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matic dialect stood in no such near and truthful relation to the realities of life, as I may show, perhaps, by a reference to a variety of language occurring in Shakspeare. It will be remembered that the chief and best reputation of Dryden lies in this, that he enlarged the domain of English poetry by the production of the most nervous satire in verse that English literature had yet known. It has been said by Milton, in one of his prose works, that “a satire, as it was born out of a tragedy, so ought to resemble his parentage, to strike high, and adventure dangerously, at the most eminent vices among the greatest persons. Dryden's satire had this merit. It struck at Buckingham. It was also employed on the unworthy versifiers and scribblers, for authorship had degenerated to a low craft, with all its worst enviousness and meanness, in dismal contrast with that frank and hearty intercourse which distinguished the companionship of authors in an earlier generation, living in genial fellowship, and weaving even their inspirations together in partnership that was a brotherhood.
A literary life like Dryden's closed with an old age without dignity and without happiness—the remnant of life, worn out in his Egyptian bondage, embittered both by neglect and the memory of talents misspent in the service of a sensual and sordid king and corrupt courtiers. There was nothing of the grandeur of Milton's lonely old age ; but, in the period of Dryden's desolation, we may trace the chastening of adversity in some strains of a higher mood, as in those admirable lines in which he tells of his effort at Christian forbearance when provoked to resent and retort. This passage is worthy of all praise, especially when we remember his power of satire, his unimpaired poetic invective, now controlled by a higher principle :
* Milton's Apology for Smectymnuus, & vi. Prose Works, p. 88, 8 vo.
“If joys hereafter must be purchased here
And thy blest Saviour's blood discharge the mighty sin."* The death of Dryden took place in the year 1700, and we pass into the literature of the eighteenth century, the first part of which is not unfrequently styled the Augustan age of Queen Anne. It was Augustan in that men of letters were basking in the sunshine of aristocratic patronage, and a courtly refinement succeeded to that grossness of manners and of speech which had disgraced society in the years just previous. Writers were no longer plunging in the mire of that obscenity which defiled the times of Charles the Second ; but they were often walking in the dry places of an infidel philosophy. The religious agitation of the middle of the previous century had sunk down from the high-wrought power of fanaticism, first, into indecent profanity, and then, by degrees, into a more decorous, but cold, self-complacent skepticism. Enthusiasm of all kinds had burned out, and there was a low tone of thought and feeling in church and state-in the people, and, of consequence, in literature. There was no great British statesman-I mean no genuine, magnanimous statesman—from the time of Strafford, and Clarendon, and Falkland, and the great republican statesmen of the seventeenth century, down to a century later, when the first William Pitt, “ the great Commoner," breathed a spirit of magnanimity once more into British politics.
* The Hind and Panther, part iii. v. 1575.
The prose literature developed, in the reign of Queen Anne, a new agency of social improvement in the periodical literature, destined to acquire such unbounded influence in later times in the newspaper press and the leading Reviews. There is much to show that a more correct and refined tone of society was brought about by the papers which, under the title of “ The Tatler," from the pen of Steele, began that series which became more famous in the “Spectator," and in connection with Addison. “It was said of Socrates,” remarked Steele, “that he brought philosophy down from heaven to inhabit aniong men.
I shall be ambitious to have it said of me that I have brought philosophy out of closets and libraries, schools, and colleges, to dwell in clubs and assemblies, at tea-tables, and in coffee-houses.” Not many years ago, it was very generally the custom, I remember, for every young person, male and female, to go through a course of reading of the papers of the Spectator. This has fallen quite into disuse now-a-days, and I do not know that it is much to be regretted. The Spectator contains, undoubtedly, much sensible and sound morality; but it is not a very high order of Christian ethics. It contains much judicious criticism, but certainly not comparable to the deeper philosophy of criticism which has entered into English literature in the present century.* Those papers will always have a semi-historical interest, as picturing the habits and manners of the times—a moral value, as a kindly, good-natured censorship of those manners. one respect, the Spectator stands unrivalled to this day: I allude to the exquisite humour in those numbers in which Sir Roger de Coverley figures. If any one desire to form a just notion of what is meant by that
* Let me, in other and better language than my own, say a word for our classic. “ It seems to me," says the greatest of living writers of fiction and the manliest satirist of our times, “that when Addison looks from the world, whose weaknesses he describes so benevolently, up to the heaven which shines over us all, I can hardly fancy a human intellect thrilling with a purer love and adoration than Joseph Addison's. It seems to me his words of sacred poetry shine liko stars. They shine out of a great, deep calm. When he turns to heaven, a sabbath comes over that man's mind, and his face lights up from it with a glory of thanks and prayer. His sense of religion stirs his whole being. In the fields, in the town; looking at the birds in the trees—at the children in the streets; in the morning or in the moonlight; over his books in his own room ; in a happy party at a country merry-making or a town assembly, good-will and peace to God's creatures, and love and awe of Him who made them, fill his pure heart and shine from his kind face. If Swift's life was the most wretched, I think Addison's was one of the most enviable. A life prosperous and beautiful, a calm death, an immense fame and affection afterward for his happy and spotless name.”—Thackeray's Lectures on the English Humorists. I may venture to express the hope that the habit of reading the Spectator will not fall into disuse. I know no finer line in any English poet than one of Addison's, when the Moon repeats her wondrous tale “Nightly to the listening carth.”
W. B. R.
finable quality called “ humour," he cannot more agreeably inform himself than by selecting the Sir Roger de Coverley papers, and reading them in series.
While Addison was giving to English prose that refinement which was verging, perhaps, to somewhat of feebleness, the strong hand of Swift—a man with a stronger intellect and a rougher heart—was scattering that vigorous prose which touched the other extreme of
and Bolingbroke was giving, in his statelier and more elegant diction, that prose the study of which has by some of England's best orators been pronounced an orator's best training
The chief representative name in the literature of the times of Queen Anne is that of Pope. His rank as a poet has been a subject of much dispute; but it may now, I think, be considered as the settled judgment of the most judicious critics, ardent admirers, too, of Pope's poetry, that his place is not with Chaucer, Spenser, Shakspeare, and Milton, the poets of the first order, but with Dryden, in a second rank. Shakspeare alone excepted, perhaps no English poet has furnished a greater amount of single lines for apt and happy quotation, on account either of their force or beauty. In the famous satire on the Duchess of Marlborough occurs this passage:
“Strange! by the means defeated of the ends-
Or wanders, heaven-directed, to the poor."