Seeking Truth: Roger Norths Notes on Newton and Correspondence With Samuel Clarke c. 1704-1713

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Author: Kawin, Bruce F. Title: Selected Letters , [Yr: ]. Title: Selected Letters of A. Edmrunds, who flourished about , was also an admirer and imitator of Chaucer. He was, as a writer, less gifted than voluminous; Ritson, in his "1 Bibliographia Poetica," has enumerated two hundred and fifty-one of his productions; and this list is known to be incomplete.

No writer was ever more popular in his own day; but it was a popularity which could not last. His versification is rough and inhar'monious, as unlike as possible to the musical movemnent of Chaucer; his stories are prolix and dull, and his wit seldom very pointed. ITnsteacl of, like Chaucer, filling his ear, and feeding his imagination with the poetry of Italy, the only country where literature had as 3yet emerged from barbarism, and assumed forms comparable to those of antiquity, Lydgate's attention seems to have been engrossed partly by the inane Latin literature 1 of the period, partly by the works of the romance-writers and Trouveres, whose French was at that time a barbarous dialect, and whose rhythm was nearly as bad as his own.

A selection from his minor poems was edited by Mr. Halliwell for the Percy Society in Lydgate also translated from the French "The Daunce of Machabre," or " Dance of Death," in a curious octave stanza, of which the following is a specimen: - " Owt of the Ffranche I drew it of entent Not word by word, but following the substance, And fro Parys to Englonde it sente, Only of purposs yow to do plesaunce; Rude of langage, - I was not borne ill Ffraunce - Have me excused; my name is John Lidgate, Off here tunge I have no suffisaunce Her corious metres in Englisshe to translate.

Each of these replies in his turn; and all, with more or less of moralizing, own the levelling hand and irresistible might of Death. A poem called " Chichevache and Bycorne " has also been ascribed to him; he is the author, moreover, of a didactic poem in octosyllabics, of immense length, and never printed, to which a commentator of the sixteenth century has given the title " Reson and Sensuallyte;" its subject is the rivalry between reason and sense. Among the minor poets of this period, there is none so well deserving of notice as Lawrence Minot, whose poems were accidentally discovered by Mr.

Tyrrhwitt among the Cottonian MSS. They celebrate the martial exploits of Edward III. They are in the same stanza of six short lines, common among the romancers, in which Chaucer's "Rime of Sir Thopas " is written. Nothing is known of Minot's personal history. Scottish Poets: Barbour, James I. John Barbour, Archdeacon of Aberdeen, is the author of an heroic poem entitled " The Bruce,"l containing the history of Robert Bruce, the victor of Bannockburn, and of Scotland, so far as that was influenced by him.

The poem is believed to have been completed in the year It is in the eight-syllable rhyming measure, and consists of between twelve and thirteen thousand lines. James I. This poem, which is in a hundred and ninety-seven stanzas, divided into six cantos, contains much interesting matter of the autobiographical sort. Andrew's, and prior of St.

Serf's, the monastery on the island in Loch Leven. His'" Cronykil"' begins, as was then thought decorous and fitting, with the creation, plunges into the history of the angels, discusses general geography, and at the end of five books filled with this " pantographical" rubbish, as Dr. Irving amusingly calls it, settles down upon its proper subject, which is, the history of Scotland from the earliest ages down to his own time.

He died about the year He incorporates freely the work of preceding writers,- three hundred lines from Barbour, and no less than thirty-six chapters by some versifier whose name, he says, he has not been able to discover. His verse is, like Barbour's, octosyllabic; it is naive, sense-full, and, in parts, touching. The earliest known work in English prose of a secular character, "The Travels of Sir John Maundevile,"' dates from this period.

As before mentioned, the book had been originally written in Fiench, and afterwards translated into Latin. It was probably about the year that Sir John prepared and published an English version, also for the benefit of his own countrymen. This is a proof that about this time the knowledge of Fiench, even among the educated classes, was celsing' to be essential or uniiversal. The author professes not only to have traversed the Holy Land in several directions, but to have visited many countries farther east, including even India; but, whenl we come to the chapters which treat of these countries, we find them filled with preposterous stories, whlich Maundevile, whose capacity of swallowing was unlimited, must have derived either from hearsay or from the works of travellers equally gullible with himself.

When one reflects that Maiundevile had as great opportunities as Herodotus, and then observes the use that he made of them, comparisons are forced on the mind not over-fa. Our authlor tells of the " Land of Amazoym," an island inhabited only by a race of warlike women; of rocks of adamant in the IIndian seas, which d-. The language, as used by Maundevile, appears almost precisely similar to that of Chaucer in his prose works.

Both of these are written in fluent, intelligible English, and present few other difficulties to the reader but those which the old orthography occasions. In translating Boethius, Chaucer was renewing for the meni of his own day the service rendered by Alfred to his West Saxon countrymen. It professes to be an imitation of the work of Boethius. In the second, " she teacheth the. The third part is a remarkable discourse on necessity and free will, in which the doctrine laid down by St. Augustine, and expounded by the schoolmen, is eloquently set forth.

