique and superb 'Love in the Valley,' charmingly beautiful.
THOMAS HARDY. (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928)
He was an English novelist and poet, a Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot, he was much influenced both in his novels and in his poetry by Romanticism, especially William Wordsworth. Charles Dickens was another important influence. Like Dickens, he was highly critical of much in Victorian society, though Hardy focused more on a declining rural society.
While Hardy wrote poetry throughout his life and regarded himself primarily as a poet, his first collection was not published until 1898. Initially, therefore, he gained fame as the author of novels, including Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895). However, beginning in the 1950s Hardy has been recognised as a major poet; he had a significant influence on the Movement poets of the 1950s and 1960s, including Philip LarkinMost of his fictional works – initially published as serials in magazines – were set in the semi-fictional region of HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Hardy%27s_Wessex" \o "Thomas Hardy's Wessex" Wessex. They explored tragic characters struggling against their passions and social circumstances. Hardy's Wessex is based on the medieval Anglo-Saxon kingdom and eventually came to include the counties of Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, Hampshire and much of Berkshire, in southwest and south central England.
Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 in Higher Bockhampton , a hamlet in the parish of HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stinsford" \o "Stinsford" Stinsford to the east of Dorchester in Dorset, England, where his father Thomas worked as a stonemason and local builder. His mother Jemima was well-read, and she educated Thomas until he went to his first school at Bockhampton at age eight. For several years he attended Mr. Last's Academy for Young Gentlemen in Dorchester. Here he learned Latin and demonstrated academic potential. Because Hardy's family lacked the means for a university education, his formal education ended at the age of sixteen, when he became apprenticed to James Hicks, a local architect. Hardy trained as an architect in Dorchester before moving to London in 1862; there he enrolled as a student at King's College London. He won prizes from the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Architectural Association. Hardy was in charge of the excavation of the graveyard of St Pancras Old Church prior to its destruction when the Midland Railway was extended to a new terminus at St PancrasBut Hardy never felt at home in London, because he was acutely conscious of class divisions and his social inferiority. However, during this time he became interested in social reform and the works of John Stuart Mill. He was also introduced by his Dorset friend Horace Moule to the works of Charles Fourier and HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auguste_Comte" \o "Auguste Comte" Auguste Comte. Five years later, concerned about his health, he returned to Dorset, settling at Weymouth, and decided to dedicate himself to writing.
In 1870, while on an architectural mission to restore the parish church of St Juliot in Cornwall, Hardy met and fell in love with Emma Lavinia Gifford, whom he married in 1874 Although they later became estranged, her death in 1912 had a traumatic effect on him and after her death, Hardy made a trip to Cornwall to revisit places linked with their courtship, and his Poems 1912–13 reflect upon her death. In 1914, Hardy married his secretary Florence Emily Dugdale, who was 39 years his junior. However, he remained preoccupied with his first wife's death and tried to overcome his remorse by writing poetry. In 1910, Hardy had been awarded the Order of Merit.
In 1885 Thomas and his wife moved into Max Gate, a house Hardy had designed himself and his brother had built. Hardy became ill with pleurisy in December 1927 and died at Max Gate just after 9 pm on 11 January 1928, having dictated his final poem to his wife on his deathbed; the cause of death was cited, on his death certificate, as "cardiac syncope", with "old age" given as a contributory factor. His funeral was on 16 January at Westminster Abbey, and it proved a controversial occasion because Hardy and his family and friends had wished for his body to be interred at Stinsford in the same grave as his first wife, Emma. However, his executor, Sir Sydney Carlyle Cockerell, insisted that he be placed in the abbey's famous Poets' Corner. A compromise was reached whereby his heart was buried at Stinsford with Emma, and his ashes in Poets' Corner.
Shortly after Hardy's death, the executors of his estate burnt his letters and notebooks, but twelve documents survived, one of them containing notes and extracts of newspaper stories from the 1820s, and research into these has provided insight into how Hardy used them in his works. In the year of his death Mrs Hardy published The Early Life of Thomas Hardy, 1841–1891, compiled largely from contemporary notes, letters, diaries, and biographical memoranda, as well as from oral information in conversations extending over many years.
Hardy's first novel, The Poor Man and the Lady, finished by 1867, failed to find a publisher. He then showed it to his mentor and friend, the Victorian poet and novelist, George Meredith, who felt that The Poor Man and the Lady would be too politically controversial and might damage Hardy's ability to publish in the future. So Hardy followed his advice and he did not try further to publish it. Later, he destroyed the manuscript.
After he abandoned his first novel, Hardy wrote two new ones that he hoped would have more commercial appeal, Desperate Remedies (1871) and Under the Greenwood Tree (1872), both of which were published anonymously. In 1873 A Pair of Blue Eyes, a novel drawing on Hardy's courtship of his first wife, was published under his own name. The term "cliffhanger" is considered to have originated with the serialised version of this story (which was published in Tinsley's Magazine between September 1872 and July 1873) in which Henry Knight, one of the protagonists, is left literally hanging off a cliff.
In his next novel Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), Hardy first introduced the idea of calling the region in the west of England, where his novels are set, HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Hardy%27s_Wessex" \o "Thomas Hardy's Wessex" Wessex. Wessex had been the name of an early Saxon kingdom, in approximately the same part of England. Far from the Madding Crowd was successful enough for Hardy to give up architectural work and pursue a literary career. Over the next twenty-five years Hardy produced ten more novels.
Subsequently the Hardys moved from London to HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeovil" \o "Yeovil" Yeovil, and then to HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturminster_Newton" \o "Sturminster Newton" Sturminster Newton, where he wrote The Return of the Native(1878). Hardy published Two on a Tower in 1882, a romance story set in the world of astronomy. Then in 1885, they moved for the last time, to Max Gate, a house outside Dorchester designed by Hardy and built by his brother. There he wrote The Mayor of Casterbridge(1886), The Woodlanders (1887), and Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891), the last of which attracted criticism for its sympathetic portrayal of a "fallen woman" and was initially refused publication. Its subtitle, A Pure Woman: Faithfully Presented, was intended to raise the eyebrows of the Victorian middle classes.
Jude the Obscure, published in 1895, met with an even stronger negative response from the Victorian public because of its controversial treatment of sex, religion and marriage. Furthermore its apparent attack on the institution of marriage caused further strain on Hardy's already difficult marriage because Emma Hardy was concerned that Jude the Obscure would be read as autobiographical. Some booksellers sold the novel in brown paper bags, and the Bishop of Wakefield, Walsham How, is reputed to have burnt his copy.In his postscript of 1912, Hardy humorously referred to this incident as part of the career of the book: "After these [hostile] verdicts from the press its next misfortune was to be burnt by a bishop – probably in his despair at not being able to burn me". Despite this, Hardy had become a celebrity by the 1900s, but some argue that he gave up writing novels because of the criticism of both Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure. The Well-Beloved, first serialized in 1892, was published in 1897.
Considered a Victorian realist, Hardy examines the social constraints on the lives of those living in Victorian England, and criticizes those beliefs, especially those relating to marriage, education and religion, that limited people's lives and caused unhappiness. Such unhappiness, and the suffering it brings, is seen by poet Philip Larkin as central in Hardy's works:
What is the intensely maturing experience of which Hardy's modern man is most sensible? In my view it is suffering, or sadness, and extended consideration of the centrality of suffering in Hardy's work should be the first duty of the true critic for which the work is still waiting Any approach to his work, as to any writer's work, must seek first of all to determine what element is peculiarly his, which imaginative note he strikes most plangently, and to deny that in this case it is the sometimes gentle, sometimes ironic, sometimes bitter but always passive apprehension of suffering is, I think, wrong-headed.
In Two on a Tower, for example, Hardy takes a stand against these rules of society with a story of love that crosses the boundaries of class. The reader is forced to reconsider the conventions set up by society for the relationships between women and men. Nineteenth-century society had conventions, which were enforced. In this novel Swithin St Cleeve's idealism pits him against such contemporary social constraints.
In a novel structured around contrasts, the main opposition is between Swithin St Cleeve and Lady Viviette Constantine, who are presented as binary figures in a series of ways: aristocratic and lower class, youthful and mature, single and married, fair and dark, religious and agnostic...she [Lady Viviette Constantine] is also deeply conventional, absurdly wishing to conceal their marriage until Swithin has achieved social status through his scientific work, which gives rise to uncontrolled ironies and tragic-comic misunderstandings.
Fate or chance is another important theme. Hardy's characters often encounter crossroads on a journey, a junction that offers alternative physical destinations but which is also symbolic of a point of opportunity and transition, further suggesting that fate is at work. Far From the Madding Crowd is an example of a novel in which chance has a major role: "Had Bathsheba not sent the valentine, had Fanny not missed her wedding, for example, the story would have taken an entirely different path." Indeed, Hardy's main characters often seem to be held in fate's overwhelming grip.
In 1898 Hardy published his first volume of poetry, HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wessex_Poems" \o "Wessex Poems" Wessex Poems, a collection of poems written over 30 years. While some suggest that Hardy gave up writing novels following the harsh criticism of Jude the Obscure in 1896, the poet C. H. Sisson calls this "hypothesis" "superficial and absurd". In the twentieth century Hardy only published poetry.
Thomas Hardy wrote in a great variety of poetic forms including lyrics, ballads, satire, dramatic monologues, and dialogue, as well as a three-volume epic closet drama The Dynasts (1904-8), and though in some ways a very traditional poet, because he was influenced by folksong and ballads, he "was never conventional," and "persistently experiment[ed] with different, often invented, stanza forms and metres, and made use of "rough-hewn rhythms and colloquial diction".
Hardy wrote a number of significant war poems that relate to both the Boer Wars and World War I, including “Drummer Hodge”, “In Time of ‘The Breaking of Nations,” and "The Man He Killed" and "[h]is work had a profound influence on other war poets such as Rupert Brooke and Siegfried Sassoon". Hardy in these poems often used the viewpoint of ordinary soldiers and their colloquial speech. A theme in the HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wessex_Poems" \o "Wessex Poems" Wessex Poems is the long shadow that the Napoleonic Wars cast over the nineteenth century, as seen, for example, in "The Sergeant's Song" and "Leipzig".The Napoleonic War is of course the subject of The Dynasts.
Some of Hardy's most famous poems are from "Poems of 1912–13", part of Satires of Circumstance (1914), written following the death of his wife Emma in 1912. They had been estranged for twenty years and these lyric poems express deeply felt "regret and remorse". Poems like “After a Journey,” “The Voice,” and others from this collection "are by general consent regarded as the peak of his poetic achievement".] In a recent biography on Hardy, Claire Tomalin argues that Hardy became a truly great English poet after the death of his first wife, Emma, beginning with these elegies, which she describes as among "the finest and strangest celebrations of the dead in English poetry."
Many of Hardy's poems deal with themes of disappointment in love and life, and "the perversity of fate", but the best of them present these themes with "a carefully controlled elegiac feeling". Irony is also an important element in a number of Hardy's poems, including "The Man he Killed" and "Are You Digging on My Grave". A few of Hardy's poems, such as "The Blinded Bird", a melancholy polemic against the sport of vinkenzetting, reflect his firm stance against animal cruelty, exhibited also in his antivivisectionist views and his membership in The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals..
Hardy divided his novels and collected short stories into classes:
Novels of Character and Environment
The Poor Man and the Lady (1867)
Under the Greenwood Tree: A Rural Painting of the Dutch School (1872)
Far from the Madding Crowd (1874)
The Return of the Native (1878)
The Mayor of Casterbridge: The Life and Death of a Man of Character (1886)
The Woodlanders (1887)
Wessex Tales (1888, a collection of short stories)
Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented (1891)
Life's Little Ironies (1894, a collection of short stories)
Jude the Obscure (1895)
Romances and Fantasies
A Pair of Blue Eyes: A Novel (1873)
The Trumpet-Major (1880)
Two on a Tower: A Romance (1882)
A Group of Noble Dames (1891, a collection of short stories)
The Well-Beloved: A Sketch of a Temperament (1897) (first published as a serial from 1892)
In Thomas Hardy the pessimistic interpretation of modern science is expressed frankly and fully, with much the same pitiless consistency that distinguishes contemporary European writers such as Zola. Mr. Hardy early turned to literature from architecture and he has lived a secluded life in southern England, the ancient Wessex, which he makes the scene of all his novels. His knowledge of life is sure and his technique in all respects masterly. He has preferred to deal chiefly with persons in the middle and poorer classes of society because, like Wordsworth, though with very different emphasis, he feels that in their experiences the real facts of life stand out most truly. His deliberate theory is a sheer fatalism—that human character and action are the inevitable result of laws of heredity and environment over which man has no control. 'The Return of the Native' (1878) and 'Far from the Madding Crowd' (1874) are among his best novels, though the sensational frankness of 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' (1891) has given it greater reputation.
