Brief History of English and American Literature
by Henry A. Beers
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In Oliver Twist, contributed, during 1837-1838, to Bentley's Miscellany, a monthly magazine of which Dickens was editor, he produced his first regular novel. In this story of the criminal classes the author showed a tragic power which he had not hitherto exhibited. Thenceforward his career was a series of dazzling successes. It is impossible here to particularize his numerous novels, sketches, short tales, and "Christmas Stories"—the latter a fashion which he inaugurated, and which has produced a whole literature in itself. In Nicholas Nickleby, 1839; Master Humphrey's Clock, 1840; Martin Chuzzlewit, 1844; Dombey and Son, 1848; {270} David Copperfield, 1850; and Bleak House, 1853, there is no falling off in strength. The last named was, in some respects, and especially in the skillful construction of the plot, his best novel. In some of his latest books, as Great Expectations, 1861, and Our Mutual Friend, 1865, there are signs of a decline. This showed itself in an unnatural exaggeration of characters and motives, and a painful straining after humorous effects; faults, indeed, from which Dickens was never wholly free. There was a histrionic side to him, which came out in his fondness for private theatricals, in which he exhibited remarkable talent, and in the dramatic action which he introduced into the delightful public readings from his works that he gave before vast audiences all over the United Kingdom, and in his two visits to America. It is not surprising, either, to learn that upon the stage his preference was for melodrama and farce. His own serious writing was always dangerously close to the melodramatic, and his humor to the farcical. There is much false art, bad taste, and even vulgarity in Dickens. He was never quite a gentleman, and never succeeded well in drawing gentlemen or ladies. In the region of low comedy he is easily the most original, the most inexhaustible, the most wonderful of modern humorists. Creations such as Mrs. Nickleby, Mr. Micawber, Sam Weller, Sairy Gamp, take rank with Falstaff and Dogberry; while many others, like Dick Swiveller, Stiggins, Chadband, Mrs. Jellyby, and Julia Mills are almost {271} equally good. In the innumerable swarm of minor characters with which he has enriched our comic literature, there is no indistinctness. Indeed, the objection that has been made to him is that his characters are too distinct—that he puts labels on them; that they are often mere personifications of a single trick of speech or manner, which becomes tedious and unnatural by repetition; thus, Grandfather Smallweed is always settling down into his cushion, and having to be shaken up; Mr. Jellyby is always sitting with his head against the wall; Peggotty is always bursting her buttons off, etc., etc. As Dickens's humorous characters tend perpetually to run into caricatures and grotesques, so his sentiment, from the same excess, slops over too frequently into "gush," and into a too deliberate and protracted attack upon the pity. A favorite humorous device in his style is a stately and roundabout way of telling a trivial incident as where, for example, Mr. Roker "muttered certain unpleasant invocations concerning his own eyes, limbs, and circulating fluids;" or where the drunken man who is singing comic songs in the Fleet received from Mr. Smangle "a gentle intimation, through the medium of the water-jug, that his audience were not musically disposed." This manner was original with Dickens, though he may have taken a hint of it from the mock heroic language of Jonathan Wild; but as practiced by a thousand imitators, ever since, it has gradually become a burden.

It would not be the whole truth to say that the {272} difference between the humor of Thackeray and Dickens is the same as between that of Shakspere and Ben Jonson. Yet it is true that the "humors" of Ben Jonson have an analogy with the extremer instances of Dickens's character sketches in this respect, namely: that they are both studies of the eccentric, the abnormal, the whimsical, rather than of the typical and universal—studies of manners, rather than of whole characters. And it is easily conceivable that, at no distant day, the oddities of Captain Cuttle, Deportment Turveydrop, Mark Tapley, and Newman Noggs will seem as far-fetched and impossible as those of Captain Otter, Fastidious Brisk, and Sir Amorous La-Foole.

When Dickens was looking about for some one to take Seymour's place as illustrator of Pickwick, Thackeray applied for the job, but without success. He was then a young man of twenty-five, and still hesitating between art and literature. He had begun to draw caricatures with his pencil when a schoolboy at the Charter House, and to scribble them with his pen when a student at Cambridge, editing The Snob, a weekly under-graduate paper, and parodying the prize poem Timbuctoo of his contemporary at the university, Alfred Tennyson. Then he went abroad to study art, passing a season at Weimar, where he met Goethe and filled the albums of the young Saxon ladies with caricatures; afterward living, in the Latin Quarter at Paris, a Bohemian existence, studying art in a desultory way, and seeing men and cities; {273} accumulating portfolios full of sketches, but laying up stores of material to be used afterward to greater advantage when he should settle upon his true medium of expression. By 1837, having lost his fortune of 500 pounds a year in speculation and gambling, he began to contribute to Fraser's, and thereafter to the New Monthly, Cruikshank's Comic Almanac, Punch, and other periodicals, clever burlesques, art criticisms by "Michael Angelo Titmarsh," Yellow Plush Papers, and all manner of skits, satirical character sketches, and humorous tales, like the Great Hoggarty Diamond and the Luck of Barry Lyndon. Some of these were collected in the Paris Sketch-Book, 1840, and the Irish Sketch-Book, 1843; but Thackeray was slow in winning recognition, and it was not until the publication of his first great novel, Vanity Fair, in monthly parts, during 1846-1848, that he achieved any thing like the general reputation which Dickens had reached at a bound. Vanity Fair described itself, on its title-page, as "a novel without a hero." It was also a novel without a plot—in the sense in which Bleak House or Nicholas Nickleby had a plot—and in that respect it set the fashion for the latest school of realistic fiction, being a transcript of life, without necessary beginning or end. Indeed, one of the pleasantest things to a reader of Thackeray is the way which his characters have of re-appearing, as old acquaintances, in his different books; just as, in real life, people drop out of mind and then turn {274} up again in other years and places. Vanity Fair is Thackeray's masterpiece, but it is not the best introduction to his writings. There are no illusions in it, and, to a young reader fresh from Scott's romances or Dickens's sympathetic extravagances, it will seem hard and repellant. But men who, like Thackeray, have seen life and tasted its bitterness and felt its hollowness, know how to prize it. Thackeray does not merely expose the cant, the emptiness, the self-seeking, the false pretenses, flunkeyism, and snobbery—the "mean admiration of mean things"—in the great world of London society: his keen, unsparing vision detects the base alloy in the purest natures. There are no "heroes" in his books, no perfect characters. Even his good women, such as Helen and Laura Pendennis, are capable of cruel injustice toward less fortunate sisters, like little Fanny; and Amelia Sedley is led, by blind feminine instinct, to snub and tyrannize over poor Dobbin. The shabby miseries of life, the numbing and belittling influences of failure and poverty upon the most generous natures, are the tragic themes which Thackeray handles by preference. He has been called a cynic, but the boyish playfulness of his humor and his kindly spirit are incompatible with cynicism. Charlotte Bronte said that Fielding was the vulture and Thackeray the eagle. The comparison would have been truer if made between Swift and Thackeray. Swift was a cynic; his pen was driven by hate, but Thackeray's by love, and it was not {275} in bitterness but in sadness that the latter laid bare the wickedness of the world. He was himself a thorough man of the world, and he had that dislike for a display of feeling which characterizes the modern Englishman. But behind his satiric mask he concealed the manliest tenderness, and a reverence for every thing in human nature that is good and true. Thackeray's other great novels are Pendennis, 1849; Henry Esmond, 1852; and The Newcomes, 1855—the last of which contains his most lovable character, the pathetic and immortal figure of Colonel Newcome, a creation worthy to stand, in its dignity and its sublime weakness, by the side of Don Quixote. It was alleged against Thackeray that he made all his good characters, like Major Dobbin and Amelia Sedley and Colonel Newcome, intellectually feeble, and his brilliant characters, like Becky Sharp and Lord Steyne and Blanche Amory, morally bad. This is not entirely true, but the other complaint—that his women are inferior to his men—is true in a general way. Somewhat inferior to his other novels were The Virginians, 1858, and The Adventures of Philip, 1862. All of these were stories of contemporary life, except Henry Esmond and its sequel, The Virginians, which, though not precisely historical fictions, introduced historical figures, such as Washington and the Earl of Peterborough. Their period of action was the 18th century, and the dialogue was a cunning imitation of the language of that time. Thackeray was strongly {276} attracted by the 18th century. His literary teachers were Addison, Swift, Steele, Gay, Johnson, Richardson, Goldsmith, Fielding, Smollett, and Sterne, and his special master and model was Fielding. He projected a history of the century, and his studies in this kind took shape in his two charming series of lectures on The English Humorists and The Four Georges. These he delivered in England and in America, to which country he, like Dickens, made two several visits.

Thackeray's genius was, perhaps, less astonishing than Dickens's, less fertile, spontaneous, and inventive; but his art is sounder, and his delineation of character more truthful. After one has formed a taste for his books, Dickens's sentiment will seem overdone, and much of his humor will have the air of buffoonery. Thackeray had the advantage in another particular: he described the life of the upper classes, and Dickens of the lower. It may be true that the latter offers richer material to the novelist, in the play of elementary passions and in strong, native developments of character. It is true, also, that Thackeray approached "society" rather to satirize it than to set forth its agreeableness. Yet, after all, it is "the great world" which he describes, that world upon which the broadening and refining processes of a high civilization have done their utmost, and which, consequently, must possess an intellectual interest superior to any thing in the life of London thieves, traveling showmen, and coachees. Thackeray is {277} the equal of Swift as a satirist, of Dickens as a humorist, and of Scott as a novelist. The one element lacking in him—and which Scott had in a high degree—-is the poetic imagination. "I have no brains above my eyes," he said; "I describe what I see." Hence there is wanting in his creations that final charm which Shakspere's have. For what the eyes see is not all.

