Addison and Steele. Sir Roger de Coverley Papers, in Standard English Classics, Riverside Literature, etc.; Selections from Addison, edited by Wendell and Greenough, and Selections from Steele, edited by Carpenter, both in Athenaeum Press; various other selections, in Golden Treasury Series, Camelot Series, Holt's English Readings, etc.
Johnson. Lives of the Poets, in Cassell's National Library; Selected Essays, edited by G.B. Hill (Dent); Selections, in Little Masterpieces Series; Rasselas, in Holt's English Readings, and in Morley's Universal Library.
Boswell. Life of Johnson (2 vols.), in Everyman's Library; the same (3 vols.), in Library of English Classics; also in Temple Classics, and Bohn's Library.
Burke. American Taxation, Conciliation with America, Letter to a Noble Lord, in Standard English Classics; various speeches, in Pocket Classics, Riverside Literature Series, etc.; Selections, edited by B. Perry (Holt); Speeches on America (Heath, etc.).
Gibbon. The Student's Gibbon, abridged (Murray); Memoirs, edited by Emerson, in Athenaeum Press.
Gray. Selections, edited by W.L. Phelps, in Athenaeum Press; Selections from Gray and Cowper, in Canterbury Poets, Riverside Literature, etc.; Gray's Elegy, in Selections from Five English Poets (Ginn and Company).
Goldsmith. Deserted Village, in Standard English Classics, etc.; Vicar of Wakefield, in Standard English Classics, Everyman's Library, King's Classics, etc.; She Stoops to Conquer, in Pocket Classics, Belles Lettres Series, etc.
Cowper. Selections, edited by Murray, in Athenaeum Press; Selections, in Cassell's National Library, Canterbury Poets, etc.; The Task, in Temple Classics.
Burns. Representative Poems, with Carlyle's Essay on Burns, edited by C.L. Hanson, in Standard English Classics; Selections, in Pocket Classics, Riverside Literature, etc.
Blake. Poems, edited by W.B. Yeats, in Muses' Library; Selections, in Canterbury Poets, etc.
Minor Poets. Thomson, Collins, Crabbe, etc. Selections, in Manly's English Poetry. Thomson's The Seasons, and Castle of Indolence, in Modern Classics; the same poems in Clarendon Press, and in Temple Classics; Selections from Thomson, in Cassell's National Library. Chatterton's poems, in Canterbury Poets. Macpherson's Ossian, in Canterbury Poets. Percy's Reliques, in Everyman's Library, Chandos Classics, Bohn's Library, etc. More recent and reliable collections of popular ballads, for school use, are Gummere's Old English Ballads, in Athenaeum Press; The Ballad Book, edited by Allingham, in Goldern Treasury Series; Gayley and Flaherty's Poetry of the People (Ginn and Company), etc. See Bibliography on p. 64.
Defoe. Robinson Crusoe, school edition, by Ginn and Company; the same in Pocket Classics, etc.; Journal of the Plague Year, edited by Hurlbut (Ginn and Company); the same, in Everyman's Library, etc.; Essay on Projects, in Cassell's National Library.
The Novelists. Manly's English Prose; Craik's English Prose Selections, vol. 4; Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield (see above); Selected Essays of Fielding, edited by Gerould, in Athenaeum Press.
HISTORY. Text-book, Montgomery, pp. 280-322; Cheyney, pp. 516-574. General Works, Greene, ch. 9, sec. 7, to ch. 10, sec. 4; Traill, Gardiner, Macaulay, etc. Special Works, Lecky's History of England in the Eighteenth Century, vols. 1-3; Morris's The Age of Queen Anne and the Early Hanoverians (Epochs of Modern History); Seeley's The Expansion of England; Macaulay's Clive, and Chatham; Thackeray's The Four Georges, and the English Humorists; Ashton's Social Life in the Reign of Queen Anne; Susan Hale's Men and Manners of the Eighteenth Century; Sydney's England and the English in the Eighteenth Century.
LITERATURE. General Works. The Cambridge Literature, Taine, Saintsbury, etc. Special Works. Perry's English Literature in the Eighteenth Century; L. Stephen's English Literature in the Eighteenth Century; Seccombe's The Age of Johnson; Dennis's The Age of Pope; Gosse's History of English Literature in the Eighteenth Century; Whitwell's Some Eighteenth Century Men of Letters (Cowper, Sterne, Fielding, Goldsmith, Gray, Johnson, and Boswell); Johnson's Eighteenth Century Letters and Letter Writers; Williams's English Letters and Letter Writers of the Eighteenth Century; Minto's Manual of English Prose Writers; Clark's Study of English Prose Writers; Bourne's English Newspapers; J.B. Williams's A History of English Journalism; L. Stephen's History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century.
The Romantic Revival. W.L. Phelps's The Beginnings of the English Romantic Movement; Beers's English Romanticism in the Eighteenth Century.
The Novel. Raleigh's The English Novel; Simonds's An Introduction to the Study of English Fiction; Cross's The Development of the English Novel; Jusserand's The English Novel in the Time of Shakespeare; Stoddard's The Evolution of the English Novel; Warren's The History of the English Novel previous to the Seventeenth Century; Masson's British Novelists and their Styles; S. Lanier's The English Novel; Hamilton's the Materials and Methods of Fiction; Perry's A Study of Prose Fiction.
Pope. Texts: Works in Globe Edition, edited by A.W. Ward; in Cambridge Poets, edited by H.W. Boynton; Satires and Epistles, in Clarendon Press; Letters, in English Letters and Letter Writers of the Eighteenth Century, edited by H. Williams (Bell). Life: by Courthope; by L. Stephen (English Men of Letters Series); by Ward, in Globe Edition; by Johnson, in Lives of the Poets (Cassell's National Library, etc.). Criticism: Essays, by L. Stephen, in Hours in a Library; by Lowell, in My Study Windows; by De Quincey, in Biographical Essays, and in Essays on the Poets; by Thackeray, in English Humorists; by Sainte-Beuve, in English Portraits. Warton's Genius and Writings of Pope (interesting chiefly from the historical view point, as the first definite and extended attack on Pope's writings).
Swift. Texts: Works, 19 vols., ed. by Walter Scott (Edinburgh, 1814- 1824); best edition of prose works is edited by T. Scott, with introduction by Lecky, 12 vols. (Bonn's Library); Selections, edited by Winchester (Ginn and Company); also in Camelot Series, Carisbrooke Library, etc., Journal to Stella, (Dutton, also Putnam); Letters, in Eighteenth Century Letters and Letter Writers, ed. by T.B. Johnson. Life: by L. Stephen (English Men of Letters); by Collins; by Craik; by J. Forster; by Macaulay; by Walter Scott; by Johnson, in Lives of the Poets. Criticism: Essays, by Thackeray, in English Humorists; by A. Dobson, in Eighteenth Century Vignettes; by Masson, in the Three Devils and Other Essays.
Addison. Texts: Works, in Bohn's British Classics; Selections, in Athenaeum Press, etc. Life: by Lucy Aiken; by Courthope (English Men of Letters); by Johnson, in Lives of the Poets. Criticism: Essays, by Macaulay; by Thackeray.
Steele. Texts: Selections, edited by Carpenter in Athenaeum Press (Ginn and Company); various other Selections published by Putnam, Bangs, in Camelot Series, etc.; Plays, edited by Aitken, in Mermaid Series. Life: by Aitken; by A. Dobson (English Worthies Series). Criticism: Essays by Thackeray; by Dobson, in Eighteenth Century Vignettes.
Johnson. Texts: Works, edited by Walesby, 11 vols. (Oxford, 1825); the same, edited by G.B. Hill, in Clarendon Press. Essays, edited by G.B. Hill (Dent); the same, in Camelot series; Rasselas, various school editions, by Ginn and Company, Holt, etc.; Selections from Lives of the Poets, with Macaulay's Life of Johnson, edited by Matthew Arnold (Macmillan). Life: Boswell's Life of Johnson, in Everyman's Library, Temple Classics, Library of English Classics, etc.; by L. Stephen (English Men of Letters); by Grant. Criticism: G.B. Hill's Dr. Johnson, his Friends and Critics; Essays, by L. Stephen, in Hours in a Library; by Macaulay, Birrell, etc.
Boswell. Texts: Life of Johnson, edited by G.B. Hill (London, 1874); various other editions (see above). Life: by Fitzgerald (London, 1891); Roger's Boswelliana (London, 1874). Whitfield's Some Eighteenth Century Men of Letters.
Burke. Texts: Works, 12 vols. (Boston, 1871); reprinted, 6 vols., in Bohn's Library; Selected Works, edited by Payne, in Clarendon Press; On the Sublime and Beautiful, in Temple Classics. For various speeches, see Selections for Reading, above. Life: by Prior; by Morley (English Men of Letters). Criticism: Essay, by Birrell, in Obiter Dicta. See also Dowden's French Revolution and English Literature, and Woodrow Wilson's Mere Literature.
Gibbon. Texts: Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, edited by Bury, 7 vols. (London, 1896-1900); various other editions; The Student's Gibbon, abridged (Murray); Memoirs, edited by Emerson, in Athenaeum Press (Ginn and Company). Life: by Morison (English Men of Letters). Criticism: Essays, by Birrell, in Collected Essays and Res Judicatae; by Stephen, in Studies of a Biographer; by Robertson, in Pioneer Humanists; by Frederick Harrison, in Ruskin and Other Literary Estimates; by Bagehot, in Literary Studies; by Sainte-Beuve, in English Portraits. See also Anton's Masters in History.
