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his face. Much was the hurry and confusion; cloths and napkins were at hand, to make all clean. His Majesty then got up and would dance with the Queen of Sheba; but he fell down and humbled himself before her, and was carried to an inner chamber and laid on a bed of state; which was not a little defiled with the presents of the Queen which had been bestowed on his garments; such as wine, cream, jelly, beverage, cakes, spices, and other good matters. The entertainment and show went forward, and most of the presenters went backward, or feli down; wine did so occupy their upper chambers. Now did appear, in rich dress, Hope, Faith, and Charity: Hope did assay to speak, but wine rendered her endeavours so feeble that she withdrew, and hoped the king would excuse her brevity: Faith left the court in a staggering condition.... They were both sick and spewing in the lower hall. Next came Victory, who by a strange medley of verand after much lamentable ut
terance was led away like a silly captive, and laid to sleep in the outer steps of the anti-chamber. As for Peace, she most rudely made war with her olive branch, and laid on the pates of those who did oppose her coming. I ne'er did see such lack of good order, discretion, and sobriety in our Queen's days." *
Observe that these tipsy women were great ladies. The reason is, that the grand ideas which introduce an epoch, end in their exhaustion, by preserving nothing but their vices; the proud sentiment of natural life becomes a vulgar appeal to the senses. An entrance, an arch of triumph under James I., often represented obscenities; and later, when the sensual instincts, exasperated by Puritan tyranny, begin to raise their heads once more, we shall find under the Restoration excess revelling in its low vices, and triumphing in its shamelessness.
Meanwhile literature undergoes a change; the powerful breeze which had wafted it on, and which, amidst singularity, refinements, exaggerations, had made it great, slackened and diminished. With Carew, Suckling, and Herrick, prettiness takes the place of the beautiful. That which strikes them is no longer the general features of things; and they no longer try to express the inner character of what they describe. They no longer possess that liberal conception, that instinctive penetration, by which we sympathize with objects, and grow capable of creating them anew. They no longer boast of that overfly w of emotions, that excess of ideas and
* Nugs Antiquæ, i. 349 et passim.
images, which compelled a man to re lieve himself by words, to act exter nally, to represent freely and boldly the interior drama which made his whole body and heart tremble. They are rather wits of the court, cavaliers of fashion, who wish to show off their imagination and style. In their hands love becomes gallantry; they write songs, fugitive pieces, compliments to the ladies. There are no more up wellings from the heart. They write eloquent phrases in order to be ap plauded, and flattering exaggerations in order to please. The divine faces, the serious or profound looks, the virgin or impassioned expressions which burst forth at every step in the early poets, have disappeared; here we see nothing but agreeable countenances, painted in agreeable verses. Blackguardism is not far off; we meet with it already in Suckling, and crudity to boot, and prosaic epicurism; thei sentiment is expressed before long, in such a phrase as: "Let us amuse our selves, and a fig for the rest." The only objects they can still paint, are little graceful things, a kiss, a Mayday festivity, a dewy primi ose, a daffodil, a marriage morning, a bee.*
"Some asked me where the Rubies
Some ask'd how Pearls did grow,
Then spa to my girle-
One ask'd me where the loses g;
HERRICK'S Hesperides, ed. Wailord 1859; The Rock of Rubies, 11. 32. "About the sweet bag of a bee,
Two Cupids fell at odds;
And for their boldness stript them;
HERRICK, Ibid.; The Bag of th
"Why so pale and wan, fond lover?
