English Literature, Considered as an Interpreter of English History - Designed as a Manual of Instruction
by Henry Coppee
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LATER DIVISIONS.—Coming down to the close of the eighteenth century, we find the following division of English periodical literature: Quarterlies, usually called Reviews; Monthlies, generally entitled Magazines; Weeklies, containing digests of news; and Dailies, in which are found the intelligence and facts of the present moment; and in this order, too, were the intellectual strength and learning of the time at first employed. The Quarterlies contained the articles of the great men—the acknowledged critics in politics, literature, and art; the Magazines, a current literature of poetry and fiction; the Weeklies and Dailies, reporters' facts and statistics; the latter requiring activity rather than cleverness, and beginning to be a vehicle for extensive advertisements.

This general division has been since maintained; but if the order has not been reversed, there can be no doubt that the great dailies have steadily risen; on most questions of popular interest in all departments, long and carefully written articles in the dailies, from distinguished pens, anticipate the quarterlies, or force them to seek new grounds and forms of presentation after forestalling their critical opinions. Not many years ago, the quarterlies subsidized the best talent; now the men of that class write for The Times, Standard, Telegraph, &c.

Let us look, in the order we have mentioned, at some representatives of the press in its various forms.

Each of the principal reviews represents a political party, and at the same time, in most cases, a religious denomination; and they owe much of their interest to the controversial spirit thus engendered.

REVIEWS.—First among these, in point of origin, is the Edinburgh Review, which was produced by the joint efforts of several young, and comparatively unknown, gentlemen, among whom were Francis (afterwards) Lord Jeffrey, Lord Murray, Mr. (since Lord) Brougham, and the Rev. Sydney Smith. The latter gentleman was appointed first editor, and remained long enough in Edinburgh to edit the first number. Thereafter Jeffrey conducted it. The men were clever, witty, studious, fearless; and the Review was not only from the first a success, but its fiat was looked for by authors with fear and trembling. It became a vehicle for the efforts of the best minds. Macaulay wrote for it those brilliant miscellanies which at once established his fame, and gave it much of its popularity. In it Jeffrey attacked the Lake poetry, and incurred the hatred of Byron. Its establishment, in 1803, was an era in the world of English letters. The papers were not merely reviews, but monographs on interesting subjects—a new anatomy of history; it was in a general way an exponent, but quite an independent one, of the Whig party, or those who would liberally construe the Constitution,—putting Churchmen and Dissenters on the same platform; although published in Edinburgh, it was neither Scotch nor Presbyterian. It attacked ancient prescriptions and customs; agitated questions long considered settled both of present custom and former history; and thus imitated the champion knights who challenged all comers, and sustained no defeats.

Occupying opposite ground to this is the great English review called the London Quarterly: it was established in 1809; is an uncompromising Tory,—entirely conservative as to monarchy, aristocracy, and Established Church. Its first editor was William Gifford; but it attained its best celebrity under the charge of John Gibson Lockhart, the son-in-law of Sir Walter Scott, a man of singular critical power. Among its distinguished contributors were Southey, Scott, Canning, Croker, and Wordsworth.

The North British Review, which never attained the celebrity of either of these, and which has at length, in 1871, been discontinued, occupied strong Scottish and Presbyterian ground, and had its respectable supporters.

But besides the parties mentioned, there is a floating one, growing by slow but sure accretion, know as the Radical. It includes men of many stamps, mainly utilitarian,—radical in politics, innovators, radical in religion, destructive as to systems of science and arts, a learned and inquisitive class,—rational, transcendental, and intensely dogmatic. As a vent for this varied party, the Westminster Review was founded by Mr Bentham, in 1824. Its articles are always well written, and sometimes dangerous, according to our orthodox notions. It is supported by such writers as Mill, Bowring, and Buckle.

Besides these there are numerous quarterlies of more or less limited scope, as in science or art, theology or law; such as The Eclectic, The Christian Observer, The Dublin, and many others.

THE MONTHLIES.—Passing from the reviews to the monthlies, we find the range and number of these far greater, and the matter lighter. The first great representative of the modern series, and one that has kept its issue up to the present day, is Cave's Gentleman's Magazine, which commenced its career in 1831, and has been continued, after Cave's death, by Henry & Nichols, who wrote under the pseudonym of Sylvanus Urban. It is a strong link between past and present. Johnson sent his queries to it while preparing his dictionary, and at the present day it is the favorite vehicle of antiquarians and historians. Passing by others, we find Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, first published in 1817. Originally a strong and bitter conservative, it kept up its popularity by its fine stories and poems. Among the most notable papers in Blackwood are the Noctes Ambrosianae, in which Professor Wilson, under the pseudonym of Christopher North, took the greater part.