Sheridan. Texts: Speeches, 5 vols. (London, 1816); Plays, edited by W.F. Rae (London, 1902); the same, edited by R. Dircks, in Camelot Series; Major Dramas, in Athenaeum Press; Plays also in Morley's Universal Library, Macmillan's English Classics, etc. Life: by Rae; by M. Oliphant (English Men of Letters); by L. Sanders (Great Writers).
Gray. Texts: Works, edited by Gosse (Macmillan); Poems, in Routledge's Pocket Library, Chandos Classics, etc.; Selections, in Athenaeum Press, etc.; Letters, edited by D.C. Tovey (Bohn). Life: by Gosse (English Men of Letters). Criticism: Essays, by Lowell, in Latest Literary Essays; by M. Arnold, in Essays in Criticism; by L. Stephen, in Hours in a Library; by A. Dobson, in Eighteenth Century Vignettes.
Goldsmith. Texts: edited by Masson, Globe edition; Works, edited by Aiken and Tuckerman (Crowell); the same, edited by A. Dobson (Dent); Morley's Universal Library; Arber's The Goldsmith Anthology (Frowde). See also Selections for Reading, above. Life: by Washington Irving; by A. Dobson (Great Writer's Series); by Black (English Men of Letters); by J. Forster; by Prior. Criticism: Essays, by Macaulay; by Thackeray; by De Quincey; by A. Dobson, in Miscellanies.
Cowper. Texts: Works, Globe and Aldine editions; also in Chandos Classics; Selections, in Athenasum Press, Canterbury Poets, etc. The Correspondence of William Cowper, edited by T. Wright, 4 vols. (Dodd, Mead & Company). Life: by Goldwin Smith (English Men of Letters); by Wright; by Southey. Criticism: Essays, by L. Stephen; by Bagehot; by Sainte-Beuve; by Birrell; by Stopford Brooke; by A. Dobson (see above). See also Woodberry's Makers of Literature.
Burns. Texts: Works, Cambridge Poets Edition (containing Henley's Study of Burns), Globe and Aldine editions, Clarendon Press, Canterbury Poets, etc.; Selections, in Athenaeum Press, etc.; Letters, in Camelot Series. Life: by Cunningham; by Henley; by Setoun; by Blackie (Great Writers); by Shairp (English Men of Letters). Criticism: Essays, by Carlyle; by R.L. Stevenson, in Familiar Studies; by Hazlitt, in Lectures on the English Poets; by Stopford Brooke, in Theology in the English Poets; by J. Forster, in Great Teachers.
Blake. Texts: Poems, Aldine edition; also in Canterbury Poets; Complete Works, edited by Ellis and Yeats (London, 1893); Selections, edited by W.B. Yeats, in the Muses' Library (Dutton); Letters, with Life by F. Tatham, edited by A.G.B. Russell (Scribner's, 1896). Life: by Gilchrist; by Story; by Symons. Criticism: Swinburne's William Blake, a Critical Study; Ellis's The Real Blake (McClure, 1907); Elizabeth Cary's The Art of William Blake (Moffat, Yard & Company, 1907). Essay, by A.C. Benson, in Essays.
Thomson. Texts: Works, Aldine edition; The Seasons, and Castle of Indolence, in Clarendon Press, etc. Life: by Bayne; by G.B. Macaulay (English Men of Letters). Essay, by Hazlitt, in Lectures on the English Poets.
Collins. Works, edited by Bronson, in Athenaeum Press; also in Aldine edition. Life: by Johnson, in Lives of the Poets. Essay, by Swinburne, in Miscellanies. See also Beers's English Romanticism in the Eighteenth Century.
Crabbe. Works, with memoir by his son, G. Crabbe, 8 vols. (London, 1834-1835); Poems, edited by A.W. Ward, 3 vols., in Cambridge English Classics (Cambridge, 1905); Selections, in Temple Classics, Canterbury Poets, etc. Life: by Kebbel (Great Writers); by Ainger (English Men of Letters). Essays, by L. Stephen, in Hours in a Library; by Woodberry, in Makers of Literature; by Saintsbury, in Essays in English Literature; by Courthope, in Ward's English Poets; by Edward Fitzgerald, in Miscellanies; by Hazlitt, in Spirit of the Age.
Macpherson. Texts: Ossian, in Canterbury Poets; Poems, translated by Macpherson, edited by Todd (London, 1888). Life and Letters, edited by Saunders (London, 1894). Criticism: J.S. Smart's James Macpherson (Nutt, 1905). See also Beers's English Romanticism. For relation of Macpherson's work to the original Ossian, see Dean of Lismore's Book, edited by MacLauchlan (Edinburgh, 1862); also Poems of Ossian, translated by Clerk (Edinburgh, 1870).
Chatterton. Works, edited by Skeat (London, 1875); Poems, in Canterbury Poets. Life: by Russell; by Wilson; Masson's Chatterton, a Biography. Criticism: C.E. Russell's Thomas Chatterton (Moffatt, Yard & Company); Essays, by Watts-Dunton, in Ward's English Poets; by Masson, in Essays Biographical and Critical. See also Beers's English Romanticism.
Percy. Reliques, edited by Wheatley (London, 1891); the same, in Everyman's Library, Chandos Classics, etc. Essay, by J.W. Hales, Revival of Ballad Poetry, in Folia Literaria. See also Beers's English Romanticism, etc. (Special works, above.)
Defoe. Texts: Romances and Narratives, edited by Aitken (Dent); Poems and Pamphlets, in Arber's English Garner, vol. 8; school editions of Robinson Crusoe, and Journal of the Plague Year (Ginn and Company, etc.); Captain Singleton, and Memoirs of a Cavalier, in Everyman's Library; Early Writings, in Carisbrooke Library (Routledge). Life: by W. Lee; by Minto (English Men of Letters); by Wright; also in Westminster Biographies (Small, Maynard). Essay, by L. Stephen, in Hours in a Library.
Richardson. Works: edited by L. Stephen (London, 1883); edited by Philips, with life (New York, 1901); Correspondence, edited by A. Barbauld, 6 vols. (London, 1804). Life: by Thomson; by A. Dobson. Essays, by L. Stephen, in Hours in a Library; by A. Dobson, in Eighteenth Century Vignettes.
Fielding. Works: Temple Edition, edited by Saintsbury (Dent); Selected Essays, in Athenaeum Press; Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon, in Cassell's National Library. Life: by Dobson (English Men of Letters); Lawrence's Life and Times of Fielding. Essays, by Lowell; by Thackeray; by L. Stephen; by A. Dobson (see above); by G.B. Smith, in Poets and Novelists.
Smollett. Works, edited by Saintsbury (London, 1895); Works, edited by Henley (Scribner). Life: by Hannah (Great Writers); by Smeaton; by Chambers. Essays, by Thackeray; by Henley; by Dobson, in Eighteenth Century Vignettes.
Sterne. Works: edited by Saintsbury (Dent); Tristram Shandy, and A Sentimental Journey, in Temple Classics, Morley's Universal Library, etc. Life: by Fitzgerald; by Traill (English Men of Letters); Life and Times, by W.L. Cross (Macmillan). Essays, by Thackeray; by Bagehot, in Literary Studies.
Horace Walpole. Texts: Castle of Otranto, in King's Classics, Cassell's National Library, etc. Letters, edited by C.D. Yonge. Morley's Walpole, in Twelve English Statesmen (Macmillan). Essay, by L. Stephen, in Hours in a Library. See also Beers's English Romanticism.
Frances Burney (Madame d'Arblay). Texts: Evelina, in Temple Classics, 2 vols. (Macmillan). Diary and Letters, edited by S.C. Woolsey. Seeley's Fanny Burney and her Friends. Essay, by Macaulay.
SUGGESTIVE QUESTIONS. 1. Describe briefly the social development of the eighteenth century. What effect did this have on literature? What accounts for the prevalence of prose? What influence did the first newspapers exert on life and literature? How do the readers of this age compare with those of the Age of Elizabeth?
2. How do you explain the fact that satire was largely used in both prose and poetry? Name the principal satires of the age. What is the chief object of satire? of literature? How do the two objects conflict?
3. What is the meaning of the term "classicism," as applied to the literature of this age? Did the classicism of Johnson, for instance, have any relation to classic literature in its true sense? Why is this period called the Augustan Age? Why was Shakespeare not regarded by this age as a classical writer?
4. Pope. In what respect is Pope a unique writer? Tell briefly the story of his life. What are his principal works? How does he reflect the critical spirit of his age? What are the chief characteristics of his poetry? What do you find to copy in his style? What is lacking in his poetry? Compare his subjects with those of Burns of Tennyson or Milton, for instance. How would Chaucer or Burns tell the story of the Rape of the Lock? What similarity do you find between Pope's poetry and Addison's prose?
5. Swift. What is the general character of Swift's work? Name his chief satires. What is there to copy in his style? Does he ever strive for ornament or effect in writing? Compare Swift's Gulliver's Travels with Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, in style, purpose of writing, and interest. What resemblances do you find in these two contemporary writers? Can you explain the continued popularity of Gulliver's Travels?
6. Addison and Steele. What great work did Addison and Steele do for literature? Make a brief comparison between these two men, having in mind their purpose, humor, knowledge of life, and human sympathy, as shown, for instance, in No. 112 and No. 2 of the Spectator Essays. Compare their humor with that of Swift. How is their work a preparation for the novel?
