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mind; for this new form of writing is the result of superior reflection, which, governing the primitive impulse, calculates and selects with an end in view. At last the intellect has grown capable of self-criticism, and actually criticises itself. It corrects its unconsidered works, infantine and incoherent, at once incomplete and superabundant; it strengthens and binds them together; it prunes and perfects them; it takes from them the master idea, to set it Free and to show it clearly. This is what Surrey does, and his education had prepared him for it; for he had studied Virgil as well as Petrarch, and translated two books of the Eneid, almost verse for verse. In such company a man cannot but select his ideas and connect his phrases. After their example, Surrey gauges the means of striking the attention, assisting the intelligence, avoiding fatigue and weariness. He looks forward to the last line whilst writing the first. He keeps the strongest word for the last, and shows the symmetry of ideas by the symmetry of phrases. Sometimes he guides the intelligence by a continuous series of contrasts to the final image; a kind of sparkling casket, in which he means to deposit the idea which he carries, and to which he directs our attention from the first.* Sometimes he leads his reader to the close of a long flowery description, and then suddenly checks him with a sorrowful phrase. He arranges his process, and knows how to produce effects; he uses even classical expressions, in which two subtantives, each supported by its adjective, are balanced on either side of the verb. ‡ He collects his phrases in harmonious periods, and does not neglect the lelight of the ears any more than of the mind. By his inversions he adds force to his ideas, and weight to his argument. He selects elegant or noble terms, rejects idle words and redundant phrases. Every epithet contains an idea, every metaphor a sentiment. There is eloquence in the regular development of his thought; music in he sustained accent of his verse.
*The Frailty and Hurtfulness of Beauty. Description of Spring. A Vow to love faithfully.
* Complaint of the Lover disinined.
Such is the new-born art. who have ideas, now possess an instrument capable of expressing them. Like che Italian painters, who in fifty years had introduced or discovered all the technical tricks of the brush, English writers, in half a century, introduce or discover all the artifices of language, period, elevated style, heroic verse, soon the grand stanza, so effectually, that a little later the most perfect versi. fiers, Dryden, and Pope himself, says Dr. Nott, will add scarce any thing to the rules, invented or applied, which were employed in the earliest efforts.* Even Surrey is too near to these authors, too constained in his models, not sufficiently free; he has not yet felt the fiery blast of the age; we do not find in him a bold genius, an impassioned writer capable of wide expan sion, but a courtier, a lover of elegance who, penetrated by the beauties of two finished literatures, imitates Horace and the chosen masters of Italy, corrects and polishes little morsels, aims at speaking perfectly fine language. Amongst semi-barbarians he wears a full dress becomingly. Yet he does not wear it completely at his ease: he keeps his eyes too exclusively on his models, and does not venture on frank and free gestures. He is sometimes as a school-boy, makes too great use of 'hot' and cold,' wounds and martyrdom. Although a lover, and a genuine one, he thinks too much that he must be so in Petrarch's manner, that his phrase must be balanced and his image kept up. I had almost said that, in his sonnets of disappointed love, he thinks less often of the strength of love than of the beauty of his writing He has conceits, ill-chosen words; e uses trite expressions; he relates how Nature, having formed his lady, broke the mould; he assigns parts to Cupid and Venus; he employs the old machinery of the troubadours and the ancients, like a clever man who wishes to pass for a gallant. At first scarce any mind dares be quite itself: when a new art arises, the first artist listens not to his heart, but to his masters, and asks himself at every step whether he be setting foot on solid ground, or whe ther he is not stumbling.
*Surrey, ed. Nott.