The great woman who wrote under the pen-name of George Eliot was a humorist, too. She had a rich, deep humor of her own, and a wit that crystallized into sayings which are not epigrams, only because their wisdom strikes more than their smartness. But humor was not, as with Thackeray and Dickens, her point of view. A country girl, the daughter of a land agent and surveyor at Nuneaton, in Warwickshire, her early letters and journals exhibit a Calvinistic gravity and moral severity. Later, when her truth to her convictions led her to renounce the Christian belief, she carried into Positivism the same religious earnestness, and wrote the one English hymn of the religion of humanity:

"O, let me join the choir invisible," etc.

Her first published work was a translation of Strauss's Leben Jesu, 1846. In 1851 she went to London and became one of the editors of the Radical organ, the Westminster Review. Here she formed a connection—a marriage in all but the name—with George Henry Lewes, who was, like {278} herself, a freethinker, and who published, among other things, a Biographical History of Philosophy. Lewes had also written fiction, and it was at his suggestion that his wife undertook story writing. Her Scenes of Clerical Life were contributed to Blackwood's Magazine for 1857, and published in book form in the following year. Adam Bede followed in 1859, the Mill on the Floss in 1860, Silas Marner in 1861, Romola in 1863, Felix Holt in 1866, and Middlemarch in 1872. All of these, except Romola, are tales of provincial, and largely of domestic, life in the midland counties. Romola is a historical novel, the scene of which is Florence, in the 15th century, the Florence of Macchiavelli and of Savonarola. George Eliot's method was very different from that of Thackeray or Dickens. She did not crowd her canvas with the swarming life of cities. Her figures are comparatively few, and they are selected from the middle-class families of rural parishes or small towns, amid that atmosphere of "fine old leisure," whose disappearance she lamented. Her drama is a still life drama, intensely and profoundly inward. Character is the stuff that she works in, and she deals with it more subtly than Thackeray. With him the tragedy is produced by the pressure of society and its false standards upon the individual; with her, by the malign influence of individuals upon one another. She watches "the stealthy convergence of human fates," the intersection at various angles of the planes of character, the power {279} that the lower nature has to thwart, stupefy, or corrupt the higher, which has become entangled with it in the mesh of destiny. At the bottom of every one of her stories, there is a problem of the conscience or the intellect. In this respect she resembles Hawthorne, though she is not, like him, a romancer, but a realist.

There is a melancholy philosophy in her books, most of which are tales of failure or frustration. The Mill on the Floss contains a large element of autobiography, and its heroine, Maggie Tulliver, is, perhaps, her idealized self. Her aspirations after a fuller and nobler existence are condemned to struggle against the resistance of a narrow, provincial environment, and the pressure of untoward fates. She is tempted to seek an escape even through a desperate throwing off of moral obligations, and is driven back to her duty only to die by a sudden stroke of destiny. "Life is a bad business," wrote George Eliot, in a letter to a friend, "and we must make the most of it." Adam Bede is, in construction, the most perfect of her novels, and Silas Marner of her shorter stories. Her analytic habit gained more and more upon her as she wrote. Middlemarch, in some respects her greatest book, lacks the unity of her earlier novels, and the story tends to become subordinate to the working out of character stories and social problems. The philosophic speculations, which she shared with her husband, were seemingly unfavorable to her artistic growth, a circumstance which {280} comes apparent in her last novel, Daniel Deronda, 1877. Finally in the Impressions of Theophrastus Such, 1879, she abandoned narrative altogether, and recurred to that type of "character" books which we have met, as a flourishing department of literature in the 17th century, represented by such works as Earle's Microcosmographie and Fuller's Holy and Profane State. The moral of George Eliot's writings is not obtruded. She never made the artistic mistake of writing a novel of purpose, or what the Germans call a tendenz-roman; as Dickens did, for example, when he attacked imprisonment for debt, in Pickwick; the poor laws, in Oliver Twist; the Court of Chancery, in Bleak House; and the Circumlocution office, in Little Dorrit.

Next to the novel, the essay has been the most overflowing literary form used by the writers of this generation—a form, characteristic, it may be, of an age which "lectures, not creates." It is not the essay of Bacon, nor yet of Addison, nor of Lamb, but attempts a complete treatment. Indeed, many longish books, like Carlyle's Heroes and Hero Worship and Ruskin's Modern Painters, are, in spirit, rather literary essays than formal treatises. The most popular essayist and historian of his time was Thomas Babington Macaulay, (1800-1859), an active and versatile man, who won splendid success in many fields of labor. He was prominent in public life as one of the leading orators and writers of the Whig party. He sat many times in the House of Commons, as member for Calne, for Leeds, and {281} for Edinburgh, and took a distinguished part in the debates on the Reform bill of 1832. He held office in several Whig governments, and during his four years' service in British India, as member of the Supreme Council of Calcutta, he did valuable work in promoting education in that province, and in codifying the Indian penal law. After his return to England, and especially after the publication of his History of England from The Accession of James II., honors and appointments of all kinds were showered upon him. In 1857 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Macaulay of Rothley.

Macaulay's equipment, as a writer on historical and biographical subjects, was, in some points, unique. His reading was prodigious, and his memory so tenacious, that it was said, with but little exaggeration, that he never forgot any thing that he had read. He could repeat the whole of Paradise Lost by heart, and thought it probable that he could rewrite Sir Charles Grandison from memory. In his books, in his speeches in the House of Commons, and in private conversation—for he was an eager and fluent talker, running on often for hours at a stretch—he was never at a loss to fortify and illustrate his positions by citation after citation of dates, names, facts of all kinds, and passages quoted verbatim from his multifarious reading. The first of Macaulay's writings to attract general notice was his article on Milton, printed in the August number of the Edinburgh Review, for 1825. The editor, Lord Jeffrey, in {282} acknowledging the receipt of the MS., wrote to his new contributor, "The more I think, the less I can conceive where you picked up that style." That celebrated style—about which so much has since been written—was an index to the mental character of its owner. Macaulay was of a confident, sanguine, impetuous nature. He had great common sense, and he saw what he saw quickly and clearly, but he did not see very far below the surface. He wrote with the conviction of an advocate, and the easy omniscience of a man whose learning is really nothing more than "general information," raised to a very high power, rather than with the subtle penetration of an original or truly philosophic intellect, like Coleridge's or De Quincey's. He always had at hand explanations of events or of characters, which were admirably easy and simple—too simple, indeed, for the complicated phenomena which they professed to explain. His style was clear, animated, showy, and even its faults were of an exciting kind. It was his habit to give piquancy to his writing by putting things concretely. Thus, instead of saying, in general terms—as Hume or Gibbon might have done—that the Normans and Saxons began to mingle about 1200, he says: "The great grandsons of those who had fought under William and the great grandsons of those who had fought under Harold began to draw near to each other." Macaulay was a great scene painter, who neglected delicate truths of detail for exaggerated distemper effects. He used the {283} rhetorical machinery of climax and hyperbole for all that it was worth, and he "made points"—as in his essay on Bacon—by creating antithesis. In his History of England, he inaugurated the picturesque method of historical writing. The book was as fascinating as any novel. Macaulay, like Scott, had the historic imagination, though his method of turning history into romance was very different from Scott's. Among his essays, the best are those which, like the ones on Lord Clive, Warren Hastings, and Frederick the Great, deal with historical subjects; or those which deal with literary subjects under their public historic relations, such as the essays on Addison, Bunyan, and The Comic Dramatists of the Restoration. "I have never written a page of criticism on poetry, or the fine arts," wrote Macaulay, "which I would not burn if I had the power." Nevertheless his own Lays of Ancient Rome, 1842, are good, stirring verse of the emphatic and declamatory kind, though their quality may be rather rhetorical than poetic.

