traveller mast sometimes halt. Whether the merit of this volume will exceed the first, the public must determine ; this we premnise, if it retrogrades, the fault will be with us!: That we labour under many disadvantages we admit; but the greatest obstacles may be overcome by perseverance, and we are ever taught to hope for better days." Our late efforts, we are told, have given us some claim to public favour. We would surely err in not prosecuting the cultivation. We have stood clear of offence hitherto, having neither advocated party, nor gratified the malignity of any one of our correspondents. That mady periodicals are made the vehicles of slander and abuse, every one who reads them must know; neither our inclinations, nor our interest, lead us to indulge in such propensities. Our conduct, on all occasions, will submit to scrutiny. Though some may labour to insult and provoke, our only study will be to instruct and amuse. We are aware such sentiments are to be found in almost every introductory article ; and the mere wish not to affect indiffera ence to circuinstances that almost all consider of inportance, was the sole reason' whieh induced us to give to them any attention. We perhaps would not have been justifiable in passing them over unnoticed, as the declaration of opinion is now considered more necessary than ever, by the thinking part of the community.

Commencing at such an interesting period as we do, viz. the first day of a ulew year, when bope and fear are in such busy expectation, we, in common We believe, with all, look forward, with apprehensions of a varied sort, to what is buried in the womb of time, forbodings of a pleasant or a painful nature, at a time like this, assail the human mind, according with its present situation; thus we are frequently lost in conjecturing what futurity may bring forth. Our best endeavours will be made to merit public favour, and as we merit it we hope to be rewarded. We conclude with giving the compliments of the season to all our readers, and wishing a new year may return often, and with an inereased degree of happiness to each, until all, having played their fitful part in the drama of life, are gathered to the place of their fathers.

? ! 1 - 10 2. SKETCHES OF BRITISH LITERATURE. S43969.91 91


BRITISH Literature may be comprehended under five cras: 1st, The era of Queen Elizabeth, in which lived Spenser, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Beau; mont, Fletcher, Marlowy, &c.-20, The era of Charles II. in which lived Milton, Dryden, Otway, Lee, Cowley, Waller, Farquhar, Vanburgh, Roscommon, &com 3d, The era of Queen Anne, sometimes, though improperly called the Augustan age of England, in which fourished Pope, Swift

, Addisong,Steele, Prier, and a host of others.--4th, The era including the reign of George II, and part of that of George III. in which lived Goldsmith, Johnson, Smollet, Fielding, Richardson, Gray, Collins, Akenside, Sheridan, Beattie, Cowper, &c.—-5th, The era comprehending the last sixteen years of George III. down to the present time. In this era fiourish Coleridge, Southey, Wordsworth, Crabbe, Scott, Campbell, Byron, Millman, Sir Aubrey de Vere, Hunt, Hogg, Baillie, Wilson, and a multitude of others. It is our intention, in the present Volume of the Melange, to give a general view of the spirit of these different eras- devoting an article to each era, Before, f

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alamat honeter, descending to purticulars, we shall take a rapid and general survey of the whole, from the time of Elizabeth to the present day. is

an It is needless to speak of British literature before her neign. From the time of Chaucer till then, it may be said to have been, to all bitents, and purposes, a dead letter... The stinted learning of the age was confined to monasteries, : and the people religiously kept back from every species of knowledge. But, s in this interval, there is no reason to suppese that any genius, especially that a any great puet existed. Notimes could be more unfavourable for literature, than: those which produced Gower, Chaucer, and Thomas of Ercildoune-yet, by the force of poetic power, these men triumphed over every difficulty, and shone brightly in the middle of universally darkness. Nor is it just to impule; the want of genius to the civil dissensions of the times, or to the disturbed reigns of the Tuders. We repeat, had England then possessed a poet, he, would have appeared notwithstanding every disadvantage, Genius is not reared under the fostering care of patronage. The history of almost all our men of talent, exlubits them struggling against mistortune. What ages were i more agitated than those of Elizabeth or Anne ?-yet, what times produced greater men ? laleigh, Bacon, and CamoensMilton, Waller, and Swift, were perpetually engaged in the national disputes; yet their geniuses were pot blighted by these events. They were rather sharpened and prepared to act more powerfully in quieter moments. The government may, indeed, give - { a particular turn to the genius of a nation collectively; but it cannot check the 11 march of imagination, in the gifted few who are blessed with such faculty, The dismal periods of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, plunged mankind into universal gloom ; yet, in these ages, appeared the spartive Ariosto andi. Boccacio--the amorous Petrarch, and the majestic minds of Dante and Tasso. In such ages, Raphael, and Angelo, and Titian flourished, and also the whole of the incomparable artists of the Venetian and Italian schools of painting · Times like these could restrain the progress of science, as the unn hiappy Gallileo experienced, and might curb the reign of pluilosophy--but they could do nothing more. There the ignorance of a debased priesthood. There the fanaticism of a tyrannical inquisition. There the blasting anathemas of an assuming pontiff were compelled to pause. They might snatch the telescope from the hands of the daring philosopher, who, by exploring the fields of knowledge, unveiled thein and their sophistries to the world. They might imprison the sage who sent forth the precepts of a more juist philosophy, and > they might condemn to the faggot, the promulgators of a 'truter and a purer faith. They might do all this, but the laurel from the poets head they could not tear. In spite of every obstacle, the pure stream of his imagination swept on in the midst of the decay of all the other fountains of the mind.. viss

