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poor of Dublin-but serves to emphasize the sad- his Lives of the Poets (Standard English Classics, ness of a life which, under happier circumstances, Oxford Univ. Press), is invaluable as giving the might have grandly benefited the world.
verdict of the eighteenth century on Addison. Swift's works are all published in the Bohn Macaulay's essay is easily accessible; ThackLibrary. There is a good two-volume edition of eray's in the English Humorists is sympathetic and selections by H. Craik (Clarendon Press). Leslie enlightening. Stephen writes the Life in the E. M. L. The essays by Johnson and by Thackeray (English Humorists) are famous.
Dublin, and never outgrew a certain extravagance
and prodigality, which, with his winning good Joseph Addison was born in May, 1672, the son nature, may be attributed in part to his Irish of a Wiltshire clergyman. After leaving the ancestry. He attended the Charterhouse School, Charterhouse School, where he met Richard Steele, and afterwards at Oxford continued the friendship he went up to Oxford and won a considerable rep- with Addison begun at the Charterhouse. Unlike utation by his scholarship and literary ability, Addison, however, he left Oxford without a degree finally being elected fellow of Magdalen. During to enter the army, where his career was somewhat the troubled years between the revolution of 1688 eccer ic, though his talents and friendliness won and the accession of George I in 1714, the man him a captaincy. Before making a name for himwho could write was sure to be sought out by self as an essayist, Steele had written plays, and one of the two contending parties. Addison was in The Conscious Lovers (1722) wrote one of the no exception. His Latin poem on the Peace of best sentimental comedies. In - 1707 he began Ryswick, Pax Gulielmi (1697), marked him as his career as a journalist by editing The Gazette, one of the most promising Whig men of letters, and in 1709 established The Tatler. With The and secured him a pension of three hundred Tatler began his literary association with Addison; pounds. Later, when the Duke of Marlborough in The Spectator (1711-12) Steele wrote about half won his great victory at Blenheim, Addison's The of the papers, and drew the first sketch for Sir Campaign (1704) brought him new honors and Roger de Coverley, whose character Addison started him on a political career which culminated elaborated. In 1713 The Spectator was followed in his appointment in 1717 to one of the two by The Guardian, the work of the two friends; Secretaryships of State. He died in 1719, and subsequently Steele alone produced various pewas buried in Westminster Abbey.
riodicals, no one of which became fairly estabAs a man of letters Addison is remembered lished. With the accession of George I in 1714 chiefly for his mastery of the familiar essay, a Steele's long devotion to the Whig cause was retype which, though introduced into English warded. Knighted in 1715, he was appointed to literature by other persons, has never been handled various lucrative offices, but was unable to pracwith greater ease or more certain effectiveness tice economy, and in 1724 he retired to Wales in than by Addison. A friend of Sir Richard Steele, financial embarrassment. Here, in 1729, he died. he contributed some forty papers to The Taller Steele's fame as a man of letters is closely bound (1709), a tri-weekly periodical devoted to politics, up with that of his greater if somewhat less winning literature, and miscellaneous topics. The Tatler friend, Addison. Steele was the first to acknowlwas succeeded in 1711 by The Spectator, which edge his debt to Addison, and as the result of his appeared six times a week, and for which Addison
generous disclaimer, posterity has done scant and Steele furnished most of the papers. (The justice to Steele himself. Lacking Addison's Spectator was non-political; in it Addison had a poise, he had an enthusiasm and initiative which free hand to write the comments on the gentle contributed much to the success of the literary art of living which form the basis of his literary partnership, and in his dramas showed a vivacity fame. Here too Addison developed the character of humor entirely foreign to the author of Calo. of Sir Roger de Coverley, whose portrait
is one Moreover, it was Steele, not Addison, who first of the most finished in all the gallery of English realized the possibilities of the periodical essay, fiction. The clearness, ease, and urbanity of established The Taller, and literally prepared the Addison's prose, and the genial serenity of his way for The Spectator. outlook on life, have long caused him to be singled Austin Dobson's Life in the E. M. L., is an exout for praise and emulation. Johnson's famous cellent brief biography. As in the case of Addison, sentence, reflecting the judgment both of Addi- Thackeray's comment in the English Humorists is son's contemporaries and of subsequent genera- sympathetic and suggestive. Steele's plays may tions, remains the best of all comments:“Whoever be found in the Mermaid edition (Scribner's); wishes to attain an English style, familiar but The Tatler, The Spectator, and other periodicals not coarse, and elegant but not ostentatious, have been reprinted in various editions. must give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison.” The Everyman edition of The Spectator (E. P.