Quotes of Thomas Hardy
Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change.
The value of old age depends upon the person who reaches it. To some men of early performance it is useless. To others, who are late to develop, it just enables them to finish the job.
Fear is the mother of foresight.
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), the first of the rather prominent group of recent Scotch writers of fiction, is as different as possible from Hardy. Destined for the career of civil engineer and lighthouse builder in which his father and grandfather were distinguished, he proved unfitted for it by lack both of inclination and of health, and the profession of law for which he later prepared himself was no more congenial. From boyhood he, like Scott, studied human nature with keen delight in rambles about the country, and unlike Scott he was incessantly practising writing merely for the perfection of his style. As an author he won his place rather slowly; and his whole mature life was a wonderfully courageous and persistent struggle against the sickness which generally prevented him from working more than two or three hours a day and often kept him for months in bed unable even to speak. A trip to California in an emigrant train in 1879-1880 brought him to death's door but accomplished its purpose, his marriage to an American lady, Mrs. Osbourne, whom he had previously met in artist circles in France. He first secured a popular success with the boys' pirate story, 'Treasure Island,' in 1882. 'A Child's Garden of Verses' (1885) was at once accepted as one of the most irresistibly sympathetic of children's classics; and 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' (1886), a unique and astonishingly powerful moral lesson in the form of a thrilling little romance which strangely anticipates the later discoveries of psychology, made in its different way a still stronger impression. Stevenson produced, considering his disabilities, a remarkably large amount of work—essays, short stories, and romances—but the only others of his books which need here be mentioned are the four romances of Scotch life in the eighteenth century which belong to his later years; of these 'The Master of Ballantrae' and the fragmentary 'Weir of Hermiston' are the best. His letters, also, which, like his widely-circulated prayers, reveal his charming and heroic personality, are among the most interesting in the history of English Literature. His bodily weakness, especially tuberculosis, which had kept him wandering from one resort to another, at last drove him altogether from Europe to the South Seas. He finally settled in Samoa, where for the last half dozen years of his life he was busy not only with clearing his land, building his house, and writing, but with energetic efforts to serve the natives, then involved in broils among themselves and with England, Germany, and the United States. His death came suddenly when he was only forty-four years old, and the Samoans, who ardently appreciated what he had done for them, buried him high up on a mountain overlooking both his home and the sea.
Stevenson, in the midst of an age perhaps too intensely occupied with the deeper questions, stood for a return to the mere spirit of romance, and for occasional reading he furnishes delightful recreation. In the last analysis, however, his general lack of serious significance condemns him at most to a secondary position. At his best his narrative technique (as in 'The Master of Ballantrae') is perfect; his portrayal of men (he almost never attempted women) is equally certain; his style has no superior in English; and his delicate sensibility and keenness of observation render him a master of description. But in his attitude toward life he never reached full maturity (perhaps because of the supreme effort of will necessary for the maintenance of his cheerfulness); not only did he retain to the end a boyish zest for mere adventure, but it is sometimes adventure of a melodramatic and unnecessarily disagreeable kind, and in his novels and short stories he offers virtually no interpretation of the world. No recent English prose writer has exercised a wider influence than he, but none is likely to suffer as time goes on a greater diminution of reputation.
Quotes of Robert Louis Stevenson
Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.
A friend is a gift you give yourself.
There is only one difference between a long life and a good dinner: that, in the dinner, the sweets come last.
William Somerset Maugham (25 January 1874 – 16 December 1965) was a British playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest paid author during the 1930s. After losing both his parents by the age of 10, Maugham was raised by a paternal uncle who was emotionally cold. Not wanting to become a lawyer like other men in his family, Maugham eventually trained and qualified as a physician. The initial run of his first novel, Liza of Lambeth (1897), sold out so rapidly that Maugham gave up medicine to write full-time.
During the First World War, he served with the Red Cross and in the ambulance corps, before being recruited in 1916 into the British Secret, for which he worked in Switzerland and Russia before the October Revolution of 1917. During and after the war, he travelled in India and Southeast Asia; all of these experiences were reflected in later short stories and novels.
Maugham's father, Robert Ormond Maugham, was a lawyer who handled the legal affairs of the British embassy in Paris. Since French law declared that all children born on French soil could be conscripted for military service, his father arranged for Maugham to be born at the embassy, technically on British soil. His grandfather, another Robert, had also been a prominent lawyer and co-founder of the Law Society of England and Wales. It was taken for granted that Maugham and his brothers would follow in their footsteps. His elder brother Viscount Maugham enjoyed a distinguished legal career and served as Lord Chancellor from 1938 to 1939.
Maugham's mother, Edith Mary, had tuberculosis (TB), a condition for which her physician prescribed childbirth. She had Maugham several years after the last of his three older brothers; they were already enrolled in boarding school by the time he was three. Being the youngest, he was effectively raised as an only child.
Edith's sixth and final son died on 25 January 1882, one day after his birth, on Maugham's eighth birthday. Edith died of tuberculosis six days later on 31 January at the age of 41. The early death of his mother left Maugham traumatized; he kept his mother's photograph by his bedside for the rest of his life. Two years after Edith's death Maugham's father died in France of cancer.
Maugham was sent to the UK to be cared for by his uncle, Henry MacDonald Maugham, the Vicar of HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitstable" \o "Whitstable" Whitstable, in Kent. The move was damaging, as Henry Maugham proved cold and emotionally cruel. The boy attended The King's School, Canterbury, which was also difficult for him. He was teased for his bad English (French had been his first language) and his short stature, which he inherited from his father. Maugham developed a stammer that stayed with him all his life, although it was sporadic, being subject to his moods and circumstances. Miserable both at his uncle's vicarage and at school, the young Maugham developed a talent for making wounding remarks to those who displeased him. This ability is sometimes reflected in Maugham's literary characters.
At sixteen Maugham refused to continue at The King's School. His uncle allowed him to travel to Germany, where he studied literature, philosophy and German at Heidelberg University. During his year in Heidelberg Maugham met and had a sexual affair with John Ellingham Brooks, an Englishman ten years his senior. He also wrote his first book there, a biography of Giacomo Meyerbeer, an opera composer.
After Maugham's return to Britain his uncle found him a position in an accountant's office, but after a month Maugham gave it up and returned to Whitstable. His uncle set about finding Maugham a new profession. Maugham's father and three older brothers were all distinguished lawyers, but Maugham asked to be excused from the duty of following in their footsteps. A career in the Church was rejected because a stammering clergyman might make the family seem ridiculous. His uncle rejected the Civil Service, not because of the young man's feelings or interests, but because his uncle concluded that it was no longer a career for gentlemen, since a recent law had required all applicants to pass an entrance examination. The local physician suggested the medical profession and Maugham's uncle agreed.
Maugham had been writing steadily since the age of 15 and fervently wished to become an author, but as he was not of age he refrained from telling his guardian. For the next five years he studied medicine at the medical school of St Thomas' Hospital in Lambeth (then spelled "St Thomas's"; the school was then independent, but is now part of King's College London).
Some critics have assumed that the years Maugham spent studying medicine were a creative dead end, but Maugham felt otherwise. He was living in the great city of London, meeting people of a "low" sort whom he would never have met otherwise, and seeing them at a time of heightened anxiety and meaning in their lives. In maturity, he recalled the value of his experience as a medical student: "I saw how men died. I saw how they bore pain. I saw what hope looked like, fear and relief ..."Maugham kept his own lodgings, took pleasure in furnishing them, filled many notebooks with literary ideas, and continued writing nightly while at the same time studying for his medical degree. In 1897, he published his first novel, Liza of Lambeth, a tale of working-class adultery and its consequences. It drew its details from Maugham's experiences as a medical student doing midwifery work in Lambeth, a South London slum. Maugham wrote near the opening of the novel: "... it is impossible always to give the exact unexpurgated words of Liza and the other personages of the story; the reader is therefore entreated with his thoughts to piece out the necessary imperfections of the dialogue."
Liza of Lambeth's first print run sold out in a matter of weeks. Maugham, who had qualified as a medic, dropped medicine and embarked on his 65-year career as a man of letters. He later said, "I took to it as a duck takes to water."
The writer's life allowed Maugham to travel and to live in places such as Spain and Capri for the next decade, but his next ten works never came close to rivalling the success of Liza. This changed in 1907 with the success of his play Lady Frederick. By the next year, he had four plays running simultaneously in London, and Punch published a cartoon of Shakespeare biting his fingernails nervously as he looked at the billboards.
Maugham's supernatural thriller, The Magician (1908), based its principal character on the well-known and somewhat disreputable Allister Crowley. Crowley took some offence at the treatment of the protagonist, Oliver Haddo. He wrote a critique of the novel, charging Maugham with plagiarism, in a review published in Vanity Fair. Maugham survived the criticism without much damage to his reputation.
By 1914, Maugham was famous, with 10 plays produced and 10 novels published. Too old to enlist when the First World War broke out, he served in France as a member of the British Red Cross's so-called "Literary Ambulance Drivers", a group of some 24 well-known writers, including the Americans John Dos Passos, E. E. Cummings, and Ernest Hemingway.
During this time, he met Frederick Gerald Haxton, a young San Franciscan, who became his companion and lover until Haxton's death in 1944. Throughout this period, Maugham continued to write. He proofread Of Human Bondage at a location near Dunkirk during a lull in his ambulance duties.
Of Human Bondage (1915) initially was criticized in both England and the United States; the New York World described the romantic obsession of the protagonist Philip Carey as "the sentimental servitude of a poor fool". The influential American novelist and critic Theodore Dreiser rescued the novel, referring to it as a work of genius and comparing it to a Beethoven symphony. His review gave the book a lift, and it has never been out of print since.
Maugham indicates in his foreword that he derived the title from a passage in Baruch Spinoza's Ethics:
"The impotence of man to govern or restrain the emotions I call bondage, for a man who is under their control is not his own master ... so that he is often forced to follow the worse, although he see the better before him."
Of Human Bondage is considered to have many autobiographical elements. Maugham gave Philip Carey a club foot (rather than his stammer); the vicar of Blackstable appears derived from the vicar of Whitstable; and Carey is a medic. Maugham insisted the book was more invention than fact. The close relationship between fictional and non-fictional became Maugham's trademark, despite the legal requirement to state that "the characters in [this or that publication] are entirely imaginary". In 1938 he wrote: "Fact and fiction are so intermingled in my work that now, looking back on it, I can hardly distinguish one from the other."
In 1916, Maugham travelled to the Pacific to research his novel The Moon and Sixpence, based on the life of Paul Gauguin. This was the first of his journeys through the late-Imperial world of the 1920s and 1930s, which inspired his novels. He became known as a writer who portrayed the last days of colonialism in India, Southeast Asia, China and the Pacific, although the books on which this reputation rests represent only a fraction of his output. On this and all subsequent journeys, he was accompanied by Haxton, whom he regarded as indispensable to his success as a writer. Maugham was painfully shy, and Haxton the extrovert gathered human material which the author converted to fiction.
In June 1917, Maugham was asked by Sir William Wiseman, an officer of the British Secret Intelligence Service (later named MI6), to undertake a special mission in Russia. It was part of an attempt to keep the Provisional Government in power and Russia in the war by countering German pacifist propaganda. Two and a half months later, the Bolsheviks took control. Maugham subsequently said that if he had been able to get there six months earlier, he might have succeeded. Quiet and observant, Maugham had a good temperament for intelligence work; he believed he had inherited from his lawyer father a gift for cool judgement and the ability to be undeceived by facile appearances.
Maugham used his spying experiences as the basis for HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashenden:_Or_the_British_Agent" \o "Ashenden: Or the British Agent" Ashenden: Or the British Agent, a collection of short stories about a gentlemanly, sophisticated, aloof spy. This character is considered to have influenced Ian Fleming's later series of James Bond novels. In 1922, Maugham dedicated his book On A Chinese Screen to Syrie. This was a collection of 58 ultra-short story sketches, which he had written during his 1920 travels through China and Hong Kong, intending to expand the sketches later as a book.
Maugham, in his sixties, spent most of the Second World War in the United States, first in Hollywood (he worked on many scripts, and was one of the first authors to make significant money from film adaptations) and later in the South. While in the US, he was asked by the British government to make patriotic speeches to induce the US to aid Britain, if not necessarily become an allied combatant. After his companion Gerald Haxton died in 1944, Maugham moved back to England. In 1946 he returned to his villa in France, where he lived, interrupted by frequent and long travels, until his death.