Our critical time has not forborne to criticize itself, and perhaps the writer who impressed himself most strongly upon his generation was the one who railed most desperately against the "spirit of the age." Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) was occupied between 1822 and 1830 chiefly in imparting to the British public a knowledge of German literature. He published, among other things, a Life of Schiller, a translation of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister, and two volumes of translations from the German {284} romancers—Tieck, Hoffmann, Richter, and Fouque, and contributed to the Edinburgh and Foreign Review, articles on Goethe, Werner, Novalis, Richter, German playwrights, the Nibelungen Lied, etc. His own diction became more and more tinctured with Germanisms. There was something Gothic in his taste, which was attracted by the lawless, the grotesque, and the whimsical in the writings of Jean Paul Richter. His favorite among English humorists was Sterne, who has a share of these same qualities. He spoke disparagingly of "the sensuous literature of the Greeks," and preferred the Norse to the Hellenic mythology. Even in his admirable critical essays on Burns, on Richter, on Scott, Diderot, and Voltaire, which are free from his later mannerism—written in English, and not in Carlylese—his sense of spirit is always more lively than his sense of form. He finally became so impatient of art as to maintain—half-seriously—the paradox that Shakspere would have done better to write in prose. In three of these early essays—on the Signs of the Times, 1829; on History, 1830; and on Characteristics, 1831—are to be found the germs of all his later writings. The first of these was an arraignment of the mechanical spirit of the age. In every province of thought he discovered too great a reliance upon systems, institutions, machinery, instead of upon men. Thus, in religion, we have Bible Societies, "machines for converting the heathen." "In defect of Raphaels and Angelos and Mozarts, we have royal {285} academies of painting, sculpture, music." In like manner, he complains, government is a machine. "Its duties and faults are not those of a father, but of an active parish-constable." Against the "police theory," as distinguished from the "paternal" theory of government, Carlyle protested with ever-shriller iteration. In Chartism, 1839; Past and Present, 1843; and Latter-day Pamphlets, 1850, he denounced this laissez faire idea. The business of government, he repeated, is to govern; but this view makes it its business to refrain from governing. He fought most fiercely against the conclusions of political economy, "the dismal science," which, he said, affirmed that men were guided exclusively by their stomachs. He protested, too, against the Utilitarians, followers of Bentham and Mill, with their "greatest happiness principle," which reduced virtue to a profit-and-loss account. Carlyle took issue with modern liberalism; he ridiculed the self-gratulation of the time, all the talk about progress of the species, unexampled prosperity, etc. But he was reactionary without being conservative. He had studied the French Revolution, and he saw the fateful, irresistible approach of democracy. He had no faith in government "by counting noses," and he hated talking parliaments; but neither did he put trust in an aristocracy that spent its time in "preserving the game." What he wanted was a great individual ruler, a real king or hero; and this doctrine he set forth afterward most fully in Hero Worship, 1841, and {286} illustrated in his lives of representative heroes, such as his Cromwell's Letters and Speeches, 1845, and his great History of Frederick the Great, 1858-1865. Cromwell and Frederick were well enough; but as Carlyle grew older, his admiration for mere force grew, and his latest hero was none other than that infamous Dr. Francia, the South American dictator, whose career of bloody and crafty crime horrified the civilized world.

The essay on History was a protest against the scientific view of history which attempts to explain away and account for the wonderful. "Wonder," he wrote in Sartor Resartus, "is the basis of all worship." He defined history as "the essence of innumerable biographies." "Mr. Carlyle," said the Italian patriot, Mazzini, "comprehends only the individual. The nationality of Italy is, in his eyes, the glory of having produced Dante and Christopher Columbus." This trait comes out in his greatest book, The French Revolution, 1837, which is a mighty tragedy, enacted by a few leading characters, Mirabeau, Danton, Napoleon. He loved to emphasize the superiority of history over fiction as dramatic material. The third of the three essays mentioned was a Jeremiad on the morbid self-consciousness of the age, which shows itself in religion and philosophy, as skepticism and introspective metaphysics; and in literature, as sentimentalism, and "view-hunting."

But Carlyle's epoch-making book was Sartor Resartus (The Tailor Retailored), published in Fraser's {287} Magazine for 1833-1834, and first reprinted in book form in America. This was a satire upon shams, conventions, the disguises which overlie the most spiritual realities of the soul. It purported to be the life and "clothes-philosophy" of a certain Diogenes Teufelsdroeckh, Professor der Allerlei Wissenschaft—of things in general—in the University of Weissnichtwo. "Society," said Carlyle, "is founded upon cloth," following the suggestions of Lear's speech to the naked bedlam beggar: "Thou art the thing itself: unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art;" and borrowing also, perhaps, an ironical hint from a paragraph in Swift's Tale of a Tub: "A sect was established who held the universe to be a large suit of clothes. . . . If certain ermines or furs be placed in a certain position, we style them a judge; and so an apt conjunction of lawn and black satin we entitle a bishop." In Sartor Resartus Carlyle let himself go. It was willful, uncouth, amorphous, titanic. There was something monstrous in the combination, the hot heart of the Scot married to the transcendental dream of Germany. It was not English, said the reviewers; it was not sense; it was disfigured by obscurity and "mysticism." Nevertheless even the thin-witted and the dry-witted had to acknowledge the powerful beauty of many chapters and passages, rich with humor, eloquence, poetry, deep-hearted tenderness, or passionate scorn.

Carlyle was a voracious reader, and the plunder {288} of whole literatures is strewn over his pages. He flung about the resources of the language with a giant's strength, and made new words at every turn. The concreteness and the swarming fertility of his mind are evidenced by his enormous vocabulary, computed greatly to exceed Shakspere's, or any other single writer's in the English tongue. His style lacks the crowning grace of simplicity and repose. It astonishes, but it also fatigues.

Carlyle's influence has consisted more in his attitude than in any special truth which he has preached. It has been the influence of a moralist, of a practical, rather than a speculative, philosopher. "The end of man," he wrote, "is an action, not a thought." He has not been able to persuade the time that it is going wrong, but his criticisms have been wholesomely corrective of its self-conceit. In a democratic age he has insisted upon the undemocratic virtues of obedience, silence, and reverence. Ehrfurcht—reverence—the text of his address to the students of Edinburgh University, in 1866, is the last word of his philosophy.

In 1830 Alfred Tennyson (1809- ——), a young graduate of Cambridge, published a thin duodecimo of 154 pages, entitled Poems, Chiefly Lyrical. The pieces in this little volume, like the Sleeping Beauty, Ode to Memory, and Recollections of the Arabian Nights, were full of color, fragrance, melody; but they had a dream-like character, and were without definite theme, resembling an artist's studies, or {289} exercises in music—a few touches of the brush, a few sweet chords, but no aria. A number of them—Claribel, Lilian, Adeline, Isabel, Mariana, Madeline—were sketches of women; not character portraits, like Browning's Men and Women, but impressions of temperament, of delicately, differentiated types of feminine beauty. In Mariana, expanded from a hint of the forsaken maid, in Shakspere's Measure for Measure, "Mariana at the moated grange," the poet showed an art then peculiar, but since grown familiar, of heightening the central feeling by landscape accessories. The level waste, the stagnant sluices, the neglected garden, the wind in the single poplar, re-enforce, by their monotonous sympathy, the loneliness, the hopeless waiting and weariness of life in the one human figure of the poem. In Mariana, the Ode to Memory, and the Dying Swan, it was the fens of Cambridge and of his native Lincolnshire that furnished Tennyson's scenery.

"Stretched wide and wild, the waste enormous marsh, Where from the frequent bridge, Like emblems of infinity, The trenched waters run from sky to sky."

A second collection, published in 1833, exhibited a greater scope and variety, but was still in his earlier manner. The studies of feminine types were continued in Margaret, Fatima, Eleanore, Mariana in the South, and A Dream of Fair Women, suggested by Chaucer's Legend of Good {290} Women. In the Lady of Shalott, the poet first touched the Arthurian legends. The subject is the same as that of Elaine, in the Idylls of the King, but the treatment is shadowy, and even allegorical. In Oenone and the Lotus Eaters, he handled Homeric subjects, but in a romantic fashion, which contrasts markedly with the style of his later pieces, Ulysses and Tithonus. These last have the true classic severity, and are among the noblest specimens of weighty and sonorous blank verse in modern poetry. In general, Tennyson's art is unclassical. It is rich, ornate, composite, not statuesque, so much as picturesque. He is a great painter, and the critics complain that in passages calling for movement and action—a battle, a tournament, or the like—his figures stand still as in a tableau; and they contrast such passages unfavorably with scenes of the same kind in Scott, and with Browning's spirited ballad, How we brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix. In the Palace of Art, these elaborate pictorial effects were combined with allegory; in the Lotus Eaters, with that expressive treatment of landscape, noted in Mariana; the lotus land, "in which it seemed always afternoon," reflecting and promoting the enchanted indolence of the heroes. Two of the pieces in this 1833 volume, the May Queen and the Miller's Daughter, were Tennyson's first poems of the affections, and as ballads of simple, rustic life, they anticipated his more perfect idyls in blank verse, such as Dora, the Brook, Edwin Morris, and {291} the Gardener's Daughter. The songs in the Miller's Daughter had a more spontaneous, lyrical movement than any thing that he had yet published, and foretokened the lovely songs which interlude the divisions of the Princess, the famous Bugle Song, the no-less famous Cradle Song, and the rest. In 1833 Tennyson's friend, Arthur Hallam, died, and the effect of this great sorrow upon the poet was to deepen and strengthen the character of his genius. It turned his mind in upon itself, and set it brooding over questions which his poetry had so far left untouched; the meaning of life and death, the uses of adversity, the future of the race, the immortality of the soul, and the dealings of God with mankind.

"Thou madest Death; and, lo, thy foot Is on the skull which thou hast made."

His elegy on Hallam, In Memoriam, was not published till 1850. He kept it by him all those years, adding section after section, gathering up into it whatever reflections crystallized about its central theme. It is his most intellectual and most individual work, a great song of sorrow and consolation. In 1842 he published a third collection of poems, among which were Locksley Hall, displaying a new strength of passion; Ulysses, suggested by a passage in Dante: pieces of a speculative cast, like the Two Voices and the Vision of Sin; the song Break, Break, Break, which preluded In Memoriam; and, lastly, some additional {292} gropings toward the subject of the Arthurian romance, such as Sir Galahad, Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere and Morte d' Arthur. The last was in blank verse, and, as afterward incorporated in the Passing of Arthur, forms one of the best passages in the Idylls of the King. The Princess, a Medley, published in 1849, represents the eclectic character of Tennyson's art; a medieval tale with an admixture of modern sentiment, and with the very modern problem of woman's sphere for its theme. The first four Idylls of the King, 1859, with those since added, constitute, when taken together, an epic poem on the old story of King Arthur. Tennyson went to Malory's Morte d' Arthur for his material, but the outline of the first idyl, Enid, was taken from Lady Charlotte Guest's translation of the Welsh Mabinogion. In the idyl of Guinevere Tennyson's genius reached its high-water mark. The interview between Arthur and his fallen queen is marked by a moral sublimity and a tragic intensity which move the soul as nobly as any scene in modern literature. Here, at least, the art is pure and not "decorated;" the effect is produced by the simplest means, and all is just, natural, and grand. Maud—a love novel in verse—published in 1855, and considerably enlarged in 1856, had great sweetness and beauty, particularly in its lyrical portions, but it was uneven in execution, imperfect in design, and marred by lapses into mawkishness and excesses in language. Since 1860 Tennyson has added little of permanent {293} value to his work. His dramatic experiments, like Queen Mary, are not, on the whole, successful, though it would be unjust to deny dramatic power to the poet who has written, upon one hand, Guinevere and the Passing of Arthur, and upon the other the homely, dialectic monologue of the Northern Farmer.