Of the'"Astrolabie " we have already spoken see p. Among Wyclif's English writings, his translation of the Bible must be first considered. The subject is surrounded with difficulties, and cannot be fully discussed here. A fine edition of the " WVycliffite versions of the Holy Scriptures " was issued in , under the care of the Rev.

Forshall and Sir F. Madden, from the Oxford University Press. In the preface to this work, the following passage occurs, and represents probably the real state of the case: - "Down to the year , the Psalter appears to be the only book of Scripture which had been entirely rendered into English. Within less than twenty-five years from this date, a prose version of the whole Bible, including as well the apocryphal as the canonical books, had been completed, and was in circulation among the people. For this invaluable gift England is indebted to John Wyclif. It may be impossible to determine with certainty the exact share which his own pen had in the translation; but there can be no doubt that he took a part in the labor of producing it, and that the accomplishment of the work must be attributed mainly to his zeal, encouragement; and direction.

The later one appeared some years after Wyclif's death, being thought necessary by his Lollard followers on account of the inequality existing between different parts of the original work. However, the general agreement between the two versions is very close. The other English writings of Wyclif consist of sermons, exegetical treatises, controversial treatises, and letters.

A selection of these, edited by the present author, was published for the Clarendon Press in The explanations of the New Testament parables are often racy and original; inally curious traditional interpretations are given; and now and then, though it is but seldom, the tone rises to real eloquence.

In the case of the other writings, interesting as many of them are, there is unfortunately much difficulty in distinguishing between those which are genuine and those which are more or less doubtful. The controversial tracts are directed chiefly against the four orders of friars, whose monasteries Wyclif called " Caym's i. Of one of the exegetical tracts, " On the Paternoster," a portion of the striking peroration is here subjoined: - "W]hanne a man seith, My God, delyvere me fro mlyn' enemyes, what othir thing seith he than this, Delyvere us from yvel?

And if thou rennest aboute bi alle the wordis of holy praieris, thou schalt fynde nothing whiche is not conteyned in this praier of the Lord. Whoevere seith a thing that may not perteyne to this praier of the Gospel, he praieth bodili and unjustli and unleeffulli, as me thelnkith.

Whanne a man saieth in his praier, Lord, multiplie myn richessis, and encreese myn honouris, and seith thlis, havynge the coveitise of hem, and not purposynge the profit of hem to men, to be bettir to Godward, I gesse that lie may not fynde it in the Lordis praier. Tilerfore be it schame to aske the thingis whiche it is not leefful to coveyte.

If a man schameth not of this, but coveytise overcometh him, this is askid, that he delyvere fro this yvel of coveytise, to whom we seyn, Delyvere us from yvel. Oxford, SISMONDI, in his admirable work on the Literature of the South of Europe, has a passage,' explaining the decline of Italian literature in the fifteenth century, which is so strictly applicable to the corresponding decline of English literature for a hundred and seventy years after Chaucer, that we cannot forbear quoting it: - " The century which, after the death of Petrarch, had been devoted by the Italians to the study of antiquityJ, during which literature experienced no advance, and the Italian language seemed to retrograde, was not, however, lost to the powers of imagination.

Poetry, on its first revival, had not received sufficient nourishment. The fund of knowledge, of ideas, and of images, which she called to her aid, was too restricted. The three great men of the fourteenth century, whom we first presented to the attention of the reader, had, by the sole force of their genius, attained a degree of erudition, and a sublimity of thought, far beyond the spirit of their age. These qualities were entirely personal; and the rest of the Italian bards, like the Provenral poets, were reduced, by the poverty of their 1 Vol.

The whole of the fifteenth century was employed in extending in every direction the knowledge and resources of the friends of the Muses. Antiquity was unveiled to them in all its elevated characters, - its severe laws, its energetic virtue, and its beautiful and engaging mythology; in its subtle and profound philosophy, its overpowering eloquence, and its delightful poetry.

Another age was required to knead afresh the clay for the formation of a nobler race. At the close of the century, a divine breath animated the finished statue, and it started into life. Chaucer's eminence was purely personal; even more so, perhaps, than that of the great Italians. For the countrymen of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio at least possessed a settled and beautiful language, adapted already to nearly all literary purposes; while the tongue of Chaucer was in so rude and unformed a condition that only transcendent genius could make a work expressed through it endurable.

The fifteenth century seems to have been an age of active preparation in every country of Europe. Though no great books were produced in it, it witnessed the invention of the art of printing, the effect of which was so to multiply copies of the masterpieces of Greek and Roman genius, to reduce their price, and to enlarge the circle of their readers, as to supply abundantly new materials for thought, and new models of artistic form, and thus pave the way for the great writers of the close of the next century.

Printing, invented at Metz by Guten. The zealous patronage of two enlightened noblemen, Lord Worcester and Lord Rivers, greatly aided him in his enterprise. This century was also signalized by the foundation of many schools and colleges, in which the founders desired that the recoveredl learning of antiquity should be uninterruptedly and effectually cultivated. Three new universities arose in Scotland, - that of St. Andrew's in , of Glasgow in , of Aberdeen in ; all under the express authority of different popes. Three or four unsuccessful attempts were made in the course of this and the previous century, - the latest in ,- to establish a university in Dublin.