POPE (1688–1744) Dutton) is an excellent reprint of the entire publication; Addison's other works may be found in Alexander Pope was born in London of Catholic the Bohn Library. Courthope's Life in the E. M. parents, and by reason of his religion and of a L. is the best brief biography; Dr. Johnson's, in bodily weakness which left him deformed and
supersensitive, he was barred from that active when he launches a polished dart, keen and poiparticipation in public affairs in which so many soned, against some real or fancied enemy. eighteenth century men of letters engaged. His The standard edition is that by Elwin and education he obtained at home, largely through Courthope (10 vols., John Murray). The best wide if random reading. The first public exhibi- single volume edition is the Globe (Macmillan). tion of his skill in numbers was given in the Pas- The best biography is Leslie Stephen's (E. M. L.). torals, printed in 1709, but written, he said, when he was sixteen. The Essay on Criticism (1711) was praised by Addison in The Spectator, and won
GOLDSMITH (1728-1774) for the young poet a reputation which became
Oliver Goldsmith was born in Ireland, in 1728, fame on the appearance of The Rape of the Lock (1712, 1714.) His literary position secure, Pope un
the son of a poor parson. In the University of
Dublin he failed to distinguish himself, and when dertook a verse translation of Homer: the Iliad was finished in 1720, the Odyssey in 1725, and the in
after graduation he undertook to enter one of the come made Pope independent. He bought a villa
professions, he was for some time unsuccessful. at Twickenham, and took an almost childish pleas studying medicine, was followed by three years of
A brief experience in Edinburgh, where he was ure in developing the grounds according to the sham classic taste of the day. An edition of Shake
wandering about on the continent. Just what he speare which Pope issued in 1725 was speedily
did during these years it is hard to tell; when he shown to be full of errors. The adverse criticism
returned to England in 1756 he claimed to have added to an already long list of literary enemies
graduated in medicine at the University of Leywhom Pope had made; he took revenge on his
den; probably part of George Primrose's story, in critics and heaped scorn on a large number of
the Vicar, is a retelling of Goldsmith's own expeinsignificant writers in the famous satire The Dun
riences. Unsuccessful as a physician, Goldsmith ciad. The history of the composition of this
soon was doing literary hack work for any bookpoem, and of the changes made in it during suc
seller who would employ him. The first thing to cessive editions from 1728 to 1743, is one of the
bring him any real reputation was his series of most curious in the whole range of literature.
essays The Citizen of the World (1762). In 1763 The later years of his life were divided between
he became one of the original nine members of lampooning his enemies in polished attacks, often
The Club, and was thus a personal friend of Johnharsh and false, such as the Epistle to Dr. Arbuth
son, Burke, and Reynolds. In 1764 appeared not (1735), and writing pseudo-philosophical
The Traveller, a poem reminiscent in part of poems like the Essay on Man (1732-35), which
his own experiences, and hailed as the best work sets forth the deistic theories of Pope's friend
since Pope. Two years later came The Vicar of Bolingbroke.
Wakefield, and in 1768 the first of his two plays, There is little in Pope's character to admire ex
The Good-Natured Man. In 1770 The Deserted cept a firm devotion to literature and an iron
Village enhanced his reputation as a poet; in resolution which compelled success despite the
1773 She Stoops to Conquer had a deserved success physical weakness. He was treacherous, mali
on the stage. The next year Goldsmith died. His cious, his word was unreliable, his vanity and
warm good nature, his prodigality, his petty vanresentment of criticism were excessive. His
ities and his large unselfishness, his fine independpoetry, once lauded as all that verse should be, is
ence and his helplessness, are all brought out in now generally relegated to the second class, though
Boswell's Life of Johnson. He was a man whom admittedly at the head of that class. It is the
everybody loved; when he died Johnson said: complete epitome of the failings and excellences
“Let not his frailties be remembered; he was a of the classical school. It has no moral elevation,
very great man.” no loftiness of thought, no feeling for humanity or
As a man of letters Goldsmith was great in part nature, no passion except the passion of personal
at least because of his versatility, for he was animosity. But it is marvellously finished, clear
essayist, poet, novelist, and dramatist. But his as crystal, neat and pointed as no other English
versatility was not that of the mediocre hack.
