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OTHER PROMINENT WRITERS.
Poet. SAMUEL BUTLER. Dramatists. WYCHERLY, CONGREVE, FARQUHAR.
Diarists. — PEPYS, EVELYN. Preachers. BARROW, SOUTH, TILLOTSON. Philosophers. - HOBBES, NEWTON, CUDWORTH, LOCKE.
- . Miscellaneous. WALTON, TEMPLE.
GENERAL SURVEY. — Every extreme tends to beget a
a reaction. Nowhere is the truth of this principle more strikingly exemplified than in England at the time of the Restoration. With all its moral earnestness and love of freedom, Puritanism had degenerated into a false and forbidding asceticism. It condemned many innocent pleas
It clothed morality and religion in a garb of cant. The claims of the physical and intellectual parts of man were, under the influence of a terrific theology, sacrificed to his spiritual interests. All spontaneous joy and gayety were banished from life. The Puritan's steps were slow ; his face was elongated ; his tone had a nasal quality. He gave his children names drawn from the Scriptures; and shutting his eyes to the beauties of the world about him, and forgetting the infinite love of God, he lived perpetually in the shadow of divine wrath. His religion, at war with nature and the gospel, degenerated into fanaticism, and weighed heavily upon the life of the English nation.
With the Restoration, Puritanism was overthrown. The Royalist party, with its sharp contrasts to Puritan principles, again came into power. The result in its moral effects was dreadful. The stream of license, which had been held in check for years, burst forth with fearful momentum. The reign of the flesh set in.
Virtue was held to savor of Puritanism ; duty was thought to smack of fanaticism ; and integrity, patriotism, and honor were regarded as mere devices for self-aggrandizement. Under the lead of Charles II., himself a notorious libertine, the court became a scene of shameless and almost incredible debauchery. The effect upon literature can be easily imagined. It debased the moral tone of poetry and the drama to a shocking degree. As Dryden tells us in one of his epilogues, —
“ The poets who must live by courts, or starve,
Were proud so good a government to serve;
of the age.
But there are other respects in which the Restoration affected literature. Charles II. returned to England with French companions and French tastes. It was but natural, therefore, that English literature should be influenced by French models. It was the Augustan age of literature in France. Louis XIV., the most powerful monarch in Europe, had gathered about him the best literary talent
Corneille, Molière, and Racine gave great splendor to dramatic poetry, and Boileau developed the art of criticism. But the French drama, besides following classical models in regard to the unities, imposed the burden of rhymed couplets upon dramatic composition. It was in obedience to the wish of Charles that rhyme was first introduced into the English drama. Through French influence the course of the drama, as it had been developed by the great Elizabethans, was seriously interrupted.