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PROSE WRITERS OF THE FIFTH ERA.
held some peculiar religious views, which debarred him from preferment in the Church.
THOMAS SPRAT, born in 1636, at Fallaton in Devonshire, was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, and became Bishop of Rochester in 1684. He wrote with remarkable eloquence a History of the Royal Society; An Account of the Rye-house Plot; and a short Life of Cowley. Sprat died in 1713.
. LADY RACHEL RUSSELL, the daughter of the Earl of Southampton, and the devoted wife of that Lord William Russell who was beheaded in 1683 for an alleged share in the Rye-house Plot, deserves remembrance here for her beautiful Letters. They were published fifty years after her death, which took place in 1723.
WILLIAM WYCHERLEY, born in Shropshire in 1640, belongs to the most shameful period in the history of the English people and their literature. Educated as a lawyer, he abandoned his profession for the worst dissipations of London life. His Comedies, upon which his reputation as a literary man is founded, reflect the pollutions of the writer's mind. When it is said that they were all the fashion with the wits and beauties of Charles the Second's court, their character becomes clear at once. Wycherley died in 1715.
WILLIAM SHERLOCK, Dean of St. Paul's, and known as the author of a Practical Discourse concerning Death, was born in 1641. He wrote much against the Dissenters. His Vindication of the Trinity involved him in a controversy with South. He wrote also a treatise on the Immortality of the Soul. Sherlock died in 1707.
GILBERT BURNET, born at Edinburgh in 1643, was the son of a Scottish judge. Having graduated at Aberdeen, Gilbert entered the Church. Minister of Salton in Haddingtonshire-Professor of Divinity at Glasgow-preacher in the Rolls Chapel, Londonan exile on the Continent, residing chiefly at the Hague-he became, at the Revolution, Bishop of Salisbury, as a reward for his adherence to William of Orange. His literary fame rests principally on his historical works—the History of the Reformation,
PROSE WRITERS OF THE FIFTH ERA,
and the History of My Own Times. The latter, sketching the Civil War and the history of Cromwell, enters with greater minuteness into the period between the Restoration and the Treaty of Utrecht. Burnet's work on the Thirty-nine Articles is his chief theological treatise. He died in 1715.
JOHN STRYPE, born in 1643, deserves remembrance for his biographical and antiquarian works. Lives of Cranmer, Cheke, Grindal, Whitgift, and many others, proceeded from his pen, besides the Annals of the Reformation, and Ecclesiastical Memorials. He was a clergyman of the Church of England, and held many posts, the last being a lectureship at Hackney. He died in 1737, aged ninety-four.
WILLIAM PENN, the son of the celebrated admiral, was born in 1644. Though more distinguished as a colonist than as an author, he wrote several treatises in defence of Quakerism. No Cross No Crown, The Conduct of Life, and A Brief Account of the People called Quakers, are among his works. He died in 1718.
ROBERT BARCLAY, born in 1648, at Gordonstown in Moray, followed his father, Colonel Barclay, in joining the virtuous and God-fearing sect, then called Quakers, but now known as Friends. His Apology for these persecuted Christians is a remarkable theological work. He died in 1690.
DANIEL DEFOE, born in 1661, was the son of a London butcher. After trying various occupations-hosier, tile-maker, and woollenmerchant-he devoted himself to literature, and took up pen on the Whig side. For his political attacks he suffered the pillory, imprisonment, and fine. But his greatest efforts were works of fiction, of which Robinson Crusoe, published in 1719, is the chief. No English writer has ever excelled him in his power of painting fictitious events in the colours of truth. His simple and natural style has much to do with this. The Relation of Mrs. Veals Apparition, prefixed to Drelincourt on Death, affords, perhaps, the best specimen of Defoe's wonderful power of clothing fiction with the garb of truth. He died in 1731, leaving behind him many debts, and a host of works amounting to two hundred and ten books and pamphlets.
PROSE WRITERS OF THE FIFTH ERA.
