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OF ENGLISH LITERATURE
THE CLASSIC AGE.
1. THE ROISTLRERS.
guish voluptuously; an insipid smile
havers on their sensual lips. One is Che Restoration.
lifting a mass of dishevelled hair which streams over the curves of her rosy flesh; another falls down with languor,
and uncloses a sleeve whose soft folds WHEN we alternately look at the works display the full whiteness of her arms. of the court painters of Charles I. and Nearly all are half-draped; many of Charles II., and pass from the noble them seem to be just rising from their portraits of Van Dyck to the figures of beds ; the rumpled dressing-gown clings Lely, the fall is sudden and great; we
to the neck, and looks as though it have left a palace, and we light on a
were soiled by a night's debauch; the bagnio.
tumbled under-garment slips down to Instead of the proud and dignified the hips: their feet tread the bright lords, at once cavaliers and courtiers, and glossy silk. With bosoms uncov instead of those high-born yet simple ered, they are decked out in all the lux ladies who look at the same time prin urious extravagance of prostitutes; dia. cesses and modest maidens, instead of mond girdles, puffs of lace, the vulgar that generous and heroic company, ele- splendor of gilding, a superfluity of emgant and resplendent, in whom the broidered and rustling fabrics, enor. spirit of the Renaissance yet survived, mous head-dresses, the cuss and fringes bait who already displayed the refine-, of which rolled up and sticking out, ment of the modern age, we are con- compel notice by the very height of fronted by perilous and importunate their shameless magnificence. Foldcourtesans, with an expression either ing curtains hang round them in the vile or harsh, incapable of shame or of shape of an alcove, and the eyes pene. remorse.* Their plump smooth hands trate through a vista into the recesses toy fondlingly with dimpled fingers ;
of a wide park, whose solitude will not ringlets of heavy hair fall on their bare ill serve the purpose of their pleasures shoulders; their swimming eyes lan* See especially the portraits of Lady Mor
I. laad, Lady Williims, the countess of Ossory, the Duches of Cleveland, Lady Price, and
All this came by way of contrast; Puritanism had brought on an orgie
and fanatics had talked down virtue. | them; they saw in them the agency of For many years the gloomy English im- a supernatural power, and gave them. agination, possessed by religious ter- selves up to it with the enthusiasm of rors, had desolated the life of men. madness and the stubbornness of faith. Conscience had become disturbed at To crown all, fanaticism had become the thought of death and dark eterni- an institution; the sectary had laid r?; half-expressed doubts stealthily down all the steps of mental transfig. swarmed within like a bed of thorns, uration, and reduced the encroachment and the sick heart, starting at every of his dream to a theory : he set about motion, had ended by taking a disgust methodically to drive out reason and at all its pleasures, and abhorred all enthrone ecstasy. George Fox wrof. its natural instincts. Thus poisoned its history, Bunyan gave it its laws at its very beginning, the divine senti: Parliament presented an example of its ment of justice became a mournful all the pulpits lauded its practice. Ar madness. Man, confessedly perverse tisans, soldiers, women discussed it, and condemned, believed himself pent mastered it, excited one another by the in a prison-house of perdition and vice, details of their experience and the pubinto which no effort and no chance licity of the exaltations. A new life could dart a ray of light, except a hand was inaugurated which had blighted from above should come by free grace, and excluded the old. All secular to rend the sealed stone of this tomb. tastes were suppressed, all sensual Men lived the life of the condemned, joys forbidden; the spiritual man alone amid torments and anguish, oppressed remained standing upon the ruins of by a gloomy despair, haunted by spectres. the past, and the heart, debarred from People would frequently imagine them- all its natural safety-valves, could only selves at the point of death ; Cromwell direct its views or aspirations towards himself, according to Dr. Simcott, physi- a sinister Deity. The typica. Puritan cian in Huntingdon,“ had fancies about walked slowly along the streets, his the Town Cross ;" * some would feel eyes raised towards heaven, with e:ɔn. within them the motions of an evil spirit; gated features, yellow and haggard, one and all passed the night with their with closely cropt nair, clad in brown eyes glued to the tales of blood and or black, unadorned, clothed only to the impassioned appeals of the Old cover his nakedness. If a man had Testament, listening to the threats and round cheeks, he passed for lukewarm.* thunders of a terrible God, and renew. The whole body, the exterior, the very ing in their own hearts the ferocity of tone of voice, all must wear the sign murderers and the exaltation of seers. of penitence and divine grace. A Pu. Under such a strain reason gradual- ritan spoke slowly, with a solemn and ly left them. They continually were somewhat nasal tone of voice, as if to seeking after the Lord, and found but destroy the vivacity of conversation a dream. After long hours of exhaus. and the melody of the natural voice. tion, they labored under a warped and His speech stuffed with scriptural quo over-wrought imagination. Dazzling tations, his style borrowed from the forms, unwonted ideas, sprang up on prophets, his name and the names of a sudden ir. neir heated brain; these his children drawn from the Bible, bure men were raised and penetrated by ex witness that his thoughts were conf:e9 traordinary emotions. So transformed, to the terrible world of the seers and they knew themselves no longer; they ministers of divine vengeance. Frrim did not ascribe to themselves these within, the contagion spread outwards. violent and sudden inspirations which the fears of conscience were converted were forced upon them, which compell- into laws of the state. Personal asceti. ed toem to leave the beaten tracks, cism grew into public tyranny. The which had no connection one with Puritan proscribed pleasure as an ene another, which shook and enlightened my, for others as well as for himself them when least expected, without be. Parliament closed the gambling houses ing able either to check or to govern
• Colonel Hutchinson was at one time beia in • Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches, suspicion because he wore long hair and dressed ada by Carlyle. 1866, i. 39.-Th.