with the hilt of t eir swords or with their satin cloaks. They were full of Insensibly the growth became com- life, their heads filled to overflowing; plete, and at the end of the century and they amused themselves, as our all was changed. A new, strange, sensitive and eager artists do, at their overloaded style had been formed, ease in the studio. They did no destined to remain in force until the speak to convince or be understood Restoration, not only in poetry, but but to satisfy their excited imagination. a'so in prose, even in ceremonial speech to expend their overflowing_w.t.* and theological discourse, so suitable They played with words, twisted, pu to the spirit of the age, that we meet them out of shape, enjoyed sudden with it at the same time throughout views, strong contrasts, which they the whole of Europe, in Ronsard and produced one after another, ever and d'Agné, in Calderon, Gongora, and anon, and in great quantities. They Marini. In 1580 appeared Euphues, cast flower on flower, tinsel on tinsel: the Anatomy of Wit, by Lyly, which every thing sparkling delighted them; was is text-book, its masterpiece, its they gilded and embroidered and caricature, and was received with plumed their language like their garuniversal admiration.† "Our nation,' ments. They cared nothing for clearsays Edward Blount," are in his debt ness, order, common sense; it was a for a new English which hee taught festival and a madness; absurdity them. All our ladies were then his pleased them. They knew nothing scollers; and that beautie in court who more tempting than a carnival could not parley Euphuesme was as splendors and oddities; all was hudlittle regarded as shee which now there dled together: a coarse gayety, a tenspeakes not French." The ladies knew der and sad word, a pastoral, a soundthe phrases of Euphues by heart: ing flourish of unmeasured boasting, a strange, studied, and refined phrases, gambol of a Jack-pudding. Eyes, ears, enigmatical; whose author seems of all the senses, eager and excited, are set purpose to seek the least natural satisfied by this jingle of syllables, the expressions and the most far-fetched, display of fine high-colored words, full of exaggeration and antithesis, in the unexpected clash of droll or familwhich mythological allusions, reminis- iar images, the majestic roll of wellcences from alchemy, botanical and poised periods. Every one had his astronomical metaphors, all the rubbish own oaths, his elegances, his style. and medley of learning, travels, man- "One would say," remarks Heylyn, nerism, roll in a flood of conceits and "that they are ashamed of their mothercomparisons. Do not judge it by the tongue, and do not find it sufficiently grotesque picture that Walter Scott varied to express the whims of thefr drew of it. Sir Piercie Shafton is but mind." We no longer imagine this a pedant, a cold and dull copyist; inventiveness, this boldness of fancy, it is its warmth and originality which this ceaseless fertility of nervous sengive this style a true force and an ac- sibility: there was no genuine prose at cent of its own. You must conceive that time; the poetic flood swallowed it, not as dead and inert, such as we it up. A word was not an exact symhave it to-day in old books, but spring- bol, as with us; a document which ing from the lips of ladies and young from cabinet to cabinet carried a pre lords in pearl-bedecked doublet, quick-cise thought. It was part of a com ened by their vibrating voices, their laughter, the flash of their eyes, the motion of their hands as they played
*The Speaker's address to Charles II. on his restoration. Compare it with the speech of M. de Fontanes under the Empire. In each case it was the close of a literary epoch. Read for illustration the speech before the University of Oxford, Athena Oxonienses, 193.
His second work, Euphues and his Eng land, appeared in $81.
plete action, a little drama; when they read it, they did not take it by itself, but imagined it with the intonation of a hissing and shrill voice, with the puckering of the lips, the knitting of the brows, and the succession of pictures which crowd behind it, and which i calls forth in a flash of lightning.
*See Shakspeare's young men, Mercutio especially.
Each one mimics and pronounces it in | up an exchange of letters with the his own style, and impresses his own learned Hi bert Languet; and withal 2 soul upon it. It was a song, which man of the world, a favorite of Eliza. 'ike the poet's verse, contains a thou-beth, having had enacted in her honor a sand things besides the literal sense, flattering and comic pastoral; a genand manifests the depth, warmth, and uine "jewel of the court;" a judge, sparkling of the source whence it like d'Urfé, of lofty gallantry and fine flowed. For in that time, even when language; above all, chivalrous in the man was feeble, his work lived; heart and deed, who wished to follow there is some pulse in the least pro- maritime adventure with Drake, and, ductions of this age; force and creative to crown all, fated to die an early and are signalize it; they penetrate through heroic death. He was a cavalry offi Don bast and affectation. Lyly himself, cer, and had saved the English army so fantastic that he seems to write pur- at Gravelines. Shortly after, mortally posely in defiance of common sense, wounded, and dying of thirst, as some is at times a genuine poet; a singer, a water was brought to him, he saw by man capable of rapture, akin to Spenser his side a soldier still more desperateand Shakspeare; one of those intro- ly hurt, who was looking at the water spective dreamers, who see dancing with anguish in his face: "Give it to fairies, the purpled cheeks of goddesses, this man," said he "his necessity is drunken, amorous woods, as he says: still greater than mine." Do not forget the vehemence and impetuosity of the Adorned with the presence of my love, The woods I fear such secret power shall middle age;-one hand ready for action and kept incessantly on the hilt of the sword or poniard. "Mr. Molineux," wrote he to his father's secretary, "if ever I know you to do so much as read any letter I write to my father, without his commandment or my consent, I will thrust my dagger into you. And trust to it, for I speak it in earnest." It was adversaries that they "lied in their throat;" and to support his words, promised them a meeting in three months in any place in Europe. The Savage energy of the preceding age that poetry took so firm a hold on these remains intact, and it is for this reason virgin souls. The human harvest is never so fine as when cultivation opens up a new soil. Impassioned, moreover, melancholy and solitary, he naturally and he was so much the poet, that he turned to noble and ardent fantasy;
As they'll shut up each path, hide every way, Because they still would have her go astray." The reader must assist me, and assist himself. I cannot otherwise give him to understand what the men of this age had the felicity to experience.