Most of the magazines had little or no political proclivity, but were chiefly literary. Among them are Fraser's, begun in 1830, and the Dublin University, in 1832.

A charming light literature was presented by the New Monthly: in politics it was a sort of set-off to Blackwood: in it Captain Marryat wrote his famous sea stories; and among other contributors are the ever welcome names of Hood, Lytton, and Campbell. The Penny Magazine, of Knight, was issued from 1832 to 1845.

Quite a new era dawned upon the magazine world in the establishment of several new ones, under the auspices of famous authors; among which we mention The Cornhill, edited by Thackeray, in 1859, with unprecedented success, until his tender heart compelled him to resign it; Temple Bar, by Sala, in 1860, is also very successful.

In 1850 Dickens began the issue of Household Words, and in 1859 this was merged into All the Year Round, which owed its great popularity to the prestige of the same great writer.

Besides these, devoted to literature and criticism, there are also many monthlies issued in behalf of special branches of knowledge, art, and science, which we have not space to refer to.

Descending in the order mentioned, we come to the weeklies, which, besides containing summaries of daily intelligence, also share the magazine field in brief descriptive articles, short stories, and occasional poems.

A number of these are illustrated journals, and are of great value in giving us pictorial representations of the great events and scenes as they pass, with portraits of men who have become suddenly famous by some special act or appointment. Their value cannot be too highly appreciated; they supply to the mind, through the eye, what the best descriptions in letter-press could not give; and in them satire uses comic elements with wonderful effect. Among the illustrated weeklies, the Illustrated London News has long held a high place; and within a short period The Graphic has exhibited splendid pictures of men and things of timely interest. Nor must we forget to mention Punch, which has been the grand jester of the realm since its origin. The best humorous and witty talent of England has found a vent in its pages, and sometimes its pathos has been productive of reform. Thackeray, Cuthbert Bede, Mark Lemon, Hood, have amused us in its pages, and the clever pencil of Leech has made a series of etching which will never grow tiresome. To it Thackeray contributed his Snob Papers, and Hood The Song of the Shirt.

THE DAILIES.—But the great characteristic of the age is the daily newspaper, so common a blessing that we cease to marvel at it, and yet marvellous as it is common. It is the product of quick intelligence, of great energy, of concurrent and systematized labor, and, in order to fulfil its mission, it seems to subsidize all arts and invade all subjects—steam, mechanics, photography, phonography, and electricity. The news which it prints and scatters comes to it on the telegraph; long orations are phonographically reported; the very latest mechanical skill is used in its printing; and the world is laid at our feet as we sit at the breakfast-table and read its columns.

I shall not go back to the origin of printing, to show the great progress that has been made in the art from that time to the present; nor shall I attempt to explain the present process, which one visit to a press-room would do far better than any description; but I simply refer to the fact that fifty years ago newspapers were still printed with the hand-press, giving 250 impressions per hour—no cylinder, no flying Hoe, (that was patented only in 1847.) Now, the ten-cylinder Hoe, steam driven, works off 20,000 sheets in an hour, and more, as the stereotyper may multiply the forms. What an emblem of art-progress is this! Fifty years ago mail-coaches carried them away. Now, steamers and locomotives fly with them all over the world, and only enlarge and expand the story, the great facts of which have been already sent in outline by telegraph.

Nor is it possible to overrate the value of a good daily paper: as the body is strengthened by daily food, so are we built up mentally and spiritually for the busy age in which we live by the world of intelligence contained in the daily journal. A great book and a good one is offered for the reading of many who have no time to read others, and a great culture in morals, religion, politics, is thus induced. Of course it would be impossible to mention all the English dailies. Among them The London Times is pre-eminent, and stands highest in the opinion of the ministerial party, which fears and uses it.

There was a time when the press was greatly trammelled in England, and license of expression was easily charged with constructive treason; but at present it is remarkably free, and the great, the government, and existing abuses, receive no soft treatment at its hands.

