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are insensible to those qualities of the master which make him significant not for the Middle Ages only but for all time. The literary forms and the style which attracted them and which they most frequently try to reproduce are those which Chaucer himself in the course of his marvelous artistic development outgrew and abandoned. They imitate The Boke of the Duchesse, The Prologue to the Legende of Goode Women, The Parlement of Foules, The Hous of Fame, and above all the Roman de la Rose or the translation of it. Allegory is the chosen form, abstractions are the favorite personages; the ancient conventional machinery of spring mornings and grassy arbors and dreams and troupes of men and fair ladies is used again and again, though all its parts have become loose and worn with use and age and creak audibly at every movement. To all this they add a pretentious diction that smells of schools and musty Latinity. The flowers that deck their fields are withered blossoms that they have picked up and painted and tied to the bare and lifeless stalks. Gaudy they are, but odorless, lifeless, and obviously painted.
DUNBAR's greatest poem is The Golden Targe, a long, tedious allegory setting forth the dangers of love and the efficacy of the golden shield of reason. Equally famous and less wearisome is The Thrissill and the Rois, a poem celebrating by means of the national flowers of Scotland and England the marriage of James IV of Scotland with Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VII of England, - a marriage of so much significance later for England and the history of Great Britain. In his satires, such as The Dance of the Sevin Deidly Sinnis, and in his shorter poems, such as his Lament for the Makaris (i.e. Poets), Dunbar is much more original and vigorous and less pedantic.
STEPHEN HAWES's most important poem is also an elaborate allegory. The full title of it is significant, The Pastime of Pleasure; or the History of Graunde Amour and La Bell Pucell ; conteining the knowledge of the seven Sciences and the course of mans life in this worlde. All this is set forth in a series of incidents in which the hero Graunde Amour (Love of Knowledge) falls in love with and wins La Bell Pucell (the beautiful maiden, Knowledge). Our first extract gives a fair idea of the method and merits of the poem. After the marriage, Graunde Amour lives happily with his bride for many years; then, summoned by Old Age and Death, he dies and is buried, his epitaph being written by Remembrance. This epitaph is perhaps the most interesting passage of the poem to a modern reader.
That LYRICS (p. 63) were written in great numbers before the influence of Italy seriously affected English poetry in the sixteenth century is well known, but most historians of English literature entirely neglect these lyrics and speak as if England owed all her wealth of song in the age of Elizabeth to Italian influence. That there was much imitation of sonnet and madrigal and other Italian forms of lyric poetry is beyond question, but in many of the most charming of the lyrics of the latter part of the century one hears, I think, the same notes and discovers the same poetic method that had marked English lyrics at the beginning of the century and for ages before. Only a few specimens of these native wood-notes wild are given here, but they will serve to enforce what has just been said. One of them, it will be remarked, is curiously unlike the rest and curiously modern. In both tone and poetic method the love song:
Lully, lulley, lulley, lulley !
The fawcon hath born my make away! (p. 65) smacks, not of the Middle Ages, but of that interesting nineteenth-century imitation of mediævalism associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Movement.
The BALLADS (p. 66) here given are specimens of a kind of literature which has attracted a great deal of attention and aroused a great deal of controversy in modern times. Composed during the Middle Ages for the common people, they attracted scarcely any attention from cultivated readers and played little part in literature until the second half of the eighteenth century. Sir Philip Sidney knew and loved “the old song of Percy and Douglas," Shakespeare and some of the other dramatists quoted brief snatches of them in certain of their plays, and Addison devotes a critique in the Spectator to one of the best of them; but they had no general literary standing until some men of the eighteenth century, sick of the conventionalities and prettinesses of the poetry of their day, turned for relief to the rude vigor and simplicity of these old poems. The book most influential in this introduction of them to modern readers was Bishop Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, published in 1765.