In the period now before us our attention will be directed to three subjects, -the poets, whether English or Scotch, the state and progress of learning, and the prose-writers. The manner in which the great and complex movement of the Reformation influenced for good or evil the development of literature, is too wide a subject to be fully considered here. Something, however, will be said under this head, when we come to sketch the rise of the "new learning," or study of the humanities, in England, and inquire into the causes of its fitful and intermittent growth.

The poets of this period, at least on the English side of the border, were of small account. The middle of the fifteenth century witnessed the expulsion of the English from France; and a time of national humiliation is unfavorable to the production of poetry. If, indeed,- humiliation become permanent, and involve subjection to the stranger, the plaintive wailings of the elegiac Muse are naturally evoked; as we see in tile instances of Ireland and Wales.

But where a nation is merely disgraced, not crushed, it keeps silence, and waits for a better day. For more than thirty years after the loss of the French provinces, England was distracted and weakened by the civil wars of the Roses. This swas also a time unfavorable to poetry, the makers of which then and long afterwards depended on the patronage of the noble and wealthy, —a patronage which in that time of fierce passions, alternate suffering, and universal disquietude, was not likely to be steadily maintained. Why the fifty years which followed the victory of Bosworth should have been so utterly barren of good poetry, it is less easy to see.

All that can be said is, that this was an age of preparation, in which men disentombed and learned to appreciate old treasures, judging that they were much better employed than in attempting to produce new matter, with imperfect means and models. Scotland seems to have been about a century later than England in arriving at the stage of literary culture which Chaucer and his contemporaries illustrate. Of some of these, namely, Dunbar, Gawain Douglas, Lyndsay, and Henryson, we shall presently have to make particular mention.

John Hardyng was in early life an esquire to Harry Percy, commonly called Hotspur. After seeing his lord fall on the field of Shrewsbury, he took service with Sir Robert Unlfravile, and remained till his death a dependant on that family. He wrote, in that common seven-line stanza which we have called the " Chaucerian heptastich," a " Chronicle of Britain," which comes down to , ending with an address to Edward IV.

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This work is the seven-line stanza so much employed by Chaucer. The versification has little of the smoothness and music of the great master; it is rough and untunable, like that of Lydgate. Hawes must have died after the year , since we have among his poems a coronation ode celebrating the accession of Henry VIII. John Skelton, a secular priest, studied at both universities, and had a high reputation for scholarship in the early part of the sixteenth century. It is certain that his Latin verses are much superior to his serious attempts in English.

A long rambling elegy in the seven-line stanza on Henry, fourth Earl of Northumberland, murdered in , will be found in Percy. The versification is even worse than that of Hawes. In Skelton's satires there is a naturalness and a humor which make them still readable. Two of these, entitled, "Speke, Parrot," and 5. He is particularly fond of short Isix-syllable lines, which some have named from him, " Skeltonical verse.

I wold thou haddest ben blynde I The leopardes sauvage, The lyons in theyr rage, MIyght catche thd in theyr pawes, And gnawe th6 in theyr jawes! The serpentes of Lybany Myght stynge thd venymously! The dragones with their tongues Myght poison thy lyver and longes! The mantycors of the montaynes Myght fede them on thy braynes! Skelton is also the author of a moral play, called "Magnyfycence," an inane production of between two and three thousand lines, in the same rough' Saturnian " metre in which, as we shall see, the first known English comedy, by Udall, was composed.

IHis comedy of "Achademios," enumerated by himself among his works in the "Garland of Laurell," appears to have perished: should it ever come to light, it might possibly take from " Ralph Roister Doister " the distinction of being the earliest English comedy. Dyce, Mary Ottery, in Devonshire, is known as the translator, with additions, of Sebastian Brandt's German poem of the " Ship of Fools," a satire upon society in general.

Far above these barbarous rhymers rose the poetic genius of Surrey. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, son of the victor of Flodden, was born about the year At the age of sixteen he was contracted in marriage to the Lady Frances Vere. His Geraldine, to whom so many of his sonnets are addressed, was a daughter of the Earl of Kildare. She slighted his passion; and the rejected lover carried the fiery ardor of his spirit into the scenes of war and diplomacy.

Having committed some errors in the conduct of the campaign in France in , he was thrown into prison by order of the "jealous, ruthless tyrant "1 who then sat on the throne, brought to trial oin a trumpery charge of high treason, and beheaded in January, , a few days before Henry's death. His "Songes and Sonnettes," together with those of Wyat, were first published in HIis translation of the second and fourth books of the iEneid is the earliest specimen of blank verse in the language. The improvement in grace and polish of style which distinguishes Surrey and Wyat in comparison with their predecessors was unquestionably due to Italian influences.

The very term " sonnet," by them first introduced, is taken from the Italian "sonetto. Surrey's translation of Virgil is as bald and repulsive a version as can well be.

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Of his famous love poems in honor of Geraldine, nine are written in a metre so absurd alternate twelve and fourteen syllable lines that it would spoil the effect of far better matter; and the unchanging querulous whine which characterizes the whole series renders it tedious reading. In truth, notwithstanding the senseless encomiums which Dr. Nott lavished on his favorite author, the gems in Surrey are but few, and may be counted on one's fingers.