7. Johnson. For what is Dr. Johnson famous in literature? Can you explain his great influence? Compare his style with that of Swift or Defoe. What are the remarkable elements in Boswell's Life of Johnson? Write a description of an imaginary meeting of Johnson, Goldsmith, and Boswell in a coffeehouse.
8. Burke. For what is Burke remarkable? What great objects influenced him in the three periods of his life? Why has he been called a romantic poet who speaks in prose? Compare his use of imagery with that of other writers of the period. What is there to copy and what is there to avoid in his style? Can you trace the influence of Burke's American speeches on later English politics? What similarities do you find between Burke and Milton, as revealed in their prose works?
9. Gibbon. For what is Gibbon "worthy to be remembered"? Why does he mark an epoch in historical writing? What is meant by the scientific method of writing history? Compare Gibbon's style with that of Johnson. Contrast it with that of Swift, and also with that of some modern historian, Parkman, for example.
10. What is meant by the term "romanticism?" What are its chief characteristics? How does it differ from classicism? Illustrate the meaning from the work of Gray, Cowper, or Burns. Can you explain the prevalence of melancholy in romanticism?
11. Gray. What are the chief works of Gray? Can you explain the continued popularity of his "Elegy"? What romantic elements are found in his poetry? What resemblances and what differences do you find in the works of Gray and of Goldsmith?
12. Goldsmith. Tell the story of Goldsmith's life. What are his chief works? Show from The Deserted Village the romantic and the so-called classic elements in his work. What great work did he do for the early novel, in The Vicar of Wakefield? Can you explain the popularity of She Stoops to Conquer? Name some of Goldsmith's characters who have found a permanent place in our literature. What personal reminiscences have you noted in The Traveller, The Deserted Village, and She Stoops to Conquer?
13. Cowper. Describe Cowper's The Task. How does it show the romantic spirit? Give passages from "John Gilpin" to illustrate Cowper's humor.
14. Burns. Tell the story of Burns's life. Some one has said, "The measure of a man's sin is the difference between what he is and what he might be." Comment upon this, with reference to Burns. What is the general character of his poetry? Why is he called the poet of common men? What subjects does he choose for his poetry? Compare him, in this respect, with Pope. What elements in the poet's character are revealed in such poems as "To a Mouse" and "To a Mountain Daisy"? How do Burns and Gray regard nature? What poems show his sympathy with the French Revolution, and with democracy? Read "The Cotter's Saturday Night," and explain its enduring interest. Can you explain the secret of Burns's great popularity?
15. Blake. What are the characteristics of Blake's poetry? Can you explain why Blake, though the greatest poetic genius of the age, is so little appreciated?
16. Percy. In what respect did Percy's Reliques influence the romantic movement? What are the defects in his collection of ballads? Can you explain why such a crude poem as "Chevy Chase" should be popular with an age that delighted in Pope's "Essay on Man"?
17. Macpherson. What is meant by Macpherson's "Ossian"? Can you account for the remarkable success of the Ossianic forgeries?
18. Chatterton. Tell the story of Chatterton and the Rowley Poems. Read Chatterton's "Bristowe Tragedie," and compare it, in style and interest, with the old ballads, like "The Battle of Otterburn" or "The Hunting of the Cheviot" (all in Manly's English Poetry).
19. The First Novelists. What is meant by the modern novel? How does it differ from the early romance and from the adventure story? What are some of the precursors of the novel? What was the purpose of stories modeled after Don Quixote? What is the significance of Pamela? What elements did Fielding add to the novel? What good work did Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield accomplish? Compare Goldsmith, in this respect, with Steele and Addison.
CHRONOLOGY End of Seventeenth and the Eighteenth Century ============================================================================ HISTORY LITERATURE 1689. William and Mary 1683-1719. Defoe's early writings Bill of Rights. Toleration Act 1695. Press made free 1700(?) Beginning of London clubs 1702. Anne (d. 1714) War of Spanish Succession 1702. First daily newspaper 1704. Battle of Blenheim 1704. Addison's The Campaign Swift's Tale of a Tub 1707. Union of England and Scotland 1709. The Tatler Johnson born (d. 1784) 1710-1713. Swift in London. Journal to Stella 1711. The Spectator 1712. Pope's Rape of the Lock 1714. George I (d. 1727) 1719. Robinson Crusoe 1721. Cabinet government, Walpole first prime minister 1726. Gulliver's Travels 1726-1730. Thomson's The Seasons 1727. George II (d. 1760) 1732-1734. Essay on Man 1738. Rise of Methodism 1740. Richardson's Pamela 1740. War of Austrian Succession 1742. Fielding's Joesph Andrews 1746. Jacobite Rebellion 1749. Fielding's Tom Jones 1750-1752. Johnson's The Rambler 1750-1757. Conquest of India 1751. Gray's Elegy 1755. Johnson's Dictionary 1756. War with France 1759. Wolf at Quebec 1760. George III (d. 1820) 1760-1767. Sterne's Tristram Shandy 1764. Johnson's Literary Club 1765. Stamp Act 1765. Percy's Reliques 1766. Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield 1770. Goldsmith's Deserted Village 1771. Beginning of great newspapers 1773. Boston Tea Party 1774. Howard's prison reforms 1774-1775. Burke's American speeches 1775. American Revolution 1776-1788. Gibbon's Rome 1776. Declaration of Independence 1779. Cowper's Olney Hymns 1779-81. Johnson's Lives of the Poets 1783. Treaty of Paris 1783. Blake's Poetical Sketches 1785. Cowper's The Task The London Times 1786. Trial of Warren Hastings 1786. Burns's first poems (the Kilmarnock Burns) Burke's Warren Hastings 1789-1799. French Revolution 1790. Burke's French Revolution 1791. Boswell's Life of Johnson 1793. War with France ============================================================================
* * * * *
THE AGE OF ROMANTICISM (1800-1850)
THE SECOND CREATIVE PERIOD OF ENGLISH LITERATURE
The first half of the nineteenth century records the triumph of Romanticism in literature and of democracy in government; and the two movements are so closely associated, in so many nations and in so many periods of history, that one must wonder if there be not some relation of cause and effect between them. Just as we understand the tremendous energizing influence of Puritanism in the matter of English liberty by remembering that the common people had begun to read, and that their book was the Bible, so we may understand this age of popular government by remembering that the chief subject of romantic literature was the essential nobleness of common men and the value of the individual. As we read now that brief portion of history which lies between the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the English Reform Bill of 1832, we are in the presence of such mighty political upheavals that "the age of revolution" is the only name by which we can adequately characterize it. Its great historic movements become intelligible only when we read what was written in this period; for the French Revolution and the American commonwealth, as well as the establishment of a true democracy in England by the Reform Bill, were the inevitable results of ideas which literature had spread rapidly through the civilized world. Liberty is fundamentally an ideal; and that ideal—beautiful, inspiring, compelling, as a loved banner in the wind—was kept steadily before men's minds by a multitude of books and pamphlets as far apart as Burns's Poems and Thomas Paine's Rights of Man,—all read eagerly by the common people, all proclaiming the dignity of common life, and all uttering the same passionate cry against every form of class or caste oppression.
First the dream, the ideal in some human soul; then the written word which proclaims it, and impresses other minds with its truth and beauty; then the united and determined effort of men to make the dream a reality,—that seems to be a fair estimate of the part that literature plays, even in our political progress.
HISTORICAL SUMMARY. The period we are considering begins in the latter half of the reign of George III and ends with the accession of Victoria in 1837. When on a foggy morning in November, 1783, King George entered the House of Lords and in a trembling voice recognized the independence of the United States of America, he unconsciously proclaimed the triumph of that free government by free men which had been the ideal of English literature for more than a thousand years; though it was not till 1832, when the Reform Bill became the law of the land, that England herself learned the lesson taught her by America, and became the democracy of which her writers had always dreamed.
The half century between these two events is one of great turmoil, yet of steady advance in every department of English life. The storm center of the political unrest was the French Revolution, that frightful uprising which proclaimed the natural rights of man and the abolition of class distinctions. Its effect on the whole civilized world is beyond computation. Patriotic clubs and societies multiplied in England, all asserting the doctrine of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, the watchwords of the Revolution. Young England, led by Pitt the younger, hailed the new French republic and offered it friendship; old England, which pardons no revolutions but her own, looked with horror on the turmoil in France and, misled by Burke and the nobles of the realm, forced the two nations into war. Even Pitt saw a blessing in this at first; because the sudden zeal for fighting a foreign nation—which by some horrible perversion is generally called patriotism—might turn men's thoughts from their own to their neighbors' affairs, and so prevent a threatened revolution at home.
The causes of this threatened revolution were not political but economic. By her invention in steel and machinery, and by her monopoly of the carrying trade, England had become the workshop of the world. Her wealth had increased beyond her wildest dreams; but the unequal distribution of that wealth was a spectacle to make angels weep. The invention of machinery at first threw thousands of skilled hand workers out of employment; in order to protect a few agriculturists, heavy duties were imposed on corn and wheat, and bread rose to famine prices just when laboring men had the least money to pay for it. There followed a curious spectacle. While England increased in wealth, and spent vast sums to support her army and subsidize her allies in Europe, and while nobles, landowners, manufacturers, and merchants lived in increasing luxury, a multitude of skilled laborers were clamoring for work. Fathers sent their wives and little children into the mines and factories, where sixteen hours' labor would hardly pay for the daily bread; and in every large city were riotous mobs made up chiefly of hungry men and women. It was this unbearable economic condition, and not any political theory, as Burke supposed, which occasioned the danger of another English revolution.
