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of thought, usually false, and resting on some equivocation of language or exceedingly remote analogy.' This form finds its true source in the fantastic style of the Euphues and the Arcadia. It grew up again towards the close of Elizabeth's reign, and it ended by greatly lessening good sense and clearness in English poetry. It was in the reaction from it, and in the determination to bring clear thought and clear expression of thought into English verse, that the school of Dryden and Pope—the critical school-began. The poetry from the later
. years of Elizabeth to Milton illustrates all these remarks.
The Lyric Poetry struck a new note in the songs of Ben Jonson, such as the Hymn to Diana. They are less natural, less able to be sung, than Shakespeare's, more classical, more artificial. But they have no special tendency. during the reign of Charles I. and during the Civil War, the lyrics of THOMAS CAREW, SIR JOHN SUCKLING, COLONEL LOVELACE, and ROBERT HERRICK, whose Hesperides was published in 1648, have a special royalist and court character. They are, for the most part, light, pleasant, short songs and epigrams on the passing interests of the day, on the charms of the court beauties, on a lock of hair, a dress, on all the fleeting forms of fleeting love. Here and there we find a pure or pathetic song, and there are few of them which time has selected that do not possess a gay or a gentle grace. As the Civil War deepened, the special court poetry died, and the songs became songs of battle and marching, and devoted and violent loyalty. These have been lately collected under the title of Songs of the Cavaliers.
Satirical Poetry, always arising when natural passion in poetry decays, is represented in the later days of Elizabeth by JOSEPH HALL, afterwards Bishop Hall, whose Virgidemiarum, 1597, satires partly in poetry, make him the master satirist of this time. John DONNE, Dean of St. Paul's, who also partly belongs to the age of Elizabeth, was, with John Cleveland (a furious royalist and satirist of Charles I.'s time), the most obscure and fanciful of the poets absurdly called Metaphysical. Donne, however, rose far above the rest in the beauty of thought, and in the tenderness of his religious and love poems. His satires are graphic pictures of the manners of the age of James I. GEORGE WITHER hit the follies and vices of the day so hard in his Abuses Stript and Whipt, 1613, that he was put into the Marshalsea prison, where he continued his satires in the Shepherd's Hunting. As the Puritan and the Royalist became more opposed to one another, satirical poetry naturally became more bitter; but, like the poetry of the Civil War, it took the form of short songs and pieces which went about the country, as those of Bishop Corbet did, in manuscript.
THE RURAL POETRY.-The pastoral now began to take a more truly rural form than the conventional pastorals of France and Italy, out of which it rose. In WILLIAM BROWNE's Britannia's Pastorals, 1616, the element of pleasure in country life arises, and from this time it begins to grow in our poetry. It appears slightly in WITHER’s Shepherd's Hunting, but plainly in his Mistress of Philarete, a poem interspersed with lyrics. In dwelling so much as he did on the beauty of natural scenery away from cities, he brings a new element into English verse. Henceforth we always find a country poetry set over against a town poetry, a poetry of nature set over against a poetry of man.
It is still stronger in ANDREW MARVELL, Milton's secretary, who, with the exception of Milton, did the finest work of this kind. In imaginative intensity, in the fusing together of personal feeling and thought with the delight received from nature, his verses on The Einigrants in the Bermudas and The Thoughts in a Garden, and the little poem, The Girl describes her Fawn, are like the work of Wordsworth on one side, and like the best Elizabethan work on the other. They are the last and the truest echo of the lyrics of the time of Elizabeth, but they reach beyond them in the love of nature.
SPENSERIANS.—Among these broken up forms of poetry, there was one kind which was imitative of Spenser. PHINEAS FLETCHER, GILES FLETCHER, HENRY MORE in his Platonical Song of the Soul, 1642, and John CHALKHILL in his Thealma, owned him as their master. The Purple Island, 1633, of the first, an elaborate allegory of the body and mind of man, has some grace and sweetness, and tells us that the scientific element, which after the Restoration took form in the setting up of the Royal Society, was so far spread in England at his time as to influence the poets.
RELIGIOUS POETRY.— The Temptation and Victory of Christ, 1610, of Giles FLETCHER, is a lovely poem and gave hints to Milton for the Paradise Regained. It is one of the many religious poems that now began to interest the people. Of these The Temple, 1631, of GEORGE HERBERT, rector of Bemerton, has been the most popular. The purity and profound devotion of its poetry have made it dear to all. Its gentle Church feeling has pleased all classes of churchmen; its great quaintness, which removes it from true poetry, has added perhaps to its charm. With him we must rank HENRY VAUGHAN, the Silurist, whose Sacred Poems are equally devotional, pure, and quaint, and FRANCIS QUARLES, whose Divine Emblems, 1635, is still read in the cottages of England.
