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me and be my love;' others a splendor of love and beauty as in Lodge's Song of Rosaline, and Spenser's on his marriage.
The sonnets were written chiefly in series, and I have already said that such writers are called amourists. Such were Shakespeare's and the Amoretti of Spenser, and those to Diana by Constable. They were sometimes mixed with Canzones and Ballatas after the Italian manner, and the best of these were a series by Sir Philip Sidney. A number of other sonnets and of longer love poems were written by the dramatists before Shakespeare, by Peele and Greene and Marlowe and Lodge, far the finest being the Hero and Leander, which Marlowe left as a fragment to be completed by Chapman. Mingled up with these were small religious poems, the reflection of the Puritan and the more religious Church element in English society. They were collected under such titles as the Handful of Honeysuckles, the Poor Widow's Mite, Psalms and Sonnets, and there are some good things among them written by William Hunnis.
In one Scotch poet, WILLIAM DRUMMOND OF HAWTHORNDEN, the friend of Ben Jonson, the love poet and the religious poet were united. I mention him here, though his work properly belongs to the reign of James I., because his poetry really goes back in spirit and feeling to this time. He cannot be counted among the true Scottish poets. Drummond is entirely Elizabethan and English, and he is worthy to be named among the lyrical poets below Spenser and Shakespeare. His love sonnets have as much grace as Sidney's and less quaintness, his songs have often the grave simplicity of Wyatt's, and his religious poems, especially one solemn sonnet on John the Baptist, have a distant resemblance to the grandeur of Milton.
THE PATRIOTIC POETRY.--Among all this poetry of Romance, Chivalry, Religion, and Love, rose a poetry which devoted itself to the glory of England. It was chiefly historical, and
as it may be said to have had its germ in the Mirror of Magistrates, so it had its perfect flower in the historical drama of Shakespeare. Men had now begun to have a great pride in England. She had stepped into the foremost rank, had outwitted France, subdued internal foes, beaten and humbled Spain on every sea. Hence the history of the land became precious, and the very rivers and hills and plains honorable, and to be sung and praised in verse. This poetic impulse is best represented in the works of three men-WILLIAM WARNER, SAMUEL DANIEL, and MICHAEL DRAYTON. Born within a few years of each other, about 1560, they all lived beyond the century, and the national poetry they set on foot lasted when the romantic poetry died.
WILLIAM WARNER's great book was Albion's England, 1586, a history of England in verse from the Deluge to Queen Elizabeth. It is clever, humorous, crowded with stories, and runs to 10,000 lines. Its popularity was great, and the English in which it was written deserved it. Such stories as Argentile and Curan and the Patient Countess prove him to have had a true and pathetic vein of poetry. His English is not, however, better than that of 'well-languaged DANIEL,' who, among tragedies and pastoral comedies and poems of pure fancy, wrote in verse a prosaic History of the Civil Wars, 1595, as we have already found him writing history in prose. Spenser saw in him a new shepherd' of poetry who did far surpass the others, and Coleridge says that the style of his Hymen’s Triumph may be declared “imperishable English.'
Of the three the greatest poet was DRAYTON. Two historical poems are his work—the Civil Wars of Edward II. and the Barons, and England's Heroical Epistles, 1598. Not content with these, he set himself to glorify the whole of his land in the Polyolbion, thirty books, and more than 30,000 lines. It is a description in Alexandrines of the tracts, mountains, forests, and other parts of this renowned isle of Britain, with intermixture of the most remarkable stories, antiquities, wonders,
pleasures, and commodities of the same, digested into a poem.' It was not a success, though it deserved success. length was against it, but the real reason was, that this kind of poetry had had its day. It appeared in 1613, in James I.'s reign.
PHILOSOPHICAL POETRY.—Before that time a change had come. As the patriotic poets came after the romantic, so the romantic were followed by the philosophical poets. The youth and early manhood of the Elizabethan poetry passed, about 1600, into its thoughtful manhood. The land was settled; enterprise ceased to be the first thing; men sat down to think, and in poetry questions of religious and political philosophy were treated with 'sententious reasoning, grave, subtile, and condensed.' Shakespeare, in his passage from comedy to tragedy, in 1601, represents this change.