The sonnets beginning " Give place, ye lovers," " The sote season," and " Set me whereas, "1 nearly exhaust the list. Of the poems of Wyat a large proportion are translated or imitated from the Italian. They relate almost entirely to love, and sometimes attain to a polish and a grace which English verse had not before exhibited. Of this the reader may in some degree judge from the passage quoted further on. The printer desired that the work should be continued from the date at which Boccaccio 1 See p.

William Baldwin agreed, if sufficiently aided by other writers, to undertake the work. Owing to difficulties connected with the censorship, the book did not appear till ; in this its primitive shape it contained nineteen legends, of which twelve were by Baldwin himself, the rest being written by his friends Ferrers, Phaier, Chaloner, and others. The first legend was that of Tressilian, one of Richard II. The metre is the Chaucerian heptastich. Copious moralizing is the leading characteristic of the whole work. This note was just suited to the serious, self-inspecting, somewhat melancholy temper of the English mind; and numerous redactions of the poem, the latest of which appeared in , attest its remarkable popularity.

Sackville's beautiful "Induction," with the legend of the Duke of Buckingham who was beheaded in , first appeared in the edition of The original design, which was merely to continue Boccaccio, was soon departed from; and a number of legends were added, which carried back this " history teaching by biography " to the fabulous age of the British kings. One great redaction and re-arrangement was effected by John Higgins in his edition of ; another by Richard Niccols in the crowning edition of In this last no fewer than ninety legends are contained; among which one -the finest perhaps in the whole work - is the legend of Thomas Cromwell by Michael Drayton.

The change of title admits of a probable explanation. The solemn crowning of Petrarch on the Capitol, in the year , made a profound sensation through all literary circles in Europe. Chaucer, as we have seen, distinguishes Petrarch as "the laureat poete. It is 1 See Mr. Haslewood's edition of " The Mirrour for Magistrates," After the institution of the degree, it is easy to understand that the king would select his poet among the poetce laureati, and that the modest title of versificator would be dropped. The present work does not pretend to trace the history of Scottish poetry; but, in the dearth of genius in England during this period, the rise of several admirable poets in the sister country demands our attention.

The earliest of these, Robert Henryson, appears to have died about the end of the fifteenth century. His longest poem, " The Testament of Faire Creseyde," a sort of supplement to Chaucer's " Troilus and Creseyde," was printed by Urry, in his edition of that poet. The pastoral, called "' Robin and Makyne," is given in Percy's " Reliques. William Dunbar, the greatest of the old Scottish poets, was a native of East Lothian, and born about the middle of the fifteenth century.

He studied at the University of St. Andrew's, perhaps also at Oxford. In early life he entered the novitiate of the Franciscan order, but does not appear to have taken the vows. James IV. After that fatal day, on which his royal patron perished, his name vanishes from the Scottish records; and it is merely a loose conjecture which assigns his death to about the year The metre is the Chaucerian heptastich, invented, as we have seen, by Chaucer, and employed by all his successors down to Spenser inclusive.

The versification is most musical, -superior to that of any poet before Spenser except Chaucer, and better than much of his. The influence, both direct and indirect, of the father of our poetry, is visible, not in this poem alone, but throughout the works of the school of writers now under consideration.

The poet, according to the approved mediaeval usage, falls asleep and has a dream, in which May - the " faire frische May " in which Chaucer so delighted - appears to him, and commands him to attend her into a garden, and do homage to tie flowers, the birds, and the sun. Nature is then introduced, and commands that the progress of the spring shall no longer be checked by ungenial weather. Neptune and ]Eolus give the necessary orders. Then Nature, by her messengers, summons all organized beings before her, the beasts by the roe, the birds by the swallow, the flowers by the yarrow. The lion is crowned king of the beasts, the eagle of the birds, and the thistle of the flowers.

The Rose, the type of beauty, is wedded to the Thistle, the type of strength, who is commanded well to cherish and guard his Rose. Such is an outline of the plot of this beautiful and graceful poem. But Dunbar excelled also in comic and satirical composition. The metre is that of Chaucer's " Sir Topas. After Flodden field, the regent Albany drove him from Scotland. Coming into England, he was hospitably received by Henry, who allowed him a liberal pension. He died in London of the plague, in The prologues prefixed to the several books have great poetic beauty; and the language presents little more difficulty than that of Chaucer.

The concluding lines of one of these prologues are subjoined as a specimen: they are part of an address to the sun: — 1 Warton. He is the Jean de Meun4 of the sixteenth century; but, as a layman and a knight, he levels his satire with even greater directness and impartiality than that extraordinary ecclesiastic. In his allegorical satire entitled " The Dreme," the poet is conducted by Remembrance, first to the infernal regions, which he finds peopled with churchmen of every grade, then to Purgatory, then through the "three elements " to the seven planets in their successive spheres, then beyond them to the empyrean and the celestial abodes.

The poetical topography is, without doubt, borrowed from Dante. HIe is then transported back to earth, and visits Paradise; whence by a " very rapid transition," as Warton calls it, he is taken to Scotland, where he meets " Johne the coliounweill," who treats him to a long general satire on the corrupt state of that kingdom.