We are not then to impute the small number of poets in the middle ages to any such events; nor are we to say, that the interval between Chauder anel Spencer was deficient in poetry, because the fancy of the bard was darkened by the general ignorance of mankind. The mighty constellation which lighted up the most dismal period of Europe, in the person of Date and his successors, slowed the fallacy of such reasoning; and the no less majestic minds which adorned the virgin reign of England, demonstrated that, however oppressed, genius will yet rebound irresistibly, and shoot forth into the wild luxuriatice of vigour. This, the era of Queen Elizabeth exhibited in full perfec


tion. As if by the breath of some enchantment, England started up at onet a literary land. The voice which, from the beginning of time, had pronounced it barbarous and unimaginative, was silent for ever. Spencer, by a single ef. fort, elevated its poetry almost to a level with that of Greece or Rome. The Faery Queene' is the purest, sweetest, most imaginative poein of modern times. Una,' the most etherial heroine of romance. At the same time, appeared Shakespeare, who bounded above all his contemporaries, and sat on the same throne as Homer himself

. This was the triumph of England's genius the brightest period of her literary history. No age except those in which Tassu and Ariosto-or Virgil ard Lucian sung-could produce such a pair; not even the Grecian one which saw Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides together. Shakespeare was sufficient to have stamped immortality on the time that produced him, and to have conferred on it the title of the age of genius. But : tace of Majestic spirits followed in his train-spirits. not.indeed equal to his, for that never saw its match, but such as would bave, honoured any other riod of society. Johnson, Marlow, Massinger, and Fletcher, closed up the incomparable phalanx. Before this time we had no drama or literature of any kind, except such as was cominon to the barbarous period ; but Shakespeare

, from the stores of his own mind alone, raised up a draina, more perfect and more splendid, than any other man could have done with all the precepts of Aristotle,

The second era, or that of Charles II, succeeded the first, after an interval more

than half a century. Between these two eras, there was little genius. Nature, fatigued with her extraordinary efforts, seemed to repose in silence till she accumulated strength to bring forth a Milton, As Shakespeare was the glory of the first-Milton was the glory of the second era. p. As the former was the most profound, acute, versatile, and imaginative of poets, the latter was the sublimest

. As Shakespeare was the most untutdred, Milton was the most learned. Both are the wonder of their respective times, and oth are equally wonderful. Side by side, they stand the monarchs of British poetry; nor can it be said to whom the loftiest seat can be awarded. Whatever opinion may be formed of their respective excellencies, they seem tacitly admitted to be, not only above all.competition, but their excellencies beyond hope of attainment

, What Newton was to philosophy they are to British poetry -- the unrivalled and unrivallable lords. But the reign of Charles, thougtı less rude, was infinitely more depraved than that of Elizabeth. The language had undergone great improvement, but the sentiments were more gross

The rudeness of the former was the consequence of a semi-barbarous state of society—that of the latter, of an acquired immorality. The first period was rude, because it knew no better--the second, because a considerable degree of polish was degraded to licentiousness, by a dissolute and immoral court. Shakespeare and Jonson were often rude, but seldom shocked delicacy; whereas, the writings of that time abounded in the grossest allusions, and scarcely any of them could be now represented on the stage. Dryden, next to. Milton the most splendid genius of the time, abounded in profligacy, absurdity, and bad taste. If he had been placed under happier circumstances--if he had possessed leisure, and affiuence, and followed after purer models tban his age afforded him, it would have been dificult, in the whole compass of our bards, to have named any one, except Shakespeare and Milton, who could be



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ago stamped as decidedly and uncquivocally his superior. This though not

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equal upon the whole' to the former, was far superior in energy,

more correct period of Anne. The enthusiasın of Lee, 'the pathos of Otway, and the humour' of Vanburgh and Farquhar, dirested of their "licentiousness, would have lead to high reputation in the present day, when the stage is in sp deplorable a state for the want of dramatic writers.

The third era had no genius of the first order, but much taste. The first was the era of genius 1-the third of taste. The second stood inidway between them, not merely in time, but in qualification having less, genius, but more taste than the one more genius, but less taste than the other. As Shakespeare and Miltorr stood at the head of the former two, Pope may be said to pre side over this ; but" he did not rise to such superiority over his compeers as either of these great poets. In fact, Addison, Swift, Congreve, and Steele, were inen of equal talents with him, but, by a sort of courteous consent, he was adınitted to stand at the head of his contemporaries. He was, however, ranked as tho first poet of his day, although the present generation are little inelined to admit so unreservedlý his title to stand in the list above Thoma son. The writers of that age, especially Addison, and his associates in the Spectator, set themselves to reform the language, and this they did so successfally, that it seems to have been little amended since their time. They did not succeed in producing any thing very great, or very new; but they were eminently successful in arranging and digesting the works of others. The solid, inassy, substantial, portion of the fabric was raised by their predecessors. They had only to give it a final polish. Wit, aitic elegance, sweetness of composition, and Virgilian grace, reached their height under the courtly Addi