Will, when looking well can't move her
itators. who sedulously repeat this form, and alter it by exaggeration. Some nevertheless have talent, as Quarles, Herbert, Habington, Donne in particular, a pungent satirist, of terrible crudeness, a powerful poet, of a precise and intense imagination, who still preserves something of the energy and thrill of the original inspi ration.† But he deliberately spoils all these gifts, and succeeds with great difficulty in concocting a piece of nonsense. For instance, the impassioned poets had said to their mistress, that if they lost her, they should hate all other women. Donne, in order to eclipse them, says:
Herrick and Suckling especially pro- | Then come the second class, the im duce little exquisite poems, delicate, ever pleasant or agreeable, like those attributed to Anacreon, or those which bound in the Anthology. In fact, lere, as at the Grecian period alluded b, we are in the decline of paganism; energy departs, the reign of the agree able begins. People do not relinquish the worship of beauty and pleasure bu dally with them. They deck anċ. | fthem to their taste; they cease to subdue and bend men, who enjoy them whilst they amuse them. It is the last beam of a setting sun; the genuine poetic sentiment dies out with Sedley, Waller, and the rhymesters of the Restoration; they write prose in verse; :heir heart is on a level with their style, and with an exact language we find the commencement of a new age and a new art.
"O do not die, for I shall hate
All women so, when thou art gone,
Twenty times while reading him we
Side by side with prettiness comes affectation; it is the second mark of the decadence. Instead of writing to express things, they write to say them well; they outbid their neighbors, and strain every mode of speech; they push art over on the side to which it had a leaning; and as in this age it had a leaning towards vehemence and *See, in particular, his satire against cour imagination, they pile up their empha-"But he is worst, who (beggarly) doth chaw tiers. The following is against imitators.
sis and coloring. A jargon always springs out of a style. In all arts, the first masters, the inventors, discover the idea, steep themselves in it, and leave it to effect its outward form.
Looking ill prevail?
Why so dull and mute, young sinner?
Will, when speaking well can't win her,
Quit, quit for shame: this will not move,
If of herself she will not love,
Sir JOHN SUCKLING's Works, ed. A.
As when a lady, walking Flora's bower,
Others wit's fruits, and in his ravenous maw
For if one eate my meate, though it be
The meat was mine, th' excrement is his owne."
DONNE'S Satires, 1639.
Doth with doubtful melodious murmuring,
made an effort to be ingeniously absurd. | amorous pieces is but a vehicle for a
A flea had bitten Donne and his mistress, and he says:
"This flea is you and I, and this
Our mariage bed and mariage temple is.
scientific test, and serves to show that
Which dy'st thyself as fast as thou do
or will remark that his mistress is to blame for spending three hours every morning at her toilet, because
They make that Beauty Tyranny,
And cloyster'd in these living walls of Jet. Though u make you apt to kill me, Let not to that selfe-murder added be, And sacrilege, three sins in killing three." * the Marquis de Mascarille † never cud any thing to equal this. Would you have believed a writer could invent such absurdities? She and he made but one, for both are but one with the fea, and so one could not be killed without the other. Observe that the wise Malherbe wrote very similar enormities, in the Tears of St. Peter, and After reading two hundred pages, you that the sonneteers of Italy and Spain have to think, by way of consolation feel disposed to box his ears. You reach simultaneously the same height of folly, and you will agree that that every grand age must draw to a throughout Europe at that time they close, that this one could not do so were at the close of a poetical epoch. otherwise, that the old glow of enthu On this boundary line of a closing siasm, the sudden flood of rapture and a dawning literature a poet ap-images, whimsical and audacious fan peared, one of the most approved and illustrious of his time, Abraham Cowley, a precocious child, a reader and a versifier like Pope, and who, like Pope, having known passions less than books, busied himself less about things than about words. Literary exhaustion has seldom been more manifest.