It is only when we remember these conditions that we can understand two books, Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations and Thomas Paine's Rights of Man, which can hardly be considered as literature, but which exercised an enormous influence in England. Smith was a Scottish thinker, who wrote to uphold the doctrine that labor is the only source of a nation's wealth, and that any attempt to force labor into unnatural channels, or to prevent it by protective duties from freely obtaining the raw materials for its industry, is unjust and destructive. Paine was a curious combination of Jekyll and Hyde, shallow and untrustworthy personally, but with a passionate devotion to popular liberty. His Rights of Man published in London in 1791, was like one of Burns's lyric outcries against institutions which oppressed humanity. Coming so soon after the destruction of the Bastille, it added fuel to the flames kindled in England by the French Revolution. The author was driven out of the country, on the curious ground that he endangered the English constitution, but not until his book had gained a wide sale and influence.
All these dangers, real and imaginary, passed away when England turned from the affairs of France to remedy her own economic conditions. The long Continental war came to an end with Napoleon's overthrow at Waterloo, in 1815; and England, having gained enormously in prestige abroad, now turned to the work of reform at home. The destruction of the African slave trade; the mitigation of horribly unjust laws, which included poor debtors and petty criminals in the same class; the prevention of child labor; the freedom of the press; the extension of manhood suffrage; the abolition of restrictions against Catholics in Parliament; the establishment of hundreds of popular schools, under the leadership of Andrew Bell and Joseph Lancaster,—these are but a few of the reforms which mark the progress of civilization in a single half century. When England, in 1833, proclaimed the emancipation of all slaves in all her colonies, she unconsciously proclaimed her final emancipation from barbarism.
LITERARY CHARACTERISTICS OF THE AGE. It is intensely interesting to note how literature at first reflected the political turmoil of the age; and then, when the turmoil was over and England began her mighty work of reform, how literature suddenly developed a new creative spirit, which shows itself in the poetry of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats, and in the prose of Scott, Jane Austen, Lamb, and De Quincey,—a wonderful group of writers, whose patriotic enthusiasm suggests the Elizabethan days, and whose genius has caused their age to be known as the second creative period of our literature. Thus in the early days, when old institutions seemed crumbling with the Bastille, Coleridge and Southey formed their youthful scheme of a "Pantisocracy on the banks of the Susquehanna,"—an ideal commonwealth, in which the principles of More's Utopia should be put in practice. Even Wordsworth, fired with political enthusiasm, could write,
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven.
The essence of Romanticism was, it must be remembered, that literature must reflect all that is spontaneous and unaffected in nature and in man, and be free to follow its own fancy in its own way. We have already noted this characteristic in the work of the Elizabethan dramatists, who followed their own genius in opposition to all the laws of the critics. In Coleridge we see this independence expressed in "Kubla Khan" and "The Ancient Mariner," two dream pictures, one of the populous Orient, the other of the lonely sea. In Wordsworth this literary independence led him inward to the heart of common things. Following his own instinct, as Shakespeare does, he too
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
And so, more than any other writer of the age, he invests the common life of nature, and the souls of common men and women, with glorious significance. These two poets, Coleridge and Wordsworth, best represent the romantic genius of the age in which they lived, though Scott had a greater literary reputation, and Byron and Shelley had larger audiences.
The second characteristic of this age is that it is emphatically an age of poetry. The previous century, with its practical outlook on life, was largely one of prose; but now, as in the Elizabethan Age, the young enthusiasts turned as naturally to poetry as a happy man to singing. The glory of the age is in the poetry of Scott, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Moore, and Southey. Of its prose works, those of Scott alone have attained a very wide reading, though the essays of Charles Lamb and the novels of Jane Austen have slowly won for their authors a secure place in the history of our literature. Coleridge and Southey (who with Wordsworth form the trio of so-called Lake Poets) wrote far more prose than poetry; and Southey's prose is much better than his verse. It was characteristic of the spirit of this age, so different from our own, that Southey could say that, in order to earn money, he wrote in verse "what would otherwise have been better written in prose."
It was during this period that woman assumed, for the first time, an important place in our literature. Probably the chief reason for this interesting phenomenon lies in the fact that woman was for the first time given some slight chance of education, of entering into the intellectual life of the race; and as is always the case when woman is given anything like a fair opportunity she responded magnificently. A secondary reason may be found in the nature of the age itself, which was intensely emotional. The French Revolution stirred all Europe to its depths, and during the following half century every great movement in literature, as in politics and religion, was characterized by strong emotion; which is all the more noticeable by contrast with the cold, formal, satiric spirit of the early eighteenth century. As woman is naturally more emotional than man, it may well be that the spirit of this emotional age attracted her, and gave her the opportunity to express herself in literature.
As all strong emotions tend to extremes, the age produced a new type of novel which seems rather hysterical now, but which in its own day delighted multitudes of readers whose nerves were somewhat excited, and who reveled in "bogey" stories of supernatural terror. Mrs. Anne Radcliffe (1764-1823) was one of the most successful writers of this school of exaggerated romance. Her novels, with their azure-eyed heroines, haunted castles, trapdoors, bandits, abductions, rescues in the nick of time, and a general medley of overwrought joys and horrors, were immensely popular, not only with the crowd of novel readers, but also with men of unquestioned literary genius, like Scott and Byron.
In marked contrast to these extravagant stories is the enduring work of Jane Austen, with her charming descriptions of everyday life, and of Maria Edgeworth, whose wonderful pictures of Irish life suggested to Walter Scott the idea of writing his Scottish romances. Two other women who attained a more or less lasting fame were Hannah More, poet, dramatist, and novelist, and Jane Porter, whose Scottish Chiefs and Thaddeus of Warsaw are still in demand in our libraries. Beside these were Fanny Burney (Madame D'Arblay) and several other writers whose works, in the early part of the nineteenth century, raised woman to the high place in literature which she has ever since maintained.
In this age literary criticism became firmly established by the appearance of such magazines as the Edinburgh Review (18O2), The Quarterly Review (1808), Blackwood's Magazine (1817), the Westminster Review (1824), The Spectator (1828), The Athenaeum (1828), and Fraser's Magazine (1830). These magazines, edited by such men as Francis Jeffrey, John Wilson (who is known to us as Christopher North), and John Gibson Lockhart, who gave us the Life of Scott, exercised an immense influence on all subsequent literature. At first their criticisms were largely destructive, as when Jeffrey hammered Scott, Wordsworth, and Byron most unmercifully; and Lockhart could find no good in either Keats or Tennyson; but with added wisdom, criticism assumed its true function of construction. And when these magazines began to seek and to publish the works of unknown writers, like Hazlitt, Lamb, and Leigh Hunt, they discovered the chief mission of the modern magazine, which is to give every writer of ability the opportunity to make his work known to the world.
I. THE POETS OF ROMANTICISM
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH (1770-1850)
It was in 1797 that the new romantic movement in our literature assumed definite form. Wordsworth and Coleridge retired to the Quantock Hills, Somerset, and there formed the deliberate purpose to make literature "adapted to interest mankind permanently," which, they declared, classic poetry could never do. Helping the two poets was Wordsworth's sister Dorothy, with a woman's love for flowers and all beautiful things; and a woman's divine sympathy for human life even in its lowliest forms. Though a silent partner, she furnished perhaps the largest share of the inspiration which resulted in the famous Lyrical Ballads of 1798. In their partnership Coleridge was to take up the "supernatural, or at least romantic"; while Wordsworth was "to give the charm of novelty to things of everyday ... by awakening the mind's attention from the lethargy of custom and directing it to the loveliness and the wonders of the world before us." The whole spirit of their work is reflected in two poems of this remarkable little volume, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," which is Coleridge's masterpiece, and "Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey," which expresses Wordsworth's poetical creed, and which is one of the noblest and most significant of our poems. That the Lyrical Ballads attracted no attention, and was practically ignored by a public that would soon go into raptures over Byron's Childe Harold and Don Juan, is of small consequence. Many men will hurry a mile to see skyrockets, who never notice Orion and the Pleiades from their own doorstep. Had Wordsworth and Coleridge written only this one little book, they would still be among the representative writers of an age that proclaimed the final triumph of Romanticism.
LIFE OF WORDSWORTH. To understand the life of him who, in Tennyson's words, "uttered nothing base," it is well to read first The Prelude, which records the impressions made upon Wordsworth's mind from his earliest recollection until his full manhood, in 1805, when the poem was completed. Outwardly his long and uneventful life divides itself naturally into four periods: (1) his childhood and youth, in the Cumberland Hills, from 1770 to 1787; (2) a period of uncertainty, of storm and stress, including his university life at Cambridge, his travels abroad, and his revolutionary experience, from 1787 to 1797; (3) a short but significant period of finding himself and his work, from 1797 to 1799; (4) a long period of retirement in the northern lake region, where he was born, and where for a full half century he lived so close to nature that her influence is reflected in all his poetry. When one has outlined these four periods he has told almost all that can be told of a life which is marked, not by events, but largely by spiritual experiences.
Wordsworth was born in 1770 at Cockermouth, Cumberland, where the Derwent,
Fairest of all rivers, loved To blend his murmurs with my nurse's song, And from his alder shades and rocky falls, And from his fords and shallows, sent a voice That flowed along my dreams.