But, although obscure until the time of the Romantic Movement, the ballads, as has been said, were composed centuries before that time. Even approximate dates of composition can be set for very few of them, for they were usually not written down but only preserved in memory and transmitted orally through the centuries, and consequently in most cases no certain conclusions as to their dates can be drawn from the forms of the language in which they are expressed. But we know that some of those that have come down to us belong to the fifteenth, the fourteenth, and even the thirteenth centuries. Perhaps the earliest of those printed here is St. Stephen and Herod (p. 79), one of the most remarkable for a vivid simplicity which no art could improve. This and Sir Patrick Spens, by some curious chance, have precisely the artistic qualities which we look for in the best modern verse; the excellences of some of the others, such as the Battle of Otterburn and Captain Car, though perhaps as great in their way, belong to an ideal of art entirely different from that of the modern individualistic, conscious artist.
Most of the lyrics of Sir THOMAS WYATT (p. 80) and the EARL OF SURREY (p. 82) were first printed in a little volume entitled Songs and Sonnets, written by the Right Honourable Lord Henry Howard, late Earl of Surrey, and others, but commonly known, from the publisher's name, as Tottel's Miscellany. The significance of this volume is duly emphasized in all histories of English literature.
GEORGE SANDYS (p. 157) is usually regarded as too unimportant to find a place in a brief history of English literature; but it has seemed worth while to give three brief specimens of his translations, because they show the falsity of the common opinion, shared by some of the best literary critics, that it is impossible to translate the poetry of the Old Testament into English verse and preserve the dignity and simplicity and force which are so finely preserved in the prose of the Authorized Version. The student may also be interested to notice that two of the verse-forms Sandys uses were afterwards made famous by Tennyson.
LADY WINCHILSEA (p. 213) finds a place here because of recent years the romantic qualities of her work, noted long ago by Wordsworth, have met with general recognition and have received special significance from their existence at a time when the Classical Movement seemed supreme.
WILLIAM HAMILTON OF BANGOR produced in his paraphrase of Hamlet's soliloquy (p. 260) what has been regarded as the very reductio ad absurdum of the “classical " method and style. Hamilton's own lack of ability is of course responsible for the absolute lifelessness of the lines, and bad writers will always write badly; but the tone, the manner of approaching the subject, the choice of imagery and of stylistic devices, are distinctly “classical.” A comparison of the soliloquy with its original would be a good elementary exercise in defining the two contrasted ideals of literary art. It would also emphasize anew the great fact that in literature, as in life, the idea is little, while the emotions it awakens, the images it arouses, the associations that
accompany it, are everything; for Hamilton has used all the ideas of the great soliloquy and rejected all its means of effectiveness.
DAVID MALLET (p. 260) — his name was originally Malloch - lives in literary history by virtue of three rather curious circumstances: the title of one of his poems (The Excursion) had the honor of being used later by Wordsworth; the famous song, Rule, Britannia ! (p. 258), was first sung in a musical comedy called Alfred, a Masque, composed by him and James Thomson ; and he was the reputed author of William and Margaret (p. 260), the most important ballad in the history of the Romantic Movement. Fate favored him in Wordsworth's choice of a title for his poem. She favored him in the second instance by letting the poet James Thomson die before Alfred was printed and before any public claim had been made to the great song which all scholars now ascribe to Thomson. She favored him the third time by allowing him to retain for over one hundred and fifty years credit in literary circles for the authorship of William and Margaret, a poem which we now know to have been printed in slightly different form and sold about the streets of London while he was still a child. The importance of the ballad for the history of Romanticism lies partly in its real beauty, partly in the early date at which it attracted public attention and interest, and partly in the large amount of discussion to which it gave rise.
THOMAS WARTON (p. 283) owes his position in the history of English poetry not to the fact that he was poet laureate but to his having contributed, both by his own verse and by his History of English Poetry, to the triumph of Romanticism. His History of English Poetry, which is still a standard treatise, brought to the attention of the reading public the rich but forgotten fields of English poetry from the twelfth to the close of the sixteenth century, the influence of which became dominant in the Romantic revival. His best poetry also expresses two of the principal characteristics of Romanticism, - love of antiquity and love of nature. He is further notable as having helped to revive the sonnet as a form of English verse.
