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SYLLABUS. Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey were called the “ Lake Poets." They sought to bring the art of poetry back to nature.
Wordsworth maintained that the ordinary topics of daily life were fit subjects for poetry.
He was ridiculed by critics.
His principal poems are The Excursion, Hart-Leap Well, Yarrow Visited, etc., Laodamia, Ode on Immortality, She was a Phantom of Delights, Ruth, Lucy, We are Seven, etc.
Among those most ridiculed were Peter Bell, The Idiot Boy, Alice Fell, The Blind Highland Boy, etc.
Coleridge possessed rare genius, but lacked firmness of will.
Many of his poems were left uncompleted. Of these Christabel is most important.
His completed poems are The Ancient Mariner, Genevieve, Hymn to Mont Blanc. His chief dramatic poem was the tragedy, Remorse. He gave an inimitable translation of Schiller's Wallenstein.
Coleridge and Wordsworth published their first poems together, under the title of Lyrical Ballads.
The Pantisocracy was a visionary scheme of Coleridge, Southey, and Lovell to establish a community.
The prose works of Coleridge are Lay Sermons, Biographia Literaria, The Friend, Aids to Reflection, The Constitution of Church and State, Table Talk, and Literary Remains.
Southey and Coleridge presented great contrasts in character.
His long poems are Joan of Arc, Madoc, The Curse of Kehama, Thalaba, and Roderick.
His shorter poems are simple in diction.
Southey had a great facility for rhyming. The Cataract of Lodore and March to Moscow are examples.
His prose works--Biographies and Letters--are highly valued.
Thomas Hood was the greatest humorist of the age. His own life was a sad one.
He was the poet of humanity. His serious poems are The Bridge of Sighs, Eugene Aram, and The Song of the Shirt. His poems of wit and humor are innumerable.
Thomas Campbell was born in Scotland. His principal poems are The
Pleasures of Hope, Gertrude of Wyoming, O'Connor's Child, Lochiels Warning, etc.
Minor poets of the time were William Lisle Bowles, Samuel Rogers, James Montgomery, Ebenezer Elliot (“the Corn-Law Rhymer”), the brothers Horace and James Smith, Mrs. Hemans, Miss Landon ("L. E. L."), Hartley Coleridge, and George Croly.
The publication of Specimens of the Old English Dramatists, by Charles Lamb, reopened the treasures of the Elizabethan drama and gave an impulse to dramatic literature.
The chief dramatists of the age were James Sheridan Knowles, Douglas Jerrold, Sir Henry Taylor, Thomas Noon Talfourd, Miss Mitford, and Henry Hart Milman.
The novelists of this period were Charlotte Bronté, Mary Russell Mitford, Captain Marryat, Samuel Lover, Charles James Lever, G. P. R. James, Mrs. Trollope. The Scotch novelists were Lockhart and Wilson.
The philosophic minds of England in the early part of the nineteenth century were influenced by German thought.
Thomas Carlyle ranks in literature as essayist, historian, biographer, translator. In all he is the philosopher.
His principal works besides his Critiques are Sartor Resartus, The French Revolution, Hero Worship, Latter-Day Pamphlets, Past and Present, and Life of Frederick the Great. His essays on eminent characters contain some of his best thoughts.
Force was his idol.
Among physical scientists were the Herschels, Sir Charles Bell, Dr. William Whewell, Sir Charles Lyell, Sir David Brewster, Michael Faraday.
Hugh Miller contributed rather to literature than to science.
Newman, Pusey, and John Keble were most prominent in the movement.
Other divines of the time were Frederick W. Robertson, Dean Alford, Nicholas Wiseman, Bishop Colenso, and the brothers Hare.
In history, the greatest names of the middle part of the century are Hallam, Macaulay, Alison, Milman, Dr. Arnold.
Henry Brougham (Lord Brougham) early distinguished himself as a writer in the Edinburgh Review. He became more famous afterwards in Parliament.
Charles Lamb was one of the most genial writers of the time. His Essays of Elia is his most important work.
William Hazlitt was a rare critic.
THE VICTORIAN AGE.
1850 to the Present.
UEEN VICTORIA ascended the throne in 1837. The
measures of reform begun in the reign of her predecessor were extended. The cry for cheap bread which was ringing through England when the young Queen ascended the throne, was augmented into a demand for extended privileges, the main point being universal suffrage. To this end, a charter was drawn up by the Workingmen's Association, and its upholders were known as Chartists. In 1845 the corn laws were repealed, and in 1867, after innumerable efforts, a new Reform Bill was passed. Since then there has been a constant ebb and flow in English politics.