Quotes of Somerset Maugham
It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.
Money is the string with which a sardonic destiny directs the motions of its puppets.
At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely.
The name which naturally closes the list of Victorian writers is that of Rudyard Kipling, though he belongs, perhaps, as much to the twentieth century as to the one preceding. The son of a professor of architecture and sculpture in the University of Bombay, India, he was born in that city in 1865. Educated in England in the United Services College, he returned at the age of seventeen to India, where he first did strenuous editorial work on newspapers in Lahore, in the extreme northwestern part of the country. He secured his intimate knowledge of the English army by living, through the permission of the commanding general, with the army on the frontiers. His instinct for story-telling in verse and prose had showed itself from his boyhood, but his first significant appearance in print was in 1886, with a volume of poems later included among the 'Departmental Ditties.' 'Plain Tales from the Hills' in prose, and other works, followed in rapid succession and won him enthusiastic recognition. In 1890 he removed to the United States, where he married and remained for seven years. Since then he has lived in England, with an interval in South Africa. He wrote prolifically during the '90's; since then both the amount of his production and its quality have fallen off.
Kipling is the representative of the vigorous life of action as led by manly and efficient men, and of the spirit of English imperialism. His poem “The White Man's Burden” sums up his imperialism—the creed that it is the duty of the higher races to civilize the lower ones with a strong hand; and he never doubts that the greater part of this obligation rests at present upon England—a theory, certainly, to which history lends much support. Kipling is endowed with the keenest power of observation, with the most genuine and most democratic human sympathies, and with splendid dramatic force. Consequently he has made a unique contribution to literature in his portrayals, in both prose and verse, of the English common soldier and of English army life on the frontiers of the Empire. On the other hand his verse is generally altogether devoid of the finer qualities of poetry. 'Danny Deever,' 'Pharaoh and the Sergeant,' 'Fuzzy Wuzzy,' 'The Ballad of East and West,' 'The Last Chantey,' 'Mulholland's Contract,' and many others, are splendidly stirring, but their colloquialism and general realism put them on a very different level from the work of the great masters who express the deeper truths in forms of permanent beauty. At times, however, Kipling too gives voice to religious feelings, of a simple sort, in an impressive fashion, as in 'McAndrews' Hymn,' 'The Recessional,' and 'When earth's last picture is painted.' His sweeping rhythms and his grandiose forms of expression, suggestive of the vast spaces of ocean and plain and of inter-stellar space with which he delights to deal, have been very widely copied by minor verse-writers. His very vivid and active imagination enables him not only to humanize animal life with remarkable success, as in the prose 'Jungle-Books,' but to range finely in the realms of the mysterious, as in the short stories 'They' and 'The Brushwood Boy.' Of short-stories he is the most powerful recent writer, as witness 'The Man Who Would Be King,' 'The Man Who Was,' 'Without Benefit of Clergy,' and 'Wee Willie Winkie'; though with all the frankness of modern realism he sometimes leads us into scenes of extreme physical horror. With longer stories he is generally less successful; 'Kim,' however, has much power.
Quotes of Rudyard Kipling
Never look backwards or you'll fall down the stairs.
We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.
I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble.
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
The 20th century was much dramatic with two world wars, an economic depression of great severity, and the austerity of life in Britain following the second of these wars help to explain the quality and direction of English literature in the 20th century. The most popular writer of the early years of the 20th century was probably Rudyard Kipling, a highly versatile writer of novels, short stories and poems, often based on his experiences in British India.D. H. Lawrence similarly related his sense of the need for a return from the complexities, and cold materialism of modern life to the primitive. His numerous novels and short stories, are for the most part more clearly experimental.
Graham Greene is one of the most beloved and prolific writers of the 20th century. He is best known for his novels, especially those dealing with Catholicism, but he also wrote short stories, novellas, book and film reviews, poetry, radio plays, stage plays, an autobiography, biographies, a memoir, travel stories, screenplays, and children's literature. He contributed to major publications and edited other prominent writers' work, as well.
Greene was born on October 2nd, 1904 in Berkhamsted, England. He was an avid reader from childhood and particularly enjoyed Rider Haggard's work. Greene's father was the headmaster of the prestigious Berkhamsted School, which Greene attended as a child. However, Greene hated boarding school and ran away to London. His parents had to retrieve him and subsequently sent him to intense psychoanalysis for six months. Greene actually found the psychoanalysis to be very interesting and remained fascinated by dreams for the rest of his life.
As an undergraduate at Oxford College, Greene studied modern history. In 1925, he published his first book, a collection of sentimental poetry called Babbling April. After graduating, Greene worked as a journalist in Nottingham and in 1926, he converted to Roman Catholicism. Greene married Vivien Dayrell-Browning in 1927 and they had two children. Greene had his first affair in 1946 with his goddaughter, Catherine Walston. He would continue to have affairs for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, Vivien and Greene separated in 1948 but never divorced.
Critics celebrated Greene's first novel, The Man Within (1929), and he earned a contract for two more books. Unfortunately, both books were failures. He then became a book reviewer at the Spectator, which helped him develop and refine his writing style. In 1932, Greene decided to give fiction another try. He wrote Stamboul Train, a thrilling and popular spy novel that Greene described as "entertainment." Greene wrote a similar novel called A Gun for Sale a few years later. He also traveled to Liberia, which had a large impact on his worldview. The experience also inspired Greene to pen his famous travelogues. Upon his return to England in 1936, Greene returned to the Spectator as a film critic. He loved watching films and his new job made his writing slightly more cinematic.
In 1938, Brighton Rock was published. It went on to become one of Greene's most esteemed works. Soon thereafter, Greene traveled to Mexico to research the persecution of Catholics. His experiences there inspired his book of The Power and the Glory (1940) which, alongside The Heart of the Matter (1948) and The End of the Affair (1951) comprise Greene's "Catholic Trilogy."
When World War II broke out, Greene wanted to enlist but was too old to do so. Instead, he joined the Secret Service and worked for the propaganda division in the Ministry of Information. Greene spent time in Sierra Leone during the war and he drew heavily on his time there to write The Heart of the Matter. Greene also based Our Man in Havana (1960) on his tenure in the Service.
After the end of World War II, Greene accepted the position of director at Eyre and Spottiswoode, a publishing house. During this time, he wrote several screenplays, the most famous of which is The Third Man (1949). In the early 1950s, Greene travelled a great deal, taking long trips to Malaya and Vietnam. Subsequently, Greene set The Quiet American (1955) in Vietnam and it went on to become one of his most notable works. As he got older, Graham Greene continued to write travel pieces, novels, short stories, plays, and recollections of his own life. He eventually settled in Switzerland, which is where he eventually died of pneumonia in 1991. He was 86 years old. He is buried at the Corseaux Cemetery.
On his death bed, Greene was awarded the Order of Merit and appointed as a Companion of Honor by the Queen. This, along with photos of him receiving the Catholic Last Rites, prompted criticism from some factions of Catholicism. Amidst the general praise and celebration of Greene's life, there were some articles by Catholic sponsored publications that called Greene an "honor-less man" who had betrayed the basic tenets of Catholicism when he betrayed his wife. Despite the criticism by this demographic, Greene continues to be celebrated for his contributions to literature.
Criticist William Golding describes Graham Greene as "the ultimate chronicler of twentieth-century man's consciousness and anxiety." Greene indeed had the unique ability to portray disillusionment and existential gloom in a clear but poetic style. Not all of Greene's writing was so serious - he had a comedic streak as well. He once submitted an entry to a Graham Greene parody contest (and won second prize!). For generations to come, Graham Greene will continue to be remembered for his acerbic wit as well as his tragic vision.
Quotes of Graham Green
Human nature is not black and white but black and grey.
They are always saying God loves us. If that's love I'd rather have a bit of kindness.
In human relationships, kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.
6351270001168400127000DAME AGATHA CHRISTIE(September 15, 1890 — January 12, 1976)The Public Persona
Everyone who has studied or written about Agatha Christie agrees on one point. She is very famous — the most famous woman writer ever. During her 85 years of life, she authored 78 crime novels, 150 short stories, 6 conventional (not crime) novels, 4 non-fiction books, and 19 plays. By one count, more than 2 billion copies of her books and plays had been sold in 104 languages — outselling even William Shakespeare! More than 7.5 million people have seen her most famous play, The Mousetrap, since it first opened in 1952.
But, despite all of this fame, Agatha Christie was a complex woman, whom few people fully understand. The public’s knowledge of Christie is limited, because she carefully avoided public appearances, said little in public, and never gave public speeches.
In her autobiography, Christie wrote how slow-witted she was as a child, and chronically incapable of expressing her feelings. In frustration, Christie once decided to turn to music, since she was sufficiently talented as a pianist to consider becoming a professional. But, alas, even with small audiences, Christie would freeze up when playing the piano. She wrote, “Inarticulate I shall always be. It is probably one of the causes that have made me a writer.”
As she grew older, and became more and more famous, Christie seemed to become even more private, silent and inadequate in public. Here’s an example. In 1962, at the age of 72, Christie was invited as the guest of honor to an exclusive party at the Savoy Hotel in London. The party was made to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the running of her popular play, The Mousetrap. However, the doorman refused to let Christie in, not knowing who she was. Christie did not protest or brush the doorman aside. Instead, she turned meekly away, saddened and confused, later to write how the party ended up as a pitiful failure.
Some writers have suggested that Christie may have suffered throughout her life from a chronic form of agoraphobia. This is a mental disorder creating an intense fear of public places.
An Adventurous and Happy Childhood
Christie was born in an upper-middle class family, growing up in a large Italian-style stucco villa on the English seashore. She had a happy and peaceful childhood.
Christie was allowed by her free-spirited mother to run wild as much as possible. She would regularly amaze family and friends with her actions. On her own, she went out at a very young age on a sailboat with her unreliable brother. She went orf a mule trip with her sister without permission. At the age of 6, she climbed out the 4th floor window of a hotel and walked riskily along the foot-wide ledge. In 1911, at the age of 21, Agatha’s mother paid 5 pounds for her to go up in that new invention called an airplane for 5 minutes. Despite her public shyness, Agatha was obviously adventurous and bold.
Agatha Christie was home-tutored, which was customary for young women during the Victorian era. She nevertheless demonstrated she had a brilliant mind, excelling in mathematics, logic, and music.
Christie also grew up from being a scrawny little kid into a tall, slim blonde, who was very popular with the opposite sex. She had many suitors as a young woman, before she finally married.
Highlights of Her Adult Life
Agatha Christie showed her sense of adventure in her attitude to marriage. She wrote about how exciting it was being a girl who gambled her life on her choice of a mate, and to whom anything might happen. She eventually married Archie Christie at the age of 24, taking his last name.
Twelve years later, in 1926, Agatha’s mother died. Later in the same year, she went through a bitter divorce, when her husband stunned her with the news that he wanted to marry their mutual friend, Nancy Neele.
These two events put her in a deep depression. Then, she generated sensational and scathing news coverage, which she spent the rest of her life trying to live down. This occurred after she abandoned her car outside of London, and then disappeared for 11 days. She was well known by this time, and her disappearance resulted in national publicity, with the police beating the bushes looking for her, ponds being dragged for her body, and many volunteers devoting time looking for her. She was discovered staying in a hotel north of England, under the name Teresa Neele. Her doctors later claimed she had been in an automobile accident, even though there was no damage to her car, and she was suffering from amnesia. Despite her doctors’ claims, the national press ridiculed her, claiming this was an elaborate hoax perpetrated by her, inconveniencing the police and the many volunteers looking for her. And, it did not go unnoticed that using the name “Neele” at the hotel where had been staying or hiding, Christie had put the name of the woman her husband wanted to marry on the front page of every newspaper in the country.
Christie refused to discuss this incident for the rest of her life, although in her autobiography she stated that it created a life-long revulsion for the press, journalists, and crowds.
Despite the bitter experiences in 1926 with her first husband,
Agatha Christie found she was still very much the center of attention with men. And, at the age of 40, Agatha had a whole new life open up for her again, with rich new cultural opportunities. She married a man 14 years younger than she was, and they had an exceptionally happy relationship.
But for the 1926 escapades, writers often complain that Christie’s life is so unrewarding as a biographical subject. There is some truth to this, as you can see. Most of Christie’s life was spent relatively uneventfully.
There still little light shed on how her prodigious writing talents first developed. All we know is that Christie’s father died at an early age, and over time his death left her mother and siblings in a more difficult financial situation. These changed financial circumstances prompted Christie to see if she could earn money to help her family keep the seashore villa.