THOMAS CHATTERTON (p. 295) wrote under his own name some poems of great promise for a boy (he was only eighteen when he died), but his most important and interesting poems he pretended not to have written but to have discovered. Most of them, he said, were composed by a monk named Rowley in the second half of the fifteenth century, and had been found by himself among old papers in the church of St. Mary Redcliffe at Bristol. In the present state of knowledge of the English language it is easy for any scholar to see that these poems could not possibly have been written in the fifteenth century, and some persons suspected them when they were first produced; but to the majority even of the scholars of that day any imitation of old manuscripts, old writing, and old spelling was good evidence of age, and it seemed absolutely impossible that so young a boy - he was only twelve or thirteen when he began to produce these poems - could have composed the poems and fabricated the manuscripts. When the imposture was discovered the critics, making no allowance for its having been the work of a mere child, were filled with high moral indignation, and the poor boy was allowed to starve, until, being able to endure his neglect no longer, he took poison and died. It has been thought strange that the poems written in this "fake" old English are better than those in the English of his own day; but the explanation seems easy psychologically. The imagination of the boy was specially excited both by the idea of the imposture he was carrying on and by the odd forms of words which he used. He felt himself transported to the times and scenes he was trying to reproduce and wrote with the picturesqueness and vigor which belong to such excited states of mind. Professor Skeat, in his recent edition of Chatterton, has changed the old spelling of the poems to modern spelling, on the ground that the boy really thought in eighteenth-century English and ought to be so represented. This sounds logical, but really is not. He may have thought thus, but we may be sure that he felt and imagined in these pseudo-archaic forms which made the antique world live again for him. Chatterton's method of old spelling is so simple also that it will give hardly any trouble. His first principle is to double letters as often as possible; his second is not to be too regular even in doing this; his third, to use any genuine old spellings that he happened to remember. No difficulty exists in The Bristowe Tragedie. The Accounte of W. Canynges Feast is harder. In line i han sounde is intended to mean has sounded. The meaning of line 2 is a fair welcome does befit persons of dignity, — Byelecoyle being a bad spelling of the name of one of the characters in the old Chaucerian translation of the Roman de la Rose. Ealdermenne, line 3, is of course aldermen; cheorte, line 4, really means dearness or scarcity, but Chatterton thought it could mean delicious; swotelye, line 6, means sweetly (= sweet) and doe is for does. Syche coyne, line 7, means such food. Professor Skeat thinks coyne means daintily, but Chatterton probably got the word from Spenser's View of the Present State of Ireland, where Spenser says, “ by the woord of Coygnye is understood mans-meat," as opposed to horse-meat. Coygnye is also spelled coyn and coyne. In line 8 dynne is noise. In line 9 Heie stylle means they (the minstrels) cease playing. In line 11 echone is of course every (each one), and deene is dine. Line 12 means if Rowley, Iscamm, or Tyb Gorges (three of his friends) be not seen.
The Minor SCOTTISH Poets represented in pages 304-309 are mainly interesting as a background to Burns. In methods and ideals he was not an isolated phenomenon ; freedom and individuality had not perished entirely. In London literary circles and throughout Great Britain wherever people tried to write or to criticise as they thought all“ up-to-date" people were writing and criticising, the prevailing fashion of “classicism” was omnipotent. But wherever people wrote for the pleasure of saying a thing as they wished to say it, life, with its old joys and hopes and sorrows and fears and desires, ran fresh and strong, as it always has run and always will.
PRAED (p. 428) and LOCKER-LAMPSON (p. 504) are the advance guard of a host of writers of vers de société of exquisite delicacy and refinement. The ideal of such verse is elegant and ingenious trifling with only occasional touches of more serious sentiment, - as a swallow circles bright and swift through the air, dips its wing for a moment in the water, and like a flash is off again in its careless flight. Some of the lighter verse of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries bears a close resemblance to the work of these later writers, but there is a difference in tone, in attitude, in personal concern with the sentiments expressed. Locker (or Locker-Lampson, to use the name he assumed upon his marriage to Miss Lampson) was far superior to Praed in tenderness, in reserve, in genuine poetic feeling, and in technique. His range of sentiments, of ideas, and of rhythms was greater; and he has had the greater influence upon later writers.