Luxuriance and irregularity were the two features of this spirit and this literature,-features common to all the
literatures of the Renaissance, but more marked here than elsewhere,
because the German race is not confined, like the Latin, by the taste for harmonious forms, and prefers strong impression to fine expression. We must select amidst this crowd of poets; and here is one amongst the first, who exhibits, by his writings as well as by his life, the greatness and the folly of the prevail.ng manners and the public taste: Sir Philip Sidney, nephew of the Earl of Leicester, a great lord and a man of action, accomplished in every kind of culture; who after a good training in classical literature, travelled in France, Germany, and Italy; read Plato and Aristotle, studied astronomy and geometry at Venice; pendered over the Greek tragedies, the Italian sonnets, the pastorals of Montemayor, the poems of Ronsard; displaying an interest in science, keeping
*The Maid her Metamorphosis.
the same man who said to his uncle's
had no need of verse.
the Arcadia? It is but à recreation, a Shall I describe his pastoral epic, sort of poetical romance, written in the ter; a work of fashion, which, like country for the amusement of his sisbut a document. This kind of books Cyrus and Clélie,* is not a monument, shows only the externals, the current elegance and politeness, the jargon of
Two French novels of the age of Loui XIV., each in ten volumes, and written by Mademoiselle de Scudéry.-TR.
intermezzo to improbable tragedy
was natural or possible in this age? There were such festivals at Elizabeth's progresses;' and you have only to look at the engravings of Sadeler Martin de Vos, and Goltzius, to find this mixture of sensitive beauties and philosophical enigmas. The Countess of Pembroke and her ladies were de lighted to picture this profusion of cos tumes and verses, this play beneath the trees. They had eyes in the six teenth century, senses which sough satisfaction in poetry-the same satisfaction as in masquerading and painting. Man was not yet a pure reasoner; abstract truth was not enough for him. Rich stuffs, twisted about and folded; the sun to shine upon them, a large meadow studded with white daisies; ladies in brocaded dresses, with bare arms, crowns on their heads, instruments of music behind the trees,-this is what the reader expects; he cares nothing for contrasts; he will readily accept a drawing-room in the midst of the fields.
the fashionable world,--in short, that which should be spoken before ladies; and yet we perceive from it the bent of the public opinion. In Clélie, oratorical development, delicate and collected analysis, the flowing converse of men seated quietly in elegant arm-chairs; in the Arcadia, fantastic imagination, excessive sentiment, a medley of events which suited men scarcely recovered trom barbarism. Indeed, in London they still used to fire pistols at each other in the streets; and under Henry VIII. and his children, Queens, a Pro-nament of wit. Who cared for what tector, the highest nobles, knelt under the axe of the executioner. Armed and perilous existence long resisted in Europe the establishment of peaceful and quiet life. It was necessary to change society and the soil, in order to transform men of the sword into citizens. The high roads of Louis XIV. and his regular administration, and more recently the railroads and the sergents de ville, freed the French from habits of violence and a taste for dangerous adventure. Remember that at this period men's heads were full of tragical images. Sidney's Arcadia contains enough of them to supply half-a-dozen epics. "It is a trifle," says the author; my young head must be delivered." In the first twenty-five pages you meet with a shipwreck, an account of pirates, a halfdrowned prince rescued by shepherds, a journey in Arcadia, various disguises, the retreat of a king withdrawn into solitade with his wife and children, the deliverance of a young imprisoned ord, a war against the Helots, the conclusion of peace, and many other things. Read on, and you will find princesses shut up by a wicked fairy, who beats them, and threatens them with death if they refuse to marry her son; a beautiful queen condemned to perish by fire if certain knights do not come to her succor; a treacherous prince tortured for his wicked deeds, then cast from the top of a pyramid; fights, surprises, abductions, travels: in short, the whole programme of the most romantic tales. That is the serious element: the agreeable is of a like nature; the fantastic predominates. Improbable pastoral serves, as in Shakspeare or Lope de Vega, for an
What are they going to say there? Here comes out that nervous exaltation, in all its folly, which is characteristic of the spirit of the age; love rises to the thirty-sixth heaven. Musidor us is the brother of Céladon; Pamela is closely related to the severe heroines of Astrée ;* all the Spanish exaggera tions abound and all the Spanish false hoods. For in these works of fashion or of the Court, primitive sentiment never retains its sincerity: wit, the necessity to please, the desire for effect, of speaking better than others, alter it, influence it, heap up embellish
Celadon, a rustic lover in Astrée, a French novel in five volumes, named after the baraine and written by d'Urfé (d. 1625).-TR.