Christie’s first husband also had limited financial resources for the first few years of their marriage, and this gave her additional reason to try to earn some additional money through her writing.
These early efforts at writing led to her first publishing contract in 1919, at the age of 29. Agatha had received little financial reward for her efforts up to that point.
By 1923, she was starting to develop a reputation as a detective novelist. She continued writing at least one novel a year for the rest of her life, with her fame and reputation growing by leaps and bounds throughout the rest of her life. In 1971 she became “Dame of the British Empire,” which is an honorary rank equivalent to knighthood, but awarded much more rarely.
Observations about Her Writing Style
The question is often asked why Christie became internationally popular, and has remained popular, in so many different cultures and languages? Here are some ideas for you on this.
We know that she had an uncontested genius for constructing complex plots.
She wrote that her problem was not having a shortage of new ideas for her novels. To the contrary, she would have 5 different stories in her mind at the same time, requiring tremendous intellectual ability and energy to stay focused on one project.
In her stories, Christie did not stimulate readers’ interest in the cultural values of her day, which can date a writer’s work. Her stories remain as fresh and interesting today as when she wrote them.
She used a broad range of imaginative and atypical characters, which did not mirror the norm in society. Thus, for example, she would write about a young woman who was a solid breadwinner, or a woman over 60 who can dominate the life of family and community, or a murderess who was just as handsome, hard headed, and ambitious, as any man.
Christie had the insight and genius to create her great detective, Poirot, in her very first novel. There is something very clever about Poirot. He presents an image of a funny little man, with an egghead and moustache, who is a former policeman and possesses an outstanding intellect. However, you will note that he otherwise has no family, or nation, or class. His background is never developed or explained. Only in a very limited sense is he developed as a character. He serves instead as an efficient device or tool for Christie logically and uneventfully to tell her story without developing a new person which would distract her readers.
Similarly, Christie has developed a stereotypical friend in Captain Hastings, who serves another role in her stories. Since most of her stories deal with the upper middle class in British society, she uses Hastings, with his cultural and class connections, to gain Poirot access to the drawing rooms and the upstairs corridors and other intimate settings necessary for his investigations.
Round Table Discussion:The following questions will help you to recall the major moments of the writer’s life.
The Public PersonaIn what different, objective ways can we measure Christie’s popularity?
Which famous English writer has sold more copies of his writings than Agatha Christie? Is it a fair measure to compare the number of copies sold by these two great English writers? Why or why not?
Why is the public’s knowledge of Christie so limited?
In what different ways did Christie avoid public exposure?
What about Christie’s personality is as legendary as her books?
What made Christie decide to become a writer?
What was Christie chronically incapable of expressing in public?
As Christie got older, did she overcome her problem with shyness? What happened to her?
Describe why the incident at the Savoy Hotel, when Christie was 72 years old, is a good example of her shyness?
What psychological or mental disorder do some writers believe Christie suffered from? How does it affect people who suffer from it?
An Adventurous and Happy ChildhoodWhat was Christie’s childhood like?
What was so nice about where Christie grew up? How do you think this affected her writing later in life?
What was a distinguishing characteristic of Christie as a child?
In what way did Christie’s mother help her be bold and adventurous?
What are some of the ways in which Christie demonstrated she was a “free spirit”?
What did Christie do when she was 21 that was so unusual? Who helped her?
How well developed do you think an airplane would have been in 1911, such as the one Christie had the opportunity to fly in?
Would you have been as adventurous, if you had had the same opportunity to fly in an airplane in 1911? Why or why not?
Is there anything inconsistent about Christie being painfully shy in public, yet being bold and adventurous and spirited in her private life? Why or why not?
In what way was Christie raised as a traditional woman in the Victorian era in the late 19th and early 20th centuries?
How did Christie demonstrate she had a brilliant mind?
Despite her public shyness, how did Christie relate to the opposite sex?
Is there anything inconsistent here about her personality? Why or why not?
Highlights of Her Adult LifeAt what age did Christie marry for the first time?
What was Christie’s attitude to marriage?
How was Christie’s attitude to marriage similar to her childhood?
How long was Christie married for the first time?
What sensational news story did Christie create when she was 36 years old?
How did the public and the press relate to Christie’s disappearance at first?
How did the public and the press relate to Christie when they learned she had been living in a hotel the entire time she was missing?
What was ironic about the name Christie used to check into the hotel with, when she was missing for 11 days? Do you think she used this name deliberately? Why or why not?
How did Christie’s doctors try to explain her disappearance for 11 days?
Did Christie later in life explain what had happened to her during her disappearance for 11 days?
How did Christie explain this incident affected her, and her attitude to being in the public limelight?
Do you think this incident affected Christie the way she claimed, or do you think she had problems with being in the public limelight long before this incident occurred?
What happened to Christie at the age of 40?
What do writers often complain about when studying Christie’s life?
What do we know about how Christie’s writing talents developed?
Why did Christie start writing professionally?
At what age did Christie have her first publishing contract?
At what age did she start to develop a good reputation as a detective novelist?
Why was it an honor for Christie to be awarded the British rank of “Dame of the British Empire”?
Observations about Her Writing StyleWhat was Christie’s reputation as a detective novelist?
Was Christie lacking in ideas for her stories? Why or why not?
What in Christie’s writing style keeps her stories fresh and new?
Were Christie’s characters consistent with the roles normally played by men and women in society? Why or why not?
Who is the most famous of the characters in her novels and short stories?
In what book did Christie first develop the role of Hercule Poirot?
What is so clever about the role of Poirot in Christie’s books?
What do we know about Poirot's family, nationality, and class in society?
Who was Captain Hastings?
In what way did Christie use the role of Hastings to tell her detective stories? A FRUITFUL SUNDAY“Well, really, I call this too delightful,” said Miss Dorothy Pratt for the fourth time. “How I wish Mrs. Mackenzie could see me now!”.Miss Pratt’s companion did not reply at once for the best of reasons. When you have just purchased a Baby Austin, fourth hand, for the sum of twenty pounds, and are taking it out for the second time only, your whole attention is necessarily focused on the difficult task of using both hands and feet as the emergencies of the moment dictate.
“Well, you don’t talk to a girl much,” complained Dorothy.
Mr. Palgrove was saved from having to respond as at that moment he was roundly and soundly cursed by the driver of a motor omnibus.
“Well, of all the impudence,” said Miss Pratt, tossing her head.
“I only wish he had this footbrake,” said her swain bitterly.
“Is there anything wrong with it?”
“You can put your foot on it till kingdom comes,” said Mr. Palgrove. “But nothing happens.”
“Oh, well, Ted, you can’t expect everything for twenty pounds. After all here we are, in a real car, on Sunday afternoon going out of town the same as everybody else.””
“And you do drive something beautiful,” Dorothy added admiringly.
Inspired by feminine appreciation, Mr. Palgrove attempted a dash across Hammersmith Broadway and was severely spoken to by a policeman.
“Well, you never,” said Dorothy, as they went on towards Hammersmith Bridge in a moderate fashion. “You don’t know what the police are coming to.”
“Anyway, I didn’t want to go along this road,” said Edward sadly. “I wanted to go down the Great West Road and do a bust.”
“And be caught in a trap as likely as not,” said Dorothy. “That’s what happened to the master the other day. Five pounds and costs.”
“The police aren’t so dusty after all,” said Edward generously. “They pitch into the rich. All right. No favour. It makes me mad to think of these swells who can walk into a place and buy a couple of Rolls Royces without turning a hair. There’s no sense in it. I’m as good as they are.”
“And the jewellery,” said Dorothy, sighing. “Those shops in Bond Street. Diamonds and pearls and I don’t know what! And me with a string of Woolworth pearls.”
She brooded sadly upon the subject. Edward was able once more to give full attention to his driving. They managed to get through Richmond without mishap. The altercation with the policeman had shaken Edward’s nerve. He now took the line of least resistance, following blindly behind any car in front.
In this way he presently found himself following a shady country' lane which many an experienced motorist would have given his soul to find.
“Rather clever turning off the way I did,” said Edward, taking all the credit to himself.
“Sweetly pretty, I call it,” said Miss Pratt. “And I do declare, there’s a man with fruit to sell.”
Sure enough, at a convenient corner, was a small wicker table with baskets of fruit on it, and the legend Eat More Fruit displayed on a banner.
“How much?” said Edward apprehensively, when frenzied pulling of the handbrake had produced the desired result.
“Lovely strawberries,” said the man in charge. “Just the thing for the lady. Ripe fruit, fresh picked. Cherries too. Genuine English. Have a basket of cherries, lady?”
“They do look like nice ones,” said Dorothy.
“Lovely, that’s what they are,” said the man hoarsely. “Bring you luck, lady, that basket will.”
He at last looked down on Edward to reply. “Two shillings, sir, and dirt cheap. You’d say so if you know what was inside the basket.”
“They look awfully nice,” said Dorothy.
Edward sighed and paid over two shillings. His mind was obsessed by calculation. Tea later, petrol — this Sunday motoring business wasn’t what you’d call cheap. That was the worst of taking girls out! They always wanted everything they saw.
“Thank you, sir,” said the vendor. “You’ve got more than your money’s worth in that basket of cherries.”
Edward did not reply.
Another half-mile brought them to an ideal spot by the banks of a stream. The Austin was left by the side of the road and Edward and Dorothy sat affectionately upon the river bank and munched cherries. A Sunday paper lay unheeded at their feet.
“What’s the news?” said Edward at last, stretching himself flat on his back and tilting his hat to shade his eyes.
Dorothy glanced over the headlines.
“The Woeful Wife. Extraordinary story. Twenty-eight people drowned last week. Reported death of Airman. Startling Jewel Robbery. Ruby Necklace worth fifty thousand pounds missing. Oh, Ted! Fifty thousand pounds. Just fancy!” She went on reading. “The necklace is composed of twenty-one stones set in platinum and was sent by registered post from Paris. On arrival, the packet was found to contain a few pebbles and the jewels were missing.”
“Pinched in the post,” said Edward. “The posts in France are awful, I believe.”
“I’d like to see a necklace like that,” said Dorothy. “All glowing like blood — pigeon’s blood, that’s what they call the colour.
I wonder what it would feel like to have a thing like that hanging round your neck.”
“Well, you’re never likely to know, my girl,” said Edward facetiously.
Dorothy tossed her head.
“Why not, I should like to know. It’s amazing the way girls can get on in the world. I might go on the stage.”
“Girls that behave themselves don’t get anywhere,” said Edward discouragingly.
Dorothy opened her mouth to reply, checked herself, and murmured. “Pass me the cherries.”
“I’ve been eating more than you have,” she remarked. “I’ll divide up what’s left and — why, whatever’s this at the bottom of the basket?”
She drew it out as she spoke — a long glittering chain of blood-red stones.
They both stared at it in amazement.
“In the basket, did you say?” said Edward at last.
“Right at the bottom — under the fruit.”
Again they stared at each other.
“How did it get there do you think?”
“I can’t imagine. It’s odd. Ted, just after reading that bit in the paper — about the rubies.”
“You don’t imagine you’re holding fifty thousand pounds in your hand, do you?”
“I just said it was odd. Rubies set in platinum. Platinum is that sort of dull silvery stuff — like this. Don’t they sparkle and aren’t they a lovely colour? I wonder how many of them there are?” She counted.
“I say, Ted, there are twenty-one exactly.”
“Yes. The same number as the paper said. Oh, Ted, you don’t think—”
“It couldn’t be.” But he spoke irresolutely. “There’s some sort of way you can tell — scratching them on glass.”
“That’s diamonds. But you know, Ted, that was a very oddlooking man — the man with the fruit — a nasty-looking man.”
“And he was funny about it — said we’d got more than our money’s worth in the basket.”
“Yes, but look here, Dorothy, what would he want to hand us over fifty thousand pounds for?”
Miss Pratt shook her head, discouraged.
“It doesn’t seem to make sense,” she admitted. “Unless the police were after him.”
“The police?” Edward paled slightly.
“Yes. It goes on to say in the paper—‘the police have a clue’.” Cold shivers ran down Edward’s spine.
“I don’t like this, Dorothy. Supposing the police get after us.” Dorothy stared at him with her mouth open.
“But we haven’t done anything, Ted. We found it in the basket.” “And that’ll sound a silly sort of story to tell! It isn’t likely.” “It isn’t very,” admitted Dorothy. “Oh. Ted, do you really think it is it. It’s like a fairy story!””
“I don’t think it sounds like a fairy story,” said Edward. “It sounds to me more like the kind of story where the hero goes to Dartmoor unjustly accused for fourteen years.”