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After this, the poet is in the usual manner brought back to the cave by the seaside, where he falls asleep, and wakes up from his dream. There is prefixed to the poem an exhortation in ten stanzas, addressed to King James V. Among Lyndsay's remaining poems, the most important is "The Monarchie," an account of the 1 Shelter. See p. This poem, which is for the most part in the common romance metre, or eightsyllable couplet, runs over with satire and invective. Lyndsay's powerful attacks on the Scottish clergy, the state of which at that time unfortunately afforded but too much ground for them, are said to have hastened the religious war in Scotland.

At the very beginning of this period, or about , Blind Harry, or Harry the Minstrel, produced his poem on the adventures of Wallace. Considered as the composition of a blind man, " The Wallace " is a remarkable production; considered as a work of art, a more execrable poem perhaps was never composed.

Yet national resentment and partiality have made the Scotch, from the fifteenth century down to the present time, delight in this tissue of lies and nonsense. A modernized version of it was a horn-book among the peasantry in the last century. Scottish critics, one and all, speak of its poetical beauties; and even one or two English writers, "' carried away by their dissimulation," have professed to find much in it to admire. It is written in the heroic rhyming couplet, and professes to be founded on a Latin chronicle by John Blair, a contemporary of Wallace; but as no such chronicle exists, nor is anywhere alluded to as existing, it is probable that the whole story is a pure invention of the minstrel's.

That a poem which makes of Wallace a Scottish " Jack the giant-killer," killing and maiming innumerable Englishmen upon every possible occasion, should satisfy the intellectual appetite of a Lowland peasant, whom household tradition has nurtured up in feelings of anti-English prejudice that once had too real a justification, is easily intelligible; but that is no reason why men of sense.

If there were an " Early Scottish Text " society, " The Wallace " would doubtless form a fitting subject for its attentions, but, considered within the sphere of literature, it is desirable that its utter worthlessness should be as much recognized in Scotland as that of Addison's " Campaign," and many other compositions more patriotic than poetical, has long been amongst ourselves. But in proportion as they resort to comic expression, and attach their satire to particular places or persons, their language becomes less English, and slides into the rough vernacular of their ordinary speech.

Exactly the same thing is observable in Burns's poetry. The fifteenth century was, as we have said, pre-eminently an age of accumulation, assimilation, and preparation. The first two-thirds of the sixteenth century fall under the same general description. England had to bring herself up to the intellectual level of the Continent, and to master the treasures of literature and philosophy which the revival and diffusion of Greek, and partly of Roman learning, had placed within her reach, before 1 For a full account of Blind Harry, see Irving's History of Scottish Poetry, p.

There is much interest in tracing in detail the numerous minute steps and individual acts which helped on this process. Many such are related by Wood in his " Athene Oxonienses. Stapleton, a Roman Catholic writer of the age of Elizabeth, says, "Recens tune ex ItaliA venerat Grocinus, qui primus in ea aetate Grwecas literas in Angliam invexerat, Oxoniique publice professus fuerat. Born about , and educated at Oxford, he travelled on the Continent about the year , and studied both at Rome and Florence.

Greek learning flourished then at Florence more than at any place in Europe, owing to the fact that Lorenzo de Medici had eagerly welcomed to his court many illustrious and learned refugees, who, subsequently to the fall of Constantinople, had been forced to seek shelter from the violence and intolerance of the Mussulmans in Western Europe. One of these learned Byzantines, Demetrius Chalcocondyles, together with the Italian Angelo Politian, afforded to Grocyn by their public instructions those opportunities which he had left his country to search for, -of penetrating into the sanctuary of classical antiquity, and drinking in at the fountain-head the inspirations of a national genius whose glories no lapse of time can obscure.

Gibbon,' with his usual fulness of learning and wonderful mastery of style, has thus sketched the features of this eventful time: " The genius and education of Lorenzo rendered him not only a patron, but a judge and candidate, in the literary race. In his palace, distress was entitled to relief, and merit to reward; his leisure hours were 1 Decline and Fall, chap. The rest of Italy was animated by a similar spirit, and the progress of the nation repaid the liberality of her princes. The Latins held the exclusive property of their own literature; and these disciples of Greece were soon capable of transmitting and improving the lessons which they had imbibed.

After a short succession of foreign teachers, the tide of emigration subsided. But the language of Constantinople was spread beyond the Alps; and the natives of France, Germany, and England imparted to their countrymen the sacred fire which they had kindled in the schools of Florence and Rome. When settled in Oxford again, about the year , he opened his budget, and taught Greek to all comers. Among his hearers was a youth of much promise, from London, known afterwards to his own and later ages as Sir Thomas More. Thomas Linacre, the celebrated physician, was in residence and giving lectures at Oxford about the same time.

He, too, had studied in Italy, chiefly at Florence and Rome, and had become an accomplished Greek scholar. It is to him that we owe the first version of any Greek author made by an Englishman. This was a Latin translation, published in , of the Sphoera of Proclus, an astronomical 7. Linacre also translated into Latin the works of the old Greek physician Galen, and was the leading spirit in the knot of enlightened men who founded the College of Physicians Another active patron of the new learning was Dean Colet, the founder of St.