Between Addison and Lamb it is hard to find poetry has been. Pope is the absolute and ultimate master of the heroic couplet; for metrical
better essays than Goldsmith's. His verse, perfection and epigrammatic brilliance his couplets especially The Deserted Village, though written in are without rival.
Popeian couplets, has a freshness and sweetness that are still delightful. His dramas were clean
and pure, and fulfilled the great end of comedy, “True wit is nature to advantage dressed,
making an audience laugh.” And The Vicar, de What oft was thought, but ne'er so well ex
spite the poor plot, is a novel which many generpressed”:
ations have loved for its superb characterization
of the central figure, and its genial portrayal of this couplet is at once a definition and an illustra- domestic manners. tion of Pope's theory and practice. As a satirist The best contemporary source of information Pope ranks with the greatest. He does not com- about Goldsmith is Boswell's Life of Johnson. pete with Dryden in the field of political satire; Black's life, in the E. M. L., and Dobson's in he does not attack mankind in general like Swift. the Great Writers series, are good brief biog. Against the foibles of society he directs the won- raphies. The plays, poems, and the Vicar, have derfully clever Rape of the Lock; but he is at his been many times reprinted; a good reprint of the best-and is most merciless—in personal satire, Essays is that edited by Aikin and Tuckerman
(Crowell). Macaulay's Essay is reprinted in this revolution. As a writer he is seen at his best in volume.
The Lives of the Poets. The taste of his time and his personal limitations kept him from a due ap
preciation of the work of certain men, notably JOHNSON (1709-1784)
Milton and Gray, but in general his judgments Samuel Johnson was born in Lichfield, the son
are fair and his comparisons enlightening; his of a poor bookseller. As a child he was sickly;
estimates of Dryden, Addison, and Pope are
classics. As a talker Johnson was supreme: his the scrofula, for which he was "touched” by Queen Anne, left permanent traces upon his body
conversation, so faithfully set down by Boswell, and his habits. With some financial assistance
was simpler and more brilliant than his writing, Johnson managed to get to Pembroke College,
not so laden with the ponderous Latinisms which Oxford, but poverty compelled him to leave in
we think of as characteristically. “Johnsonese,” 1731 before he had obtained a degree. Oxford
though it should be added that his later writings later honored herself by making him a Master of
are not so pompous in style as the earlier. The Arts and finally a Doctor of Laws. After struggling
man Johnson was greater than his works. No along for some time at teaching and hack writ
famous man had more or odder peculiarities, but
these were mere externals. His massive common ing Johnson married, and with the money brought him by his wife tried to start a private school.
sense, his real tenderness of heart, his generosity, The venture failed. Johnson then abandoned
his sincere piety, his transparent honesty, endear Lichfield, and in 1737 tramped up to London with
his memory. Macaulay, writing in 1856, cona companion as impoverished as himself, young
cludes thus: “The old philosopher is still among us David Garrick, destined to become the greatest
in the brown coat with the metal buttons, and actor of his time. Arrived in London, Johnson
the shirt which ought to be at wash, blinking, was speedily submerged in the wretched life of
puffing, rolling his head, drumming with his a hack writer. He attracted a little attention
fingers, tearing his meat like a tiger, and swallowwith a satirical poem London (1738), more with
ing his tea in oceans. No human being who has
been more than seventy years in the grave is so the more deserving. Vanily of Human Wishes (1749). He tried twice to launch a periodical of
well known to us. And it is but just to say that the Spectator type; The Rambler (1750-52) and The
our intimate acquaintance with what he would Idler (1758-60) were too heavy to be more than
himself have called the anfractuosities of his
intellect and his temper, serves only to strengthen moderately successful. The greatest work of
our conviction that he was both a great and a good these treadmill years was the famous Dictionary, published in 1755, which made Johnson's reputa
man.” tion and won for him his title of "the Great
There is a good volume of selections from Lexicographer.” It is the least impersonal of Johnson's writings in the Little Masterpieces, all such books, and bristles with definitions illus
edited by Bliss Perry (Doubleday Page and Co.). trating Johnson's eccentricities and prejudices.