The two poets who represent it are Sir JNO. DAVIES and FULKE GREVILLE, Lord Brooke. In Davies we find an admirable instance of it. His earlier poem of the Orchestra, 1596, in which the whole world is explained as a dance, is as gay and bright as Spenser. His later poem, 1599, is compact and vigorous reasoning, for the most part without fancy. Its very title, Nosce te ipsum-Know Thyself—and its divisions, 1. On humane learning,' 2. - The immortality of the soul'mark the alteration. Two little poems, one of Bacon's, on the Life of Man, as a bubble, and one of SIR HENRY WOTton's, on the Character of a Happy Life, are instances of the same change. It is still more marked in Greville's long, obscure poems on Human Learning, on Wars, and on Monarchy and Religion. They are political and historical treatises, not poems, and all in them, says Lamb, “is made frozen and rigid by intellect. Apart from poetry, 'they are worth notice as an indication of that thinking spirit on political science which was to produce the riper speculations of Hobbes, Harrington, and Locke.'
TRANSLATIONS.— There are three translators that take liter
ary rank among the crowd that carried on the work of the earlier time. Two mark the influence of Italy, one the more powerful influence of the Greek spirit. Sir John HARINGTON in 1591 translated Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, Fairfax in 1600 translated Tasso's Jerusalem, and his book is one of the glories of Elizabeth's reign.' But the noblest translation is that of Homer's whole work by GEORGE CHAPMAN, the dramatist, the first part of which appeared in 1598. The vivid life and energy of the time, its creative power, and its force are expressed in this poem, which is more an Elizabethan tale written about Achilles and Ulysses than a translation. The rushing gallop of the long fourteen syllable stanza in which it is written has the fire and swiftness of Homer, but it has not his directness or dignity. Its “inconquerable quaintness' and diffuseness are as unlike the pure form and light and measure of Greek work as possible. But it is a distinct poem of such power that it will excite and delight all lovers of poetry, as it excited and delighted Keats."
LESSON 23. EARLY DRAMATIC REPRESENTATION IN ENGLAND. — “The drama, as in Greece, so in England, began in religion. In early times none but the clergy could read the stories of their religion, and it was not the custom to deliver sermons to the people. It was necessary to instruct uneducated men in the history of the Bible, in the Christian faith, in the lives of the Saints and Martyrs. Hence the Church set on foot miracleplays and mysteries. We find the first of these about 1110, when Geoffrey, afterwards Abbot of St. Albans, prepared his miracle play of St. Catherine for acting. Such plays became more frequent from the time of Henry II., and they were so common in Chaucer's time that they were the resort of idle gossips in Lent. The wife of Bath went to 'plays of miracles and marriages.' They were acted not only by the clergy but by the laity. About the year 1268, the town guilds began to take them into their own hands, and acted complete sets of plays, setting forth the whole of Scripture history from the Creation to the Day of Judgment. Each guild took one play in the set. They lasted sometimes three days, sometimes eight, and were represented on a great movable stage on wheels in the open spaces of the towns. Of these sets we have three remaining, the Towneley, Coventry, and Chester plays, 1300 — 1600. The first set has 32, the second 42, and the third 25 plays.
The Miracle-Play was a representation of some portion of Scripture history, or of the life of some Saint of the Church. The Mystery was a representation of any portion of the New Testament history concerned with a mysterious subject, such as the Incarnation, the Atonement, or the Resurrection. It has been attempted to distinguish these more particularly, but they are mingled together in England into one. From the towns they went to the Court and to the houses of nobles. The Kings kept players of them, and we know that exhibiting Scripture plays at great festivals was part of the domestic regulations of the great houses, and that it was the Chaplain's business to write them. Their “Dumb Show' and their
Chorus’ leave their trace in the regular drama. We cannot say that the modern drama arose after them, for it came in before they died out in England. They were still acted in Chester in 1577, and in Coventry in 1580."
“There were neither theatres nor professional actors in England, indeed in Europe, at the period when miracle.plays first came in vogue. The first performers in these plays were clergymen; the first stages, or scaffolds, on which they were presented were set up in churches. Evidence that this was the case has been discovered in such profusion that it is needless to specify it more particularly in this place than to remark that councils and prelates finally found it necessary to forbid such performances either in churches or by the clergy. But it is worthy of remark that evidence of the ecclesiastical character of the first actors of our drama is preserved in dramatic literature to this day in the Latin