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and human life, but of nature and themselves. They see the reflection of their own joys and sorrows in the woods and streams, and for the first time the pleasure of being alone with nature apart from men became a distinct element in modern poetry. In the later poets it becomes one of their main subjects. These were the steps towards that love of nature for its own sake which we shall find in the poets who followed Cowper. One poem of the time almost anticipates it. It is the Minstrels, 1771, of JAMES BEATTIE. This poem represents a young poet educated almost altogether by lonely communion with and love of nature, and both in the spirit and in the treatment of the first part of the story resembles very closely Wordsworth's description of his own education by nature, in the beginning of the Prelude, and the history of the peddler in the first book of the Excursion.”
“Goldsmith was peculiarly happy in writing bright and airy verses: the grace and lightness of his touch have rarely been approached. The Deserted Village is one of the most graceful and touching poems in the English language. It is clear bird-singing; but there is a pathetic note in it. No one better knew than himself the value of those finished and musical lines he was gradually adding to the beautiful poem, the grace and sweetness and tender pathetic charm of which make it one of the literary treasures of the English people.''— William Black.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. GRAY.- Mitford's Life of; S. Johnson's Lives of Eng. Poets; Howitt's Homes of Brit. Poets; Ward's Anthology; Black. Mag., v. 75, 1854; N. A. Rev., v. 96, 1863; Quar. Rev., v. 94, 1854.
COLLINS.—Brydges' Imagin. Biog.; J. Coleman's Hist. Essays; N. Drake's Literary Hours; Ward's Anthology.
GOLDSMITH.-Irving's Life of; Forster's Life and Times of; De Quincey's Essays on the Poets; H. Giles' Lectures and Essays ; Thack.'s Eng. Humorists; J. Timbs' Wits and Humorists; Eng. Men of Let. Series; Macaulay's Essays; Ecl. Mag., May, 1850, and Jan., 1855.
READINGS.--Gray's Elegy and Goldsmith's Deserted Village and Traveller, published in pamphlet form by Clark & Maynard.
LESSON 46. FURTHER CHANGE OF SUBJECT—MAN.—“During this time the interest in Mankind, that is, in Man independent of nation, class, and caste, which we have seen in prose, and which was stimulated by the works of Voltaire and Rousseau, began to influence poetry. It broke out into a fierce extreme in the French Revolution, but long before that event it entered into poetry in various ways as it had entered into society and politics. One form of it appeared in the interest the poets began to take in men of other nations than England; another form of it—and this was increased by the Methodist revival—was the interest in the lives of the poor. Thomson speaks with sympathy of the Siberian exile and the Mecca pilgrim, and the Traveller of Goldsmith enters into foreign interests. His Deserted Village, Shenstone's Schoolmistress, Gray's Elegy celebrate the annals of the poor. Michael Bruce in his Lochleven praises the secret primrose path of rural life,' and Dr. John Langhorne in his Country Justice pleads the cause of the
poor and paints their sorrows. Connected with this new element is the simple ballad of simple love, such as Shenstone's Jemmy Dawson, Mickle's Mariner's Wife, Goldsmith's Edwin and Angelina, poems which started a new type of human poetry, afterwards worked out more completely in the Lyrical Ballads of Wordsworth.
In a class apart I call attention to the Song of David, a long poem written by CHRISTOPHER SMART, a friend of Johnson's. It will be found in Chambers' Cyclopædia of English Literature.' Composed for the most part in a madhouse, the song has a touch here and there of the overforcefulness and the lapsing thoughts of a half insane brain. But its power of metre and of imaginative presentation of thoughts and things, and its mingling of sweet and grand religious poetry ought to make it better known. It is unique in style and in character
SCOTTISH POETRY illustrates and anticipates the poetry of the poor
and the ballad. We have not mentioned it since Sir David Lyndsay, for, with the exception of stray songs, its voice was silent for a century and a half. It revived in ALLAN RAMSAY, a friend of Pope and Gay. His light pieces of rustic humor were followed by the Tea Table Miscellany and the Ever-Green, collections of existing Scottish songs mixed up with some of his own. They carried on the song of rural life and love and humor which Burns perfected. Ramsey's pastoral drama of the Gentle Shepherd, 1725, is a pure, tender, and genuine picture of Scottish life and love among the poor and in the country.