He was the first of Essayists—Pope the first of ethic poets—Swift the first of wits'; bụit to the sublime, this


laid no claims. The fourth'era was

, in some measure, only a prolongation of tlie third, 60 far as identity of genius concurred, and is only distinguished from it, as many writers of powerful talent appeared nearly at the same time. History under Robertson, Gibbon, Hume, and Stewart, reached an eminence, rivalling the best periods of ancient times. Locke aud Bacon found no unworthy succesa sors in Reid, Hutcheson, Smith, and Beattie. The whole of the natural sciences advanced to perfection with giant strides. Novel writing, in the hands of Smollet, Fielding, and Richardson, acquired a character of strength, humour and effect, unknown before. Churchill sħone as a satirist-Colman, Sheridan, and Goldsmith, as writers in the drama. Collins, Gray, Akenside, Armstrong, Beattie, Cowper, &c. distinguished themselves with high reputation in the poetic walk. Although, however, the poets of this age might each be original in his way, still the general poetic genius of the country not original. It was founded on the model of the poetry


age Anne-which was founded on that of the age of Charles II.—which was founded again or that of the Elizabethan era; and this in its turn was grounded generally on the' models of the classical writers. Thus, so far as originality vent, it was something even more remote than the shadow of a shade. The wire which, in the hands of the ancients, was strong and vigorous, was drawn out and attenuated respectively, through the ages of Elizabeth, Charles II., Anne, and George III., till it had reached its utinost point of fineness and cohesion. When it reached that, it gave way, and on this event taking

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place, the 5th or last era was formed. If a revolution had not taken place in poetry, it would have 'degenerated into mere frigidity'; such it was in france after the death of Voltaire, and such as it is in Italy at the present moment.

Hazlitt imputes, the origin of the Lake Schools to the peculiar turn of 1) opinion which followed the French Revolution. This is true, and would have been

по less true had he applied the remark to almost all the poetry of the age. In fact, the total change of literary genius in the present day, is more : a consequence of men's minds, and that turn for novelty which actuated i

Europe. The mania spread to poetry, and produced there a change as total as in politics. As nations lost all reverence for the ancient institutions states were overturned, and kings deposed as a new and vivifying, ret in many

cases terrific, agency began to operate on men's minds, they saw things with the new eyes--they thought boldly for themselves; and, inspired by a wild uncha • 11 tened irregularity, they chalked out at once a new path for the world. The

present era of poetry may be said to be as much in its infancy as the first. Othe generation's treading on the same road may purify our taste. A new age, like that

of Anne, may give birth to critics who shall discover a thousand faults which, is, at present, escape our observation. With greater correctness and elegance.

fall as far short of ours in real genius, as the age of Addison fell below that of Shakespeare. Who shall presume to say, that Byron and Scott may not then be regarded as rude writers--full of genius and energy,

but destitute of refinement? When, at length, the presen: spirit of poetry is www.weakened in the course of years—when nothing but its shadow remains—when b) is the correct writers of future times look back upon it with all its errors, as an sunt unattainable grandeur, who shall say, that some new spirit will not arise upon

the land to elevate literature from the degradation of mere correctness, and vt perhaps, bring forth again some such age as that of Elizabeth ?

that age may

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No. 3. Continued. ** JOID!

Passing through the lane on which St. Mary's Work-house is situated, we took up

* temporary position at the back of the Castle, in order to have a view of the surroundning scenery. The seat which we occupied reminded me of those in Glasgow Green, 7. It bore the deep indented marks of many a casual visitor. Every place which could 3 afford a resting place for the initials of some consequential name, was occupied. ! o's was vain for one to roll their eyes across these characters, and then inwardly extol their

own handicraft in contradistinction to some of the bungled initials which, in spite of other defects, claimed visibility on this ancient piece of furniture. There was no zoom for a display of ingenuity, unless, like the Hibernian carver, Dennis O' Flafferty, one bad contented himself with the green turf. I must here make a Shandycan digression, in

order to inform you who this Dennis was. Well then, he was, with the exception of - l those who were better, as good a soul as ever trundled a murphy in pork graver, lut

some how or other, he had forined a predilection for old Scotia; in consonauce with tbis he bade adieu to sweet Tipperary, and tripped aboard a cual skuttle, at Belfast

, bound for the Broomielaw. His hair was scarcely dry from the effects of a splashing capage

will he stood on the Calton hill of Edinburgh. After baxing, there selected a pretty :: hapot, he pulled his jockteleg from his gallogas

kins, and proceeded to cut que the follow: ing letters on the consecrated spot, D, OP. T. C. T. 1. 0. II. M. 88. O. C. R. The long-headed., Dennis had formed the most exalted notions of human intellect

. In the present

instance, he had taken, a ratio from his own knowledge of himself; but he had no desire to be selfish in that parkicular. Sure, says he, I might, hy way o

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