and theatres, and had the actors whip It seemed as though a black cloud had ped at the cart's tail; oaths were fined; weighed down the life of man, drown: the May-trees were cut down; the ing all light, wiping out all beauty, ex bears, whose fights amused thc people, tinguishing all joy, pierced here and were put no death; th.e plaster of Puri- there by the glitter of the sword ana tan masors reduced nude statues to de- by the Aickering of torches, beneath cency; the beautiful poetic festivals which one might perceive the indistinct were forbidden. Fines and corporal forms of gloomy despots, of bilious punishments shut out, even from chil- sectarians, of silent victims. dren, games, dancing, bell-ringing, rejoicings, junketings, wrestling, the chase,
II. all exercises and amusements which might profane the Sabbath. The orna
After the Restoration a deliverance nents, pictures, and statues in the ensued. Like a checked and choked churches were pulled down or mutila- up stream, public opinion dashed with .ed. The only pleasure which they re- all its natural force and all its acquired tained and permitted was the singing momentum, into the bed from which of psalms through the nose, the edifi- it had been debarred. The outburst cation of long sermons, the excitement carried away the dams. The violent of acrimonious controversies, the harsh return to the senses drowned morality and sombre joy of a victory gained Virtue had the semblance of Puritanism. over the enemy of mankind, and of the Duty and fanaticism became mingled in tyranny exercised against the demon's common disrepute. In this great re. supposed abettors. In Scotland, a action, devotion and honesty, swep! colder and sterner land, intolerance away together, left to mankind but the reached the utmost limits of ferocity wreck and the mire. The more ex. and pettiness, instituting a surveillance cellent parts of human nature disapover the private life and home devotions peared; there remained but the animal, of every member of a family, depriving without bridle or guide, urged by his Catholics of their children, imposing desires beyond justice and shame. the abjuration of Popery under pain of
When we see these manners through perpetual imprisonment or death, drag the medium of a Hamilton or a Saintging crowds of witches * to the stake. Evremond, we can tolerate them. Their
French varnish deceives us. Debauch. 1648; thirty in one day. One of them confessed that she had been
at a gathering of more ery in a Frenchman is only half dis. than five hundred witches.
gusting; with him, if the animal breaks In 1652, the
kirk-session of Glasgow “ brot loose, it is without abandoning itself to boyes and servants before them, for breaking excess. The foundation is not, as with the sabbath, and other faults. They had clan, the Englishman, coarse and powerful. destine censors, and gave money to some for this end.”—Note 28, "taken from Wodrow's | You may break the glittering ice which Inr.lecta ; Buckle, History of Civilisation in covers him, without bringing down upon England, 3 vols. 1867, iü. 208. Even early in the eighteenth century..." the that roars beneath his neighbor ; * the
yourself the swollen and muddy torrent most popular divines in Scotland affirmed that Satan " frequently appears clothed in a stream which will issue from it will corporeal substance."--Ibid. iji. 233, note 76, only have its petty dribblings, and will aken from Memoirs of C. L. Lewes. “ No husband shall kiss his wife, and no
return quickly and of itself to its accusnother shall kiss her child
on the Sabbath day.” tomed channel. The Frenchman is
Ibid. iii. 253 ; from Rev. C. J. mild, naturally refined, little inclined Lyon's St. Andrews, vol. i. 458, with regard for great or gross sensuality, liking a to government of a splony. (ịt would have been satisfactory if Mr. Lyon had given his “ I think David had never so sweet a time authority.)-TR.