The London Times was started by John Walter, a printer, in 1788, there having been for three years before a paper called the London Daily Universal Register. In 1803 his son, John, went into partnership, when the circulation was but 1,000. Within ten years it was 5,000. In 1814, cleverly concealing the purpose from his workmen, he printed the first sheet ever printed by steam, on Koenig's press. The paper passed, at his death, into the hands of his son, the third John, who is a scholar, educated at Eton and Oxford, like his father a member of Parliament, and who has lately been raised to the peerage. The Times is so influential that it may well be called a third estate in the realm: its writers are men of merit and distinction; its correspondence secures the best foreign intelligence; and its travelling agents, like Russell and others, are the true historians of a war. English journalism, it is manifest, is eminently historical. The files of English newspapers are the best history of the period, and will, by their facts and comments, hereafter confront specious and false historians. Another thing to be observed is the impersonality of the British press, not only in the fact that names are withheld, but that the articles betray no authorship; that, in short, the paper does not appear as the glorification of one man or set of men, but like an unprejudiced relator, censor, and judge.

Of the principal London papers, the Morning Post (Liberal, but not Radical,) was begun in 1772. The Globe (at first Liberal, but within a short time Tory), in 1802. The Standard (Conservative), in 1827. The Daily News (high-class Liberal), in 1846. The News announced itself as pledged to Principles of Progress and Improvement. The Daily Telegraph was started in 1855, and claims the largest circulation. It is also a Liberal paper.


Addison, Joseph, 258. Akenside, Mark, 351. Alcuin, 40. Aldhelm, Abbot, 40. Alfred the Great, 42. Alfric, surnamed Germanicus, 40. Alison, Sir Archibald, 447. Alured of Rievaux, 49. Arbuthnot, John, 252. Arnold, Matthew, 438. Arnold, Thomas, 448. Ascham, Roger, 103. Ashmole, Elias, 232. Aubrey, John, 232. Austen, Jane, 411.

Bacon, Francis, 156. Bacon, Roger, 59. Bailey, Philip James, 437. Baillie, Joanna, 368. Barbauld, Anne Letitia, 359. Barbour, John, 89. Barclay, Robert, 228. Barham, Richard Harris, 437. Barklay, Alexander, 102. Barrow, Isaac, 230. Baxter, Richard, 226. Beattie, James, 356. Beaumont, Francis, 154. Beckford, William, 412. Bede the Venerable, 37. Benoit, 52. Berkeley, George, 278. Blair, Hugh, 369. Blind Harry, 89. Bolingbroke, Viscount, (Henry St. John,) 278. Boswell, James, 321. Browne, Sir Thomas, 225. Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 432. Browning, Robert, 434. Buchanan, George, 126. Buckle, Henry Thomas, 447. Bulwer, Edward George Earle Lytton, 450. Bunyan, John, 228. Burke, Edmund, 369. Burnet, Gilbert, 231. Burney, Frances, 368. Burns, Robert, 397. Burton, Robert, 125. Butler, Samuel, 198. Byron, Rt. Hon. George Gordon, 384

Caedmon, 34. Cambrensis, Giraldus, 49. Camden, William, 126. Campbell, Thomas, 401. Carlyle, Thomas, 444. Cavendish, George, 102. Caxton, William, 92. Chapman, George, 127. Chatterton, Thomas, 340. Chaucer, Geoffrey, 60. Chillingworth, William, 222. Coleridge, Hartley, 427. Coleridge, Henry Nelson, 427. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 424. Collier, John Payne, 153. Collins, William, 357. Colman, George, 366. Colman, George, (The Younger,) 366. Congreve, William, 236. Cornwall, Barry, 436. Colton, Charles, 205. Coverdale, Miles, 170. Cowley, Abraham, 195. Cowper, William, 353. Crabbe, George, 400. Cumberland, Richard, 363. Cunningham, Allan, 412.

Daniel, Samuel, 127. Davenant, Sir William, 205. Davies, Sir John, 127. Defoe, Daniel, 282. Dekker, Thomas, 154. De Quincey, Thomas, 468. Dickens, Charles, 452. Dixon, William Hepworth, 449. Donne, John, 127. Drayton, Michael, 127. Dryden, John, 207. Dunbar, William, 90. Dunstan, (called Saint,) 41.

Eadmer, 49. Edgeworth, Maria, 410. Erigena, John Scotus, 40. Etherege, Sir George, 238. Evelyn, John, 231.

Falconer, William, 357. Farquhar, George, 238. Ferrier, Mary, 411. Fielding, Henry, 288. Fisher, John, 102. Florence of Worcester, 49. Foote, Samuel, 363. Ford, John, 154. Fox, George, 226. Froissart, Sire Jean, 58. Fronde, James Anthony, 448. Fuller, Thomas, 224.