It is almost a shock to one who knows Wordsworth only by his calm and noble poetry to read that he was of a moody and violent temper, and that his mother despaired of him alone among her five children. She died when he was but eight years old, but not till she had exerted an influence which lasted all his life, so that he could remember her as "the heart of all our learnings and our loves." The father died some six years later, and the orphan was taken in charge by relatives, who sent him to school at Hawkshead, in the beautiful lake region. Here, apparently, the unroofed school of nature attracted him more than the discipline of the classics, and he learned more eagerly from the flowers and hills and stars than from his books; but one must read Wordsworth's own record, in The Prelude, to appreciate this. Three things in this poem must impress even the casual reader: first, Wordsworth loves to be alone, and is never lonely, with nature; second, like every other child who spends much time alone in the woods and fields, he feels the presence of some living spirit, real though unseen, and companionable though silent; third, his impressions are exactly like our own, and delightfully familiar. When he tells of the long summer day spent in swimming, basking in the sun, and questing over the hills; or of the winter night when, on his skates, he chased the reflection of a star in the black ice; or of his exploring the lake in a boat, and getting suddenly frightened when the world grew big and strange,—in all this he is simply recalling a multitude of our own vague, happy memories of childhood. He goes out into the woods at night to tend his woodcock snares; he runs across another boy's snares, follows them, finds a woodcock caught, takes it, hurries away through the night. And then,
I heard among the solitary hills Low breathings coming after me, and sounds Of undistinguishable motion.
That is like a mental photograph. Any boy who has come home through the woods at night will recognize it instantly. Again he tells as of going bird's-nesting on the cliffs:
Oh, when I have hung Above the raven's nest, by knots of grass And half-inch fissures in the slippery rock But ill-sustained, and almost (so it seemed) Suspended by the blast that blew amain, Shouldering the naked crag,—oh, at that time, While on the perilous ridge I hung alone, With what strange utterance did the loud dry wind Blow through my ear! The sky seemed not a sky Of earth,—and with what motion moved the clouds!
No man can read such records without finding his own boyhood again, and his own abounding joy of life, in the poet's early impressions.
The second period of Wordsworth's life begins with his university course at Cambridge, in 1787. In the third book of The Prelude we find a dispassionate account of student life, with its trivial occupations, its pleasures and general aimlessness. Wordsworth proved to be a very ordinary scholar, following his own genius rather than the curriculum, and looking forward more eagerly to his vacation among the hills than to his examinations. Perhaps the most interesting thing in his life at Cambridge was his fellowship with the young political enthusiasts, whose spirit is expressed in his remarkable poem on the French Revolution,—a poem which is better than a volume of history to show the hopes and ambitions that stirred all Europe in the first days of that mighty upheaval. Wordsworth made two trips to France, in 1790 and 1791, seeing things chiefly through the rosy spectacles of the young Oxford Republicans. On his second visit he joined the Girondists, or the moderate Republicans, and only the decision of his relatives, who cut off his allowance and hurried him back to England, prevented his going headlong to the guillotine with the leaders of his party. Two things rapidly cooled Wordsworth's revolutionary enthusiasm, and ended the only dramatic interest of his placid life. One was the excesses of the Revolution itself, and especially the execution of Louis XVI; the other was the rise of Napoleon, and the slavish adulation accorded by France to this most vulgar and dangerous of tyrants. His coolness soon grew to disgust and opposition, as shown by his subsequent poems; and this brought upon him the censure of Shelley, Byron, and other extremists, though it gained the friendship of Scott, who from the first had no sympathy with the Revolution or with the young English enthusiasts.
Of the decisive period of Wordsworth's life, when he was living with his sister Dorothy and with Coleridge at Alfoxden, we have already spoken. The importance of this decision to give himself to poetry is evident when we remember that, at thirty years of age, he was without money or any definite aim or occupation in life. He considered the law, but confessed he had no sympathy for its contradictory precepts and practices; he considered the ministry, but though strongly inclined to the Church, he felt himself not good enough for the sacred office; once he had wanted to be a soldier and serve his country, but had wavered at the prospect of dying of disease in a foreign land and throwing away his life without glory or profit to anybody. An apparent accident, which looks more to us like a special Providence, determined his course. He had taken care of a young friend, Raisley Calvert, who died of consumption and left Wordsworth heir to a few hundred pounds, and to the request that he should give his life to poetry. It was this unexpected gift which enabled Wordsworth to retire from the world and follow his genius. All his life he was poor, and lived in an atmosphere of plain living and high thinking. His poetry brought him almost nothing in the way of money rewards, and it was only by a series of happy accidents that he was enabled to continue his work. One of these accidents was that he became a Tory, and soon accepted the office of a distributor of stamps, and was later appointed poet laureate by the government,—which occasioned Browning's famous but ill-considered poem of "The Lost Leader":
Just for a handful of silver he left us, Just for a riband to stick in his coat.
The last half century of Wordsworth's life, in which he retired to his beloved lake district and lived successively at Grasmere and Rydal Mount, remind one strongly of Browning's long struggle for literary recognition. It was marked by the same steadfast purpose, the same trusted ideal, the same continuous work, and the same tardy recognition by the public. His poetry was mercilessly ridiculed by nearly all the magazine critics, who seized upon the worst of his work as a standard of judgment; and book after book of poems appeared without meeting any success save the approval of a few loyal friends. Without doubt or impatience he continued his work, trusting to the future to recognize and approve it. His attitude here reminds one strongly of the poor old soldier whom he met in the hills, who refused to beg or to mention his long service or the neglect of his country, saying with noble simplicity,
My trust is in the God of Heaven And in the eye of him who passes me.
Such work and patience are certain of their reward, and long before Wordsworth's death he felt the warm sunshine of general approval. The wave of popular enthusiasm for Scott and Byron passed by, as their limitations were recognized; and Wordsworth was hailed by critics as the first living poet, and one of the greatest that England had ever produced. On the death of Southey (1843) he was made poet laureate, against his own inclination. The late excessive praise left him quite as unmoved as the first excessive neglect. The steady decline in the quality of his work is due not, as might be expected, to self-satisfaction at success, but rather to his intense conservatism, to his living too much alone and failing to test his work by the standards and judgment of other literary men. He died tranquilly in 1850, at the age of eighty years, and was buried in the churchyard at Grasmere.
Such is the brief outward record of the world's greatest interpreter of nature's message; and only one who is acquainted with both nature and the poet can realize how inadequate is any biography; for the best thing about Wordsworth must always remain unsaid. It is a comfort to know that his life, noble, sincere, "heroically happy," never contradicted his message. Poetry was his life; his soul was in all his work; and only by reading what he has written can we understand the man.
THE POETRY OF WORDSWORTH. There is often a sense of disappointment when one reads Wordsworth for the first time; and this leads us to speak first of two difficulties which may easily prevent a just appreciation of the poet's worth. The first difficulty is in the reader, who is often puzzled by Wordsworth's absolute simplicity. We are so used to stage effects in poetry, that beauty unadorned is apt to escape our notice,—like Wordsworth's "Lucy":
A violet by a mossy stone, Half hidden from the eye; Fair as a star, when only one Is shining in the sky.
Wordsworth set himself to the task of freeing poetry from all its "conceits," of speaking the language of simple truth, and of portraying man and nature as they are; and in this good work we are apt to miss the beauty, the passion, the intensity, that hide themselves under his simplest lines. The second difficulty is in the poet, not in the reader. It must be confessed that Wordsworth is not always melodious; that he is seldom graceful, and only occasionally inspired. When he is inspired, few poets can be compared with him; at other times the bulk of his verse is so wooden and prosy that we wonder how a poet could have written it. Moreover he is absolutely without humor, and so he often fails to see the small step that separates the sublime from the ridiculous. In no other way can we explain "The Idiot Boy," or pardon the serious absurdity of "Peter Bell" and his grieving jackass.
On account of these difficulties it is well to avoid at first the longer works and begin with a good book of selections. When we read these exquisite shorter poems, with their noble lines that live forever in our memory, we realize that Wordsworth is the greatest poet of nature that our literature has produced. If we go further, and study the poems that impress us, we shall find four remarkable characteristics: (1) Wordsworth is sensitive as a barometer to every subtle change in the world about him. In The Prelude he compares himself to an aeolian harp, which answers with harmony to every touch of the wind; and the figure is strikingly accurate, as well as interesting, for there is hardly a sight or a sound, from a violet to a mountain and from a bird note to the thunder of the cataract, that is not reflected in some beautiful way in Wordsworth's poetry.
(2) Of all the poets who have written of nature there is none that compares with him in the truthfulness of his representation. Burns, like Gray, is apt to read his own emotions into natural objects, so that there is more of the poet than of nature even in his mouse and mountain daisy; but Wordsworth gives you the bird and the flower, the wind and the tree and the river, just as they are, and is content to let them speak their own message.
(3) No other poet ever found such abundant beauty in the common world. He had not only sight, but insight, that is, he not only sees clearly and describes accurately, but penetrates to the heart of things and always finds some exquisite meaning that is not written on the surface. It is idle to specify or to quote lines on flowers or stars, on snow or vapor. Nothing is ugly or commonplace in his world; on the contrary, there is hardly one natural phenomenon which he has not glorified by pointing out some beauty that was hidden from our eyes.
