Imagens da página
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

Eden are beautiful evidences of his love of Nature. In his great poem he adopts the long, majestic line peculiar to blank verse; but in writing his livelier poems, he prefers the short and sprightly rhyming couplet. The following quotations will show how much the poet was at home in both styles :

SATAN'S PALACE.
Anon, out of the earth a fabric huge
Rose like an exhalation, with the sound
Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet;
Built like a temple, where pilasters round
Were set, and Doric pillars, overlaid
With golden architrave; nor did there want
Cornice and frieze, with bossy sculptures grav'n:
The roof was fretted gold.”—Paradise Lost, Book I.

FROM ADAM'S MORNING HYMN OF PRAISE.
“ Ye mists, and exhalations! that now rise

From hill, or steaming lake, dusky, or gray,
Till the sun paint your fleecy skirts with gold,
In honour to the world's great Author rise;
Whether to deck with clouds the uncoloured sky,
Or wet the thirsty earth with falling show'rs,
Rising or falling, still advance His praise.
His praise, ye winds! that from four quarters blow.
Breathe soft or loud; and wave your tops, ye pines!
With every plant, in sign of worship, wave.
Fountains, and ye that warble, as ye flow,
Melodious murmurs, warbling, tune His praise.
Join voices all, ye living souls; ye birds,
That singing up to Heaven gate ascend,
Bear on your wings, and in your notes, His praise.
Ye that in waters glide, and ye that walk
The earth, and stately tread, or lowly creep,
Witness if I be silent, morn or even,
To hill, or valley, fountain, or fresh shade,
Made vocal by my song, and taught His praise.
Hail, universal Lord! be bounteous still
To give us only good; and, if the night
Have gathered aught of evil or concealed,
Disperse it, as now light dispels the dark.”-Ibid., Book V.

To EUPHROSYNE, OR MIRTH.
" Haste thee, nymph, and bring with thee

Jest and youthful Jollity,

Quips, and cranks, and wanton wiles,
sods and becks, and wreathed smiles,
Such as hung on Hebe's cheek,
And love to live in dimple sleek;
Sport, that wrinkled Care derides,
And Laughter, holding both his sides.
Come, and trip it as you go,
On the light fantastic toe.”—L'Allegro.

CHAPTER IX.

FROM THE RESTORATION TILL THE YEAR 1702.

Characteristics of the Restoration Period. POETS — Butler

Dryden-Other Poets. DRAMATISTS_Otway-Congreve-
Other Dramatists. PROSE WRITERS ON RELIGIOUS SUBJECTS
-Bunyan-Barrow--Other Religious Writers. PHILOSO-
PHERS — Locke -- Newton-Other Writers on Philosophy.
HISTORIANS—Clarendon-Burnet-Other Historians.

· were

DURING the Commonwealth, the Puritan Government compelled everybody to seem good, whether they were in reality good or bad. All kinds of amusements--dancing, the singing of secular songs, theatricals, &c. considered sinful. The result was that, when the pleasure loving Charles became king, every restraint was removed, and the people plunged into all sorts of wickedness, which they called by the name of pleasure. It was as if a man mad with thirst were suddenly to find himself on a river's brink, and, at the sight of the cool, sparkling water, were to plunge into its depths, and drink, and drink, and drink, till he well nigh drowned himself. The people of England had thirsted for pleasure so long that now, at the Restoration, there was no satisfying them; and they sank so low in wickedness that many good men thought the country would be irrecoverably lost. The King, having leamed the evil ways of the French when he was in exile, introduced them into England, and both himself and his court indulged in them to the fullest.

[blocks in formation]

The people followed the example set them in high places, and soon became shameless and indecent. This had a serious effect on the literature of the time; for, in order to live, many clever writers had to befool the good and to extol the bad, so as to suit the prevailing taste. The dramatic authors were worst in this respect; and the result is that their plays are so tarnished with immorality as to be unreadable in our day. Dryden wrote many such plays, although he said afterwards he was sorry for having done so. Towards the close of the period, however, the clever and witty pamphlet of Jeremy Collier (a dissenting clergyman), written against the immorality of the stage, had the effect of putting the most of the playwriters to silence and to shame.