as then, when he was pursued as a partridge by, (Sept. 22, 1649) The quhilk day the Ses- his son Absalom."-Note 190. Gray's Great sioune caused mak"this act, that ther sould be and Precious Promises. no pypers at brydels,” etc.--Ibid. ii. 258, note See the whole of Chapter iii. vol. iii., in $$3. In 1719, the Presbytery of Edinburgh in which Buckle has described, by similar quotadignantly declares: “Yea, some have arrived tions, the condition of Scotland. chiefly in the at that height of impiety, as not to be ashamed seventeenth century: of washing in waters, and swimming in rivers * See, in Richardson, Swift, and Fielding, upon the holy Sabbath."- Note 187. Ibid. iii. but particularly in Hogarth, the delineation 306.
sober style of talk, casily armed against | main point is gained, siŋce there is filthy manners by his delicacy and good pleasure in getting the money, and taste. The Coun: de Grammont has there is pleasure in spending it. The too much wit to love an orgie. After hateful and the ignoble vanish from all an orgie is not pleasant ; the break- such a life. If he pays his court to ing of glasses, brawling, lewd talk, ex- princes, you may be sure it is not on his cess in eating, and drinking,--there is knees ; so lively a soul is not weighed nothing in this very tempting to a ra- down by respect, his wit places him on ther delicate taste: the Frenchman, a level with the greatest ; under pre after Grammont's type, is born an text of amusing the king, he tells him epicurean, not a glution or a drunkard. plain truths.* If he finds himself in What he seeks is amusement, not unre. London, surrounded by open debauch strained joy or bestial pleasure. Iery, he does not plunge into it; he know full well that he is not without passes through on tiptoe, and so daintily reproach. I would not trust him with that the mire does not stick to him. my purse, he forgets too readily the We do not recognize any longer in his distinction between meum and tuum ; anecdotes the anguish and the brutality above all, I would not trust him with which were really felt at that time; the my wife : he is not over-delicate ; his narrative flows on quickly, raising a escapades at the gambling-table ard smile, then another, and another yet, so with women smack too much of the that the whole mind is brought by an sharper and the briber. But I am adroit and easy progress to something wrong to use these big words in con- like good humor. At table, Grammont nection with him; they are too weighty, will never stuff himself ; at play, he they crush so delicate and so pretty a will never grow violent; with his misspecimen of humanity. These heavy tress, he will never give vent to coarse habits of honor or shame can only be talk ; in a duel, he will not hate his worn by serious-minded men, and adversary. The wit of a Frenchman is Grammont takes nothing seriously, nei- like French wine ; it makes men nei ther his fellow-men, nor himself, nor ther brutal, nor wicked, nor gloomy. vice, nor virtue. To pass his time Such is the spring of these pleasures: a agreeably is his sole endeavor. “They supper will destroy neither delicacy, had said good-by to dulness in the nor good nature, nor enjoyment. The army," observed Hamilton, as soon libertine remains sociable, polite, oblig. as he was there.” That is his pride ing; his gayety culminates only in the and his aim ; he troubles himself, and gayety of others; † he is attentive to cares for nothing beside. His valet them as naturally as to himself; and in robs him ; another would have brought addition, he is ever on the alert and the rogue to the gallows ; but the theft intelligent : repartees, flashes of bril. was clever, and he keeps his rascal. liancy, witticisms, sparkle on his lips ; He left England forgetting to marry the he can think at table and in company, girl he was betrothed to; he is caught sometimes better than if alone or fastat Dover ; he returns and marries her: ing. It is clear that with him debauch. this was an amusing contre-temps ; he ery does not extinguish the man ; Gramasks for nothing better. One day, mont would say that it perfects him ; being penniless, he fleeces the Count de that wit, the heart, the senses, only Caméran at play. “ Could Grammont, arrive at excellence and true enjoyment, after the figure he had once cut, pack amid the ciegance and animation of a off like any common fellow? By no choice supper. means ; he is a man of feeling; he will maintain the honor of France." He * The king was playing, at backgammon; a covers his cheating at play with a joke ;
doubtful throw occurs: Ah, here is Gram in reality, his notions of property are mont
who'll decide for us ; Grammont, come and decide.