(4) It is the life of nature which is everywhere recognized; not mere growth and cell changes, but sentient, personal life; and the recognition of this personality in nature characterizes all the world's great poetry. In his childhood Wordsworth regarded natural objects, the streams, the hills, the flowers, even the winds, as his companions; and with his mature belief that all nature is the reflection of the living God, it was inevitable that his poetry should thrill with the sense of a Spirit that "rolls through all things." Cowper, Burns, Keats, Tennyson,—all these poets give you the outward aspects of nature in varying degrees; but Wordsworth gives you her very life, and the impression of some personal living spirit that meets and accompanies the man who goes alone through the woods and fields. We shall hardly find, even in the philosophy of Leibnitz, or in the nature myths of our Indians, any such impression of living nature as this poet awakens in us. And that suggests another delightful characteristic of Wordsworth's poetry, namely, that he seems to awaken rather than create an impression; he stirs our memory deeply, so that in reading him we live once more in the vague, beautiful wonderland of our own childhood.
Such is the philosophy of Wordsworth's nature poetry. If we search now for his philosophy of human life, we shall find four more doctrines, which rest upon his basal conception that man is not apart from nature, but is the very "life of her life." (1) In childhood man is sensitive as a wind harp to all natural influences; he is an epitome of the gladness and beauty of the world. Wordsworth explains this gladness and this sensitiveness to nature by the doctrine that the child comes straight from the Creator of nature:
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting: The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting, And cometh from afar: Not in entire forgetfulness And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come From God, who is our home.
In this exquisite ode, which he calls "Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood" (1807), Wordsworth sums up his philosophy of childhood; and he may possibly be indebted here to the poet Vaughan, who, more than a century before, had proclaimed in "The Retreat" the same doctrine. This kinship with nature and with God, which glorifies childhood, ought to extend through a man's whole life and ennoble it. This is the teaching of "Tintern Abbey," in which the best part of our life is shown to be the result of natural influences. According to Wordsworth, society and the crowded unnatural life of cities tend to weaken and pervert humanity; and a return to natural and simple living is the only remedy for human wretchedness.
(2) The natural instincts and pleasures of childhood are the true standards of a man's happiness in this life. All artificial pleasures soon grow tiresome. The natural pleasures, which a man so easily neglects in his work, are the chief means by which we may expect permanent and increasing joy. In "Tintern Abbey," "The Rainbow," "Ode to Duty," and "Intimations of Immortality" we see this plain teaching; but we can hardly read one of Wordsworth's pages without finding it slipped in unobtrusively, like the fragrance of a wild flower.
(3) The truth of humanity, that is, the common life which labors and loves and shares the general heritage of smiles and tears, is the only subject of permanent literary interest. Burns and the early poets of the Revival began the good work of showing the romantic interest of common life; and Wordsworth continued it in "Michael," "The Solitary Reaper," "To a Highland Girl," "Stepping Westward," The Excursion, and a score of lesser poems. Joy and sorrow, not of princes or heroes, but "in widest commonalty spread," are his themes; and the hidden purpose of many of his poems is to show that the keynote of all life is happiness,—not an occasional thing, the result of chance or circumstance, but a heroic thing, to be won, as one would win any other success, by work and patience.
(4) To this natural philosophy of man Wordsworth adds a mystic element, the result of his own belief that in every natural object there is a reflection of the living God. Nature is everywhere transfused and illumined by Spirit; man also is a reflection of the divine Spirit; and we shall never understand the emotions roused by a flower or a sunset until we learn that nature appeals through the eye of man to his inner spirit. In a word, nature must be "spiritually discerned." In "Tintern Abbey" the spiritual appeal of nature is expressed in almost every line; but the mystic conception of man is seen more clearly in "Intimations of Immortality," which Emerson calls "the high-water mark of poetry in the nineteenth century." In this last splendid ode Wordsworth adds to his spiritual interpretation of nature and man the alluring doctrine of preexistence, which has appealed so powerfully to Hindoo and Greek in turn, and which makes of human life a continuous, immortal thing, without end or beginning.
Wordsworth's longer poems, since they contain much that is prosy and uninteresting, may well be left till after we have read the odes, sonnets, and short descriptive poems that have made him famous. As showing a certain heroic cast of Wordsworth's mind, it is interesting to learn that the greater part of his work, including The Prelude and The Excursion, was intended for a place in a single great poem, to be called The Recluse, which should treat of nature, man, and society. The Prelude, treating of the growth of a poet's mind, was to introduce the work. The Home at Grasmere, which is the first book of The Recluse, was not published till 1888, long after the poet's death. The Excursion (1814) is the second book of The Recluse; and the third was never completed, though Wordsworth intended to include most of his shorter poems in this third part, and so make an immense personal epic of a poet's life and work. It is perhaps just as well that the work remained unfinished. The best of his work appeared in the Lyrical Ballads (1798) and in the sonnets, odes, and lyrics of the next ten years; though "The Duddon Sonnets" (1820), "To a Skylark" (1825), and "Yarrow Revisited" (1831) show that he retained till past sixty much of his youthful enthusiasm. In his later years, however, he perhaps wrote too much; his poetry, like his prose, becomes dull and unimaginative; and we miss the flashes of insight, the tender memories of childhood, and the recurrence of noble lines—each one a poem—that constitutes the surprise and the delight of reading Wordsworth.
The outward shows of sky and earth, Of hill and valley, he has viewed; And impulses of deeper birth Have come to him in solitude. In common things that round us lie Some random truths he can impart— The harvest of a quiet eye That broods and sleeps on his own heart.
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE (1772-1834)
A grief without a pang, void, dark and drear, A stifled, drowsy, unimpassioned grief, Which finds no natural outlet, no relief, In word, or sigh, or tear.
In the wonderful "Ode to Dejection," from which the above fragment is taken, we have a single strong impression of Coleridge's whole life,—a sad, broken, tragic life, in marked contrast with the peaceful existence of his friend Wordsworth. For himself, during the greater part of his life, the poet had only grief and remorse as his portion; but for everybody else, for the audiences that were charmed by the brilliancy of his literary lectures, for the friends who gathered about him to be inspired by his ideals and conversation, and for all his readers who found unending delight in the little volume which holds his poetry, he had and still has a cheering message, full of beauty and hope and inspiration. Such is Coleridge, a man of grief who makes the world glad.
LIFE. In 1772 there lived in Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, a queer little man, the Rev. John Coleridge, vicar of the parish church and master of the local grammar school. In the former capacity he preached profound sermons, quoting to open-mouthed rustics long passages from the Hebrew, which he told them was the very tongue of the Holy Ghost. In the latter capacity he wrote for his boys a new Latin grammar, to mitigate some of the difficulties of traversing that terrible jungle by means of ingenious bypaths and short cuts. For instance, when his boys found the ablative a somewhat difficult case to understand, he told them to think of it as the quale-quare-quidditive case, which of course makes its meaning perfectly clear. In both these capacities the elder Coleridge was a sincere man, gentle and kindly, whose memory was "like a religion" to his sons and daughters. In that same year was born Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the youngest of thirteen children. He was an extraordinarily precocious child, who could read at three years of age, and who, before he was five, had read the Bible and the Arabian Nights, and could remember an astonishing amount from both books. From three to six he attended a "dame" school; and from six till nine (when his father died and left the family destitute) he was in his father's school, learning the classics, reading an enormous quantity of English books, avoiding novels, and delighting in cumbrous theological and metaphysical treatises. At ten he was sent to the Charity School of Christ's Hospital, London, where he met Charles Lamb, who records his impression of the place and of Coleridge in one of his famous essays. Coleridge seems to have remained in this school for seven or eight years without visiting his home,—a poor, neglected boy, whose comforts and entertainments were all within himself. Just as, when a little child, he used to wander over the fields with a stick in his hand, slashing the tops from weeds and thistles, and thinking himself to be the mighty champion of Christendom against the infidels, so now he would lie on the roof of the school, forgetting the play of his fellows and the roar of the London streets, watching the white clouds drifting over and following them in spirit into all sorts of romantic adventures.
At nineteen this hopeless dreamer, who had read more books than an old professor, entered Cambridge as a charity student. He remained for nearly three years, then ran away because of a trifling debt and enlisted in the Dragoons, where he served several months before he was discovered and brought back to the university. He left in 1794 without taking his degree; and presently we find him with the youthful Southey,—a kindred spirit, who had been fired to wild enthusiasm by the French Revolution,—founding his famous Pantisocracy for the regeneration of human society. "The Fall of Robespierre," a poem composed by the two enthusiasts, is full of the new revolutionary spirit. The Pantisocracy, on the banks of the Susquehanna, was to be an ideal community, in which the citizens combined farming and literature; and work was to be limited to two hours each day. Moreover, each member of the community was to marry a good woman, and take her with him. The two poets obeyed the latter injunction first, marrying two sisters, and then found that they had no money to pay even their traveling expenses to the new Utopia.
During all the rest of his career a tragic weakness of will takes possession of Coleridge, making it impossible for him, with all his genius and learning, to hold himself steadily to any one work or purpose. He studied in Germany; worked as a private secretary, till the drudgery wore upon his free spirit; then he went to Rome and remained for two years, lost in study. Later he started The Friend, a paper devoted to truth and liberty; lectured on poetry and the fine arts to enraptured audiences in London, until his frequent failures to meet his engagements scattered his hearers; was offered an excellent position and a half interest (amounting to some L2000) in the Morning Post and The Courier, but declined it, saying "that I would not give up the country and the lazy reading of old folios for two thousand times two thousand pounds,—in short, that beyond L350 a year I considered money a real evil." His family, meanwhile, was almost entirely neglected; he lived apart, following his own way, and the wife and children were left in charge of his friend Southey. Needing money, he was on the point of becoming a Unitarian minister, when a small pension from two friends enabled him to live for a few years without regular employment.