But Dorothy was not listening. She had clasped the necklace round her neck and was judging the effect in a small mirror taken from her handbag.
“The same as a duchess might wear,” she murmured ecstatically. “I won’t believe it,” said Edward violently. “They’re imitation. They must be imitation.”
“Yes, dear,” said Dorothy, still intent on her reflection in the mirror. “Very likely.”
“Anything else would be too much of a — a coincidence.” “Pigeon’s blood,” murmured Dorothy.
“It’s absurd. That’s what I say. Absurd. Look here, Dorothy, are you listening to what I say, or are you not?”
Dorothy put away the mirror. She turned to him, one hand on the rubies round her neck.
“How do I look?” she asked.
Edward stared at her, his grievance forgotten. He had never seen Dorothy quite like this. There was a triumph about her, a kind of regal beauty that was completely new to him. The belief that she had jewels round her neck worth fifty thousand pounds had made of Dorothy Pratt a new woman. She looked insolently serene, a kind of Cleopatra and Semiramis and Zenobia rolled into one.
“You look — you look — stunning,” said Edward humbly. Dorothy laughed, and her laugh too, was entirely different. “Look here,” said Edward. “We’ve got to do something. We must take them to a police station or something.”
“Nonsense,” said Dorothy. “You said yourself just now that they wouldn’t believe you. You’ll probably be sent to prison for stealing them.”
“But — but what else can we do?”
“Keep them,” said the new Dorothy Pratt.
Edward stared at her.
“Keep them? You’re mad.”
“We found them, didn’t we? Why should we think they’re valuable. We’ll keep them and I shall wear them.”
“And the police will pinch you.”
Dorothy considered this for a minute or two.
“All right,” she said. “We’ll sell them. And you can buy a Rolls Royce, or two Rolls Royces, and I’ll buy a diamond head- thing and some rings.”
Still Edward stared. Dorothy showed impatience. “You’ve got your chance now — it’s up to you to take it. We didn’t steal the thing — I wouldn’t hold with that. It’s come to us and it’s probably the only chance we’ll ever have of getting all the things we want. Haven’t you got any spunk at all. Edward Palgrove?”
Edward found his voice.
“Sell it, you say? That wouldn’t be so jolly easy. Any jeweller would want to know where I got the blooming thing.”
“You don’t take it to a jeweller. Don’t you ever read detective stories, Ted? You take it to a “fence”, of course.”
“And how should I know any fences? I’ve been brought up respectable.”
“Men ought to know everything,” said Dorothy. “That’s what they’re for.”
He looked at her. She was serene and unyielding.
“I wouldn’t have believed it of you,” he said weakly.
“I thought you had more spirit.”
There was a pause. Then Dorothy rose to her feet.
“Well,” she said lightly. “We’d better go home.”
“Wearing that thing round your neck?”
Dorothy removed the necklace, looked at it reverently and dropped it into her handbag.
“Look here,” said Edward. “You give that to me.”
“Yes, you do. I’ve been brought up honest, my girl.”
“Well, you can go on being honest. You need have nothing to do with it.”
“Oh, hand it over,” said Edward recklessly. “I’ll do it. I’ll find ‘a fence’. As you say, it’s the only chance we shall ever have. We came by it honest — bought it for two shillings. It’s no more than what gentlemen do in antique shops every day of their lives and are proud of it.”
“That’s it!” said Dorothy. “Oh, Edward, you’re splendid!”
She handed over the necklace and he dropped it into his pocket. He felt worked up, exalted, the very devil of a fellow! In this mood, he started the Austin. They were both too excited to remember tea.
They drove back to London in silence. Once at a crossroads, a policeman stepped towards the car, and Edward’s heart missed a beat. By a miracle, they reached home without mishap.
Edward’s last words to Dorothy were filled with the adventurous spirit.
“We’ll go through with this. Fifty thousand pounds! It’s worth it!”
He had bad dreams that night, and rose early, worn out and unrefreshed. He had to set about finding “a fence” — and how to do it he had not the remotest idea!
He could not focus on his work at the office, the question stuck in his mind: how did one find “a fence”?
On his return to the office after lunch a call came through for him on the telephone. Dorothy’s voice spoke — tragic and tearful.
“Is that you, Ted? I’m using the telephone, but she may come in any minute, and I’ll have to stop. Ted, you haven’t done anything, have you?”
Edward replied in the negative.
“Well, look here, Ted, you mustn’t. I’ve been lying awake all night. It’s been awful. Thinking of how it says in the Bible you mustn’t steal. I must have been mad yesterday — I really must. You won’t do anything, will you, Ted, dear?”
Did a feeling of relief steal over Mr. Palgrove? Possibly it did — but he wasn’t going to admit any such thing.
“When I say I’m going through with a thing, I go through with it,” he said in a voice such as might belong to a strong superman with eyes of steel.
“Oh, but, Ted, dear, you mustn’t. Oh, Lord, she’s coming. Look here, Ted, Mrs. Mackenzie is going out to dinner tonight. I can slip out and meet you. Don’t do anything till you’ve seen me. Eight o’clock. Wait for me round the corner.”
As Edward left the office at six o’clock, a huge headline caught his eye.
ASSIGNMENTS FOR STUDYThese assignments must of course be freely modified in accordance with actual needs. The discussions of the authors' works should sometimes, at least, be made by the student in writing, sometimes after a day or two of preliminary oral discussion in class. In addition to the special questions here included, the treatment of the various authors in the text often suggests topics for further consideration; and of course the material of the preliminary chapter is assumed. Any discussion submitted, either orally or in writing, may consist of a rather general treatment, dealing briefly with several topics; or it may be a fuller treatment of a single topic. Students should always express their own actual opinions, using the judgments of others, recorded in this book or elsewhere, as helps, not as final statements. Students should also aim always to be definite, terse, and clear.
Do not make such vague general statements as 'He has good choice of words,' but cite a list of characteristic words or skillful expressions. As often as possible, support your conclusions by quotations from, the author or by page-number references to relevant passages.
APPENDIX 1. SOME EXTRACTS OF STUDIED LITERATURE
First battle: Grendel
Beowulf begins with the story of King Hrothgar, who constructed the great hall HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heorot" \o "Heorot" Heorot for his people. In it he, his wife HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealhtheow" \o "Wealhtheow" Wealhtheow, and his warriors spend their time singing and celebrating, until Grendel, a troll-like monster who is pained by the noise, attacks the hall and kills and devours many of Hrothgar's warriors while they sleep. But Grendel does not touch the throne for it is described as being protected by the power of God. Hrothgar and his people, helpless against Grendel's attacks, abandon Heorot.
Beowulf, a young warrior from Geatland, hears of Hrothgar's troubles and with his king's permission leaves his homeland to help Hroðgar.
Beowulf and his men spend the night in Heorot. Beowulf uses weapons because he fears that he will be killed by Grendel, just like all of his previous opponents. During the battle, Beowulf has been feigning sleep and leaps up to clench Grendel's hand. The two battle until it seems as though the hall might collapse. Beowulf's retainers draw their swords and rush to his aid, but their blades cannot pierce Grendel's skin. Finally, Beowulf tears Grendel's arm from his body at the shoulder and Grendel runs to his home in the marshes and slowly dies.
Second battle: Grendel's Mother
The next night, after celebrating Grendel's defeat, Hrothgar and his men sleep in Heorot. Grendel's mother, angered by the punishment of her son, appears and attacks the hall. She kills Hrothgar's most trusted warrior, HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%86schere" \o "Æschere" Æschere, in revenge for Grendel's defeat.
Hrothgar, Beowulf and their men track Grendel's mother to her lair under a lake. Beowulf prepares himself for battle. He is presented with a sword, HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hrunting" \o "Hrunting" Hrunting, by HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unfer%C3%B0" \o "Unferð" Unferth, a warrior who had doubted him and wishes to make amends. After stipulating a number of conditions to Hrothgar in case of his death (including the taking in of his kinsmen and the inheritance by Unferth of Beowulf's estate), Beowulf dives into the lake. He is swiftly detected and attacked by Grendel's mother. However, she is unable to harm Beowulf through his armour and drags him to the bottom of the lake. In a cavern containing Grendel's body and the remains of men that the two have killed, Grendel's mother and Beowulf engage in fierce combat.
At first, Grendel's mother appears to prevail. Beowulf, finding that Hrunting cannot harm his foe, discards it in fury. Beowulf is again saved from his opponent's attack by his armour. Beowulf grabs a magical sword from Grendel's mother's treasure, and with it beheads her. Traveling further into the lair, Beowulf discovers Grendel's dying body and severs its head. The blade of the magic sword melts like ice when it touches Grendel's toxic blood, until only the hilt is left. Beowulf carries this hilt and the head of Grendel out of the cavern and presents them to Hrothgar upon his return to Heorot. Beowulf then returns to the surface and to his men at the "ninth hour" He returns to Heorot, where Hrothgar gives Beowulf many gifts, including (possibly) the sword HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N%C3%A6gling" \o "Nægling" Nægling, his family's heirloom. The hilt prompts a long reflection by the king, sometimes referred to as "Hrothgar's sermon", in which he urges Beowulf to be wary of pride and to reward his thanes.
Third battle: The Dragon
Beowulf returns home and eventually becomes king of his own people. One day, fifty years after Beowulf's battle with Grendel's mother, a slave steals a golden cup from the lair of an unnamed dragon at HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earnaness" \o "Earnaness" Earnaness. When the dragon sees that the cup has been stolen, it leaves its cave in a rage, burning everything in sight. Beowulf and his warriors come to fight the dragon, but Beowulf tells his men that he will fight the dragon alone and that they should wait on the barrow. Beowulf descends to do battle with the dragon but finds himself outmatched. His men, upon seeing this display and fearing for their lives, creep back into the woods. One of his men, however, Wiglaf, who finds great distress in seeing Beowulf's plight, comes to Beowulf's aid. The two slay the dragon, but Beowulf is mortally wounded. After Beowulf's death, he is ritually burned on a great pyre in Geatland while his people wail and mourn him. After, a barrow, visible from the sea, is built on his remains
Choose one of the suggested topics and comment on it or discuss it with your partner:
The role of women in the heroic culture of Beowulf.
Treasure function in Beowulf.
Is Beowulf an ideal hero and the king?
By Charlotte Bronte
There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question.
I was glad of it: I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed.
The said Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered round their mama in the drawing-room: she lay reclined on a sofa by the fireside, and with her darlings about her (for the time neither quarrelling nor crying) looked perfectly happy. Me, she had dispensed from joining the group; saying, ‘She regretted to be under the necessity of keeping me at a distance; but that until she heard from Bessie, and could discover by her own observation, that I was endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and childlike disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner— something lighter, franker, more natural, as it were—she really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy, little children.’
‘What does Bessie say I have done?’ I asked.
‘Jane, I don’t like cavillers or questioners; besides, there is something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that manner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly, remain silent.’
A breakfast-room adjoined the drawing-room, I slipped in there. It contained a bookcase: I soon possessed myself of a volume, taking care that it should be one stored with pictures. I mounted into the window-seat: gathering up my feet, I sat cross-legged, like a Turk; and, having drawn the red moreen curtain nearly close, I was shrined in double retirement.
Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the leaves of my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.
I returned to my book—Bewick’s History of British Birds: the letterpress thereof I cared little for, generally speaking; and yet there were certain introductory pages that, child as I was, I could not pass quite as a blank. They were those which treat of the haunts of sea-fowl; of ‘the solitary rocks and promontories’ by them only inhabited; of the coast of Norway, studded with isles from its southern extremity, the Lindeness, or Naze, to the North Cape -
‘Where the Northern Ocean, in vast whirls, Boils round the naked, melancholy isles Of farthest Thule; and the Atlantic surge
Pours in among the stormy Hebrides.’
Nor could I pass unnoticed the suggestion of the bleak shores of Lapland, Siberia, Spitzbergen, Nova Zembla, Iceland, Greenland, with ‘the vast sweep of the Arctic Zone, and those forlorn regions of dreary space,—that reservoir of frost and snow, where firm fields of ice, the accumulation of centuries of winters, glazed in Alpine heights above heights, surround the pole, and concentre the multiplied rigours of extreme cold.’ Of these deathwhite realms I formed an idea of my own: shadowy, like all the half-comprehended notions that float dim through children’s brains, but strangely impressive. The words in these introductory pages connected themselves with the succeeding vignettes, and gave significance to the rock standing up alone in a sea of billow and spray; to the broken boat stranded on a desolate coast; to the cold and ghastly moon glancing through bars of cloud at a wreck just sinking.
