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THE LITERATURE POPULAR WITHIN THE PERIOD-THE AUTHORS
OF THE PERIOD: POPE, ADDISON, SWIFT, DEFOE, TOM BROWN, NED WARD, GAY, PARNELL—THE PERIODICAL PRESS-MALIGNITIES DEFICIENCY OF VERNACULAR LITERATURE IN SCOTLAND, AND THE CAUSE-DEPRESSION OF PICTORIAL ART: YOUNG HOGARTH-ARCHITECTURE-TRIUMPH OF SCIENCE: NEWTON.
It is not intended here to offer to the reader either an epitome or a history of all the literature written and published during the reign of Queen Anne. The object in view will be achieved if a few casual touches shall bring up the books that had their chief influence on the mind of the period; and we may probably find that books not written or published during the period had an influence on its intellectual growth and state worthy of commemoration. The writings of Pope, Addison, Arbuthnot, and Steele, with a large portion of the multitudinous works, small and great, contributed by Defoe, are among the living literature of the present age, and it would be a discourtesy to suppose that any reader requires to be informed about them. There are people who can remember that an acquaintance with the “Spectator' was a quality in the possession of all young persons whose education was not neglected; and questions arising out of the characters there described, or the opinions uttered, were perhaps the most plentiful stock-in-trade of the youthful debating societies of the generation now drawing to a close.
In recording the active history of a period, one must in some measure touch on the intellectual nature and phenomena that influenced that action. Of the polemical literature of the age, there has been something said in the chapter on "The Religious World,” and more in the account of "The Sacheverell Commotions.” An acquaintance is made with the literature of politics in the same manner through the record of political events — as, for instance, in the the Aylesbury Election question. In commemorating the services to our country, contributed by the French refugees, the great History of Rapin de Thoyras, continued by Tindal, demanded a considerable share of notice; and this could not be given sufficiently without some account of the state of the historical literature of Britain, both as to the materials it presented to the refugee, and the use he made of them.
No book written and published within the reign had so much interest for it and influence over it, as one that was raised as it were from the literary tomb wherein it lay buried. In 1702 came forth the first of the three folio volumes containing 'The History of the Rebellion and Civil War in England, begun in the year 1631, with the precedent passages and actions that contributed thereunto, and the happy end and conclusion thereof by the King's blessed restoration and return upon the 29th of May in the year 1660; written by the Right Honourable Edmund, Earl of Clarendon, late Lord High Chancellor of England.' There was much excited expectation as each volume was passing through the press. Calamy was then in the preparation of his abridgment of Baxter's History of his Own Life, surveying the same historical ground from the opposite side, and betrays his burning curiosity to know something of the contents of the book gradually coming to life in the recesses of the theatre at Oxford. “ Happening,” he says, “ to go down as far as Newbury with some friends who were travelling to the Bath, I turned off to Oxford, designing to keep myself as private there as I was able. I took up my lodging at an inn where I was wholly unknown, kept out of sight of my acquaintance, both in the town and university, and went the next morning early to a coffee-house near the theatre, where I was a perfect stranger, and inquired whether any person that worked in the printing-press under the theatre frequented the house." The virtue of the man first attempted was triumphant, but Calamy's purpose was not to be baffled. He set himself to discover “a workman among those in the theatre whose circumstances were low and strait, and who found it hard to maintain his wife and children, and to keep the wolf, as we say, from the door.” severance was successful in securing the co-operation of “ a Dutchman that was a daily workman at the press there, whose straits were great.” Calamy was naturally suspected of intention to commit literary piracy. Hence he had to explain his motives; and as his motives, even by his own account, have somewhat of a furtive taint, it may be justice even here
to give the explanation in his own words to his accomplice. gave
him to understand I was no bookseller, but was desirous to see what of Lord Clarendon's work was printed, if I could compare it, because I had a historical work that was just ready for the press, relating to the very times which my lord gave an account of, and therefore should be confirmed if I found Lord Clarendon's account of particulars agreed with mine; whereas, if I found a clashing in anything material, it would be requisite for me to provide myself with vouchers—the best I could get—in order to my support.
There were two classical mottoes on the face of the history. The one was from Thucydides, announcing the history to be a gift for all time; the other was from Cicero, declaring, as if from the author, that what was false he did not dare to tell, and what was true he did not dare to evade telling. There was a pledge in the preface, that as the author had told the truth, so, agreeable or not to persons who might be concerned, it should pass unaltered to the world. “We are not ignorant that there are accounts contained in this following history of some eminent persons of those times that do not agree with the relations we have met with of the same persons published in other authors. But, besides that they who put forth the history dare not take upon them to make any alterations in a work of this kind, solemnly left them to be published—whenever it should be published—as delivered to them, they cannot but think the world will generally be of opinion that others may as likely have
1 Historical Account of my Own Life, by Edmund Calamy, D.D., i. 443-446.
been mistaken in the grounds and informations they have gone upon as our author.” 1
If this is to be taken as an announcement that the book was printed verbatim from Clarendon's manuscript, we now know, from the
upon the older editions necessary to restore the reading of the original manuscript, that the deviations had been numerous, and some of them so emphatic as to make grave distortions on the story as Clarendon told it. For instance, in the following passage, the words printed in italics are not to be found in the edition of Clarendon accessible to those readers in Queen Anne's time who were curious about the inner secrets of the transactions in the great civil war. Montrose had been the most eager of all the champions of the Covenant, “but now, after his Majesty's arrival in Scotland, by the introduction of Mr William Murray of the bedchamber, he came privately to the king, and informed him of many particulars from the beginning of the Rebellion, and that the Marquis of Hamilton was no less faulty and false towards his Majesty than Argyle, and offered to make proof of all in the Parliament, but rather desired to kill them both, which he frankly undertook to do; but the king, abhorring that expedient, for his own security advised that the proof might be prepared for the Parliament. When suddenly, on a Sunday morning, the city of Edinburgh was in arms, and Hamilton and Argyle both gone out of the town to their own houses, where they stood upon their guards, declaring publicly that they had withdrawn themselves, because they knew that there was a design to assassinate them;
1 Preface, p. ii, edit. 1705.