Paul's School, and the friend of Erasmus. He, too, had travelled extensively, and observed admiringly. He had remarked how Lorenzo de Medici labored to build up a sort of Utopia of intelligence and refinement, made beautiful by art, and governed by wisdom; and it seems that in these rougher northern climates he had some design of reproducing a faint resemblance of the gardens of Bellosguardo. On the lands of his monastery at Sheell, near Richmond, he built himself, long before his death, a magnificent mansion, whither, he said, he designed to retire in his old age, and amid a circle of intellectual friends enjoy the sweets of a philosophical and lettered ease.

It shows how far the contact with the genius of antiquity intoxicated the spirit even of a thoroughly good man: how disturbing, then, must have been its effects upon men of lower character! In this age of strange excitement, when a new world, supposed to teem with wealth, had just been discovered in the West, when by the invention of printing thoughts were communicated and their records multiplied with a speed which must then have seemed marvellous, and when the astronomical theory of Copernicus was revolutionizing men's ideas as to the very fundamental relations between the earth and the heavens, unsettling those even whom it did not convince, there was a temporary forgetfulness on the part of many, even in the Christian Church, that this life, dignify it as you may, is, after all, a scene of trial, not of triumph, and that, if 1 Flanagan's Church History, vol.

The Reformers seized on this weak point then noticeable in many of the clergy, and made out of it, to use a modern phrase, abundant controversial capital. Human learning, they said - Luther himself originated the cry - was a waste of time, as well as a dangerous snare; art was a mere pandering to the passions. Sinful man should be engrossed but by one pursuit, the pursuit of salvation; should study only one book, and that the Bible.

When the party that favored the Reformation came into power under Edward VI. To take one well-known instance: the ecclesiastical commissioners of Edward, in their visitation to Oxford, destroyed or removed a valuable collection, impossible to be replaced, of six hundred manuscripts of the classical authors, presented by Humphrey, the good Duke of Gloucester, uncle of Henry VI.

The Roman Catholic hierarchy also, among whom, as in the case of Nicholas V. In England, at any rate, we know that the bishops, under Queen Mary, discouraged the study of the humanities, and attempted to revive in their place the old scholastic exercises and disputations.

The reformers immediately - with some inconsistency, it must be confessed - set up the cry, " You are trying to shut out enlightenment, to set up the barbarous scholastic in preference to the Ciceronian Latinity. You are enemies of progress, of civilization, of the enlargement of the mind. This point will be illustrated presently. In connection with the spread of learning in England, the name of Cardinal Wolsey must not be omitted. He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one; Exceeding wise, fair spoken, and persuading; Lofty and sour to them that loved him not, But, to those men that sought him, sweet as summer, And though he were unsatisfied in getting Which was a sin , yet in-bestowing, madam, He was most princely.

Ever witness for him Those twins of learning, that he raised in you, Ipswich and Oxford: one of which fell with him, Unwilling to outlive the good that did it; The other,2 though unfinished, yet so famous, So excellent in art, and still so rising, That Christendom shall ever speak his virtue. Milton refers to this in one of his sonnets - "Thy age, like ours, 0 soul of Sir Johh Cheke, Hated not learning worse than toad or asp, When thou taught'st Cambridge and King Edward Greek.

Scene 2. The universities appear to have been sunk in a lower depth of inefficienm cy and ignorance about the year than ever before or since. Under Mary, Cardinal Pole, the legate, was personally favorable to the new learning. Sir Thomas Pope, the founder of Trinity College, Oxford, consulted him on the framing of the college statutes, in which it was provided that Greek should form one of the subjects of instruction. In his legatine constitutions, passed at a synod held in , Pole ordered that all archbishops and bishops, as well as holders of benefices in general, should assign a stated portion of their revenues to the support of cathedral schools in connection with every metropolitan and cathedral church throughout the kingdom, into which lay scholars of respectable parentage were to be admitted, together with theological students.

These cathedral schools were kept up in the following reign, and seem to have attained considerable importance. But one enlightened and generous mind could not restrain the re-actionary violence of the Gardiners and the Bonners. Under their management a system of obscurantism was attempted, if not established, at the universities; the Greek poets and philosophers were to be banished, and scholasticism was to reign once more in the schools.

Ascham, in his "Schoolmaster," thus describes the state of things: — " The love of good learning began suddenly to wax cold; the knowledge of the tongues was manifestly contemned; yea, I know that heads were cast together, and counsel devised, that Duns, with all the rabble of barbarous questionists, should have dispossessed of their place and room Aristotle, Plato, Tully, and Demosthenes, whom good Mr.

Redman, and those two worthy stars. Although no prose work produced during this period can be said to hold a place in our standard literature, considerable progress was made in fitting the rough and motley native idiom for the various requirements of prose composition. Through the truly national work of the publication of our early records, which has now been going on for many years under the superintendence of the Master of the Rolls, a curious book, dating from the early part of this period, has been made generally accessible.