I cannot tell what sentiment haunted the quite solitary churchyard, with its inscribed headstone; its gate, its two trees, its low horizon, girdled by a broken wall, and its newly-risen crescent, attesting the hour of eventide.
The two ships becalmed on a torpid sea, I believed to be marine phantoms.
The fiend pinning down the thief’s pack behind him, I passed over quickly: it was an object of terror.
So was the black horned thing seated aloof on a rock, surveying a distant crowd surrounding a gallows.
Each picture told a story; mysterious often to my undeveloped understanding and imperfect feelings, yet ever profoundly interesting: as interesting as the tales Bessie sometimes narrated on winter evenings, when she chanced to be in good humour; and when, having brought her ironing-table to the nursery hearth, she allowed us to sit about it, and while she got up Mrs. Reed’s lace frills, and crimped her nightcap borders, fed our eager attention with passages of love and adventure taken from old fairy tales and other ballads; or (as at a later period I discovered) from the pages of Pamela, and Henry, Earl of Moreland.
With Bewick on my knee, I was then happy: happy at least in my way. I feared nothing but interruption, and that came too soon. The breakfast-room door opened.
‘Boh! Madam Mope!’ cried the voice of John Reed; then he paused: he found the room apparently empty.
‘Where the dickens is she!’ he continued. ‘Lizzy! Georgy! (calling to his sisters) Joan is not here: tell mama she is run out into the rain—bad animal!’
‘It is well I drew the curtain,’ thought I; and I wished fervently he might not discover my hiding-place: nor would John Reed have found it out himself; he was not quick either of vision or conception; but Eliza just put her head in at the door, and said at once - ‘She is in the window-seat, to be sure, Jack.’
And I came out immediately, for I trembled at the idea of being dragged forth by the said Jack.
‘What do you want?’ I asked, with awkward diffidence. ‘Say, ‘What do you want, Master Reed?’’ was the answer. ‘I want you to come here;’ and seating himself in an arm-chair, he intimated by a gesture that I was to approach and stand before him.
John Reed was a schoolboy of fourteen years old; four years older than I, for I was but ten: large and stout for his age, with a dingy and unwholesome skin; thick lineaments in a spacious visage, heavy limbs and large extremities. He gorged himself habitually at table, which made him bilious, and gave him a dim and bleared eye and flabby cheeks. He ought now to have been at school; but his mama had taken him home for a month or two, ‘on account of his delicate health.’ Mr. Miles, the master, affirmed that he would do very well if he had fewer cakes and sweetmeats sent him from home; but the mother’s heart turned from an opinion so harsh, and inclined rather to the more refined idea that John’s sallowness was owing to over-application and, perhaps, to pining after home.
John had not much affection for his mother and sisters, and an antipathy to me. He bullied and punished me; not two or three times in the week, nor once or twice in the day, but continually: every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel of flesh in my bones shrank when he came near. There were moments when I was bewildered by the terror he inspired, because I had no appeal whatever against either his menaces or his inflictions; the servants did not like to offend their young master by taking my part against him, and Mrs. Reed was blind and deaf on the subject: she never saw him strike or heard him abuse me, though he did both now and then in her very presence, more frequently, however, behind her back.
Habitually obedient to John, I came up to his chair: he spent some three minutes in thrusting out his tongue at me as far as he could without damaging the roots: I knew he would soon strike, and while dreading the blow, I mused on the disgusting and ugly appearance of him who would presently deal it. I wonder if he read that notion in my face; for, all at once, without speaking, he struck suddenly and strongly. I tottered, and on regaining my equilibrium retired back a step or two from his chair.
‘That is for your impudence in answering mama awhile since,’ said he, ‘and for your sneaking way of getting behind curtains, and for the look you had in your eyes two minutes since, you rat!’
Accustomed to John Reed’s abuse, I never had an idea of replying to it; my care was how to endure the blow which would certainly follow the insult.
‘What were you doing behind the curtain?’ he asked.
‘I was reading.’
‘Show the book.’
I returned to the window and fetched it thence.
‘You have no business to take our books; you are a dependent, mama says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen’s children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mama’s expense. Now, I’ll teach you to rummage my bookshelves: for they ARE mine; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. Go and stand by the door, out of the way of the mirror and the windows.’
I did so, not at first aware what was his intention; but when I saw him lift and poise the book and stand in act to hurl it, I instinctively started aside with a cry of alarm: not soon enough, however; the volume was flung, it hit me, and I fell, striking my head against the door and cutting it. The cut bled, the pain was sharp: my terror had passed its climax; other feelings succeeded.
‘Wicked and cruel boy!’ I said. ‘You are like a murderer—you are like a slave-driver—you are like the Roman emperors!’
I had read Goldsmith’s History of Rome, and had formed my opinion of Nero, Caligula, &c. Also I had drawn parallels in silence, which I never thought thus to have declared aloud.
‘What! what!’ he cried. ‘Did she say that to me? Did you hear her, Eliza and Georgiana? Won’t I tell mama? but first—‘
He ran headlong at me: I felt him grasp my hair and my shoulder: he had closed with a desperate thing. I really saw in him a tyrant, a murderer. I felt a drop or two of blood from my head trickle down my neck, and was sensible of somewhat pungent suffering: these sensations for the time predominated over fear, and I received him in frantic sort. I don’t very well know what I did with my hands, but he called me ‘Rat! Rat!’ and bellowed out aloud. Aid was near him: Eliza and Georgiana had run for Mrs. Reed, who was gone upstairs: she now came upon the scene, followed by Bessie and her maid Abbot. We were parted: I heard the words -
‘Dear! dear! What a fury to fly at Master John!’
‘Did ever anybody see such a picture of passion!’
Then Mrs. Reed subjoined -
‘Take her away to the red-room, and lock her in there.’ Four hands were immediately laid upon me, and I was borne upstairs.
Practice the pronunciation of the words from the text:
sombre, endeavouring, cavillers, moreen, reservoir, vignettes, crescent, equilibrium
Vocabulary and Grammar Tasks
Translate into Russian and give situations from the text:
be shrined, lamentable blast, haunts of sea-fowl; promontories, rigours of extreme cold, cold and ghastly moon, , girdl, eventide, becalm, fiend,gallows, nursery hearth, lace frills, crimp,
fervently, diffidence, dingy and unwholesome skin; thick lineaments, gorge, bilious, bleared eye and flabby cheeks, sweetmeats, sallowness, morsel of flesh be bewildered by, menaces or his inflictions; dreading the blow, muse totter, impudence, sneaking way, endure the blow,
thence, to rummage, poise the book, headlong pungent suffering in frantic sort, bellowed out,
Convert these sentences into indirect speech:
‘That is for your impudence in answering mama awhile since,’ said he, ‘and for your sneaking way of getting behind curtains, and for the look you had in your eyes two minutes since, you rat!’
Accustomed to John Reed’s abuse, I never had an idea of replying to it; my care was how to endure the blow which would certainly follow the insult.
‘What were you doing behind the curtain?’ he asked.
‘I was reading.’
‘Show the book.’
I returned to the window and fetched it thence.
‘You have no business to take our books; you are a dependent, mama says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen’s children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mama’s expense. Now, I’ll teach you to rummage my bookshelves: for they ARE mine; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. Go and stand by the door, out of the way of the mirror and the windows.’
Reading Comprehension and Discussion Tasks
Retell the story as if you were Jane according to the plan:
I never liked long walks
Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered round their mama in the drawing-room
I sat cross-legged, like a Turk
‘You are like a murderer—you are like a slave-driver—you are like the Roman emperors!’
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
By Robert Louis Stevenson
SEARCH FOR MR. HYDE
THAT evening Mr. Utterson came home to his bachelor house in sombre spirits and sat down to dinner without relish. It was his custom of a Sunday, when this meal was over, to sit close by the fire, a volume of some dry divinity on his reading-desk, until the clock of the neighbouring church rang out the hour of twelve, when he would go soberly and gratefully to bed. On this night, however, as soon as the cloth was taken away, he took up a candle and went into his business-room. There he opened his safe, took from the most private part of it a document endorsed on the envelope as Dr. Jekyll’s Will, and sat down with a clouded brow to study its contents.
The will was holograph, for Mr. Utterson, though he took charge of it now that it was made, had refused to lend the least assistance in the making of it; it provided not only that, in case of the decease of Henry Jekyll, M.D., D.C.L., LL.D., F.R.S., etc., all his possessions were to pass into the hands of his ‘friend and benefactor Edward Hyde,’ but that in case of
Dr. Jekyll’s ‘disappearance or unexplained absence for any period exceeding three calendar months,’ the said Edward Hyde should step into the said Henry Jekyll’s shoes without further delay and free from any burthen or obligation, beyond the payment of a few small sums to the members of the doctor’s household. This document had long been the lawyer’s eyesore. It offended him both as a lawyer and as a lover of the sane and customary sides of life, to whom the fanciful was the immodest. And hitherto it was his ignorance of Mr. Hyde that had swelled his indignation; now, by a sudden turn, it was his knowledge. It was already bad enough when the name was but a name of which he could learn no more. It was worse when it began to be clothed upon with detestable attributes; and out of the shifting, insubstantial mists that had so long baffled his eye, there leaped up the sudden, definite presentment of a fiend.
‘I thought it was madness,’ he said, as he replaced the obnoxious paper in the safe, ‘and now I begin to fear it is disgrace.’
With that he blew out his candle, put on a great-coat, and set forth in the direction of Cavendish Square, that citadel of medicine, where his friend, the great Dr. Lanyon, had his house and received his crowding patients.
‘If any one knows, it will be Lanyon,’ he had thought.
The solemn butler knew and welcomed him; he was subjected to no stage of delay, but ushered direct from the door to the dining-room where Dr. Lanyon sat alone over his wine. This was a hearty, healthy, dapper, red-faced gentleman, with a shock of hair prematurely white, and a boisterous and decided manner. At sight of Mr. Utterson, he sprang up from his chair and welcomed him with both hands. The geniality, as was the way of the man, was somewhat theatrical to the eye; but it reposed on genuine feeling. For these two were old friends, old mates both at school and college, both thorough respecters of themselves and of each other, and, what does not always follow, men who thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.
After a little rambling talk, the lawyer led up to the subject which so disagreeably pre-occupied his mind.
‘I suppose, Lanyon,’ said he ‘you and I must be the two oldest friends that Henry Jekyll has?’
‘I wish the friends were younger,’ chuckled Dr. Lanyon. ‘But I suppose we are. And what of that? I see little of him now.’
Indeed?’ said Utterson. ‘I thought you had a bond of common interest.’
‘We had,’ was the reply. ‘But it is more than ten years since Henry Jekyll became too fanciful for me. He began to go wrong, wrong in mind; and though of course I continue to take an interest in him for old sake’s sake, as they say, I see and I have seen devilish little of the man.
Such unscientific balderdash,’ added the doctor, flushing suddenly purple, ‘would have estranged Damon and Pythias.’
This little spirit of temper was somewhat of a relief to Mr. Utterson. ‘They have only differed on some point of science,’ he thought; and being a man of no scientific passions (except in the matter of conveyancing), he even added: ‘It is nothing worse than that!’ He gave his friend a few seconds to recover his composure, and then approached the question he had come to put. ‘Did you ever come across a protege of his — one Hyde?’ he asked.
‘Hyde?’ repeated Lanyon. ‘No. Never heard of him. Since my time.’
That was the amount of information that the lawyer carried back with him to the great, dark bed on which he tossed to and fro, until the small hours of the morning began to grow large. It was a night of little ease to his toiling mind, toiling in mere darkness and besieged by questions.
Six o ‘clock struck on the bells of the church that was so conveniently near to Mr. Utterson’s dwelling, and still he was digging at the problem. Hitherto it had touched him on the intellectual side alone; but now his imagination also was engaged, or rather enslaved; and as he lay and tossed in the gross darkness of the night and the curtained room, Mr. Enfield’s tale went by before his mind in a scroll of lighted pictures. He would be aware of the great field of lamps of a nocturnal city; then of the figure of a man walking swiftly; then of a child running from the doctor’s; and then these met, and that human Juggernaut trod the child down and passed on regardless of her screams. Or else he would see a room in a rich house, where his friend lay asleep, dreaming and smiling at his dreams; and then the door of that room would be opened, the curtains of the bed plucked apart, the sleeper recalled, and lo! there would stand by his side a figure to whom power was given, and even at that dead hour, he must rise and do its bidding. The figure in these two phases haunted the lawyer all night; and if at any time he dozed over, it was but to see it glide more stealthily through sleeping houses, or move the more swiftly and still the more swiftly, even to dizziness, through wider labyrinths of lamplighted city, and at every street-corner crush a child and leave her screaming. And still the figure had no face by which he might know it; even in his dreams, it had no face, or one that baffled him and melted before his eyes; and thus it was that there sprang up and grew apace in the lawyer’s mind a singularly strong, almost an inordinate, curiosity to behold the features of the real Mr. Hyde. If he could but once set eyes on him, he thought the mystery would lighten and perhaps roll altogether away, as was the habit of mysterious things when well examined. He might see a reason for his friend’s strange preference or bondage (call it which you please) and even for the startling clause of the will. At least it would be a face worth seeing: the face of a man who was without bowels of mercy: a face which had but to show itself to raise up, in the mind of the unimpressionable Enfield, a spirit of enduring hatred. From that time forward, Mr. Utterson began to haunt the door in the by-street of shops. In the morning before office hours, at noon when business was plenty, and time scarce, at night under the face of the fogged city moon, by all lights and at all hours of solitude or concourse, the lawyer was to be found on his chosen post.