When we tire of Tennyson's smooth perfection, of an art that is over exquisite, and a beauty that is well-nigh too beautiful, and crave a rougher touch, and a meaning that will not yield itself too readily, we turn to the thorny pages of his great contemporary, Robert Browning (1812- ——). Dr. Holmes says that Tennyson is white meat and Browning is dark meat. A masculine taste, it is inferred, is shown in a preference for the gamier flavor. Browning makes us think; his poems are puzzles, and furnish business for "Browning Societies." There are no Tennyson societies, because Tennyson is his own interpreter. Intellect in a poet may display itself quite as properly in the construction of his poem as in its content; we value a building for its architecture, and not entirely for the amount of timber in it. Browning's thought never wears so thin as Tennyson's sometimes does in his latest verse, where the trick of his style goes on of itself with nothing behind it. Tennyson, at his worst, is weak. Browning, when not at his best, is hoarse. Hoarseness, in itself, is no sign of strength. In Browning, however, the failure is in art, not in thought.


He chooses his subjects from abnormal character types, such as are presented, for example, in Caliban upon Setebos, the Grammarian's Funeral, My Last Duchess, and Mr. Sludge, the Medium. These are all psychological studies, in which the poet gets into the inner consciousness of a monster, a pedant, a criminal, and a quack, and gives their point of view. They are dramatic soliloquies; but the poet's self-identification with each of his creations, in turn, remains incomplete. His curious, analytic observation, his way of looking at the soul from outside, gives a doubleness to the monologues in his Dramatic Lyrics, 1845, Men and Women, 1855, Dramatis Personae, 1864, and other collections of the kind. The words are the words of Caliban or Mr. Sludge; but the voice is the voice of Robert Browning. His first complete poem, Paracelsus, 1835, aimed to give the true inwardness of the career of the famous 16th century doctor, whose name became a synonym with charlatan. His second, Sordello, 1840, traced the struggles of an Italian poet who lived before Dante, and could not reconcile his life with his art. Paracelsus was hard, but Sordello was incomprehensible. Mr. Browning has denied that he is ever perversely crabbed or obscure. Every great artist must be allowed to say things in his own way, and obscurity has its artistic uses, as the Gothic builders knew. But there are two kinds of obscurity in literature. One is inseparable from the subtlety and difficulty of the thought or the compression {295} and pregnant indirectness of the phrase. Instances of this occur in the clear deeps of Dante, Shakspere, and Goethe. The other comes from a vice of style, a willfully enigmatic and unnatural way of expressing thought. Both kinds of obscurity exist in Browning. He is a deep and subtle thinker; but he is also a very eccentric writer, abrupt, harsh, disjointed. It has been well said that the reader of Browning learns a new dialect. But one need not grudge the labor that is rewarded with an intellectual pleasure so peculiar and so stimulating. The odd, grotesque impression made by his poetry arises, in part, from his desire to use the artistic values of ugliness, as well as of obscurity; to avoid the shallow prettiness that comes from blinking the disagreeable truth: not to leave the saltness out of the sea. Whenever he emerges into clearness, as he does in hundreds of places, he is a poet of great qualities. There are a fire and a swing in his Cavalier Tunes, and in pieces like the Glove and the Lost Leader; and humor in such ballads as the Pied Piper of Hamelin and the Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister, which appeal to the most conservative reader. He seldom deals directly in the pathetic, but now and then, as in Evelyn Hope, the Last Ride Together, or the Incident of the French Camp, a tenderness comes over the strong verse

"as sheathes A film the mother eagle's eye, When her bruised eaglet breathes."

{296} Perhaps the most astonishing example of Browning's mental vigor is the huge composition, entitled The Ring and the Book, 1868, a narrative poem in twenty-one thousand lines, in which the same story is repeated eleven times in eleven different ways. It is the story of a criminal trial which occurred at Rome about 1700, the trial of one Count Guido for the murder of his young wife. First the poet tells the tale himself; then he tells what one-half of the world says and what the other; then he gives the deposition of the dying girl, the testimony of witnesses, the speech made by the count in his own defense, the arguments of counsel, etc., and, finally, the judgment of the pope. So wonderful are Browning's resources in casuistry, and so cunningly does he ravel the intricate motives at play in this tragedy and lay bare the secrets of the heart, that the interest increases at each repetition of the tale. He studied the Middle Age carefully, not for its picturesque externals, its feudalisms, chivalries, and the like; but because he found it a rich quarry of spiritual monstrosities, strange outcroppings of fanaticism, superstition, and moral and mental distortion of all shapes. It furnished him especially with a great variety of ecclesiastical types, such as are painted in Fra Lippo Lippi, Bishop Blougram's Apology, and The Bishop Orders his Tomb in St. Praxed's Church.

Browning's dramatic instinct has always attracted him to the stage. His tragedy, Stratford (1837), {297} was written for Macready, and put on at Covent Garden Theater, but without pronounced success. He has written many fine dramatic poems, like Pippa Passes, Colombo's Birthday, and In a Balcony; and at least two good acting plays, Luria and A Blot in the Scutcheon. The last named has recently been given to the American public, with Lawrence Barrett's careful and intelligent presentation of the leading role. The motive of the tragedy is somewhat strained and fantastic, but it is, notwithstanding, very effective on the stage. It gives one an unwonted thrill to listen to a play, by a living English writer, which is really literature. One gets a faint idea of what it must have been to assist at the first night of Hamlet.

1. Dickens. Pickwick Papers, Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Tale of Two Cities.

2. Thackeray. Vanity Fair, Pendennis, Henry Esmond, The Newcomes, The Four Georges.

3. George Eliot. Scenes of Clerical Life, Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Romola, Adam Bede, Middlemarch.

4. Macaulay. Essays, Lays of Ancient Rome.

5. Carlyle. Sartor Resartus, French Revolution, Essays on History, Signs of the Times, Characteristics, Burns, Scott, Voltaire, and Goethe.

6. The Works of Alfred Tennyson (6 vols.). London: Strahan & Co., 1872.


7. Selections from the Poetical Works of Robert Browning. (2 vols.) London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1880.

8. E. C. Stedman's Victorian Poets.

9. Henry Morley's English Literature in the Reign of Victoria. (Tauchnitz Series.)





Miracle plays, rude dramatic representations of the chief events in Scripture history, were used for popular instruction before the invention of printing. In England they began as early as the twelfth century. Moral plays, or moralities, were of the same origin, though dating from the fifteenth century. These were somewhat more refined than the miracle plays, and usually set forth the excellence of the virtues, such as truth, mercy, and the like. Both miracle and moral plays were under the conduct of the clergy.

John Bale (1495-1563) was Bishop of Ossory, and wrote much for popular reform. He was the author of nineteen miracle plays. Lord Edward Herbert, of Cherbury (1581-1648), wrote a deistical work, De Religione Gentilium, the first of that school of writers which later appeared in Bolingbroke. John Spotiswood (1565-1639), Archbishop of St. Andrews and afterward Chancellor of Scotland, wrote a voluminous History of the Church of Scotland. George Sandys (1577-1643), {300} distinguished also as one of the earliest literary characters in America, wrote metrical versions of several of the poetical books of the Bible, and also a tragedy called Christ's Passion.

John Knox (1505-1572), the great Scotch reformer and polemic, while more prominent as the preacher and spokesman of the Scotch Reformation, wrote First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regimen of Women (1558), and the Historie of the Reformation of Religion within the Realme of Scotland, published after his death. John Jewel (1522-1571) wrote in Latin his Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae. William Whittingham (1524-1589), who succeeded Knox as pastor of the English Church at Geneva, aided in making the Genevan Version of the Bible and also co-operated in the Sternhold and Hopkins translation of the Psalms.

John Fox (1517-1587) was the author of the Book of Martyrs, whose full title was Acts and Monuments of these Latter and Perilous Days, Touching Matters of the Church. An abridgment of the work has had a very wide circulation. John Aylmer (1521-1594) replied to Knox's First Blast of the Trumpet in a work called An Harbor for Faithful and True Subjects. Nicholas Sanders (1527-1580), a Roman Catholic professor of Oxford, wrote The Rock of the Church, a defense of the primacy of Peter and the Bishops of Rome. Robert Parsons (1546-1610), a Jesuit, wrote several works in advocacy of Roman Catholicism and some political tracts.


John Rainolds (1549-1607), a learned Hebraist of Oxford, wrote many ecclesiastical works in Latin and English. He was a chief promoter of King James's Version of the Bible. Miles Smith, (died 1624), Thomas Bilson (1536-1616), John Boys (1560-1643), and George Abbot (1562-1633), Archbishop of Canterbury, were all co-workers on the King James translation of the Scriptures.