The best edition of the Lives of the Poets is that by
Birkbeck Hill (Clarendon Press). The essays by In 1759 Johnson was still so poor that when his mother died he defrayed the expenses of her
Macaulay and Carlyle, inspired by Croker's edition funeral by writing in the evenings of a single
of Boswell's Life, should be known to all students
of Johnson. week his moral prose romance Rasselas; 1762 brought relief, however, when Johnson was granted a pension of three hundred pounds, and thence
BOSWELL (1740-1795) forth he was never again want. The Club, one of the most famous of all literary fellowships, was James Boswell made himself famous by spreadorganized in 1764; it had as members the most ing Johnson's fame. He was the son of a Scotch brilliant men of their day-Reynolds, Garrick, lawyer of high standing, and went to the UniverGoldsmith, Burke, Gibbon, and others—but sity of Edinburgh, afterward studying law, and Johnson outshone them all, and over the Club, practicing in Edinburgh and London. The year as over the world of letters, ruled as dictator. 1763 made Boswell's fortune, for then he visited The chief work of Johnson's later years was done London and made the acquaintance of Johnin his edition of Shakespeare (1765), still valuable son. For twenty years he enjoyed the intimate for the sound common sense of its notes, and the friendship of the great man, who secured his Lives of the English Poets (1779-81), a series of admission to The Club. Though he was vain short biographies prepared to accompany a to excess, a snob imperturbably impudent on standard edition of the poets from Cowley to occasion, Boswell was not the fool he has someGray. In 1773 he made a trip with Boswell times been made out to be. He had wit enough through Scotland and the Hebrides, an odd ex- to recognize a great man when he saw one, pedition for an inactive man of sixty-four, who and sense enough to make the most of his oploved London and despised Scotland with almost portunities. The accuracy of observation, the equal fervor; A Journey to the Western Islands of liveliness, the veracity, the thorough humanness Scotland records his impressions. He died in his of his Life of Johnson, published in 1791, make it house in Fleet Street in 1784, and was buried in the best biography ever written. the Abbey.
The definitive edition of Boswell's Life is by Johnson was the last great representative of Birkbeck Hill (6 vols., Clarendon Press). The the classical school, and by his influence doubtless Everyman Library contains a complete edition in held off for some time the impending literary two volumes.
THE PRECURSORS OF ROMANTICISM Edmund Burke was born in 1729, at Dublin. The poets thus roughly and somewhat inacHe graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, in curately classed together are more important to 1748, and soon took up the study of law in the the student of English literary history as a group Middle Temple, London. His interest in litera- than as individuals. They wrote during the years ture developed early in life; in 1756 the In- when the ideals established by Dryden and Pope quiry concerning the Sublime and the Beautiful and maintained by Johnson were dominant in marked his appearance on the stage of letters. England, and they mark the gradual turning of Five years later he was appointed secretary to the tide towards Romanticism. At no time before the Lord Deputy of Ireland; from this time until Wordsworth was the dominance of the Pseudohis death he was actively engaged in governmental Classicists seriously challenged; but that a new work. His political career was of the noblest; spirit was abroad even during the hey-day of the although never holding a high office, he was rec- old order, the work of these men, and of Gray ognized as the unofficial leader of the Whig and Cowper, is ample testimony. In freedom from party, and virtually shaped the policies of the literary rule and precept, in choice of forms and nation during the latter part of his life. From material