A terrible shadow in Coleridge's life was the apparent cause of most of his dejection. In early life he suffered from neuralgia, and to ease the pain began to use opiates. The result on such a temperament was almost inevitable. He became a slave to the drug habit; his naturally weak will lost all its directing and sustaining force, until, after fifteen years of pain and struggle and despair, he gave up and put himself in charge of a physician, one Mr. Gillman, of Highgate. Carlyle, who visited him at this time, calls him "a king of men," but records that "he gave you the idea of a life that had been full of sufferings, a life heavy-laden, half-vanquished, still swimming painfully in seas of manifold physical and other bewilderment."
The shadow is dark indeed; but there are gleams of sunshine that occasionally break through the clouds. One of these is his association with Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy, in the Quantock hills, out of which came the famous Lyrical Ballads of 1798. Another was his loyal devotion to poetry for its own sake. With the exception of his tragedy Remorse, which through Byron's influence was accepted at Drury Lane Theater, and for which he was paid L400, he received almost nothing for his poetry. Indeed, he seems not to have desired it; for he says: "Poetry has been to me its own exceeding great reward; it has soothed my afflictions; it has multiplied and refined my enjoyments; it has endeared solitude, and it has given me the habit of wishing to discover the good and the beautiful in all that meets and surrounds me." One can better understand his exquisite verse after such a declaration. A third ray of sunlight came from the admiration of his contemporaries; for though he wrote comparatively little, he was by his talents and learning a leader among literary men, and his conversations were as eagerly listened to as were those of Dr. Johnson. Wordsworth says of him that, though other men of the age had done some wonderful things, Coleridge was the only wonderful man he had ever known. Of his lectures on literature a contemporary says: "His words seem to flow as from a person repeating with grace and energy some delightful poem." And of his conversation it is recorded: "Throughout a long-drawn summer's day would this man talk to you in low, equable but clear and musical tones, concerning things human and divine; marshalling all history, harmonizing all experiment, probing the depths of your consciousness, and revealing visions of glory and terror to the imagination."
The last bright ray of sunlight comes from Coleridge's own soul, from the gentle, kindly nature which made men love and respect him in spite of his weaknesses, and which caused Lamb to speak of him humorously as "an archangel a little damaged." The universal law of suffering seems to be that it refines and softens humanity; and Coleridge was no exception to the law. In his poetry we find a note of human sympathy, more tender and profound than can be found in Wordsworth or, indeed, in any other of the great English poets. Even in his later poems, when he has lost his first inspiration and something of the splendid imaginative power that makes his work equal to the best of Blake's, we find a soul tender, triumphant, quiet, "in the stillness of a great peace." He died in 1834, and was buried in Highgate Church. The last stanza of the boatman's song, in Remorse, serves better to express the world's judgment than any epitaph:
Hark! the cadence dies away On the quiet moon-lit sea; The boatmen rest their oars and say, Miserere Domini!
WORKS OF COLERIDGE. The works of Coleridge naturally divide themselves into three classes,—the poetic, the critical, and the philosophical, corresponding to the early, the middle, and the later periods of his career. Of his poetry Stopford Brooke well says: "All that he did excellently might be bound up in twenty pages, but it should be bound in pure gold." His early poems show the influence of Gray and Blake, especially of the latter. When Coleridge begins his "Day Dream" with the line, "My eyes make pictures when they're shut," we recall instantly Blake's haunting Songs of Innocence. But there is this difference between the two poets,—in Blake we have only a dreamer; in Coleridge we have the rare combination of the dreamer and the profound scholar. The quality of this early poetry, with its strong suggestion of Blake, may be seen in such poems as "A Day Dream," "The Devil's Thoughts," "The Suicide's Argument," and "The Wanderings of Cain." His later poems, wherein we see his imagination bridled by thought and study, but still running very freely, may best be appreciated in "Kubla Khan," "Christabel," and "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." It is difficult to criticise such poems; one can only read them and wonder at their melody, and at the vague suggestions which they conjure up in the mind. "Kubla Khan" is a fragment, painting a gorgeous Oriental dream picture, such as one might see in an October sunset. The whole poem came to Coleridge one morning when he had fallen asleep over Purchas, and upon awakening he began to write hastily,
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure-dome decree: Where Alph, the sacred river, ran Through caverns measureless to man Down to a sunless sea.
He was interrupted after fifty-four lines were written, and he never finished the poem.
"Christabel" is also a fragment, which seems to have been planned as the story of a pure young girl who fell under the spell of a sorcerer, in the shape of the woman Geraldine. It is full of a strange melody, and contains many passages of exquisite poetry; but it trembles with a strange, unknown horror, and so suggests the supernatural terrors of the popular hysterical novels, to which we have referred. On this account it is not wholesome reading; though one flies in the face of Swinburne and of other critics by venturing to suggest such a thing.
"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is Coleridge's chief contribution to the Lyrical Ballads of 1798, and is one of the world's masterpieces. Though it introduces the reader to a supernatural realm, with a phantom ship, a crew of dead men, the overhanging curse of the albatross, the polar spirit, and the magic breeze, it nevertheless manages to create a sense of absolute reality concerning these manifest absurdities. All the mechanisms of the poem, its meter, rime, and melody are perfect; and some of its descriptions of the lonely sea have never been equaled. Perhaps we should say suggestions, rather than descriptions; for Coleridge never describes things, but makes a suggestion, always brief and always exactly right, and our own imagination instantly supplies the details. It is useless to quote fragments; one must read the entire poem, if he reads nothing else of the romantic school of poetry.
Among Coleridge's shorter poems there is a wide variety, and each reader must be left largely to follow his own taste. The beginner will do well to read a few of the early poems, to which we have referred, and then try the "Ode to France," "Youth and Age," "Dejection," "Love Poems," "Fears in Solitude," "Religious Musings," "Work Without Hope," and the glorious "Hymn Before Sunrise in the Vale of Chamouni." One exquisite little poem from the Latin, "The Virgin's Cradle Hymn," and his version of Schiller's Wallenstein, show Coleridge's remarkable power as a translator. The latter is one of the best poetical translations in our literature.
Of Coleridge's prose works, the Biographia, Literaria, or Sketches of My Literary Life and Opinions (1817), his collected Lectures on Shakespeare (1849), and Aids to Reflection (1825) are the most interesting from a literary view point. The first is an explanation and criticism of Wordsworth's theory of poetry, and contains more sound sense and illuminating ideas on the general subject of poetry than any other book in our language. The Lectures, as refreshing as a west wind in midsummer, are remarkable for their attempt to sweep away the arbitrary rules which for two centuries had stood in the way of literary criticism of Shakespeare, in order to study the works themselves. No finer analysis and appreciation of the master's genius has ever been written. In his philosophical work Coleridge introduced the idealistic philosophy of Germany into England. He set himself in line with Berkeley, and squarely against Bentham, Malthus, Mill, and all the materialistic tendencies which were and still are the bane of English philosophy. The Aids to Reflection is Coleridge's most profound work, but is more interesting to the student of religion and philosophy than to the readers of literature.
ROBERT SOUTHEY (1774-1843)
Closely associated with Wordsworth and Coleridge is Robert Southey; and the three, on account of their residence in the northern lake district, were referred to contemptuously as the "Lakers" by the Scottish magazine reviewers. Southey holds his place in this group more by personal association than by his literary gifts. He was born at Bristol, in 1774; studied at Westminster School, and at Oxford, where he found himself in perpetual conflict with the authorities on account of his independent views. He finally left the university and joined Coleridge in his scheme of a Pantisocracy. For more than fifty years he labored steadily at literature, refusing to consider any other occupation. He considered himself seriously as one of the greatest writers of the day, and a reading of his ballads—which connected him at once with the romantic school—leads us to think that, had he written less, he might possibly have justified his own opinion of himself. Unfortunately he could not wait for inspiration, being obliged to support not only his own family but also, in large measure, that of his friend Coleridge.
Southey gradually surrounded himself with one of the most extensive libraries in England, and set himself to the task of of writing something every working day. The results of his industry were one hundred and nine volumes, besides some hundred and fifty articles for the magazines, most of which are now utterly forgotten. His most ambitious poems are Thalaba, a tale of Arabian enchantment; The Curse of Kehama, a medley of Hindoo mythology; Madoc, a legend of a Welsh prince who discovered the western world; and Roderick, a tale of the last of the Goths. All these, and many more, although containing some excellent passages, are on the whole exaggerated and unreal, both in manner and in matter. Southey wrote far better prose than poetry, and his admirable Life of Nelson is still often read. Besides these are his Lives of British Admirals, his lives of Cowper and Wesley, and his histories of Brazil and of the Peninsular War.
Southey was made Poet Laureate in 1813, and was the first to raise that office from the low estate into which it had fallen since the death of Dryden. The opening lines of Thalaba, beginning,
How beautiful is night! A dewy freshness fills the silent air,
are still sometimes quoted; and a few of his best known short poems, like "The Scholar," "Auld Cloots," "The Well of St. Keyne," "The Inchcape Rock," and "Lodore," will repay the curious reader. The beauty of Southey's character, his patience and helpfulness, make him a worthy associate of the two greater poets with whom he is generally named.