The modern editor of the work, Mr. Babington, calls it, probably with justice, " the earliest piece of good philosophical disquisition of which our English prose literature can boast. After his appointment to the see of St. Asaph, he took the line of vehement opposition to the teaching of the Lollards, the followers of Wyclif. Pecock was made Bishop of Chichester in His method of argument, however, which consisted in appealing rather to reason and common-sense than to Church authority, to justify the practices complained of, was displeasing to.

He was deposed from his bishopric, and only escaped severer treatment by making a full and formal retractation of his opinions. He was at first a zealous Lancastrian; he fought at Towton, and was taken prisoner at Tewkesbury in , after which he was attainted. But upon the death of Henry in that year, leaving no son, Fortescue admitted the legality of the claim of the house of York, and thereby obtained the reversal of the attainder.

The title of the work mentioned is not very appropriate: it should rather be, "A Treatise on the Best Means of raising a Revenue for the King, and cementing his Power. The opening chapters drawing a contrast between the state and character of the English peasantry under the constitutional crown of England, and those of the French peasantry under the absolute monarchy of France, are full of acute remarks and curious information.

It is instructive to notice, that Fortescue chap. The observation reminds us how modern a creation is the powerful British navy, the wooden walls of which have turned that position into our greatest safeguard. This work is in excellent English, and, if freed from the barbarous orthography in which it is disguised, could be read with ease and pleasure at the present day.

Fortescue wrote also, about the year , an excellent. No other prose writer of the fifteenth century deserves notice, unless we except Caxton, who wrote a continuation of Trevisa's translation of the "Polychronicon" to the year , and printed the entire work in The first work printed in England is believed to have been " The Game and Play of the Chesse," a moral treatise, translated by Caxton from the French, and turned out by his printing-press in He also printed a translation, made by himself from the German, of the famous mediaeval apologue or satire of " Renard the Fox.

Erasmus wished that Latin should be the common literary language of Europe: he always wrote in it himself, and held what he termed the barbarous jargon of his Dutch fatherland in utter detestation. So Leland, More, and Pole composed, if not all, yet their most important and most carefully written works in Latin.

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John Leland the famous antiquary, to whose "Itinerarium" we owe so much interesting topographical and sociological information for the period immediately following the destruction of the monasteries, is the author of a number of Latin elegies, in 1 For fuller particulars about Caxton, see " The History of English Literature," by the late learned Prof. Craik of Belfast. More's "Utopia," published in , was composed in Latin, but has been translated by Burnet and others. The work is a satire on existing society.

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Every important political or social regulation in Utopia is the reverse of what was then to be found in Europe. The condition of the ideal commonwealth rebukes the ambition of kings, the worldliness of priests, and the selfish greed of private persons. The Utopians detest war, and will only take up arms on a plain call of honor or justice. Instead of burning and torturing men for their religion, they tolerate all forms of belief or no-belief, only refusing to those who deny Divine Providence, and the soul's immortality, the right to hold public offices or trusts.

They have no money, but the wants of all are fully supplied by the perfect mechanism of their free government; equality prevails among them, and is highly prized; idlers are driven out of the commonwealth; and the lands belonging to each city, incapable of appropriation to private owners, are tilled by all its citizens in succession. The regular series of English prose chronicles comnmences in this period. It opens with the creation of the world, and conies down to It appeared about the year , but was never printed till it came out in the Rolls Series.

Successive subsequent editions of this work continued the history to Edward Hall, an under-sheriff of London, wrote in a chronicle entitled, " The Union of the Two Noble Families of Lancaster and York," bringing the narrative down to Richard Grafton, himself the author of two independent chronicles in the reign of Elizabeth, printed in a new edition of Hall, with a continuation to the end of Henry's reign. The accuracy of this writer may be judged of by the fact, that, in the article on Chaucer, he fixes the date of the poet's death in , and in the list of his works includes " The Falls of Princes " which was by Lydgate , and omits " The Canterbury Tales.

Portions of it are indirectly interesting, as illustrating manners and customs, or as tinged with the peculiar humor of the writer. The sermons of Bishop Latimer, one of the leading reformers, who was burnt at the stake under Mary, possess this twofold attraction. Thus, in preaching against covetousness, he complains of the great rise in rents and in the price of provisions that had taken place in his time; winding up his recital of grievances with the singular climax,'"I think, verily, that, if it thus continue, we shall at length be constrained to pay for a pig a pound.

Cranmer's works have but small literary value, though most important -. John Bale already mentioned, Becon, Ridley, Hooper, and Tyndale, all composed theological tracts, chiefly controversial. More's English works were printed in a black-letter folio volume, in the year His last work , a " Treatise on the Passion," remains unfinished; and the editor has appended in a colophon these touching words: " Sir Thomas More wrote no more of this woorke; for when he had written this farre, he was in prison kept so streyght, that all his bokes and penne -and ynke and paper was taken from hym, and sone after was he putte to death.

A native of Yorkshire, he was sent at an early age to Cambridge, and, during a lengthened residence there, diligently promoted the study of the new learning. His exertions were vain: we hear, indeed, of the bow as still a formidable weapon at the battle of Pinkie in ; but from that date it disappears from our military history. In Ascham went to Germany as secretary to Sir Richard Morrisine, who was then proceeding as ambassador to the Imperial Court; and in , while at Brussels, he wrote, in the. In he was appointed Latin secretary to Edward VI. On the accession of Elizabeth he received the additional appointment of reader in the learned languages to the queen.

