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it must be regarded as an independent development, and the separation can be justified also on another ground. It is no violence to literary usage to think of the English Essayists as those who took for their special subject-matter the varying phases of contemporary manners and customs; and in tracing the course of this particular kind of writing, one meets with everything that is most characteristic in the periodical essay. The titles employed by the earlier essayists indicate pretty clearly the range of the subjects attempted. They hint, also, that the essayist must possess experience of and insight into character, a critical taste free from pedantry, and an easy literary style. The typical essayist must to some extent be at once a rambler, a spectator, a tatler, and a connoisseur.

It is a suggestive fact that after the artificial comedy of manners the next great development in literature was the essay of contemporary manners. It began at a time when the stage was in a state of decline. Artificial comedy, the characteristic product of the Restoration age, was still reeling under the onset of Jeremy Collier. Dryden had made a dignified apology, Congreve had prevaricated in vain, Farquhar, and more especially Steele, had in some degree purified the stage, but the theatre had no longer a paramount literary importance until Garrick appeared to act and Goldsmith to write. When the disorderly pulses of Restoration activity had finally resumed a normal beat, a vast change had taken place in the nature of social life, and there was need of some new form of literature to gratify the cravings of Queen Anne society.

It was the work of the essay to supply this demand, to judiciously season culture with the requisite spice of scandal, and to exhibit the foibles of the time with a humour that should not be impure.

In tracing the course of any literary development, one is apt to exaggerate the importance of the casual coincidences to be found in the literature of different periods. Passages might be singled out from Elizabethan prose bearing a certain resemblance to the essay proper; but, as Professor Saintsbury has pointed out, importance is to be attached not to “the occasional flash here and flash there of ‘modernism', but the general presence of a tendency distinctly different from that of the main body of forerunners”. Bacon's essays form a collection of wonderfully shrewd and pithy observations, and have been a veritable mine of suggestions for writers since; but in no real sense can they be said to be prototypes of the eighteenth-century essay. They are, in his own words, but "certain brief notes set down rather significantly than curiously; not vulgar, but of a kind whereof men shall find much in experience and little in books”. Between them and the Tatler there is nothing more than a nominal connection, and even to Dryden, Cowley, and Temple the Spectator owes but little obligation. To Dryden belongs the credit of having given modernism to English prose and of having founded literary criticism. His Prefaces are certainly essays, not dissimilar in kind to the critical papers in the Spectator; but then it is not in these latter that the peculiar significance of Addison's work is to be found. It is often difficult to draw a

line between literary criticism and gossip about literature, but any essay in which the predominance of the former element is tolerably clear must be relegated to a different current of development from that of the periodical essay. Still, Dryden must be included among the remote pioneers of the latter, from the one fact that he made frequent use of a simple, colloquial style, intended to appeal not to a small circle of critics but to a wider and more popular audience. On the other hand it is sometimes claimed that the essay was the product of French and Italian influence, and Dr. Johnson, in his account of its origin, has singled out for mention the works of Casa, Castiglione, and La Bruyère. It is only misleading, however, to connect the essay with such a book as Casa's Galateo, a somewhat rambling and casuistical treatise on polite behaviour which, nearly two centuries later, found a counterpart in Chesterfield's Letters to his Son. Nor is it less far-fetched to attach much importance to The Courtier of Castiglione. That this work enjoyed a great popularity is evident from the number of its editions and translations, but it would be absurd to say that its diffuse moralizings on the character of the ideal courtier of Urbino had any sensible influence on the English essay. The Characters of La Bruyère, avowedly modelled on those of Theophrastus, are in many respects so admirable as to justify their mention by Johnson. They were known to both Steele and Addison, to whom they very probably suggested many subjects for treatment; but they are too fragmentary, too much after the style of the seventeenth-century

"character", to be seriously included among the antecedents of the Tatler, and their importance still further diminishes when it is remembered that Montaigne, Bacon, Dryden, and Cowley had all written prior to them. The truth is that the only obligation the English essay owes to foreign suggestion is to the essays of Montaigne. To what extent he borrowed from Seneca and Plutarch is not worth considering, for it would be as hypercritical to engineer a parentage for Montaigne's happy egotism as to ferret out the antecedents of Pepys' Diary. His essays at the time were unique, and Montaigne is the first philosopher in an easy chair. It can scarcely be determined at what point his influence first made itself felt in the progress of the English essay. Bacon owed him nothing, but it is interesting to find as a connecting-link between Montaigne and Dryden that the latter, after declaring that a preface should be "rambling", admits that he learned this " from the practice of honest Montaigne". Cowley's essay, Of Myself, implicitly makes the same admission. Once for all the Frenchman had vindicated the essayist's right to be pleasantly discursive, and the spirit of his influence breathes in the lucubrations of Bickerstaff not more than in the essays of Hazlitt, Hunt, and Lamb. Montaigne is, indeed, the prince of tatlers. There is no questioning his right to be called the inventor of the essay form in its most general sense, but it remained for his English successors to limit its scope by prescribing a certain unity of design, and some restraint in the essayist's use of irrelevancy and egotism.

The work of Temple and Dryden is more important in connection with the development of English prose as a whole than with respect to the particular little bit of literary evolution here considered. Lamb pointed out the affinity between Temple and Addison as writers of “genteel" English, and Addison in his statelier vein clearly shows that he had profited by Temple's courtly style. That the aim of Temple was not dissimilar to that of Steele and Addison may be inferred from his own statement that he “never wrote anything for the public without the intention of some public good”. He did not, however, make any striking anticipation of the Tatler's method, and his position in literature is that, improving on Evelyn, he pointed out the way to Dryden, who made a yet bolder inroad on the stiffness of Elizabethan prose. When Dryden's masculine vigour had quite broken adrift from the influence of Euphuism, the result was that, for the first time in the seventeenth century, there was a terse, vigorous, and to some extent homely prose. Dryden unquestionably affected the whole subsequent history of prose literature; but of him, as of Temple, it must be said that, leaving criticism out of the question, he did more to influence the style than the form of the eighteenthcentury essay.

He said himself that “he could write severely with more ease than he could write gently”, and this avowal shows how wide the gulf really is between him and his less vehement but sprightlier successors. “When we pass,” says Mr. Craik," from him to Steele and Addison, we find that the model he had formed has been adapted to

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