THE POETS. SAMUEL BUTLER (6. 1612, d. 1680) is the great poet of the Royalist party, just as Milton was the great poet of the Puritans. He was the son of a Worcestershire farmer, and received his education in the free school of the county town. He was first employed as a clerk in the office of a Justice of the Peace, and in this way became acquainted with the law. In the service of the Duchess of Kent he had an opportunity of studying the habits of good society; and, as tutor to the family of Sir Samuel Luke, a Puritan knight, he had many chances of meeting and observing the religious fanatics of the Commonwealth time. In all these situations Butler had been “taking notes,” which he afterwards embodied in his great comic poem of Hudibras. At the Restoration he was made steward of Ludlow Castle, but he soon afterwards lost his place. The court made many promises to do something for him, but having received nothing beyond their kind intentions, he died in poverty, and was buried at the expense of an admirer. His great work, as stated above, is Hudibras, a burlesque poem (one which makes solemn or grave matters seem ridiculous), and was intended to befool the Purita In it describes the comic adventures of a Justice of the Peace (Sir Hudibras),

and his clerk or squire (Ralph), who go forth to put a stop to the amusements of the people. They meet some persons leading a bear to a place for the purpose of indulging in the cruel amusement of bear baiting. Sir Hudibras charges and disperses them; but they get help, and succeed in overpowering the knight, and put himself and his squire in the stocks. From this ignominious position they are delivered by a rich widow, to whom Sir Hudibras afterwards pays his addresses. When he visits the lady, however, her servants, disguised as devils, give him a severe castigation, and the enraged Sir Hudibras seeks the aid of the law to obtain his

revenge.

The plan of the poem is derived from the Don Quixote of Cervantes. As a story, Hudibras is nothing, but it is unequalled as an exhibition of oddity, comicality, and wit, while the display of scholarship is not far behind that of Milton himself. The ideas are concisely expressed, and go far to prove that “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Here are examples of his oddity in rhyming

“The mighty Tottipottimoy

Sent to our elders an envoy.”
Those wholesale critics that in coffee-

Houses cry down all philosophy.”
The following is a fair example of his style of descrip-

tion:

“His tawny beard was th' equal grace

Both of his wisdom and his face;
In cut and die so like a tile,
A sudden view it would beguile:
The upper part whereof was whey,
The nether, orange mixed with grey.
This hairy meteor did denounce
The fall of sceptres and of crowns;
With grisly type did represent
Declining age of government;
And till with hieroglyphic spade
Its own grave and the State's were made."

JOHN DRYDEN (6. 1631, d. 1700) was born of an ancient and wealthy family, and received his education at Westminster School, and afterwards at Trinity College,

[blocks in formation]

Cambridge. His parents were Puritans, and so was he until the Restoration, when he became a Royalist. In 1663 he married the daughter of the Earl of Berkshire, a lady of an unpleasant disposition, and who was very likely the cause of her husband's bitter writings against marriage. On the accession of James II. he changed his religion and became a Roman Catholic, and was thereafter appointed Poet Laureate with a salary of £200 a year.

At the Revolution he was deprived of his office, but was nevertheless considered Prince of Critics to the end of his life. He died in 1700, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. His great poetical works may be classified as follows:--Two SATIRICAL POEMS—Absalom and Achitophela political satire in which, under Bible names, he attacks several well known personages of the court of Charles II., for the attempt they were making to exclude the king's brother from the succession; and the other, Mac-Flecknoe, a literary satire, in which he very severely chastises two miserable poets named Settle and Shadwell. We have next two CONTROVERSIAL POEMS (containing arguments or disputes) on religious subjects—the Religio Laici, in which he defends the English Church from the attacks of its enemies; and the Hind and Panther, which was written in defence of the efforts made by James II. to restore the Roman Catholic Church. The former poem is considered the finest poem of its kind in the English language, although Dryden himself preferred the latter. Alexander's Feast, an Ode for St. Cecilia's Day —another of his poems—shows how well he could write lyrical verses. As a dramatist, he is principally remarkable as having attempted to introduce the rhyming tragedy; but the experiment proved a failure, for blank verse seems the only kind suitable for tragedy. Dryden wrote many plays, but none of them were very successful. Among his characteristics as a poet may be noticed his wonderful power in drawing word portraits of the personages of his time, his remarkable ability as a controversialist, his terrible strength as a satirist, and his unlimited command of musical language. The most of

« AnteriorContinuar »