Elizabeth used to take lessons from him at a stated hour each day. In he wrote his " Schoolmaster," a treatise on education. This work was never finished, and was printed by his widow in The sense and acuteness of many of his pedagogic suggestions have been much dwelt upon by Johnson. THis is the golden or Augustan age of English literature. After its brilliant opening under Chaucer, a period of poverty and feebleness had continued for more than a hundred and fifty years. Servile in thought and stiff in expression, it remained unvivified by genius even during the first half of the reign of Elizabeth; and Italy with her Ariosto and Tasso, France with her Marot and Rabelais, Portugal with her Camoens, and even Spain with her Ercilla, appeared to have outstripped England in the race of fame.

Hence Sir Philip Sidney in his "Defence of Poesie," written shortly before his death in , after awarding a certain meed of praise to Sackville, Surrey, and Spenser whose first work had but lately appeared , does not "remember to have seen many more [English poets] that have poetical sinews in them. Spenser published the first three books of " The Fairie Queen " in ; Shakspeare began to write for the stage about the year ; and the "Essays" of Francis Bacon were first published in ; Raleigh.


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The peaceable and firmly settled state of the country under Elizabeth was largely instrumental in the rise of this literary greatness. Doubt, suspense, and mutual distrust paralyzed all spontaneous action. At Elizabeth's accession, the perplexed and intimidated nation was almost prepared to receive any form of Christianity which its government chose to impose upon it, provided it could obtain firm social peace.

But various considerations concurred at the time to discredit and render unpopular the religion of the pope, and the decisions of the Council of Trent: there was the natural uneasiness of the holders of the Church lands, confiscated in previous reigns, lest, under a Roman Catholic regime, restitution should ultimately become the order of the day; then, in aid of this feeling, came the indignation and horror which the revolting cruelties of Mary's government had everywhere excited; lastly, the decrees of a council which sat with the fear of the emperor and the pope continually before its eyes, and in whose deliberations England and the northern nations took no part, were naturally not regarded as representing in all points the final and infallible utterances of the universal Church.

Elizabeth, whose sagacity detected the one paramount political want of the country, concluded, in the second year of her reign, a rather inglorious peace with. The consequences of the durable internal peace thus established were astonishing. Men began to trade, farm, and build with renewed vigor; a great breadth of forest land was reclaimed; travellers went forth to "discover islands far away," and to open new outlets for commerce. Wealth, through this multiplied activity, poured into the kingdom; and that general prosperity was the result which led her subjects to invest the sovereign, under whom all this was done, with a hundred virtues and shining qualities not her own.

Of this feeling Shakspeare became the mouthpiece and mirror:-' She shall be loved and feared: her own shall bless her. Her foes shake like a field of beaten corn, And hang their heads with sorrow. Good grows with her. In her days every man shall eat in safety Under his own vine, what heplants, and sing The merry songs of peace to all his neighbors. Ireland was devastated in this reign with fire and sword; and the minority in England who adhered to the ancient faith became the victims of an organized system of persecution and plunder.

Open a book by Cardinal Allen, and a scene of martyred priests, of harried and plundered laymen, of tortured consciences and bleeding hearts, will blot out from your view the smiling images of peace and plenty above portrayed.

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The mass of the people, however, went quietly with the government, believing, nor wholly without grounds, that to adhere to the pope meant something more than merely to accept seven sacraments instead of two; 1 Henry VIII. Scene 4. Wealth and ease brought leisure in their train; and leisure demanded entertainment, not for the body only, but also for the mind. The people, for amusement's sake, took up the old popular drama, which had come down from the very beginning of the middle ages; and, after a process of gradual transformation and elaboration by inferior hands, developed it, in the mouths of its Shakspeare, Johnson, and Fletcher, into the worldfamed romantic drama of England.

As the reading class increased, so did the number of those who strove to minister to its desires; and although the religious convulsions which society had undergone had checked the movement towards a complete and profound appreciation of antiquity, which had been commenced by Colet, More, and Erasmus in the universities, so that England could not then, nor for centuries afterwards, produce scholars in any way comparable to those of the Continent; yet the number of translations which were made of ancient authors proves that there was a general taste for at least a superficial learning, and a very wide diffusion of it.

Translation soon led to imitation, and to the projection of new literary works on the purer principles of art disclosed in the classical authors. The epics of Ariosto and Tasso were also translated, the former by Harrington, the latter by Carew and Fairfax; and the fact shows both how eagerly the Italian literature was studied by people of education, and how general must have been the diffusion of an intellectual taste.

Spenser doubtless framed his allegory in emulation of the " Orlando" of Ariosto; and the form and idea of Bacon's " Essays" were probably suggested to him by the " Essays " of Montaigne. Among the poets of the period, Spenser holds the first rank. The appearance of his " Shepheard's Calender," in , was considered by his contemporaries to form an epoch in the history of English poetry. This poem is dedicated to Sidney, and in an introductory epistle, feigned to come from a third hand, addressed to his friend Gabriel Harvey, the poet enters into some curious particulars respecting the diction of his work.


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