‘If he be Mr. Hyde,’ he had thought, ‘I shall be Mr. Seek.’
And at last his patience was rewarded. It was a fine dry night; frost in the air; the streets as clean as a ballroom floor; the lamps, unshaken, by any wind, drawing a regular pattern of light and shadow. By ten o’clock, when the shops were closed, the by-street was very solitary and, in spite of the low growl of London from all round, very silent. Small sounds carried far; domestic sounds out of the houses were clearly audible on either side of the roadway; and the rumour of the approach of any passenger preceded him by a long time. Mr. Utterson had been some minutes at his post, when he was aware of an odd, light footstep drawing near. In the course of his nightly patrols, he had long grown accustomed to the quaint effect with which the footfalls of a single person, while he is still a great way off, suddenly spring out distinct from the vast hum and clatter of the city. Yet his attention had never before been so sharply and decisively arrested; and it was with a strong, superstitious prevision of success that he withdrew into the entry of the court.
The steps drew swiftly nearer, and swelled out suddenly louder as they turned the end of the street. The lawyer, looking forth from the entry, could soon see what manner of man he had to deal with. He was small and very plainly dressed, and the look of him, even at that distance, went somehow strongly against the watcher’s inclination. But he made straight for the door, crossing the roadway to save time; and as he came, he drew a key from his pocket like one approaching home.
Mr. Utterson stepped out and touched him on the shoulder as he passed.’ Mr. Hyde, I think?’
Mr. Hyde shrank back with a hissing intake of the breath. But his fear was only momentary; and though he did not look the lawyer in the face, he answered coolly enough: ‘That is my name. What do you want?’
‘I see you are going in,’ returned the lawyer. ‘I am an old friend of Dr. Jekyll’s — Mr. Utterson of Gaunt Street — you must have heard my name; and meeting you so conveniently, I thought you might admit me.’
‘You will not find Dr. Jekyll; he is from home,’ replied Mr. Hyde, blowing in the key. And then suddenly, but still without looking up, ‘How did you know me?’ he asked.
‘On your side,’ said Mr. Utterson, ‘will you do me a favour?’
‘With pleasure,’ replied the other. ‘What shall it be?’
‘Will you let me see your face?’ asked the lawyer.
Mr. Hyde appeared to hesitate, and then, as if upon some sudden reflection, fronted about with an air of defiance; and the pair stared at each other pretty fixedly for a few seconds. ‘Now I shall know you again,’ said Mr. Utterson.’ It may be useful.’
‘Yes,’ returned Mr. Hyde, ‘it is as well we have, met; and a propos, you should have my address.’ And he gave a number of a street in Soho.
‘Good God!’ thought Mr. Utterson,’ can he, too, have been thinking of the will?’ But he kept his feelings to himself and only grunted in acknowledgment of the address.
‘And now,’ said the other, ‘how did you know me?’
‘By description,’ was the reply.
‘We have common friends, said Mr. Utterson.
‘Common friends?’ echoed Mr. Hyde, a little hoarsely.’ Who are they?’
‘Jekyll, for instance,’ said the lawyer.
‘He never told you,’ cried Mr. Hyde, with a flush of anger.’ I did not think you would have lied.’
‘Come,’ said Mr. Utterson, ‘that is not fitting language.’
The other snarled aloud into a savage laugh; and the next moment, with extraordinary quickness, he had unlocked the door and disappeared into the house. The lawyer stood a while when Mr. Hyde had left him, the picture of disquietude. Then he began slowly to mount the street, pausing every step or two and putting his hand to his brow like a man in mental perplexity. The problem he was thus debating as he walked, was one of a class that is rarely solved. Mr. Hyde was pale and dwarfish, he gave an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation, he had a displeasing smile, he had borne himself to the lawyer with a sort of murderous mixture of timidity and boldness, and he spoke with a husky, whispering and somewhat broken voice; all these were points against him, but not all of these together could explain the hitherto unknown disgust, loathing, and fear with which Mr. Utterson regarded him. ‘There must be some-thing else,’ said the perplexed gentleman. ‘There is something more, if I could find a name for it. God bless me, the man seems hardly human! Something troglodytic, shall we say? or can it be the old story of Dr. Fell? or Is it the mere radiance of a foul soul that thus transpires through, and transfigures, its clay continent? The last, I think; for, O my poor old Harry Jekyll , if ever I read Satan’s signature upon a face, it Is on that of your new friend.’
Practice the pronunciation of the words from the text:
sombre spirits, burthen, obnoxious, prematurely, boisterous, geniality, a protégé, Hitherto, nocturnal city; perplexity, dwarfish.
Vocabulary and Grammar Tasks
Translate into Russian and give situations from the text:
Relish, endorsed, take charge of, decease, lawyer’s eyesore, hitherto, detestable attributes; fiend, solemn butler, dapper, for old sake’s sake, devilish, balderdash, estranged, matter of conveyancing), tossed to and fro, toiling mind, besieged, baffle inordinate, bowels of mercy,
a hissing intake of the breath, a propos, a displeasing smile, murderous mixture of timidity and boldness.
Convert these sentences into indirect speech:
‘I see you are going in,’ returned the lawyer. ‘I am an old friend of Dr. Jekyll’s — Mr. Utterson of Gaunt Street — you must have heard my name; and meeting you so conveniently, I thought you might admit me.’
‘You will not find Dr. Jekyll; he is from home,’ replied Mr. Hyde, blowing in the key. And then suddenly, but still without looking up, ‘How did you know me?’ he asked.
‘On your side,’ said Mr. Utterson, ‘will you do me a favour?’
‘With pleasure,’ replied the other. ‘What shall it be?’
‘Will you let me see your face?’ asked the lawyer.
Reading Comprehension and Discussion Tasks
What was his custom of a Sunday, when this meal was over, to sit close by the fire, a volume of some dry divinity on his reading-desk, until the clock of the neighbouring church rang out the hour of twelve, when he would go soberly and gratefully to bed.
What did he take from his safe?
Where did he go afrter that?
What kind of man was Dr. Lanyon?
What kind of information did the lawyer carry back with him to the great, dark bed?
Why was he frightened?
Retell the story.
THE MAN WITH THE SCAR by Somerset Maugham
It was on account of the scar that I first noticed him, for it ran, broad and red, from his temple to his chin. This scar spoke of a terrible wound and 1 wondered whether it had been caused by a sabre or by a fragment of shell. It was unexpected on that round, fat and good-humoured face. He had small features and his face went oddly with his large and fat body. He was a powerful man of more than common height. I never saw him in anything, but a very shabby grey suit, a khaki shirt and an old sombrero. He was far from clean. He used to come into the Palace Hotel at Guatemala City every day at cocktail time and tried to sell lottery tickets. I never saw anyone buy, but now and then I saw him offered a drink. He never refused it. He walked among the tables, pausing at each table, with a little smile offered the lottery tickets and when no notice was taken of him with the same smile passed on. I think he was the most part a little drunk. I was standing at the bar one evening with an acquaintance when the man with the scar came up. I shook my head as for the twentieth time since my arrival he held out his lottery tickets to me. But my companion greeted him, kindly.
“How is life, general?”
“Not so bad. Business is not too good, but it might be worse.”
“What will you have, general?”
He drank it and put the glass back on the bar. He nodded to my acquaintance.
Then he turned away and offered his tickets to the men who were standing next to us.
“Who is your friend?” I asked. “That’s a terrific scar on his face.”
“It doesn’t add to his beauty, does it? He’s an exile from Nicaragua. He’s a ruffian of course and a bandit, but not a bad fellow. I give him a few pesos now and then. He took part in a rebellion and was general of the rebellious troops. If his ammunition hadn’t given out he’d have upset the government and would be minister of war now instead of selling lottery tickets in Guatemala. They captured him together with his staff, and tried him by court-martial. Such things are usually done without delay in these countries, you know, and he was sentenced to be shot at dawn. I think he knew what was coming to him when he was caught. He spent the night in jail and he and the others, there were five of them altogether, passed the time playing poker. They used matches for chips. He told me he’d never had such bad luck in his life: he lost and lost all the time. When the day broke and the soldiers came into the cell to fetch them for execution he had lost more matches than a man could use in a life-time.
“They were led into the courtyard of the jail and placed against a wall, the five of them side by side with the firing squad facing them. There was a pause and our friend asked the officer commanding the squad what the devil they were keeping him waiting for. The officer said that the general commanding the troops wished to attend the execution and they awaited his arrival.
“‘Then I have time to smoke another cigarette,’ said our friend.
“But he had hardly lit it when the general came into the courtyard. The usual formalities were performed and the general asked the condemned men whether there was anything they wished before the execution took place. Four of the five shook their heads, but our friend spoke.
“Yes, I should like to say good-bye to my wife.’
‘Good,’ said the general, “I have no objection to that. Where is she?’
“‘She is waiting at the prison door.’
‘Then it will not cause a delay of more than five minutes.”
‘Hardly that, Senor General.’
‘Have him placed on one side.’
“Two soldiers advanced and between them the condemned rebel walked to the spot indicated. The officer in command of the firing squad on a nod from the general gave an order and the four men fell. They fell strangely, not together, but one after the other, with movements that were almost grotesque, as though they were puppets in a toy theatre. The officer went up to them and into one who was still alive emptied his revolver. Our friend finished his cigarette.
There was a little stir at the gateway. A woman came into the courtyard, with quick steps, and then, her hand on her heart, stopped suddenly. She gave a cry' and with outstretched arms ran forward.
“Caramba,’ said the general.
“She was in black, with a veil over her hair, and her face was dead white. She was hardly more than a girl, a slim creature, with little regular features and enormous eyes. Her loveliness was such that as she ran, her mouth slightly open and the agony on her beautiful face, even the indifferent soldiers who looked at her gave a gasp of surprise.
“The rebel advanced a step or two to meet her. She threw herself into his arms and with a cry of passion: ‘soul of my heart,’ he pressed his lips to hers. And at the same moment he drew a knife from his ragged shirt — I haven’t a notion how he had managed to keep it — and stabbed her in the heck. The blood spurted from the cut vein and dyed his shirt. Then he threw his arms round her and once more pressed his lips to hers.
“It happened so quickly that many didn’t know what had occurred, but the others gave a cry of horror; they sprang forward and seized him. They laid the girl on the ground and stood round watching her. The rebel knew where he was striking and it was impossible to stop the blood. In a moment the officer who had been kneeling by her side rose.
“She’s dead,’ he whispered.
The rebel crossed himself.
‘Why did you do it?’ asked the general.
“He loved her.’
“A sort of sigh passed through those men crowded together and they looked with strange faces at the murderer. The general stared at him for a while in silence.
‘It was a noble gesture,’ he said at last, T cannot execute this man. Take my car and drive him to the frontier. I honour you, Senor, as one brave man must honour another.’
“And between the two soldiers without a word the rebel marched to the waiting car.”
My friend stopped and for a little while I was silent. I must explain that he was a Guatemaltecan and spoke to me in Spanish. I have translated what he told me as well as I could, but I have made no attempt to change his rather high-flown language. To tell the truth I think it suits the story.
“But how then did he get the scar?” I asked at last.
“Oh, that was due to a bottle that burst when he was opening it. A bottle of ginger ale.”
“I never liked it,” said I.
Exercises Pre-reading Tasks
How do you think the man in the story got the scar? Invent two possible story lines (5-6 sentences).
Practise the pronunciation of the words from the story.
Sabre, height, sombrero, Guatemala, exile, Nicaragua, ruffian, rebellion, rebel (n), rebel (v), court-martial, jail, execution, squad, condemned, grotesque, ragged, kneel, sigh, noble, frontier.