MATTHEW HENRY, born in Flintshire in 1662, studied law, but afterwards became a Nonconformist minister, Chester and Hackney were the scenes of his labour. His name is now remembered chiefly for that Commentary on the Bible, which his death in 1714 prevented him from finishing.
RICHARD BENTLEY, who was born in 1662 and died in 1742, became Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Regius Professor of Divinity in that university. He has been called the greatest classical scholar England ever produced. Editions of Horace, Terence, and Phædrus are among his principal works. He also edited Milton, but with very small success.
SIR JOHN VANBRUGH, born about 1666, was a sugar-baker's son, who produced architectural designs, and wrote witty but licentious comedies. Under Queen Anne he was Clarencieux King-at-arms; and under George I., Comptroller of the royal works. The Provoked Wife is, perhaps, his best play. Blenheim and Castle Howard were his chief works as an architect. Vanbrugh died in 1726.
JOHN ARBUTHNOT, born in Kincardineshire in 1667, was noted in London as a physician, a writer, and a wit. He wrote, besides several other things, much of Martin Scriblerus, published in Pope's works—the History of John Bull (1712), which was a fine piece of ridicule aimed at Marlborough-treatises on the Scolding of the Ancients, and the Art of Political Lying. The very titles of his works express their humorous tone. He was physician in ordinary to Queen Anne, and died in 1735.
WILLIAM CONGREVE was an exception to the common lot of his dramatic brethren, for he lived and died in opulence and ease. Born in Yorkshire about 1670, he became at twenty-two a dramatic author. But he had the good fortune to obtain several government situations, which, when swelled by the emoluments of the secretaryship of Jamaica, received in 1715, were worth about £1200 a year. The same calamity that darkened the old age of Milton, fell on the latter days of Congreve ; but the licentious dramatist had not the same pure, angelic visions, to solace his hours of blindness, as passed before the mental eye of the great Puritan,
PROSE WRITERS OF THE FIFTH ERA.
Congreve wrote one tragedy, The Mourning Bride. His comedies are steeped in vice. How much this writer was idolized in his own day, may be judged from the strange honours paid by a Duchess of Marlborough to his memory. Having caused images of the dead poet to be made, one of ivory and one of wax, she placed the former daily at her table, and caused the feet of the latter to be regularly blistered and rubbed by her doctors, as had been done for the gouty limbs of the dying man, when he was a member of her household. Congreve’s life came to a close in 1729.
GEORGE FARQUHAR, born in Londonderry in 1678, was an actor, a military officer, and a writer of comedies. His chief plays are The Recruiting Officer (1706), and The Beaua Stratagem (1707). He died in his thirtieth year. Wycherley, Vanbrugh, Congreve, and Farquhar form a group of comic dramatists, who reflect vividly in their works the glittering and wicked life which courtiers and fashionables lived during the half century between the Restoration and the accession of the Guelphs.
THE NEWS OF THE PRESENT WEEK.”
SIXTH ERA OF ENGLISH LITERATURE.
FROM THE FIRST PUBLICATION OF THE TATLER IN 1709 A.D. TO THE
PUBLICATION OF PAMELA IN 1740 A.D.
THE Acta Diurna of ancient Rome, the Gazetta of Venice, and the
the modern newspaper or journal. Small sheets or packets of news began to appear in England during the reign of James I.; and when the Thirty Years' War set all Britain on the qui vive, one of these, entitled The News of the Present Week, was established in 1622, to give the latest particulars of the great Continental struggle. This may be considered our first regular newspaper.
The earlier newspamphlets had no fixed time of publication.
The Civil War between Charles and his Parliament gave a political tone to this infant journalism. Each party had several organs; and a furious paper war kept pace with the sterner conflict that convulsed the land. Very curious and often comical are the titles of these news-books—for papers they can scarcely be called, being chiefly in the form of quarto pamphlets. Once, twice, thrice a week there came out a host of bitter and malicious Scotch Doves, Parliament Kites, Secret Orls; and when the Weekly