Next in importance to the English Bible in its effect upon literature stands the English Prayer Book, which is the rich mosaic of many minds. It came through The Prymer of the fourteenth century, and contained the more fundamental and familiar portions of the Book of Common Prayer, such as the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the Litany, and the Apostles' Creed. This compilation differed in form and somewhat in content in the different dioceses in England, and was partly in Latin and partly in English. In 1542 an attempt was made to produce a common form for all England and to have it entirely in English. The Committee of Convocation, who had the work in charge, were prevented from making it complete through the refusal of Henry VIII to continue the approval which he had given to the appointment of the committee. However, under Edward VI a commission, headed by Archbishop Cranmer, carried their work through, and it was accepted and its use made compulsory by Parliament. It was published in 1549 as the First Prayer Book of Edward VI. Three years later the Second Prayer {302} Book of Edward VI was issued, it being a revision of the First, also under the shaping hand of Cranmer. The Prayer Book received its final revision and substantially its present form in the reign of Elizabeth, in 1559, although in 1662 there was added to the Morning and Evening Prayer a Collection of Prayers and Thanksgivings upon Several Occasions. Gathering thus through three centuries the choice treasures of confession and devotion of the strong and reverent English nation, it has been a large element in the literary training, not only of communicants in the Anglican, the Episcopal, and the Methodist Churches, but, in a measure, also of those who have received their religious instruction and have worshiped in other branches of the Protestant Church.

The work of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster (1643-1649), particularly the Confession of Faith, and the Shorter Catechism, became, as specimens of strong and pure English, potent factors in the intellectual and literary discipline of the Presbyterians in all parts of the world.

The modern psalms and hymns, or the simplified and popularized forms of the earlier and mediaeval worship, have had vastly to do with the daily thought and education of the people into whose life they have brought not only increase of lofty devotion but also a positive and stimulative culture.

Foremost of these collections was that made by Thomas Sternhold, John Hopkins, and others, and {303} known as the Psalter of Sternhold and Hopkins, published in 1562. Francis Rouse made a version in 1645, which, after revision, was adopted in 1649, and largely used by the Scotch Church. A new version was that by Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady, which appeared in 1696, and has since been called the Psalter of Tate and Brady. The first English hymn book adapted for public worship was that of Isaac Watts, appearing about 1709, although several minor collections and individual productions had preceded Watts, among which should be mentioned those of Joseph Stennett, John Mason, and the fine hymns of Bishop Ken and Joseph Addison.

A little later the prolific and spiritual Charles Wesley, aided by the somewhat stricter taste of his more celebrated brother, John, began (1739) his wonderful series of published hymns, which, together with those of Watts, have since formed the larger portion of the Protestant hymnody of the world. Others of the eighteenth century who have made contributions to the sacred lyrics of the Church are John Byrom (1691-1763), Philip Doddridge (1702-1751), Joseph Hart (1712-1768), Anne Steele (1716-1778), Benjamin Beddome (1717-1795), John Cennick (1717-1755), Thomas Olivers (1725-1799), Joseph Grigg (1728-1768), Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778), and Edward Perronet (died 1792).

Approaching our own time, the ranks of our hymn writers include James Montgomery {304} (1771-1854), whose Christian Psalmist was published in 1825, Thomas Kelly, of Dublin (1769-1855); Harriet Auber (1773-1832), Reginald Heber (1783-1826), Sir Robert Grant (1785-1838), Josiah Conder (1789-1855), Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871), Sir John Bowring (1792-1872), Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847), John Keble (1792-1866), whose Christian Year came out in 1827; John H. Newman (1801-1890), Sarah Flower Adams (1805-1849), and Horatius Bonar (1808-1869).

Richard Mant (1776-1848), Henry Alford (1810-1871), F. W. Faber (1815-1863), John Mason Neale (1818-1866), Miss Catherine Winkworth (born 1829), and some others, have given many beautiful and stirring translations from the Latin and German hymns of the ancient and mediaeval periods.

Theological writers of the middle of the seventeenth century are numerous. Chief of those belonging to the Anglican Church may be named Joseph Hall, Bishop of Norwich (1574-1656), whose Episcopacy by Divine Right was replied to in Smectymnus, the joint production of five dissenting divines: Stephen Marshal, Edward Calamy, Thomas Young, Matthew Newcomer, and William Spurston; James Ussher (1580-1656), a man of vast literary learning and most known by his Sacred Chronology, published after his death; Thomas Fuller and Jeremy Taylor, mentioned in a previous chapter; John Cosin (1594-1672), who wrote chiefly devotional treatises; William Chillingworth {305} (1602-1664), whose Religion of Protestants has had a wide circulation; John Pearson (1612-1686), whose Exposition of the Creed became a standard; Ralph Cudworth (1617-1688), whose Intellectual System of the Universe dealt a stunning blow to the atheism of his day, and Isaac Barrow (1630-1677), the learned vice-chancellor of Cambridge, wit, mathematician, and theologian all in one, who left a rich legacy in his Sermons.

Of the Non-conforming authors deserving notice Richard Baxter (1615-1691) is the most voluminous, if not also the most luminous. Controversy engaged his pen almost constantly, but his most permanent works were his Call to the Unconverted and The Saints' Everlasting Rest. John Owen (1616-1683) was a leading Puritan writer, and under Cromwell was vice-chancellor of Oxford University. His Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews and his book on The Holy Spirit are still in use and highly prized. His pen was strong rather than elegant. John Bunyan's immortal allegory throws a halo on universal literature. John Howe (1630-1705), the chief author among the Puritans, wrote many strong works, among which of special note are The Living Temple and The Office and Work of the Holy Spirit. He was Cromwell's chaplain.

The spiritual writings of Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661), the Scotch divine; the Annotations on the Psalms by Henry Ainsworth (died 1662), an Independent, who was an exile in Holland for {306} conscience' sake; the expository writings of Thomas Manton (1620-1677); the Synopsis of Matthew Poole (1624-1679), later abridged into his celebrated Annotations upon the Bible; the sermons of Stephen Charnock (1628-1680), particularly the one on "The Divine Attributes;" and An Alarm to Unconverted Sinners, by Joseph Alleine (1633-1688), which has had an immense circulation, form a galaxy in the theological firmament of the time of Milton.

A later group of theological writers in the latter part of the seventeenth century contains the commanding figures of Symon Patrick (1626-1707), bishop and author of a Commentary on the Old Testament; John Flavel (1627-1691) and his works on practical piety; John Tillotson (1630-1694), the Anglican archbishop, whose eloquent sermons are still held in high repute; Robert South (1633-1716), the great pulpit orator, whose discourses are an ornament to the English tongue; Edward Stillingfleet (1635-1699), from whose prolific pen came several valuable treatises, one of which was The Antiquities of the British Churches; and William Beveridge (1637-1708), whose Private Thoughts upon Religion is still in much esteem. To these we may add Thomas Ken (1637-1710), the good bishop now best known as the author of Praise God, from Whom all Blessings Flow; Benjamin Keach (1640-1704), a Baptist preacher of much note and author of Gospel Mysteries Opened, which, like his other writings, is marred by an {307} excessive use of figures; Gilbert Burnet (1643-1709), the writer and bishop, who mingled freely in the political affairs of the day and wrote much on a variety of subjects, one being a History of the Reformation of the Church of England; William Wall (1646-1728), the prominent defender of infant baptism; Humphrey Prideaux (1648-1724), who wrote the Connection of the Old and New Testaments; and Matthew Henry (1662-1714), still valued for his quaint and suggestive Commentary on the Scriptures.

Here, too, belong George Fox (1624-1690) and Robert Barclay (1648-1690), the heroic founder and the learned champion of the Society of Friends, the former's Journal and the latter's Apology for the True Christian Divinity being worthy of special note. William Penn (1644-1718), more eminent as the chief colonizer of Pennsylvania, also wrote many powerful works in advocacy of Quaker teachings; and William Sewel's (1650-1726) History of the Quakers is a notable contribution to the literature of that much-misunderstood and persecuted people.

Among those who graced the first half of the eighteenth century we find the Irish man of letters, Charles Leslie (1650-1722), who gave among others a celebrated treatise on A Short and Easy Method with the Deists; Francis Atterbury (1662-1732), Bishop of Rochester, whose Sermons still survive; William Wollaston (1659-1724), known as the author of The Religion of Nature, a plea for truth; Samuel Clarke (1675-1729), the {308} philosophical writer of The Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God; Matthew Tindal (1657-1733), the leading deist of his day, whose chief work was Christianity as Old as Creation; Robert Wodrow (1679-1734), a Scotch preacher who wrote a History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland; and Thomas Wilson (1663-1755), Bishop of Sodor and Man for fifty-seven years and the author of many useful works on the Scriptures and Christianity. Bishop Joseph Butler (1692-1752) appeared as the champion of Christianity and successfully answered the deistical tendency of Tindal and others by his Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature, which, though obscure in style, is still in high repute for its massive thought and mighty logic.

Thomas Stackhouse (1680-1752) and his History of the Bible; John Bampton (1689-1751), whose estate still speaks at Oxford in defense of Christianity in the annual lectures on Divinity; Daniel Waterland (1683-1740), in his defense of the divinity of Christ; and Joseph Bingham (1668-1723), in his learned treatise on The Antiquities of the Christian Church, are also in the front rank of this period. Daniel Neal (1678-1743), in his History of the Puritans; John Leland (1691-1766), the Dublin preacher, in his View of the Deistical Writers; and Philip Doddridge (1702-1751), in his Family Expositor and his briefer and more famous Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul, furnished valuable contributions to theological literature.