Vocabulary and Grammar Tasks
Find in the story the English for:
шрам от виска до подбородка, добродушное лицо, довольно грязный, время от времени, знакомый, протянуть билет кому-либо, судить военным судом, быть приговоренным к расстрелу, проводить время, не везти (об удаче), заставлять кого-либо ждать, присутствовать на казни, выполнять формальности, правильные черты лица, наносить удар ножом, высокопарный язык, из-за чего-либо.
Convert these sentences into indirect speech.
“How’s life, general?”
“Not so bad. Business is not too good, but it might be worse.”
“What will you have, general?”
“She’s dead,” he whispered.
The rebel crossed himself.
“Why did you do it?” asked the general.
“I loved her.”
“But how then did he get the scar?” I asked at last.
“Oh, that was due to a bottle that burst when he was opening it. A bottle of ginger ale.”
“I never liked it,” said I.
Convert these sentences into the Passive Voice.
My companion greeted him.
They captured him together with his staff and tried him by court-martial.
They used matches for chips.
He drew a knife from his ragged shirt.
They laid the girl on the ground.
Reading Comprehension and Discussion Tasks
Answer the following questions:
Why did the author notice the man? What did the scar speak of?
What did the man with the scar look like? What was he like?
What did he use to do?
Who told the author the story of the man? How did he characterize him?
Where was the man with the scar from?
Why was he tried by court-martial? What was the sentence?
How did he spend the night before the execution?
How was the execution carried out? Why was there a pause?
What was the man’s last wish? Why was it easy to fulfil?
What did his wife look like?
What happened when she threw herself into his arms? Why did the man with the scar stab her in the neck?
Why did the general say he couldn’t execute the man? What did he order the soldiers to do?
Where did the man get the scar?
Retell the story according to the outline using the given words and word combinations.
The frame of the story: the beginning which expresses the problem and the purpose, and the end in which the author provides the answer to the main questiorr.-
To speak of, to be caused by, of more than common height, a shabby suit, far from clean, used to come, now and then, offer smb a drink, to refuse smth, to take no notice of, an acquaintance, to shake one’s head, to hold out smth to, to nod to, due to.
The rebellion and the night in jail.
To capture, to try by court-martial, without delay, to be sentenced to, at dawn, to pass the time, to have bad luck.
2) The execution.
To be led, to face smb, to keep smb waiting, to attend the execution, to perform the formalities, to have no objection to, to cause a delay, on a nod from the general, grotesque, puppets in a toy theatre.
The last wish.
To give a cry, a slim creature, regular features, indifferent soldiers, to throw oneself into smb’s arms, to draw a knife from, to stab smb in the neck, the cut vein, to seize, to lay smb on the ground, to stare at, a noble gesture, the frontier, to honour.
All is well that ends well by William Shakespeare
SCENE I. Rousillon. The COUNT's palace.
Enter BERTRAM, the COUNTESS of Rousillon, HELENA, and LAFEU, all in black
COUNTESSIn delivering my son from me, I bury a second husband.BERTRAMAnd I in going, madam, weep o'er my father's death anew: but I must attend his majesty's command, to whom I am now in ward, evermore in subjection.LAFEUYou shall find of the king a husband, madam; you, sir, a father: he that so generally is at all times good must of necessity hold his virtue to you; whose worthiness would stir it up where it wanted rather than lack it where there is such abundance.COUNTESSWhat hope is there of his majesty's amendment?LAFEUHe hath abandoned his physicians, madam; under whose practices he hath persecuted time with hope, and finds no other advantage in the process but only the losing of hope by time.COUNTESSThis young gentlewoman had a father,--O, that 'had'! how sad a passage 'tis!--whose skill was almost as great as his honesty; had it stretched so far, would have made nature immortal, and death should have play for lack of work. Would, for the king's sake, he were living! I think it would be the death of the king's disease.LAFEUHow called you the man you speak of, madam?COUNTESSHe was famous, sir, in his profession, and it was his great right to be so: Gerard de Narbon.LAFEUHe was excellent indeed, madam: the king very lately spoke of him admiringly and mourningly: he was skillful enough to have lived still, if knowledge could be set up against mortality.BERTRAMWhat is it, my good lord, the king languishes of?LAFEUA fistula, my lord.BERTRAMI heard not of it before.LAFEUI would it were not notorious. Was this gentlewoman the daughter of Gerard de Narbon?COUNTESSHis sole child, my lord, and bequeathed to my overlooking. I have those hopes of her good that her education promises; her dispositions she inherits, which makes fair gifts fairer; for where an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, there commendations go with pity; they are virtues and traitors too; in her they are the better for their simpleness; she derives her honesty and achieves her goodness.LAFEUYour commendations, madam, get from her tears.COUNTESS'Tis the best brine a maiden can season her praise in. The remembrance of her father never approaches her heart but the tyranny of her sorrows takes all livelihood from her cheek. No more of this, Helena; go to, no more; lest it be rather thought you affect a sorrow than have it.HELENAI do affect a sorrow indeed, but I have it too.LAFEUModerate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the enemy to the living.COUNTESSIf the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.BERTRAMMadam, I desire your holy wishes.LAFEUHow understand we that?COUNTESSBe thou blest, Bertram, and succeed thy father In manners, as in shape! thy blood and virtue. Contend for empire in thee, and thy goodness Share with thy birthright! Love all, trust a few, Do wrong to none: be able for thine enemy Rather in power than use, and keep thy friend Under thy own life's key: be cheque'd for silence, But never tax'd for speech. What heaven more will, That thee may furnish and my prayers pluck down, Fall on thy head! Farewell, my lord; 'Tis an unseason'd courtier; good my lord, Advise him.LAFEUHe cannot want the best That shall attend his love.COUNTESSHeaven bless him! Farewell, Bertram.Exit
BERTRAM[To HELENA] The best wishes that can be forged in your thoughts be servants to you! Be comfortable to my mother, your mistress, and make much of her.LAFEUFarewell, pretty lady: you must hold the credit of your father.HELENAO, were that all! I think not on my father; And these great tears grace his remembrance more. Than those I shed for him. What was he like? I have forgot him: my imagination Carries no favour in't but Bertram's. I am undone: there is no living, none, If Bertram be away. 'Twere all one That I should love a bright particular star And think to wed it, he is so above me: In his bright radiance and collateral light Must I be comforted, not in his sphere. The ambition in my love thus plagues itself: The hind that would be mated by the lion Must die for love. 'Twas pretty, though plague, To see him every hour; to sit and draw His arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls, In our heart's table; heart too capable Of every line and trick of his sweet favour: But now he's gone, and my idolatrous fancy Must sanctify his reliques. Who comes here?Enter PAROLLES
One that goes with him: I love him for his sake; And yet I know him a notorious liar, Think him a great way fool, solely a coward; Yet these fixed evils sit so fit in him, That they take place, when virtue's steely bones Look bleak i' the cold wind: withal, full oft we see Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.PAROLLESSave you, fair queen!HELENAAnd you, monarch!PAROLLESNo.HELENAAnd no.PAROLLESAre you meditating on virginity?HELENAAy. You have some stain of soldier in you: let me ask you a question. Man is enemy to virginity; how may we barricado it against him?PAROLLESKeep him out.HELENABut he assails; and our virginity, though valiant, in the defence yet is weak: unfold to us some warlike resistance.PAROLLESThere is none: man, sitting down before you, will undermine you and blow you up.HELENABless our poor virginity from underminers and blowers up! Is there no military policy, how virgins might blow up men?PAROLLESVirginity being blown down, man will quicklier be blown up: marry, in blowing him down again, with the breach yourselves made, you lose your city. It is not politic in the commonwealth of nature to preserve virginity. Loss of virginity is rational increase and there was never virgin got till virginity was first lost. That you were made of is metal to make virgins. Virginity by being once lost may be ten times found; by being ever kept, it is ever lost: 'tis too cold a companion; away with 't!HELENAI will stand for 't a little, though therefore I die a virgin.PAROLLESThere's little can be said in 't; 'tis against the rule of nature. To speak on the part of virginity, is to accuse your mothers; which is most infallible disobedience. He that hangs himself is a virgin: virginity murders itself and should be buried in highways out of all sanctified limit, as a desperate offendress against nature. Virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese; consumes itself to the very paring, and so dies with feeding his own stomach. Besides, virginity is peevish, proud, idle, made of self-love, which is the most inhibited sin in the canon. Keep it not; you cannot choose but loose by't: out with 't! within ten year it will make itself ten, which is a goodly increase; and the principal itself not much the worse: away with 't!HELENAHow might one do, sir, to lose it to her own liking?PAROLLESLet me see: marry, ill, to like him that ne'er it likes. 'Tis a commodity will lose the gloss with lying; the longer kept, the less worth: off with 't while 'tis vendible; answer the time of request. Virginity, like an old courtier, wears her cap out of fashion: richly suited, but unsuitable: just like the brooch and the tooth-pick, which wear not now. Your date is better in your pie and your porridge than in your cheek; and your virginity, your old virginity, is like one of our French withered pears, it looks ill, it eats drily; marry, 'tis a withered pear; it was formerly better; marry, yet 'tis a withered pear: will you anything with it?HELENANot my virginity yet [ ] There shall your master have a thousand loves, A mother and a mistress and a friend, A phoenix, captain and an enemy, A guide, a goddess, and a sovereign, A counsellor, a traitress, and a dear; His humble ambition, proud humility, His jarring concord, and his discord dulcet, His faith, his sweet disaster; with a world Of pretty, fond, adoptious christendoms, That blinking Cupid gossips. Now shall he-- I know not what he shall. God send him well! The court's a learning place, and he is one--PAROLLESWhat one, i' faith?HELENAThat I wish well. 'Tis pity--PAROLLESWhat's pity?HELENAThat wishing well had not a body in't, Which might be felt; that we, the poorer born, Whose baser stars do shut us up in wishes, Might with effects of them follow our friends, And show what we alone must think, which never Return us thanks.PageMonsieur Parolles, my lord calls for you.PAROLLESLittle Helen, farewell; if I can remember thee, I will think of thee at court.HELENAMonsieur Parolles, you were born under a charitable star.PAROLLESUnder Mars, I.HELENAI especially think, under Mars.PAROLLESWhy under Mars?HELENAThe wars have so kept you under that you must needs be born under Mars.PAROLLESWhen he was predominant.HELENAWhen he was retrograde, I think, rather.PAROLLESWhy think you so?HELENAYou go so much backward when you fight.PAROLLESThat's for advantage.HELENASo is running away, when fear proposes the safety; but the composition that your valour and fear makes in you is a virtue of a good wing, and I like the wear well.PAROLLESI am so full of businesses, I cannot answer thee acutely. I will return perfect courtier; in the which, my instruction shall serve to naturalize thee, so thou wilt be capable of a courtier's counsel and understand what advice shall thrust upon thee; else thou diest in thine unthankfulness, and thine ignorance makes thee away: farewell. When thou hast leisure, say thy prayers; when thou hast none, remember thy friends; get thee a good husband, and use him as he uses thee; so, farewell.HELENAOur remedies oft in ourselves do lie, Which we ascribe to heaven: the fated sky Gives us free scope, only doth backward pull Our slow designs when we ourselves are dull. What power is it which mounts my love so high, That makes me see, and cannot feed mine eye? The mightiest space in fortune nature brings To join like likes and kiss like native things. Impossible be strange attempts to those That weigh their pains in sense and do suppose What hath been cannot be: who ever strove So show her merit, that did miss her love? The king's disease--my project may deceive me, But my intents are fix'd and will not leave me.EXERCISES
1Give the Russian equivalent to the Title of the text.
2Practice the pronunciation of the words from the drama
Bequeathed. courtier; valour
Vocabulary and Grammar Tasks
Find in the story the the following words and word combinations and translate them:
Lamentation, idolatrous fancy, virginity
Give modern English variants of the following grammar forms:
hath abandoned, 'Tis the best brine, Be thou blest, thy blood, Contend for empire in thee, be able for thine enemy, be cheque'd for silence, That thee may furnish, Carries no favour in't, 'Twere all one, 'Twas pretty, withal, full oft we see, but loose by't: out with 't!, to like him that ne'er it likes. When thou hast leisure.
Convert these sentences into indirect speech.
COUNTESS: “What hope is there of his majesty's amendment?”
LAFEU: “How called you the man you speak of, madam?”
BERTRAM: “What is it, my good lord, the king languishes of?”
BERTRAM: “I heard not of it before.”
COUNTESS: “If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.”
HELENA: “I will stand for 't a little, though therefore I die a virgin.”
Retell scene 1 in indirect speech.
Dramatize scene 1.