Gaimar, Geoffrey, 52. Garrick, David, 361. Gay, John, 252. Geoffrey, 52. Geoffrey of Monmouth, 48. Gibbon, Edward, 317 Gillies, John, 441. Goldsmith, Oliver, 301. Gowen, John, 86. Gray, Thomas, 351. Greene, Robert, 136. Greville, Sir Fulke, 127. Grostete, Robert, 59. Grote, George, 440.

Hakluyt, Richard, 126. Hall, Joseph, 221. Hallam, Henry, 448. Harvey, Gabriel, 110. Heber, Reginald, 436. Hemans, Mrs. Felicia Dorothea, 409. Henry of Huntingdon, 49. Hennyson, Robert, 90. Herbert, George, 203. Herrick, Robert, 204. Heywood, John, 131. Higden, Ralph, 50. Hobbes, Thomas, 125. Hogg, James, 412. Hollinshed, Raphael, 126. Hood, Thomas, 467. Hooker, Richard, 125. Hope, Thomas, 412. Hume, David, 311. Hunt, Leigh, 411. Hyde, Edward, Earl of Clarendon, 205.

Ingelow, Jean, 437. Ingulphus, Abbot of Croyland, 49. Ireland, Samuel, 153.

James I, (of Scotland,) 89. Johnson, Doctor Samuel, 324. Jonson, Ben, 153. Junius, 331.

Keats, John, 407. Keble, John, 437. Knowles, James Sheridan, 436. Kyd, Thomas, 136.

Lamb, Charles, 466. Landon, Letitia Elizabeth, 410. Langland, 56. Latimer, Hugh, 102. Layamon, 53. Lee, Nathaniel, 240. Leland, John, 102. Lingard, John, 446. Locke, John, 231. Lodge, Thomas, 135. Luc de la Barre, 52. Lydgate, John, 90. Lyly, John, 136.

Macaulay, Thomas Babington, 441. Mackay, Charles, 437. Mackenzie, Henry, 307. Macpherson, Doctor James, 336. Mahon, Lord, 447. Mandevil, Sir John, 58. Manning, Robert, 59. Marlowe, Christopher, 134. Marston, John, 136. Massinger, 154. Matthew of Westminster, 49. Mestre, Thomas, 32. Milton, John, 174. Mitford, William, 444. Moore, Thomas, 390. More, Hannah, 367. More, Sir Thomas, 99.

Napier. Sir William Francis Patrick, 447. Nash, Thomas, 136. Newton, Sir Isaac, 278. Norton, Mrs. Caroline Elizabeth, 410.

Occleve, Thomas, 89. Ormulum, 54. Otway, Thomas, 239.

Paley, William, 370. Paris, Matthew, 49. Parnell, Thomas, 252. Pecock, Reginald, 102. Peele, George, 136. Penn, William, 227. Pepys, Samuel, 232. Percy, Dr. Thomas, (Bishop,) 358. Philip de Than, 52. Pollok, Robert, 411. Pope, Alexander, 241. Prior, Matthew, 251. Purchas, Samuel, 126.

Quarles, Francis, 203.

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 126. Richard I., (Coeur de Lion,) 52.

Richardson, Samuel, 285. Robert of Gloucester, 55. Robertson, William, 315. Roger de Hovedin, 49. Rogers, Samuel, 403. Roscoe, William, 413. Rowe, Nicholas, 240.

Sackville, Thomas, 127. Scott, Sir Michael, 59. Scott, Walter, 371. Shakspeare, William, 137. Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 405. Shenstone, William, 357. Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, 364. Sherlock, William, 230. Shirley, 154. Sidney, Sir Philip, 107. Skelton, John, 95. Smollett, Tobias George, 292. South, Robert, 230. Southern, Thomas, 240. Southey, Robert, 421. Spencer, Edmund, 104. Steele, Sir Richard, 264. Sterne, Lawrence, 296. Still, John, 132. Stillingfleet, Edward, 230. Stow, John, 126. Strickland, Agnes, 447. Suckling, Sir John, 204. Surrey, Earl of, 98. Swift, Jonathan, 268. Swinburne, Algernon Charles, 437.

Tailor, Robert, 136. Taylor, Jeremy, 223. Temple, Sir William, 277. Tennyson, Alfred, 428. Thackeray, Anne E., 465. Thackeray, William Makepeace, 459. Thirlwall, Connop, 441. Thomas of Ercildoun, 59. Thomson, James, 347. Tickell, Thomas, 252. Tupper, Martin Farquhar, 437. Turner, Sharon, 448. Tusser, Thomas, 102. Tyndale, William, 169. Tytler, Patrick Frazer, 446.

Udall, Nicholas, 132.