The latter half of the eighteenth century was prolific of letters. Noteworthy among those who wrote on religious themes are the following: Nathaniel Lardner (1684-1768), who wrote The Credibility of the Gospel History; William Law (1687-1761), whose Serious Call to a Holy Life and Christian Perfection are still powerful works; Richard Challoner (1691-1781), a Roman Catholic author of many practical and devotional works and of a Version of the Bible, much prized in his own Church; Alban Butler (1700-1773), who compiled The Lives of the Saints; William Warburton (1698-1779), in his Divine Legation of Moses; Alexander Cruden (1701-1770), the Scotch author of the famous Concordance to the Holy Scriptures; and Lord George Lyttleton (1708-1773), the author of Observations on the Conversion and Apostleship of St. Paul.

In the same category belong: Robert Lowth (1710-1787), whose book on Hebrew Poetry is still consulted; James Hervey (1713-1758), whose Meditations became very popular; Hugh Blair (1718-1800), the Scotchman whose Sermons for many years rivaled his Lectures on Rhetoric in popularity; Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), illustrious in the annals of chemical discovery, who wrote Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion, and is one of the most distinguished Socinian writers; and William Paley (1743-1805), whose Natural Theology and Horae Paulinae are still standard works.

During this period also came the great impulse {310} to the literature of the common people through the tireless pen of John Wesley (1703-1791), whose Sermons and Notes on the New Testament have had a powerful influence wherever the Wesleyan revival has spread. James McKnight (1721-1800), the scholarly commentator and harmonist; John Fletcher (1729-1785), the sweet-souled defender of Methodism and author of Checks to Antinomianism; Bishop Richard Watson (1737-1816), the learned apologist; Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778); the hymnist and polemic; Joseph Milner (1744-1797), the Church historian; Thomas Coke (1747-1814), in his Commentary on the Old and New Testaments; and Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) were authors of marked force and ability.

Belonging to the first quarter of the nineteenth century the leading theological productions are The Immateriality and Immortality of the Soul, by Samuel Drew (1765-1833); the Translation of the Book of Job, by John Mason Good (1764-1827); the popular Commentaries on the Bible by Thomas Scott (1747-1821), Adam Clarke (1762-1832), and Joseph Benson (1748-1821); the Sermons of Robert Hall (1764-1831), the great Baptist preacher; the Introduction to the Literary History of the Bible, by James Townley (died 1833); the missionary narratives of Henry Martyn (1781-1812), William Ward (1769-1822) and John Williams (1796-1839); and the pathetic story of The Dairyman's Daughter, by Legh Richmond (1772-1827). A little later in this century the first ranks {311} of theological scholarship include the Wordsworths—Christopher (1774-1846), the brother of the poet, and his two sons, Charles (1806-1892) and Christopher, Jr. (1809-1885).

Tracts for the Times, written by a group of men styling themselves Anglo-Catholics, whose leaders were Edward B. Pusey (1800-1882), John H. Newman (1801-1890), John Keble (1792-1866), Richard H. Froude and others, began in 1833, and for several years continued to be published, reaching ninety in number. Their main purpose was a discussion and defense of the character and work of the Established Church, but a large result was that several of the leading spirits, with about two hundred clergymen and the same number of prominent laymen, became Roman Catholics. This High-Church series of writings was followed in 1860 by Essays and Reviews, a volume containing seven articles, whose authors were Frederick Temple (born 1821), Rowland Williams (1817-1870), Baden Powell (1796-1860), Henry B. Wilson (born 1804), C. W. Goodwin, Mark Pattison (1813-1884), and Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893). The purpose of these men was to liberalize the thought of the Church. They accomplished this result, and with it the overthrow of the faith of some.

Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), the great Scotch preacher, left much fruit of his pen, the most celebrated being Astronomical Discourses. Other distinguished books are: A Practical View of {312} Christianity, by William Wilberforce (1759-1833); Horae Homileticae, by Charles Simeon (1759-1836); The Lives of Knox and Melville, by Thomas McCrie (1772-1835); Horae Mosaicae, by George Stanley Faber (1773-1854); The Scripture Testimony to the Messiah, by John Pye Smith (1774-1851); Theological Institutes, by the Wesleyan theologian, Richard Watson (1781-1833); the Histories of the Jews and of Christianity, by Henry Hart Milman (1791-1868); the Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature, by John Kitto (1804-1854); Mammon, by John Harris (1804-1856); the Theological Essays of John Frederick Denison Maurice (1805-1872); Missions the Chief End of the Christian Church, by Alexander Duff (1806-1878); the Sermons of Frederick William Robertson (1816-1853); and The Life and Epistles of Paul, by William J. Conybeare (1815-1857) and John S. Howson (1816-1885).

The latter half of the present century has been marked by many strong and profound theological publications, of which we may name as worthy of particular notice: The Introduction to the Study of the Holy Scriptures, by Thomas Hartwell Horne (1780-1862); Historic Doubts Relative to Napoleon Bonaparte, by Richard Whately (1787-1863); Apologia pro Vita Sua of John H. Newman (1801-1890); The Typology of Scripture, by Patrick Fairbairn (1805-1892); The Eclipse of Faith, by Henry Rogers (1806-1877); the Notes on the Parables and Miracles, by Richard Chenevix Trench (1807-1886); {313} The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost, by Henry Edward Manning (1808-1892); the series of lectures on the Scriptures, by John Gumming (1810-1881); the Greek New Testament, edited by Henry Alford (1810-1871); and the same by Samuel Prideaux Tregelles (1813-1875); the historical works of Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (1815-1881); Hypatia, or Old Foes with a New Face, by Charles Kingsley (1819-1875); Ecce Homo, by John Robert Seeley (1834-1895); the Sermons of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892); and Natural Law in the Spiritual World, the brilliant venture of the beloved and lamented Henry Drummond (1851-1897), whose Greatest Thing in the World bids fair to become a Christian classic.




This little volume is intended as a companion to the Outline Sketch of English Literature, published last year for the Chautauqua Circle. In writing it I have followed the same plan, aiming to present the subject in a sort of continuous essay rather than in the form of a "primer" or elementary manual. I have not undertaken to describe or even to mention every American author or book of importance, but only those which seemed to me of most significance. Nevertheless I believe that the sketch contains enough detail to make it of some use as a guide-book to our literature. Though meant to be mainly a history of American belles-lettres it makes some mention of historical and political writings, {318} but hardly any of philosophical, scientific, and technical works.

A chronological rather than a topical order has been followed, although the fact that our best literature is of recent growth has made it impossible to adhere as closely to a chronological plan as in the English sketch. In the reading courses appended to the different chapters I have named a few of the most important authorities in American literary history, such as Duyckinck, Tyler, Stedman, and Richardson.





I. THE COLONIAL PERIOD, 1607-1765 . . . . . . . . . 321 II. THE REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD, 1765-1815 . . . . . . 365 III. THE ERA OF NATIONAL EXPANSION, 1815-1837 . . . . 400 IV. THE CONCORD WRITERS, 1837-1861 . . . . . . . . . 434 V. THE CAMBRIDGE SCHOLARS, 1837-1861 . . . . . . . 472 VI. LITERATURE IN THE CITIES, 1837-1861 . . . . . . 511 VII. LITERATURE SINCE 1861 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 554 VIII. THEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS LITERATURE IN AMERICA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 594 INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 609






The writings of our colonial era have a much greater importance as history than as literature. It would be unfair to judge of the intellectual vigor of the English colonists in America by the books that they wrote; those "stern men with empires in their brains" had more pressing work to do than the making of books. The first settlers, indeed, were brought face to face with strange and exciting conditions—the sea, the wilderness, the Indians, the flora and fauna of a new world—things which seem stimulating to the imagination, and incidents and experiences which might have lent themselves easily to poetry or romance. Of all these they wrote back to England reports which were faithful and sometimes vivid, but which, upon the whole, hardly rise into the region of literature. "New England," said Hawthorne, "was then in a {322} state incomparably more picturesque than at present." But to a contemporary that old New England of the seventeenth century doubtless seemed any thing but picturesque, filled with grim, hard, worky-day realities. The planters both of Virginia and Massachusetts were decimated by sickness and starvation, constantly threatened by Indian wars, and troubled by quarrels among themselves and fears of disturbance from England. The wrangles between the royal governors and the House of Burgesses in the Old Dominion, and the theological squabbles in New England, which fill our colonial records, are petty and wearisome to read of. At least, they would be so did we not bear in mind to what imperial destinies these conflicts were slowly educating the little communities which had hardly as yet secured a foothold on the edge of the raw continent.

Even a century and a half after the Jamestown and Plymouth settlements, when the American plantations had grown strong and flourishing, and commerce was building up large towns, and there were wealth and generous living and fine society, the "good old colony days when we lived under the king," had yielded little in the way of literature that is of any permanent interest. There would seem to be something in the relation of a colony to the mother country which dooms the thought and art of the former to a hopeless provincialism. Canada and Australia are great provinces, wealthier and more populous than the {323} thirteen colonies at the time of their separation from England. They have cities whose inhabitants number hundreds of thousands, well equipped universities, libraries, cathedrals, costly public buildings, all the outward appliances of an advanced civilization; and yet what have Canada and Australia contributed to British literature?