cies, which once rolled through the minds of men, arrested now and cooled down, could only exhibit dross, a curdling scum, a multitude of brilliant You say to and offensive points. yourself that, after all, Cowley had perhaps talent; you find that he had in fact one, a new talent, unknown to whatever pleases him, but he has pre- and announces a new society. Cowley He possesses all the capacity to say the old masters, the sign of a new culture, which needs other manners, cisely nothing to say. The substance has vanished, leaving in its place an had these manners, and belongs to empty form. In vain he tries the epic, this society. He was a well-governed, the Pindaric strophe, all kinds of stan- reasonable, well-informed, polished zas, odes, short lines, long lines; in well-educated man, who after twelve vain he calls to his assistance botanical years of service and writing in France, and philosophical similes, all the erudi- under Queen Henrietta, retires at last tion of the university, all the recollec-wisely into the country, where he tions of antiquity, all the ideas of new science: we yawn as we read him. Except in a few descriptive verses, two or three graceful tendernesses, § he feels nothing, he speaks only; he is a poet of the brain. His collection of
studies natural history, and prepares a treatise on religion, philosophizing on men and life, fertile in general reflections and ideas, a moralist, bidding his executor "to let nothing stand in his writings which might seem the least in the world to be an offence against religion or good manners." Such in tentions and such a life produce and indicate less a poet, that is, a seer, a creator, than a literary man, I mean a who therefore ought to have read much, man who can think and speak, and learned much, written much, ought t
possess a calm and clear mind, to be | uality, with such divination of its laws accustomed to polite society, sustain- instincts, and forms, that we might ex ed conversatio.., pleasantry. In fact, tract from their theatre and their pic Cowley is an author by profession, the tures a complete theory of soul and oldest of those, who in England deserve body. When enthusiasm is past, curi the name. His prose is as easy and osity begins. The sentiment of beauty sensible as his poetry is contorted and gives way to the need of truth. The mreasonable. A polished man, wri- theory contained in works of imagina ting for polished men, pretty much as tion frees itself. The gaze continues he would speak to them in a drawing- fixed on nature, not to admire now room, this I take to be the idea which but to understand. From painting we they had of a good author in the seven- pass to anatomy, from the drama to teenth century. It is the idea which moral philosophy, from grand poetical Cowley's Essays leave of his character; divinations to great scientific views; it is the kind of talent which the wri- the second continue the first, and the ters of the coming age take for their same mind displays itself in both; for model; and he is the first of that grave what art had represented, and science and amiable group which, continued in proceeds to observe, are living things, Temple, reaches so far as to include with their complex and complete strucAddison. ture, set in motion by their internal forces, with no supernatural intervention. Artists and savants, all set out, without knowing it themselves, from the same master conception, to wit, that nature subsists of herself, that every existence has in its own womb the source of its action, that the causes of events are the innate laws of things; an all-powerful idea, from which was to issue the modern civilization, and which, at the time I write of, produced in England and Italy, as before in Greece, genuine sciences, side by side with a complete art: after da Vinci and Michel Angelo, the school of anat omists, mathematicians, naturalists,ending with Galileo; after Spenser, Ben Jonson, and Shakspeare, the school of thinkers who surround Bacon and lead up to Harvey.
Having reached this point, the Renaissance seemed to have attained its limit, and, like a drooping and faded flower, to be ready to leave its place for a new bud which began to spring up amongst its withered leaves. At all events, a living and unexpected shoot sprang from the old declining stock. At the moment when art languished, science shot forth; the whole labor of the age ended in this. The fruits are not unlike; on the contrary, they come from the same sap, and by the diversity of the shape only manifest two distinct periods of the inner growth which has produced them. Every art ends in a science, and all poetry in a philosophy. For science and philosophy do but translate into precise formulas the original conceptions which art and poetry render sensible by imaginary figures: when once the idea of an epoch is manifested in verse by ideal creations, it naturally comes to be expressed in prose by positive arguments. That which had struck men on escaping from ecclesiastical oppression and monkish asceticism was the pagan idea of a life true to nature, and freely developed. They had found nature buried behind scholasticism, and they had expressed it in poems and paintings; in Italy by supe-b healthy corporeality, in England by vehement and unconventional spirit
