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as nothing compared with that of Shakespeare. He is thoughtful and intricate. His dramas are not easy or natural, but constructed carefully according to rules. His characters are each intended to illustrate some "humour" (foible) or trait. Sometimes he prefaces a play by describing minutely what each personage in the play is intended to represent. No wonder that his audience wearied of dissections of character in place of dramatic force, and often displeased him by receiving his plays with no favour. In our day, as in his own, his dramas are for the attentive reader, not for the general audience. He was himself affected by the more reasoning, thoughtful spirit which was coming in place of the creative impulse of the age just gone.

VI. The Age of Thoughtfulness.

FROM 1600 TO 1660.

1. Before the sixteenth century was ended symptoms of a spirit that had little sympathy with the natural outburst of vigorous, passionate life shown in the drama of the day had been apparent. They were most evident in the course taken by the religious parties towards the latter part of Elizabeth's reign. The growth of Puritanism, with its strong English independence on the one hand, and the development of a calmer and more contemplative spirit in the church, opposed equally to the extravagances of Puritanism and to the tyranny of Catholicism, on the other, are proofs of it. The early translators of the Bible were its forerunners : it came

Hooker.

Bacon.

to a high standard before the end of the century in Richard Hooker-he who, in Hallam's words, came Richard into the arena of religious controversy “with weapons 1553-1600. of a finer temper” than those the rougher combatants employed. In his hands the language became a fit instrument of argumentative exposition; it acquired new logical force and precision.

2. This thoughtful and reasoning spirit deepened in intensity as the century advanced. Hooker had bis followers in Usher and Selden. But as he represents the religious side of this thoughtful age, another and a far greater name represents its philosophical tendency. This was Francis Bacon, who, more than any one Francis man perhaps in modern times changed the habits 1662–1626. according to which men thought. Hitherto men had followed the ancient philosophers, and had accepted their authority implicitly, differing only as to how they ought to interpret them. But now Bacon set on foot in England a method of investigating truth which was to be founded on the observation and experiment which each man could make for himself. He himself hoped, or professed to hope, for much greater results from his system, in reaching the secrets of nature, than it could give; all men, dull and clever, would now, he says, be

, on an equal footing, and equally able to help forward science and invention ; but, though this was only a fashion of talking, yet the change his system produced on the habit of mind which influenced men was very great, greater perhaps than he could himself have foreseen. More and more men got to use their

Donne. 1573-1631.

Phineas Fletcher.

power of thinking independently, and religion made
their thought grave rather than gay or fanciful.
13.

3. A change came over such poetry as was produced about this time. In place of a lively, natural imagination, it degenerated into elaborate and artificial conceits and turns of thought, which were like a far off echo of the luxuriant euphuism of Elizabeth's reign. This school of poetry was afterwards called the “metaphysical school,” to describe their elaborate straining after what was involved: or intricate in thought and language. Such were Donne, the author of epistles, epigrams, and satires of a brilliant, and fantastic wit,

and Fletcher, who wrote the Purple Island, an 1534-1660. intricate treatise on anatomy, in verse. The genius of

these poets was very different from, and not nearly so great as, that of the age which preceded them; but their faults and conceits did not prevent their growing into

a style that was very graceful, if not very powerful. Quarles. This style had a religious side, in Quarles, who wrote

collections of maxims or Emblems' of the quaintest type, and in George Herbert, the High Church English divine, who wrote many overstrained and in

genious, and a few most exquisite, religious poems. And it had also a non-religious side, in which the elaborate courtesy, and rather grave

and distant manner of the older cavaliers shines forth, as in the love-songs

of Montrose, of Lovelace, of Waller, of Suckling, Graham, Marquis'o and a host of others; the subjects are often playful,

but even in the playfulness there is a certain studied manner; even those who are most opposed to it

1592-1644.

Herbert. 1593-1633.

James

Montrose. 1612-1650.

1608-1674.

was

cannot shake off the influence of a certain stiffness in style.

4. But here again came one who shook off all littlen'esses, and summed

up

in himself all that was greatest in his time. John Milton threw aside all the tricks Milton. of phraseology, all the niceties and turns of thought of this artificial school; he made the grave, thoughtful, dignified spirit that undoubtedly belonged to it, most peculiarly his own. He was the very opposite of Shakespeare. He could not change with his characters; he himself is present in every line. He could abandon himself to the current of his own genius; he

earnest and impetuous, but never forgot the standard which he set before himself. He was learned, even burdened with learning, and often mars his poetry by lengthy theological disquisitions. But his greatest poem, · Paradise Lost,' has raised him to the place next to Shakespeare. For grandeur of thought he stands alone. The dignity of his language has made his the model of blank verse (for he discarded rhyme) for all time. He not only wrote the epic poem of Puritanism, but the epic of all those feelings which in all time have some sympathy with Puritanism. His poems were begun before the Commonwealth ; they were ended after the Age of Thoughtfulness-of which he remained for a time the solitary monument amid a changed race -had passed away.

5. In prose, the best representative of this thoughtful and grave spirit outside of its religious aspect is, perhaps, the Royalist Lord Clarendon, who wrote 1608-167%.

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Clarendon

. Taylor. 1613-1667.

the History of the Rebellion. He, too, was left stranded like a relic of a former time, deserted by those whose exile he had shared, and whom he had helped to restore. But there was another—Bishop Jeremy Taylor, who preserved, far into the seventeenth century, much of the brilliant and impetuous genius of the sixteenth ; whose prose has all the rich and exuberant fancy of the older renaissance poetry, with only the grave, sad spirit of seventeenth century religion about it. He crowds metaphor on metaphor, in a way which, with another, would be tawdry, but with him only adds to the richness of the effect. Of all the preachers he is the most dramatic. He, too, saw the rise of an age with which he had no sympathy.

6. Yet another there was, who stands by himself, the one genius to whose growth Puritanism and Puritanism only contributed, and to whom, therefore, the place of chief representative of that peculiar cast of religious thought in literature most justly belonged. This was John Bunyan. He had none of the sublimity of Milton; none of the learning or brilliant eloquence of Taylor; none of the rather stilted dignity of Clarendon. Yet the spirit which, to some extent,

influenced every one of them, was all the sustenance of 'Pilgrim's Bunyan's genius. In his 'Pilgrim's Progress,' he has Progress.'

struck a note of sympathy in every age from his own to ours. That absorption of the spirit of the Hebrew Scriptures, with all their simplicity, and dignity, and poetry, which was characteristic of the Puritan, when Puritanism was at its best ; that force of imagination

John Bunyan. 1628–1688.

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