American literature had no infancy. That engaging naivete and that heroic rudeness which give a charm to the early popular tales and songs of Europe find, of course, no counterpart on our soil. Instead of emerging from the twilight of the past, the first American writings were produced under the garish noon of a modern and learned age. Decrepitude rather than youthfulness is the mark of a colonial literature. The poets, in particular, instead of finding a challenge to their imagination in the new life about them, are apt to go on imitating the cast off literary fashions of the mother country. America was settled by Englishmen who were contemporary with the greatest names in English literature. Jamestown was planted in 1607, nine years before Shakspeare's death, and the hero of that enterprize, Captain John Smith, may not improbably have been a personal acquaintance of the great dramatist. "They have acted my fatal tragedies on the stage," wrote Smith. Many circumstances in The Tempest were doubtless suggested by the wreck of the Sea Venture on "the still vext Bermoothes," as described by William Strachey in his True Repertory of the Wrack and {324} Redemption of Sir Thomas Gates, written at Jamestown, and published at London in 1510. Shakspere's contemporary, Michael Drayton, the poet of the Polyolbion, addressed a spirited valedictory ode to the three shiploads of "brave, heroic minds" who sailed from London in 1606 to colonize Virginia; an ode which ended with the prophecy of a future American literature:

"And as there plenty grows Of laurel every-where,— Apollo's sacred tree— You it may see A poet's brows To crown, that may sing there."

Another English poet, Samuel Daniel, the author of the Civil Wars, had also prophesied in a similar strain:

"And who in time knows whither we may vent The treasure of our tongue, to what strange shores~.~.~. What worlds in the yet unformed Occident May come refined with accents that are ours."

It needed but a slight movement in the balances of fate, and Walter Raleigh might have been reckoned among the poets of America. He was one of the original promoters of the Virginia colony, and he made voyages in person to Newfoundland and Guiana. And more unlikely things have happened than that when John Milton left Cambridge in 1632, he should have been tempted to follow Winthrop and the colonists of Massachusetts Bay, {325} who had sailed two years before. Sir Henry Vane, the younger, who was afterward Milton's friend—

"Vane, young in years, but in sage counsel old"—

came over in 1635, and was for a short time Governor of Massachusetts. These are idle speculations, and yet, when we reflect that Oliver Cromwell was on the point of embarking for America when he was prevented by the king's officers, we may, for the nonce, "let our frail thoughts dally with false surmise," and fancy by how narrow a chance Paradise Lost missed being written in Boston. But, as a rule, the members of the literary guild are not quick to emigrate. They like the feeling of an old and rich civilization about them, a state of society which America has only begun to reach during the present century.

Virginia and New England, says Lowell, were the "two great distributing centers of the English race." The men who colonized the country between the Capes of Virginia were not drawn, to any large extent, from the literary or bookish classes in the Old Country. Many of the first settlers were gentlemen—too many, Captain Smith thought, for the good of the plantation. Some among these were men of worth and spirit, "of good means and great parentage." Such was, for example, George Percy, a younger brother of the Earl of Northumberland, who was one of the original adventurers, and the author of A Discourse of the Plantation of the Southern Colony of Virginia, {326} which contains a graphic narrative of the fever and famine summer of 1607 at Jamestown. But many of these gentlemen were idlers, "unruly gallants, packed thither by their friends to escape ill destinies;" dissipated younger sons, soldiers of fortune, who came over after the gold which was supposed to abound in the new country, and who spent their time in playing bowls and drinking at the tavern as soon as there was any tavern. With these was a sprinkling of mechanics and farmers, indented servants, and the off-scourings of the London streets, fruit of press gangs and jail deliveries, sent over to "work in the plantations."

Nor were the conditions of life afterward in Virginia very favorable to literary growth. The planters lived isolated on great estates, which had water fronts on the rivers that flow into the Chesapeake. There the tobacco, the chief staple of the country, was loaded directly upon the trading vessels that tied up to the long, narrow wharves of the plantations. Surrounded by his slaves, and visited occasionally by a distant neighbor, the Virginia country gentleman lived a free and careless life. He was fond of fox-hunting, horse-racing, and cock-fighting. There were no large towns, and the planters met each other mainly on occasion of a county court or the assembling of the Burgesses. The court-house was the nucleus of social and political life in Virginia as the town-meeting was in New England. In such a state of society schools were necessarily few, and popular education did {327} not exist. Sir William Berkeley, who was the royal governor of the colony from 1641 to 1677, said, in 1670, "I thank God there are no free schools nor printing, and I hope we shall not have these hundred years." In the matter of printing, this pious wish was well-nigh realized. The first press set up in the colony, about 1681, was soon suppressed, and found no successor until the year 1729. From that date until some ten years before the Revolution one printing-press answered the needs of Virginia, and this was under official control. The earliest newspaper in the colony was the Virginia Gazette, established in 1736.

In the absence of schools the higher education naturally languished. Some of the planters were taught at home by tutors, and others went to England and entered the universities. But these were few in number, and there was no college in the colony until more than half a century after the foundation of Harvard in the younger province of Massachusetts. The college of William and Mary was established at Williamsburg chiefly by the exertions of the Rev. James Blair, a Scotch divine, who was sent by the Bishop of London as "commissary" to the Church in Virginia. The college received its charter in 1693, and held its first commencement in 1700. It is perhaps significant of the difference between the Puritans of New England and the so-called "Cavaliers" of Virginia, that while the former founded and supported Harvard College in 1636, and Yale in 1701, of {328} their own motion, and at their own expense, William and Mary received its endowment from the crown, being provided for in part by a deed of lands and in part by a tax of a penny a pound on all tobacco exported from the colony. In return for this royal grant the college was to present yearly to the king two copies of Latin verse. It is reported of the young Virginian gentlemen who resorted to the new college that they brought their plantation manners with them, and were accustomed to "keep race-horses at the college, and bet at the billiard or other gaming tables." William and Mary College did a good work for the colony, and educated some of the great Virginians of the Revolutionary era, but it has never been a large or flourishing institution, and has held no such relation to the intellectual development of its section as Harvard and Yale have held in the colonies of Massachusetts and Connecticut. Even after the foundation of the University of Virginia, in which Jefferson took a conspicuous part, southern youths were commonly sent to the North for their education, and at the time of the outbreak of the civil war there was a large contingent of southern students in several northern colleges, notably in Princeton and Yale.

Naturally, the first books written in America were descriptions of the country and narratives of the vicissitudes of the infant settlements, which were sent home to be printed for the information of the English public and the encouragement of {329} further immigration. Among books of this kind produced in Virginia the earliest and most noteworthy were the writings of that famous soldier of fortune, Captain John Smith. The first of these was his True Relation, namely, "of such occurrences and accidents of note as hath happened in Virginia since the first planting of that colony," printed at London in 1608. Among Smith's other books, the most important is perhaps his General History of Virginia (London, 1624), a compilation of various narratives by different hands, but passing under his name. Smith was a man of a restless and daring spirit, full of resource, impatient of contradiction, and of a somewhat vainglorious nature, with an appetite for the marvelous and a disposition to draw the long bow. He had seen service in many parts of the world, and his wonderful adventures lost nothing in the telling. It was alleged against him that the evidence of his prowess rested almost entirely on his own testimony. His truthfulness in essentials has not, perhaps, been successfully impugned, but his narratives have suffered by the embellishments with which he has colored them, and, in particular, the charming story of Pocohontas saving his life at the risk of her own—the one romance of early Virginian history—has passed into the realm of legend.

Captain Smith's writings have small literary value apart from the interest of the events which they describe, and the diverting but forcible {330} personality which they unconsciously display. They are the rough-hewn records of a busy man of action, whose sword was mightier than his pen. As Smith returned to England after two years in Virginia, and did not permanently cast in his lot with the settlement of which he had been for a time the leading spirit, he can hardly be claimed as an American author. No more can Mr. George Sandys, who came to Virginia in the train of Governor Wyat, in 1621, and completed his excellent metrical translation of Ovid on the banks of the James, in the midst of the Indian massacre of 1622, "limned" as he writes "by that imperfect light which was snatched from the hours of night and repose, having wars and tumults to bring it to light instead of the muses." Sandys went back to England for good, probably as early as 1625, and can, therefore, no more be reckoned as the first American poet, on the strength of his paraphrase of the Metamorphoses, than he can be reckoned the earliest Yankee inventor, because he "introduced the first water-mill into America."

The literature of colonial Virginia, and of the southern colonies which took their point of departure from Virginia, is almost wholly of this historical and descriptive kind. A great part of it is concerned with the internal affairs of the province, such as "Bacon's Rebellion," in 1676, one of the most striking episodes in our ante-revolutionary annals, and of which there exist a number of narratives, some of them anonymous, and only rescued {331} from a manuscript condition a hundred years after the event. Another part is concerned with the explorations of new territory. Such were the "Westover Manuscripts," left by Colonel William Byrd, who was appointed in 1729 one of the commissioners to fix the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina, and gave an account of the survey in his History of the Dividing Line, which was only printed in 1841. Colonel Byrd is one of the most brilliant figures of colonial Virginia, and a type of the Old Virginia gentleman. He had been sent to England for his education, where he was admitted to the bar of the Middle Temple, elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and formed an intimate friendship with Charles Boyle, the Earl of Orrery. He held many offices in the government of the colony, and founded the cities of Richmond and Petersburg. His estates were large, and at Westover—where he had one of the finest private libraries in America—he exercised a baronial hospitality, blending the usual profusion of plantation life with the elegance of a traveled scholar and "picked man of countries." Colonel Byrd was rather an amateur in literature. His History of the Dividing Line is written with a jocularity which rises occasionally into real humor, and which gives to the painful journey through the wilderness the air of a holiday expedition. Similar in tone were his diaries of A Progress to the Mines and A Journey to the Land of Eden in North Carolina.