who is penetrated by the doctrines of the ancients, who takes things from a lofty point of view, who places the excellence of poetry not in pleasing ef fect, imitation, or rhyme, but in that creative and superior conception by which the artist creates anew and em bellishes nature. At the san e time, he is an ardent man, trusting in the nobleness of his aspirations and in the width of his ideas, who puts down the brawling of the shoppy, narrow, vulgar Puritanism, and glows with the lofty irony, the proud freedom, of a poet and a lord.
menus and rennements, so that nothing | carries in his heart and puts into his is left but twaddle. Musidorus wished verse. He is a muser, a Platonist, to give Pamela a kiss. She repels him. He would have died on the spot; but luckily remembers that his mistress commanded him to leave her, and finds himself still able to obey her command. He complains to the trees, weeps in verse: there are dialogues where Echo, repeating the last word, replies; duets in rhyme, balanced stanzas, in which the theory of love is minutely detailed; in short, all the grand airs of ornamental poetry. If they send a letter to their mistress, they speak to it, tell the ink: "Therefore mourne boidly, my inke; for while shee lookes upon you, your blacknesse will shine: cry out boldly my lamentation; for while shee reades you, your cries will c musicke." *
Again, two young princesses are going to bed: "They impoverished their clothes to enrich their bed, which for that night might well scorne the shrine of Venus; and there cherishing one another with deare, though chaste embracements; with sweete, though cold kisses; it might seeme that love was come to play him there without dart, or that wearie of his owne fires, he was there to refresh himselfe between their sweete breathing lippes." † In excuse of these follies, remembe that they have their parallels in Shakspeare. Try rather to comprehend them, to imagine them in their -place, with their surroundings, such as they are: that is, as the excess of singularity and inventive fire. Even though they mar now and then the finest ideas, yet a natural freshness pierces through the disguise. Take another example: "In the time that the morning did strew roses and violets in the heavenly floore against the coming of the sun, the nightingales (striving one with the other which could in most dainty varietie recount their wronge-caused sorrow) made them put off their sleep."
In Sidney's second work, The Defence of Poesie, we meet with genuine imagination, a sincere and serious tone, a grand, commanding style, all the passion and elevation which he
*Arcadia, ed. fol. 1629, p. 117.
In his eyes, if there is any art science capable of augmenting and cul tivating our generosity, it is poetry He draws comparison after comparison between it and philosophy or history, whose pretensions he laughs at and dismisses.* He fights for poetry as a knight for his lady, and in what heroic and splendid style! He says: "I never heard the old Song of Percie and Douglas, that I found not my heart moved more than with a trumpet: and yet it is sung by some blinde Crowder, with no rougher voyce, than rude stile; which beeing so evill apparelled in the dust and Cobweb of that uncivill age, what would it work, trimmed in the gorgeous eloquence of Pindare?" †
The philosopher repels, the poet attracts: "Nay hee doth as if your journey should lye through a faire vineyard, at the very first, give you a cluster of grapes, that full of that taste, you may long to passe fur ther."
What description of poetry can displease you? Not pastoral so easy and genial ? "Is it the bitter but wholesome Iambicke, who rubbes the galled minde, making shame the Trumpet of villanie, with bold and open crying out against naughtinesse ? " •
* The Defence of Poesie, ed. fo. 1629, p. 558: "I dare undertake, that Orlando Furioso, or honest King Arthur, will never displease a soldier: but the quidditie of Ens and prima materia, will hardly agree with a Corselet." See also, in the same book, the very lively and spirited personification of History and Philes ophy, full of genuine talent. ↑ Ibid. p. 550.
+ Ibid. p. 553.