have lost.” “What: not over-clear. He regales Caméran
do not yet know ." Ah, Sire, if the with Caméran's own money; would throw had been merely doubtful, these gentle Caméran have acted better or other men would not have failed to say you had wise ? What matter if his money be
| Hamilton says of Grammont, “He sough in Grammont's purse or his own? The out the unfortunate only to sueco ur them
there is neither art, nor harmony, nor It is quite the contrary in England. good taste to be four.d in it ; the PuriWhen we scratch the covering of an
tan style is converted into an absurd
gibberish; and the engalled rancor, Englishman's morality, the brute appears in its violence and its deformit: missing
its aim by its mere excess, spoils One of the English statesmen said that the portrait it wishes
to draw. Would with the French an unchained mob you believe that such a writer gives could be led by words of humanity and himself airs, wishes to enliven us, pre honor, * but that in England it was raillery is there in this picture of Hudi
tends to be funny ? What delicate necessary, in order to appease them, to
bras' beard ! throw to them raw flesh. Insults, blood, orgie, that is the food on which the
“ His tawny beard was th' equal grace
Both of his wisdom and his face ; mob of noblemen, under Charles II.,
In cut and die so like a tile, precipitated itself.
All that excuses A sudden view it would beguile: à carnival was absent ; and, in particu- The upper part whereof was whey,
The nether orange, mix'd with grey. lar, wit. Three years after the return
This hairy meteor did denounce of the king, Butler published his Hudi- The fall of sceptres and of crowns : bras ; and with what éclat his contem- With grisly type did represent poraries only could tell, while the echo Declining age of government,
And tell with hieroglyphic spade of applause is kept up even to our own
Its own grave and the state's were made." • days. How low is the wit, with what awkwardness and dulness he dilutes Butler is so well satisfied with his in
ful satire. Here and there sipid fun, that he prolongs it for a good lurks a happy picture, the remnant of many lines : a poetry which has just perished; but " Like Samson's heart-breakers, it grew the whole work reminds one of a Scar
In time to make a nation rue;
Tho' it contributed its own fall, ron, as unworthy as the other, and
To wait upon the public downfall. . more malignant. It is written, people 'Twas bound to suffer persecution say, on the model of Don Quixote ; And martyrdom with resolution ; Hudibras is a Puritan knight, who
T'oppose itself against the hate
And vengeance of the incens'd state, goes about, like his antitype, redress- In whose defiance it was worn, ing wrongs, and pocketing beatings. It Still ready to be pull'd and torn, would be truer to say that it resem.
With red-hot irons to be tortur'd, bles the wretched imitation of Avel
Revil'd, and spit upon, and martyr'd.
Maugre all which, 'twas to stand fast laneda. The short metre, well suited
As long as monarchy should last ; to buffoonery, hobbles along without But when the state should hap to reel, rest and limpingly, foundering in the
'Twas to submit to fatal steel,
And fall, as it was consecrate, nud which it delights in, as foul and
A sacrifice to fall of state, as dull as that of the Enéide Travestie. 1 Whose thread of life the fatal sisters The description of Hudibras and his Did twist together with its whiskers, horse occupies the best part of a
And twine so close, that time should never,
In life or death, their fortunes sever; canto; forty, lines are taken up by
But with his rusty sickle mow describing his beard, forty more by Both down together at a blow." + describing his breeches. Endless scholastic discussions, arguments as long Could any one have taken pleasure in
The nonsense increases as we go on those of the Puritans, spread humor such as this ?their wastes and briars over half the
“ This sword a dagger had, his page, poem., No action, no simplicity, all is
That was but little for his age ; would-be satire and gross caricature ; And therefore waited on him so
• This saying sounds strange after the hor- As dwarfs upon knights-errant do. rors of the Commune.-TR.
When it had stabb’d, or broke a head, 1 A Spanish author, who continued and im- It would scrape trenchers, or chip bread.. itated Cervantes' Don Quixote.
'Twould make clean shoes, and in the earth ; A work by Scarron. Hudibras, ed. 2.
Set leeks and onions, and so forth.” 1 Grey, 1801, 2 vols., i. canto i. 1. 289, says also : Every thing becomes trivial; it any " For as Æneas bore his sire
beauty presents itself, it is spoiled by Upon his shoulders through the fire, Our knight did bear no less a pack
• Hudibras, part 1. canto i. l. 241-250. at his own buttocks on his back.
Ibid. l. a53-780. $ Ibid. 1 375–386.