Vanbrugh, Sir John, 237. Vaughan, Henry, 205. Vitalis, Ordericus, 49.

Wace, Richard, 51. Waller, Edmund, 204. Walpole, Horace, 321. Walton, Izaak, 202. Warton, Joseph, 368. Warton, Thomas, 368. Watts, Isaac, 252.

Webster, 154. White, Henry Kirke, 358. Wiclif, John, 77. William of Jumieges, 49. William of Malmsbury, 47. William of Poictiers, 49. Wither, George, 203. Wolcot, John, 367. Wordsworth, William, 415. Wyat, Sir Thomas, 97. Wycherley, William, 235.

Young, Edward, 253.



[1] His jurisdiction extended from Norfolk around to Sussex.

[2] This is the usually accepted division of tribes; but Dr. Latham denies that the Jutes, or inhabitants of Jutland, shared in the invasion. The difficult question does not affect the scope of our inquiry.

[3] Gibbon's Decline and Fall, c. lv.

[4] H. Martin, Histoire de France, i. 53.

[5] Vindication of the Ancient British Poems.

[6] Craik's English Literature, i. 37.

[7] Sharon Turner, History of the Anglo-Saxons, book ix., c. i.

[8] Bosworth's Anglo-Saxon Dictionary.

[9] Kemble ("Saxon in England") suggests the resemblance between the fictitious landing of Hengist and Horsa "in three keels," and the Gothic tradition of the migration of Ostrogoths, Visigoths, and Gepidae to the mouth of the Vistula in the same manner. Dr. Latham (English Language) fixes the Germanic immigration into Britain at the middle of the fourth, instead of the middle of the fifth century.

[10] Lectures on Modern History, lect, ii.

[11] Sharon Turner.

[12] Turner, ch. xii.

[13] For the discussion of the time and circumstances of the introduction of French into law processes, see Craik, i. 117.

[14] Sharon Turner's History of the Anglo-Saxons, i. 199. For an admirable summary of the bardic symbolisms and mythological types exhibited in the story of Arthur, see H. Martin, Hist. de France, liv. xx.

[15] Craik says, (i. 198,) "Or, as he is also called, Lawemon—for the old character represented in this instance by our modern y is really only a guttural, (and by no means either a j or a z,) by which it is sometimes rendered." Marsh says, "Or, perhaps, Lagamon, for we do not know the sound of y in this name."

[16] Introduction to the Poets of Queen Elizabeth's Age.

[17] So called from his having a regular district or limit in which to beg.

[18] Spelled also Wycliffe, Wicliff, and Wyklyf.

[19] Am. ed., i. 94.

[20] Wordsworth, Ecc. Son., xvii.

[21] "The Joyous Science, as the profession of minstrelsy was termed, had its various ranks, like the degrees in the Church and in chivalry."—Sir Walter Scott, (The Betrothed.)

[22] 1st, the real presence; 2d, celibacy; 3d, monastic vows; 4th, low mass; 5th, auricular confession; 6th, withholding the cup from the laity.

[23] "The Earl of Surrey is said to have translated one of Virgil's books without rhyme, and, besides our tragedies, a few short poems had appeared in blank verse.... These petty performances cannot be supposed to have much influenced Milton; ... finding blank verse easier than rhyme, he was desirous of persuading himself that it is better."—Lives of the Poets—Milton.

[24] From this dishonor Mr. Froude's researches among the statute books have not been able to lift him, for he gives system to horrors which were before believed to be eccentric; and, while he fails to justify the monarch, implicates a trembling parliament and a servile ministry, as if their sharing the crime made it less odious.

[25] The reader's attention is called—or recalled—to the masterly etching of Sir Philip Sidney, in Motley's History of the United Netherlands. The low chant of the cuisse rompue is especially pathetic.

[26] This last claim of title was based upon the voyages of the Cabots, and the unsuccessful colonial efforts of Raleigh and Gilbert.

[27] Froude, i. 65.

[28] Introduction to fifth canto of Marmion.

[29] Froude, i. 73.

[30] Opening scene of The Merry Wives of Windsor.

[31] Rev. A. Dyce attributes this play to Marlowe or Kyd.

[32] The dates as determined by Malone are given: many of them differ from those of Drake and Chalmers.


If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shined The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind.

Pope, Essay on Man.

[34] Life of Addison.

[35] Macaulay: Art. on Warren Hastings.

[36] The handwriting of Junius professionally investigated by Mr. Charles P. Chabot. London, 1871.

[37] H. C. Robinson, Diary II., 79.


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