We have not far to look for this school. In the interregnum of Christianity the dominating bent of mind belongs to it. It was paganism which reigned in Elizabeth's court, not only in letters, but in doctrine,-a paganisn of the north, always serious, generally sombre, but which was based, like that of the south, on natural forces. In some men all Christianity had passed away; many proceeded to atheism through excess of rebellion and de bauchery, like Marlowe and Greene. With others, like Shakspeare, the idea of God scarcely makes its appearance; they see in our poor short human life only a drean, and beyond it the long sad sleep: for them, death is the goa
of life; at most a dark gulf, into which man plunges, uncertain of the issue. If they carry their gaze beyond, they perceive, not the spiritual soul welconed into a purer world, but the corpse abandoned to the damp earth, or the ghost hovering about the churchyard. They speak like skeptics or superstitious men, never as true believers. Their heroes have human, not religious virtues; against crime they rely on honor and the love of the beautiful, not ɔn piety and the fear of God. If others, at intervals, like Sidney and Spenser, catch a glimpse of the Divine, is as a vague ideal light, a sublime Platonic phantom, which has no resemblance to a personal God, a strict inquisitor of the slightest motions of the heart. He appears at the summit, of things, like the splendid crown of the world, but He does not weigh upon human life; He leaves it intact and free, only turning it towards the beautiful. Man does not know as yet the sort of narrow prison in which official cant and respectable creeds were, later on, to confine activity and intelligence. Even the believers, sincere Christians like Bacon and Sir Thomas Browne, discard all oppressive sternness, reduce Christianity to a sort of moral poetry, and allow naturalism to subsist beneath religion. In such a broad and open channel, speculation could spread its wings. With Lord Herbert appeared a systematic deism; with Milton and Algernon Sidney, a philosophical religion; Clarendon went so far as to compare Lord Falkland's gardens to the groves of Academe. Against the rigorism of the Puritans, Chillingworth, Hales, Hooker, the greatest doctors of the English Church, give a large place to natural reason,-so large, that never ven to this day, as it made such an Advance.
An astonishing irruption of facts e discovery of America, the revival of antiquity, the restoration of philology, the invention of the arts, the development of industries, the march of human curiosity over the whole of the past and the whole of the globe
*See in Shakspeare, The Tempest, Measure for Measure, Hamlet: in Beaumont and Fletcher, Thierry and Theodoret, Act iv.; Webster, passım.
came to furnish subject-matter, and prose began its reign. Sidney Wilson, Ascham, and Puttenham explored the the rules of style; Hackluyt and Purchas compiled the cyclopædia of travel and the description of every land; Holinshed, Speed, Raleigh, Stowe, Knolles, Daniel, Thomas May, Lord Herbert, founded history; Camden, Spelman, Cotton, Usher, and Selden inaugurate scholarship; a legion of patient workers, of obscure collect ors, of literary pioneers, amassed, arranged, and sifted the documents which Sir Robert Cotton and Sir Thomas Bodley stored up in their libraries; whilst utopians, moralists, painters of manners-Thomas More, Joseph Hall, John Earle, Owen Feltham, Burtondescribed and passed judgment on the modes of life, continued with Fuller, Sir Thomas Browne, and Isaac Wal ton up to the middle of the next century, and add to the number of contro versialists and politicians who, with Hooker, Taylor, Chillingworth, Algernon Sidney, Harrington, study religion, society, church and state. À copious and confused fermentation, from which abundance of thoughts rose, but few notable books. Noble prose, such as was heard at the court of Louis XIV., in the house of Pollio, in the schools at Athens, such as rhetorical and sociable nations know how to produce, was altogether lacking. These men had not the spirit of analysis, the art of following step by step the natural order of ideas, nor the spirit of conversation, the talent never to weary or shock others. Their imagination is too little regulated, and their manners too little polished. They who had mixed most in the world, even Sidney speak roughly what they think, and as they think it. Instead of glossing they exaggerate. They blurt out all, and withhold nothing. When they do not employ excessive compliments, they take to coarse jokes. They are ignorant of measured liveliness, refined raillery, delicate flattery. They rejoice in gross puns, dirty allusions. They mistake involved charades and grotesque images for wit. Though they are great lords and ladies, they talk like ill-bred per sons, lovers of buffoonery, of shows, and bear-fights. With some, as Overbury