which if not actually new were at least 1790 to 1797 he was concerned with France; his comparatively new to the eighteenth century, in first great interests, however, had been America their unusual attitude towards, nature and man, and India. He had entered Parliament in 1766, and in their instinct for self-expression, these men and had at once taken up the question of England's unmistakably foreshadowed the age of Wordsattitude towards her American colonies. Burke un- worth and Byron. derstood America better than anyone else in Par- Allan Ramsay (1686–1758), a Scotchman, did liament; he was passionately devoted to the cause much to continue the old tradition of Scottish of human justice; and he pleaded for conciliation song and ballad, and furnished Burns with models with America not only because he foresaw that for some of his best work. James Thomson it alone would save the empire, but because it (1700-48), was also born in Scotland, but went up was the only righteous course to pursue. Burke to London in 1725. Here he attained renown as failed; England went her way under George III the author of The Seasons (1730), a descriptive and Lord North, and the colonies were lost. He poem portraying country life during the changing then turned his attention to India, studying it as year. Both the material and the form-blank carefully as he had America, vizualizing with the verse—were new to the eighteenth century; still imagination of a poet the results of English more unusual was The Castle of Indolence (1748), oppression, and finally denouncing the English which remains to this day one of the best imitasystem in a series of attacks that culminated in tions of both the form and mood of Spenser's the impeachment (1787-95) of Warren Hastings, Faerie Queene. Robert Blair (1699-1746), is rethe first Governor General. The publication in membered as the author of one poem, The Grase 1790 of the Reflections on the Revolution in France (1743), in blank verse, a gloomy if at times marks the beginning of his hostility towards effective monologue that attained a considerable French republicanism. The Appeal from the New vogue at the time and had some influence on later to the Old Whigs (1791), and the Letters on a poets. Edward. Young (1681-1765), although the Regicide Peace (1796-97), continued in the same duthor of much besides the Night Thoughts (1742), vein, and established Burke as the great champion owes his fame to this one poem. In blank verse of conservatism, the upholder of the established which at times rises to a genuine eloquence, order of things against the forces that were making Young discourses on “Life, Death, and Immortalfor destruction.
ity," in much the mood of Blair's Grave. James Matthew Arnold speaks of Burke as a man who Macpherson (1736–96) was the author of the so"saturated politics with thought.” It is well called poems of Ossian. It is probable that Macknown that as an orator he was ineffective, and pherson built up his forgeries around some genuine that the qualities which make his essays so power- fragments of old Celtic verse; but for the mood ful detracted from his success on the floor of the of the poems, the "delight in sorrow," and the House. But he could afford to give up the success striking portrayal of mountain scenery, he alone of the moment for the more lasting triumphs he was responsible. During his lifetime the cheat has won. His was the noblest prose of the century was suspected; Dr. Johnson, for instance, refused in England; massive, pregnant with ideas, yet to be taken in; but despite this uncertainty these always clear; logically concise, yet vibrant with “mountain monotones” attained a tremendous an emotion that colors his paragraphs as a kin- popularity in England and on the continent. dred emotion colors the great utterances of Lin- William Collins (1721-59) brought to the midcoln.
eighteenth century a lyric instinct and a finished Lord Morley's Life, in the E. M. L., is a good technique that mark him as one of the most disbiography of Burke. Various editions of his tinguished poets of the period. During a life that speeches are readily accessible; the Select Works, was short and clouded by insanity Collins wrote edited by E. J. Payne (Clarendon Press, 3 vols.), a series of odes and a few lyrics which, however is excellent.