{332} The first formal historian of Virginia was Robert Beverley, "a native and inhabitant of the place," whose History of Virginia was printed at London in 1705. Beverley was a rich planter and large slave owner, who, being in London in 1703, was shown by his bookseller the manuscript of a forthcoming work, Oldmixon's British Empire in America. Beverley was set upon writing his history by the inaccuracies in this, and likewise because the province "has been so misrepresented to the common people of England as to make them believe that the servants in Virginia are made to draw in cart and plow, and that the country turns all people black," an impression which lingers still in parts of Europe. The most original portions of the book are those in which the author puts down his personal observations of the plants and animals of the New World, and particularly the account of the Indians, to which his third book is devoted, and which is accompanied by valuable plates. Beverley's knowledge of these matters was evidently at first hand, and his descriptions here are very fresh and interesting. The more strictly historical part of his work is not free from prejudice and inaccuracy. A more critical, detailed, and impartial, but much less readable, work was William Stith's History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia, 1747, which brought the subject down only to the year 1624. Stith was a clergyman, and at one time a professor in William and Mary College.


The Virginians were stanch royalists and churchmen. The Church of England was established by law, and non-conformity was persecuted in various ways. Three missionaries were sent to the colony in 1642 by the Puritans of New England, two from Braintree, Massachusetts, and one from New Haven. They were not suffered to preach, but many resorted to them in private houses, until, being finally driven out by fines and imprisonments, they took refuge in Catholic Maryland. The Virginia clergy were not, as a body, very much of a force in education or literature. Many of them, by reason of the scattering and dispersed condition of their parishes, lived as domestic chaplains with the wealthier planters, and partook of their illiteracy and their passion for gaming and hunting. Few of them inherited the zeal of Alexander Whitaker, the "Apostle of Virginia," who came over in 1611 to preach to the colonists and convert the Indians, and who published in furtherance of those ends Good News from Virginia, in 1613, three years before his death by drowning in James River.

The conditions were much more favorable for the production of a literature in New England than in the southern colonies. The free and genial existence of the "Old Dominion" had no counterpart among the settlers of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay, and the Puritans must have been rather unpleasant people to live with for persons of a different way of thinking. But their {334} intensity of character, their respect for learning, and the heroic mood which sustained them through the hardships and dangers of their great enterprise are amply reflected in their own writings. If these are not so much literature as the raw materials of literature, they have at least been fortunate in finding interpreters among their descendants, and no modern Virginian has done for the memory of the Jamestown planters what Hawthorne, Whittier, Longfellow, and others have done in casting the glamour of poetry and romance over the lives of the founders of New England.

Cotton Mather, in his Magnalia, quotes the following passage from one of those election sermons, delivered before the General Court of Massachusetts, which formed for many years the great annual intellectual event of the colony: "The question was often put unto our predecessors, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? And the answer to it is not only too excellent but too notorious to be dissembled.~.~.~. We came hither because we would have our posterity settled under the pure and full dispensations of the gospel, defended by rulers that should be of ourselves." The New England colonies were, in fact, theocracies. Their leaders were clergymen or laymen, whose zeal for the faith was no whit inferior to that of the ministers themselves. Church and State were one. The freeman's oath was only administered to Church members, and there was no place in the social system for unbelievers or {335} dissenters. The Pilgrim fathers regarded their transplantation to the New World as an exile, and nothing is more touching in their written records than the repeated expressions of love and longing toward the old home which they had left, and even toward that Church of England from which they had sorrowfully separated themselves. It was not in any light or adventurous spirit that they faced the perils of the sea and the wilderness. "This howling wilderness," "these ends of the earth," "these goings down of the sun," are some of the epithets which they constantly applied to the land of their exile. Nevertheless they had come to stay, and, unlike Smith and Percy and Sandys, the early historians and writers of New England cast in their lots permanently with the new settlements. A few, indeed, went back after 1640—Mather says some ten or twelve of the ministers of the first "classis" or immigration were among them—when the victory of the Puritanic party in Parliament opened a career for them in England, and made their presence there seem in some cases a duty. The celebrated Hugh Peters, for example, who was afterward Oliver Cromwell's chaplain, and was beheaded after the Restoration, went back in 1641, and in 1647 Nathaniel Ward, the minister of Ipswich, Massachusetts, and author of a quaint book against toleration, entitled The Simple Cobbler of Agawam, written in America and published shortly after its author's arrival in England. The Civil War, too, put a stop to {336} further emigration from England until after the Restoration in 1660.

The mass of the Puritan immigration consisted of men of the middle class, artisans and husbandmen, the most useful members of a new colony. But their leaders were clergymen educated at the universities, and especially at Emanuel College, Cambridge, the great Puritan college; their civil magistrates were also in great part gentlemen of education and substance, like the elder Winthrop, who was learned in the law, and Theophilus Eaton, first governor of New Haven, who was a London merchant of good estate. It is computed that there were in New England during the first generation as many university graduates as in any community of equal population in the old country. Almost the first care of the settlers was to establish schools. Every town of fifty families was required by law to maintain a common school, and every town of a hundred families a grammar or Latin school. In 1636, only sixteen years after the landing of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock, Harvard College was founded at Newtown, whose name was thereupon changed to Cambridge, the General Court held at Boston on September 8, 1680, having already advanced 400 pounds "by way of essay towards the building of something to begin a college." "An university," says Mather, "which hath been to these plantations, for the good literature there cultivated, sal Gentium~.~.~. and a river, without the streams whereof these regions would {337} have been mere unwatered places for the devil." By 1701 Harvard had put forth a vigorous offshoot, Yale College, at New Haven, the settlers of New Haven and Connecticut plantations having increased sufficiently to need a college at their own doors. A printing press was set up at Cambridge in 1639, which was under the oversight of the university authorities, and afterwards of licensers appointed by the civil power. The press was no more free in Massachusetts than in Virginia, and that "liberty of unlicensed printing," for which the Puritan Milton had pleaded in his Areopagitica, in 1644, was unknown in Puritan New England until some twenty years before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. "The Freeman's Oath" and an almanac were issued from the Cambridge press in 1639, and in 1640 the first English book printed in America, a collection of the psalms in meter, made by various ministers, and known as the Bay Psalm Book. The poetry of this version was worse, if possible, than that of Sternhold and Hopkins's famous rendering; but it is noteworthy that one of the principal translators was that devoted "Apostle to the Indians," the Rev. John Eliot, who, in 1661-63, translated the Bible into the Algonkin tongue. Eliot hoped and toiled a lifetime for the conversion of those "salvages," "tawnies," "devil-worshipers," for whom our early writers have usually nothing but bad words. They have been destroyed instead of converted; but his (so entitled) Mamusse Wunneetupanatamwe {338} Up-Biblum God naneeswe Nukkone Testament kah wonk Wusku Testament—the first Bible printed in America—remains a monument of missionary zeal and a work of great value to students of the Indian languages.

A modern writer has said that, to one looking back on the history of old New England, it seems as though the sun shone but dimly there, and the landscape was always dark and wintry. Such is the impression which one carries away from the perusal of books like Bradford's and Winthrop's Journals, or Mather's Wonders of the Invisible World: an impression of gloom, of night and cold, of mysterious fears besieging the infant settlements, scattered in a narrow fringe "between the groaning forest and the shore." The Indian terror hung over New England for more than half a century, or until the issue of King Philip's War, in 1676, relieved the colonists of any danger of a general massacre. Added to this were the perplexities caused by the earnest resolve of the settlers to keep their New English Eden free from the intrusion of the serpent in the shape of heretical sects in religion. The Puritanism of Massachusetts was an orthodox and conservative Puritanism. The later and more grotesque out-crops of the movement in the old England found no toleration in the new. But these refugees for conscience' sake were compelled in turn to persecute Antinomians, Separatists, Familists, Libertines, Anti-pedobaptists, and later, Quakers, and still {339} later, Enthusiasts, who swarmed into their precincts and troubled the Churches with "prophesyings" and novel opinions. Some of these were banished, others were flogged or imprisoned, and a few were put to death. Of the exiles the most noteworthy was Roger Williams, an impetuous, warm-hearted man, who was so far in advance of his age as to deny the power of the civil magistrate in cases of conscience, or who, in other words, maintained the modern doctrine of the separation of Church and State. Williams was driven away from the Massachusetts colony—where he had been minister of the Church at Salem—and with a few followers fled into the southern wilderness, and settled at Providence. There and in the neighboring plantation of Rhode Island, for which he obtained a charter, he established his patriarchal rule, and gave freedom of worship to all comers. Williams was a prolific writer on theological subjects, the most important of his writings being, perhaps, his Bloody Tenent of Persecution, 1644, and a supplement to the same called out by a reply to the former work from the pen of Mr. John Cotton, minister of the First Church at Boston, entitled The Bloody Tenent Washed and made White in the Blood of the Lamb. Williams was also a friend to the Indians, whose lands, he thought, should not be taken from them without payment, and he anticipated Eliot by writing, in 1643, a Key into the Language of America. Although at odds with the theology of {340} Massachusetts Bay, Williams remained in correspondence with Winthrop and others in Boston, by whom he was highly esteemed. He visited England in 1643 and 1652, and made the acquaintance of John Milton.

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