ROBERT FERGUSON deserves to be named, because he kindled the muse of Burns, and his occasional pieces, 1773, are chiefly concerned with the rude and humorous life of Edinburgh. The Ballad, always continuous in Scotland, took a more modern but very pathetic form in such productions as Auld Robin Gray and the Flowers of the Forest, a mourning for those who fell at Flodden Field. The peculiarities I have dwelt on already continue in this revival. There is the same nationality, the same rough wit, the same love of nature, but the love of color has lessened.
The new elements and the changes on which I have dwelt are expressed by three poets—Cowper, Crabbe, and Burns. But before these we must mention the poems of WILLIAM BLAKE, the artist, and for three reasons.
1. They represent the new elements. The Poetical Sketches, written in 1777, illustrate the new study of the Elizabethan poets. Blake imitated Spenser, and, in his short fragment of Edward III., we hear again and again the note of Marlowe's violent imagination. A short poem To the Muses is a cry for the restoration to English poetry of the old poetic passion it had lost. In some ballad poems we trace the influence represented by Ossian and given by the publication of Percy's Reliques.
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2. We find also in his work certain elements which belonged to the second period of which I shall now speak. The love of animals is one.
A great love of children and the poetry of home is another. He also anticipated, in 1789 and 1794, when his Songs of Innocence and Experience were written, the simple natural poetry of ordinary life which Wordsworth perfected in the Lyrical Ballads, 1798. Further still, we find in these poems traces of the democratic element, of the hatred of priestcraft, and of the war with social wrongs which came much later into English poetry. We even find traces of the mysticism and the search after the problem of life that fill so much of our poetry after 1832.
3. But that which is most special in Blake is his extraordinary reproduction of the spirit, tone, and ring of the Elizabethan songs, of the inimitable innocence and fearlessness which belong to the childhood of a new literature. The little poems too in the Songs of Innocence, on infancy and first motherhood, and on subjects like the Lamb, are without rival in our language for ideal simplicity and a perfection of singing joy. The Songs of Experience give the reverse side of the Songs of Innocence, and they see the evil of the world as a child with a man's heart would see it-with exaggerated and ghastly hor
Blake stands alone in our poetry, and his work coming where it did, between 1777 and 1794, makes it the more remarkable. We turn now to William Cowper, who represents fully and more widely than either Crabbe or Burns the new elements on which I have dwelt.
WILLIAM COWPER. — The first poems of WILLIAM COWPER, 1731–1800, were the Olney Hymns, 1779, written along with John Newton, and in these the religious poetry of Charles Wesley was continued. The profound personal religion, gloomy even to insanity as it often became, which fills the whole of Cowper's poetry, introduced a theological element into English poetry which continually increased till within the last ten years, when it has gradually ceased.
His didactic and satirical poems, 1782, link him backwards to the last age. His translation of Homer, 1791, and of shorter pieces from the Latin and Greek, connects him with the classical influence, his interest in Milton with the revived study of the English Poets. The playful and gentle vein of humor which he showed in John Gilpin and other poems reminds us of Addison, and opened a new kind of verse to poets. With this kind of humor is connected a simple pathos of which Cowper is our greatest master. The Lines to Mary Unwin and to his Mother's Picture prove, with the work of Blake, that pure natural feeling, wholly free from artifice, had returned to English song. A wholly new element was also introduced by him and Blake—the love of animals and the poetry of their relation to man, a vein plentifully worked by after poets.
His greatest work was the Task, 1785. It is mainly a description of himself and his life in the country, his home, his friends, his thoughts as he walked, the quiet landscape of Olney, the life of the poor people about him, mixed up with disquisitions on political and social subjects, and, at the end, a prophecy of the victory of the Kingdom of God.
The change in it in relation to the subject of Nature is very great. Cowper is the first poet who loves Nature entirely for her own sake. He paints only what he sees, but he paints it with the affection of a child for a flower and with the minute observation of a man.
The change in relation to the subject of Man is equally great. The idea of Mankind as a whole, which we have seen growing up, is fully formed in Cowper's mind. The
of his interests is as wide as the world, and all men form one brotherhood. All the social questions of Education, Prisons, Hospitals, city and country life, the state of the poor and their sorrows, the question of universal freedom and of slavery, of human wrong and oppression, of just and free government, of international intercourse and union, and, above all, the entirely