From 1832 until the present time there has been a steady intellectual growth. One marked change may be observed, more, perhaps, in the popular taste than in authorship. In the early and middle part of the century it was a new poem that attracted the attention of the reading public, to-day it is the new novel. The masses, owing to a greater diffusion of education, are now demanding literature as a recreation, and the romance and story of every-day life best suit the popular taste. The
prose rather than poetry. The new facts revealed by science, the new light in which history is viewed, give to scientific and historic works a place and interest in literature unknown before. It is not a necessary conclusion that poetry declines as civil
ization advances. Poetry, the highest form of human expression, can never decline. Its outward forms may vary, and the history of literature shows that both prose and poetry have been subject to freaks,-whims of art. When, in Elizabeth's time, “Euphuism" prevailed in England, threatening to enervate the vigorous prose, Gabriel Harvey, a friend of Spenser's and Sir Philip Sidney's, had nearly persuaded these poets to join with himself to “reform" English poetry,—to abolish rhyme and introduce the Latin system of quantity in verse. Good sense prevailed, however, over false taste, and the scheme did not prosper. Still, as we have seen, other schools sprang up, -the “metaphysical," "classical,” and “foolish-fantastical,” as the Della Cruscan school might be termed, which had an ephemeral existence in the latter part of the eighteenth century.*
A similar unhealthy movement may be noticed at the present day, in a style of poetry which had a healthy origin in the pre-Raphaelite school of art originated by Ruskin, but which has at the present day degenerated into the burlesqued school of “ æstheticism." †
ALFRED TENNYSON (1810 -) and ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING (1809-1861) hold the highest rank among the Victorian poets. Of later years, ROBERT BROWNING (1812-) has. been accorded a place almost as high among the poets of his time.
For fifty years ALFRED TENNYSON has steadily kept his place in public favor, and for more than thirty years he has been poet-laureate of England. His highest poetic art is expressed in his shortest lyrics. They are the very condensation of feeling and expression, The Poet's Song, Break, Break, Break, and the Bugle Song are among the rarest gems in the language. Human utterance seemed to reach perfection in the Bugle Song, while that which lies beyond all utterance is illustrated in Break, Break, Break. In Memoriam, one of his longest poems, is an elegy written on the death of his beloved friend
* This school was the outgrowth of an unhealthy fancy entertained by a few selfstyled poets, who, from their leader's pseudonym, took the name of Della Cruscans.
+ The spirit of this school bas invaded every department of art, poetry, painting, architecture, and dress, and not to decorate with sunflowers, cat-tails, and curtailed views, is not to be in the height of fashion,
ARTHUR HENRY HALLAM (1811-1833). It contains gems of thought and expression. In The Idylls of the King, Tennyson has given new life to the traditions of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round-Table, retaining to a remarkable degree the spirit of the original stories. Among other longer poems are The Princess (a medley), 1847; Maud, 1856; Enoch Arden, 1864. Queen Mary (a drama), was published in 1875, and was followed the next year by Harold, another dramatic poem. Since then The Lover's Tale, The Revenge (a ballad), and other minor poems have been published.
Among the most popular poems of Tennyson are Locksley Hall, Godiva, Dora, The Lord of Burleigh, The May Queen, The Two Voices, Lady Clare, The Talking Oak, etc.
Tennyson was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire. For many years he resided on the Isle of Wight, but since 1869 he has lived at Petersfield, Hampshire. His two elder brothers, Frederick and Charles, have also published poems. The laureate's first publication was with his brother Charles, in a volume entitled Poems by Two Brothers.
MRS. ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING was born in London. She was an invalid the most of her life. Her early education was carefully watched by her father, a wealthy English gentleman. She was very precocious, acquiring when quite young a knowledge of the classics rarely possessed by young men of her age. When she was but seventeen her Essay on Mind was published. The work which brought her first before the public was her translation of Prometheus Bound, from the old Greek poet Æschylus. Then followed The Seraphim, A Drama of Exile, etc. In 1850 she wrote Lady Geraldine's Courtship, and the next year Casa Guidi Windows. The longest poem, Aurora Leigh, has been styled “a novel in verse," and was written, it might seem, to advocate her “convictions upon Life and Art.” Other poems are Bertha in the Lane, The Lost Bower, The Cry of the Children, The Cry of the Human, The Rhyme of the Duchess May, The Vision of Poets, etc., beside innumerable Sonnets. Her Sonnets from the Portuguese, like Shakespeare's sonnets, best reveal her own inner life.
The poetry of Mrs. Browning is not of a popular order. It fits heights and depths of moods. It is only in moments of