On the Roman Catholic side, WILLIAM HABINGTON mingled his devotion to his religion with the praises of his wife, under the name of Castara, 1634; and RICHARD CRASHAW, whose rich inventiveness was not made less rich by the religious mysticism which finally led him to become a Roman Catholic, published his Steps to the Temple in 1646. On the Puritan side, we may now place GEORGE WITHER, whose Hallelujah, 1641, a series of religious poems, was sent forth just before the Civil War began, when he left the king's side to support the Parliament. Finally, religious poetry, after the return of Charles II., passed on through the Davideis of ABRAHAM COWLEY, and the Divine Love of EDMUND WALLER to find its highest expression in the Paradise Lost.
We have thus traced through all its forms the decline of poetry. It is a poetry often beautiful, but as often injured by obscurity, over-fancifulness, confusion of thought and of images. From this decay we pass into a new world when we come to speak of Milton. Between the dying poetry of the past, and the uprising of a new kind in Dryden, stands alone the majestic work of a great genius who touches the Elizabethan time with one hand and our own time with the other.”
BIBLIOGRAPHY. HERBERT AND DONNE.—Ward's Anthology; Mrs. Thompson's Celebrated Friendships; S. Brown's Lectures and Essays ; Walton's Lives of Her. bert, Donne, etc; Ecl. Mag., v. 32, 1854.
JOHN MILTON.—“MILTON was the last of the Elizabethans, and, except Shakespeare, far the greatest of them all. Born in 1608, in Bread-street, he may have seen Shakespeare, for Milton remained in London till he was sixteen.
His literary life may be said to begin with his entrance into Cambridge, in 1625, the year of the accession of Charles I. Nicknamed the ‘lady' from his beauty and delicate taste and morality, he got soon a great fame, and during the seven years of his life at the university his poetic genius opened itself in the English poems of which I give the dates. On the Death of a Fair Infant, 1626. At a Vacation Exercise, 1628. On the Morning of Christ's Nativity, 1629. On the Circumcision, The Passion, Time, At a Solemn Musick, On the May Morning, On Shakespeare, 1630. On the University Carrier, Epitaph on Marchioness of Worcester, Sonnet 1., To the Nightingale, Sonnet 2., On Arriving at Age of Twenty-three, 1631. The last sonnet, when explained by a letter that accompanied it, shows that Milton, influenced by the sufferings of the Puritans, had given up his intention of becoming a clergyman.
He left, therefore, the university in 1632, and went to live at Horton, near Windsor, where he spent five years, steadily
reading the Greek and Latin writers, and amusing himself with mathematics and music. Poetry was not neglected. The L'Allegro and Il Penseroso were written in 1632, and probably the Arcades; Comus in 1634, and Lycidas in 1637. They all prove that, though Milton was Puritan in heart, his Puritanism was of that earlier type which neither disdained literature, art, or gaiety nor despised the ancient Church nor turned away from natural beauty. He could still enjoy the village dance, the masque, the lists, the music in the dim Cathedral; he could still mingle the learning of the Renaissance with his delight in the fields and flowers, with his feasting and his grief. He was as much the child of the New Learning as Spenser was, but his Puritanism was set deeper than Spenser's.
In 1638 he went to Italy, the second home of so many of the English poets, and visited the great towns, making friends in Florence, where he saw Galileo, and in Rome. At Naples he heard the sad news of civil war, which determined him to return; 'inasmuch as I thought it base to be travelling at my ease for intellectual culture, while my fellow-countrymen at home were fighting for liberty.' But, hearing that the war had not yet arisen, he remained in Italy till the end of 1639, and at the meeting of the Long Parliament we find him in a house in Aldersgate, where he lived till 1645. He had projected, while abroad, a great epic poem on the subject of Arthur (again the Welsh subject returns), but in London his mind changed, and among a number of subjects, tended at last to Paradise Lost, which he meant to throw into the form of a Greek Tragedy with lyrics and choruses.
MILTON'S PROSE. THE COMMONWEALTH. — Suddenly his whole life changed, and for twenty years, 1640–1660, he was carried out of art into politics, out of poetry into prose. Before 1642, when the Civil War began, he had written five vigorous pamphlets against episcopacy. Six more pamphlets appeared in the next two years. One of these was the Areo