Fitzgerald's translation of The RUBAIYAT OF OMAR KHAYYAM (p. 438) has long had a place in the hearts of lovers of high and serious poetry. Although a translation, it is in the truest sense an original poem and expresses as scarcely any other does the strange combination of doubt and defiance and sensuousness and religious yearning characteristic of much of the thought and feeling of the Victorian Age.
Bailey's FESTUS (P. 498) was one of the most successful poems of any age. Published in 1839, it passed through many editions in England, besides thirty in America. In addition to this popular success, it gained the extravagant praises of many critics and poets, even such men as Walter Savage Landor ranking it with the great poems of the world. But it is dead and will never be read again except as a literary curiosity. Three quotations from it still survive as the sum total of its claims upon the future. The poet and dramatist, Westland Marston, said, “I know no poem in any language
that can be compared with it in copiousness and variety of imagery." This is true; but the imagery of the poem is the result of intellectual ingenuity, not of poetic imagination, and the movement of it, both in general and in detail, is the movement of machinery, not of life.
COVENTRY PATMORE (p. 521) has been the subject of the most widely divergent judgments. One contemporary critic says, “It may be affirmed that no poet of the present age is more certain of immortality than he.” Another regards him as possessor of no spark of the divine fire. The selections here presented seem to justify his claim to a unique and high position among the poets of his time, but his range was narrow - his vocal register had scarcely a tone that does not find utterance in these selections — and his voice obviously lacked resonance and power. Being incapable of selfcriticism, he wrote much that is prosaic — some lines that even awaken inextinguishable laughter; but at its best his verse is simple, picturesque, passionate, of exquisite freshness and charm.
SIDNEY DOBELL (p. 523) is a notable example of the rather large class of poets in the nineteenth century who gave evidence of true and even great poetic ability, but who failed in unity, in consistency, in power of final and perfect utterance.
GEORGE MEREDITH (p. 537) is perhaps the most richly and variously endowed writer of the nineteenth century. He is best known as a novelist, but to many of his admirers he seems equally great as a poet. All of his work is notable for its combination of significance and beauty. In depth of insight, in subtle apprehension of life and the problems which it presents to try the hearts of intelligent men and women, even such great writers as Scott, Dickens, Thackeray, and George Eliot are hardly his equals; and his sensitiveness to the beauties of nature and of the soul of man has a wider range and a finer delicacy. The same qualities are manifest in much of his poetry. But the gods gave him also the fatal gift of excessive intellectual ingenuity and a delight in the exercise of it; while the sole gift they denied him was self-restraint. Like his own Bellerophon, he had the winged horse and the golden bridle, and he, too,
Could mount and sit
Flying, and up Olympus midway speed; but instead of riding straight and hard for the summit he too often, in mere exuberance of power and of delight in his steed, executes difficult feats of horsemanship on the lower slopes of the mountain.
ROBERT BULWER LYTTON, “Owen Meredith” (p. 544), is notable only as an example of the worthlessness of contemporary popularity, however great, as a test of merit. No one can now read his verses without seeing clearly and at once that he had not a single quality of greatness. He had no power of thought, no sensitiveness to beauty, no real charm of manner. His success was a triumph of the commonplace and of cheap and tawdry sensationalism. That we are all now able to see this does not mean that we are wiser than the preceding generation or endowed with better taste, but only that this particular kind of commonplace and sensationalism does not appeal to us. Most of us are still equally ready to praise work different in badness, but just as bad.
SIR LEWIS MORRIS (p. 547) is not a great poet, but he occupies an honorable place among poets of the second rank. Though lacking in originality and strength he has sincerity and sensitiveness to beauty and truth; and often his verse has the simple, noble charm of genuine poetry.
JAMES THOMSON (p. 548) is one of the most curious and interesting figures of the Victorian period. No one has been more successful in catching the true poetic aspect of the pleasures of the lower middle classes of a great city. His “idyls of the London