WALTER SCOTT (1771-1832)
We have already called attention to two significant movements of the eighteenth century, which we must for a moment recall if we are to appreciate Scott, not simply as a delightful teller of tales, but as a tremendous force in modern literature. The first is the triumph of romantic poetry in Wordsworth and Coleridge; the second is the success of our first English novelists, and the popularization of literature by taking it from the control of a few patrons and critics and putting it into the hands of the people as one of the forces which mold our modern life. Scott is an epitome of both these movements. The poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge was read by a select few, but Scott's Marmion and Lady of the Lake aroused a whole nation to enthusiasm, and for the first time romantic poetry became really popular. So also the novel had been content to paint men and women of the present, until the wonderful series of Waverley novels appeared, when suddenly, by the magic of this "Wizard of the North," all history seemed changed. The past, which had hitherto appeared as a dreary region of dead heroes, became alive again, and filled with a multitude of men and women who had the surprising charm of reality. It is of small consequence that Scott's poetry and prose are both faulty; that his poems are read chiefly for the story, rather than for their poetic excellence; and that much of the evident crudity and barbarism of the Middle Ages is ignored or forgotten in Scott's writings. By their vigor, their freshness, their rapid action, and their breezy, out-of-door atmosphere, Scott's novels attracted thousands of readers who else had known nothing of the delights of literature. He is, therefore, the greatest known factor in establishing and in popularizing that romantic element in prose and poetry which has been for a hundred years the chief characteristic of our literature.
LIFE. Scott was born in Edinburgh, on August 15, 1771. On both his mother's and father's side he was descended from old Border families, distinguished more for their feuds and fighting than for their intellectual attainments. His father was a barrister, a just man, who often lost clients by advising them to be, first of all, honest in their lawsuits. His mother was a woman of character and education, strongly imaginative, a teller of tales which stirred young Walter's enthusiasm by revealing the past as a world of living heroes.
As a child, Scott was lame and delicate, and was therefore sent away from the city to be with his grandmother in the open country at Sandy Knowe, in Roxburghshire, near the Tweed. This grandmother was a perfect treasure- house of legends concerning the old Border feuds. From her wonderful tales Scott developed that intense love of Scottish history and tradition which characterizes all his work.
By the time he was eight years old, when he returned to Edinburgh, Scott's tastes were fixed for life. At the high school he was a fair scholar, but without enthusiasm, being more interested in Border stories than in the text-books. He remained at school only six or seven years, and then entered his father's office to study law, at the same time attending lectures at the university. He kept this up for some six years without developing any interest in his profession, not even when he passed his examinations and was admitted to the Bar, in 1792. After nineteen years of desultory work, in which he showed far more zeal in gathering Highland legends than in gaining clients, he had won two small legal offices which gave him enough income to support him comfortably. His home, meanwhile, was at Ashestiel on the Tweed, where all his best poetry was written.
Scott's literary work began with the translation from the German of Buerger's romantic ballad of Lenore (1796) and of Goethe's Goetz von Berlichingen (1799); but there was romance enough in his own loved Highlands, and in 1802-1803 appeared three volumes of his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, which he had been collecting for many years. In 1805, when Scott was 34 years old, appeared his first original work, The Lay of the Last Minstrel. Its success was immediate, and when Marmion (1808) and The Lady of the Lake (1810) aroused Scotland and England to intense enthusiasm, and brought unexpected fame to the author,—without in the least spoiling his honest and lovable nature,—Scott gladly resolved to abandon the law, in which he had won scant success, and give himself wholly to literature. Unfortunately, however, in order to increase his earnings, he entered secretly into partnership with the firms of Constable and the brothers Ballantyne, as printer-publishers,—a sad mistake, indeed, and the cause of that tragedy which closed the life of Scotland's greatest writer.
The year 1811 is remarkable for two things in Scott's life. In this year he seems to have realized that, notwithstanding the success of his poems, he had not yet "found himself"; that he was not a poetic genius, like Burns; that in his first three poems he had practically exhausted his material, though he still continued to write verse; and that, if he was to keep his popularity, he must find some other work. The fact that, only a year later, Byron suddenly became the popular favorite, shows how correctly Scott had judged himself and the reading public, which was even more fickle than usual in this emotional age. In that same year, 1811, Scott bought the estate of Abbotsford, on the Tweed, with which place his name is forever associated. Here he began to spend large sums, and to dispense the generous hospitality of a Scotch laird, of which he had been dreaming for years. In 1820 he was made a baronet; and his new title of Sir Walter came nearer to turning his honest head than had all his literary success. His business partnership was kept secret, and during all the years when the Waverley novels were the most popular books in the world, their authorship remained unknown; for Scott deemed it beneath the dignity of his title to earn money by business or literature, and sought to give the impression that the enormous sums spent at Abbotsford in improving the estate and in entertaining lavishly were part of the dignity of the position and came from ancestral sources.
It was the success of Byron's Childe Harold, and the comparative failure of Scott's later poems, Rokeby, The Bridal of Triermain, and The Lord of the Isles, which led our author into the new field, where he was to be without a rival. Rummaging through a cabinet one day in search of some fishing tackle, Scott found the manuscript of a story which he had begun and laid aside nine years before. He read this old story eagerly, as if it had been another's work; finished it within three weeks, and published it without signing his name. The success of this first novel, Waverley (1814), was immediate and unexpected. Its great sales and the general chorus of praise for its unknown author were without precedent; and when Guy Mannering, The Antiquary, Black Dwarf, Old Mortality, Rob Roy, and The Heart of Midlothian appeared within the next four years, England's delight and wonder knew no bounds. Not only at home, but also on the Continent, large numbers of these fresh and fascinating stories were sold as fast as they could be printed.
During the seventeen years which followed the appearance of Waverley, Scott wrote on an average nearly two novels per year, creating an unusual number of characters and illustrating many periods of Scotch, English, and French history, from the time of the Crusades to the fall of the Stuarts. In addition to these historical novels, he wrote Tales of a Grandfather, Demonology and Witchcraft, biographies of Dryden and of Swift, the Life of Napoleon, in nine volumes, and a large number of articles for the reviews and magazines. It was an extraordinary amount of literary work, but it was not quite so rapid and spontaneous as it seemed. He had been very diligent in looking up old records, and we must remember that, in nearly all his poems and novels, Scott was drawing upon a fund of legend, tradition, history, and poetry, which he had been gathering for forty years, and which his memory enabled him to produce at will with almost the accuracy of an encyclopedia.
For the first six years Scott held himself to Scottish history, giving us in nine remarkable novels the whole of Scotland, its heroism, its superb faith and enthusiasm, and especially its clannish loyalty to its hereditary chiefs; giving us also all parties and characters, from Covenanters to Royalists, and from kings to beggars. After reading these nine volumes we know Scotland and Scotchmen as we can know them in no other way. In 1819 he turned abruptly from Scotland, and in Ivanhoe, the most popular of his works, showed what a mine of neglected wealth lay just beneath the surface of English history. It is hard to realize now, as we read its rapid, melodramatic action, its vivid portrayal of Saxon and Norman character, and all its picturesque details, that it was written rapidly, at a time when the author was suffering from disease and could hardly repress an occasional groan from finding its way into the rapid dictation. It stands to-day as the best example of the author's own theory that the will of a man is enough to hold him steadily, against all obstacles, to the task of "doing what he has a mind to do." Kenilworth, Nigel, Peveril, and Woodstock, all written in the next few years, show his grasp of the romantic side of English annals; Count Robert and The Talisman show his enthusiasm for the heroic side of the Crusaders' nature; and Quentin Durward and Anne of Geierstein suggest another mine of romance which he discovered in French history.
For twenty years Scott labored steadily at literature, with the double object of giving what was in him, and of earning large sums to support the lavish display which he deemed essential to a laird of Scotland. In 1826, while he was blithely at work on Woodstock, the crash came. Not even the vast earnings of all these popular novels could longer keep the wretched business of Ballantyne on its feet, and the firm failed, after years of mismanagement. Though a silent partner, Scott assumed full responsibility, and at fifty-five years of age, sick, suffering, and with all his best work behind him, he found himself facing a debt of over half a million dollars. The firm could easily have compromised with its creditors; but Scott refused to hear of bankruptcy laws under which he could have taken refuge. He assumed the entire debt as a personal one, and set resolutely to work to pay every penny. Times were indeed changed in England when, instead of a literary genius starving until some wealthy patron gave him a pension, this man, aided by his pen alone, could confidently begin to earn that enormous amount of money. And this is one of the unnoticed results of the popularization of literature. Without a doubt Scott would have accomplished the task, had he been granted only a few years of health. He still lived at Abbotsford, which he had offered to his creditors, but which they generously refused to accept; and in two years, by miscellaneous work, had paid some two hundred thousand dollars of his debt, nearly half of this sum coming from his Life of Napoleon. A new edition of the Waverley novels appeared, which was very successful financially, and Scott had every reason to hope that he would soon face the world owing no man a penny, when he suddenly broke under the strain. In 1830 occurred a stroke of paralysis from which he never fully recovered; though after a little time he was again at work, dictating with splendid patience and resolution. He writes in his diary at this time: "The blow is a stunning one, I suppose, for I scarcely feel it. It is singular, but it comes with as little surprise as if I had a remedy ready, yet God knows I am at sea in the dark, and the vessel leaky."