little they may have appealed to the mass of his contemporaries, have found admirers in every succeeding generation. Thomas Chatterton (175270) is like Macpherson famous for his literary
forgeries. At the age of fifteen he planned and in was written in an approved classical form, but large part executed a cycle of romantic tales, cast is distinctly different in mood from the earlier in an imitation middle-English dialect, and rep- work, and is the most finished example of the resented as the work of a fifteenth century poet "grave-yard school” which, including Blair's named Rowley. Disappointed in his hope to Grave and Young's Night Thoughts, looks back to make a living as a man of letters, Chatterton Il Penseroso for much of its inspiration. The poisoned himself in his London garret, and the Progress of Poesy and The Bard, printed by world has not ceased to wonder at the largeness Walpole in 1757, are still farther from eighteenth and splendor of the boy's poetic accomplishment century ideals. But it was not till 1761, when and promise. William Blake (1757-1827), poet, Gray wrote The Fatal Sisters and The Descent artist, engraver, and mystic, was one of the most of Odin, that his work became thoroughly eccentric of English men of letters, and as such romantic has had little influence on the main current of Dr. Johnson's criticism, in his Life of Gray, is unEnglish verse. But the simple perfection and sympathetic, but valuable as showing the attitude daring imagery of Blake's lyrics, especially the of the eighteenth century towards a poet of Songs of Innocence (1789), and Songs of Experience the new order. Gosse's Life, in the E. M. L., is (1794), are untouched by the obscurity of his a good biography. Phelps's Selections, in the longer works, and mark him as one of the masters Athenæum Press Series (Ginn), is an inexpensive of English song. George Crabbe (1754-1832), edition of Gray's best work, both prose and poetry, though he did most of his work after the Lyrical and contains much valuable editorial matter. Ballads had been published, clung to the eighteenth Gosse's edition of the complete works (4 vols., century couplet that connects him with Pope. Macmillan) is the standard. Arnold's essay on But his determination to picture with unvarnished Gray (Essays in Criticism, Macmillan) is aptruthfulness the life of a small English town makes preciative, and in most respects accurate. The Village (1783) and The Borough (1810) unlike the conventional description of the eighteenth century, and Crabbe is on the whole a herald of
COWPER (1731–1800) the new age.
William Cowper, one of the pathetic figures in GRAY (1716-1771)
English literature, lived a life that was clouded by
periodic attacks of religious melancholia and Thomas Gray's life was uneventful. He was insanity, and was otherwise uneventful. Born born in London, December, 1716. At Eton he in 1731, in Hertfordshire, he spent seven years at met Horace Walpole, whose name is connected the Westminster School. In 1754 he was called to with the publication of some of Gray's most the bar; the dread of a public examination before famous poems. He went to Pembroke College, assuming a clerkship in the House of Lords preCambridge, but left in 1738 without a degree. In cipitated his first attack of insanity in 1763. From 1739 Gray and Walpole together made the “grand this he did not recover for eighteen months; tour,” the records of which are preserved in some never again was he free from the spectre. The of Gray's most memorable letters. From 1742 rest of his life is memorable for his friendship with until his death in 1771 he lived as an academic Morley Unwin and his wife Mary Unwin. Mr. recluse at Cambridge. In 1757 he declined the Unwin, a clergyman, died in 1765; in 1767 Cowper laureateship; though appointed Professor of and Mrs. Unwin began their life together at Olney. Modern History in 1768 he delivered no lectures.
It is probable that Cowper 'would have married One of the most scholarly of English poets, he Mrs. Unwin had he not suffered a second attack shrank instinctively from the notoriety attendant of insanity in 1773. After recovering, Cowper, upon publication; he printed but few verses, and in need of some regular employment, began to the most famous, the Elegy, he published only write verses, and amused himself by carpentry, because of the fear that a mangled and pirated gardening, and caring for tame hares and other copy was to appear in a magazine. But despite household pets. His first great work, The Task, his sensitive and shrinking nature, the range of appeared in 1785. In this long. poem Cowper Gray's intellectual life was very wide; his letters allowed his fancy to play over things in general; and miscellaneous writings witness the fact that as a result The Task is a composite of verse dehe was interested both in the worlds of art and scriptive of the English landscape that he knew letters and in the political and social development and loved, of satire and comment on conditions of his time.
in Europe, and of accounts of Cowper's life. It His verse would be important in whatever age written in blank verse; the fact that it became it had been written; but coming as it did during generally popular is indicative that the tyranny the years of transition from Pseudo-Classicism to of the couplet was already being broken. John Romanticism, it is unusually significant. Gray Gilpin, Cowper's most famous piece of humorous himself illustrates the change that was gradually verse, also appeared in 1785; in 1791 he completed to take place in all English literature. Begin- his translation of Homer. The remaining years ning as a classicist, he wrote the Ode to Spring were darkened by sorrow and melancholia. In (1742), and the Ode on a Distant Prospect of 1794 he was again insane; in 1796 Mrs. Unwin Elon College (1742), in conventional eighteenth died. The Castaway and To Mary picture with century “poetic diction," and indulged in a good poignant force the pathetic blackness of this deal of conventional moralizing. The Elegy, period. published 1751, although begun many years before, Aside from the interest attaching to Cowper's