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newer fashion calls the survival of the fittest. Old-world theology and modern science alike strive to explain facts which have been and shall be so long as humanity casts its shadow in the sunshine.
Now, any struggle is bound to be at its fiercest where the struggling forces are most concentrated. In human affairs, both good and evil struggle hardest where human beings are most densely congregated. Augustine wrote amid the dying throes of antiquity, in a world still formally dominated by that imperial power of Rome whose true health and strength were gone. Calvin wrote in the populous Europe of the Renaissance, where at once the whole system of mediæval life was doomed, and the pitiless pressure of economic fact was already forcing the more adventurous spirits of every European race to seek an outlet for their energy in the unexplored continents of our Western Hemisphere. Noble, too, though we may find the traditions of that merry old England, which was so vital under Queen Elizabeth, which faded under the first two Stuarts, and which vanished in the smoke of the Civil Wars, the plain records, both of history and of literature, show it to have been a dense, wicked old world, whose passions ran high and deep, and whose vices and crimes, big as its brave old virtues, were truly such as to make the grim dogmas of the Puritans seem to many earnest minds the only explanation of so godless a fact as human life.
God's will be done on earth, then, the Puritans cried, honestly conceiving this divine will to demand the political dominance of God's elect. The society over which they believed that these elect should make themselves politically dominant had all the complexity which must develop itself during centuries of national and social growth; and this growth, fortified by the uncodified, unwritten, impregnable Common Law of England, had taken through the centuries an earthly course at variance with what the Puritans held to be their divinely sanctioned politics. Towards the end of Cromwell's dominance, then, they tried to mend matters by giving England a written constitution. In many respects this Instrument of Government seems theoretically better than the older system which had grown under the unwritten Common Law, and which since Cromwell's time has developed after its own fashion into the Parliamentary government now controlling the British Empire. The Instrument of Government, however, had a mortal weakness: it was not historically continuous with the past; and this was enough to prevent any historical continuity with the future. The struggle for political existence in England was inevitably fatal to principles and ideals so little rooted in national life as those which the Puritans in their wise folly hopefully, yet hopelessly formulated. So in England, after the momentary irruption of dominant Puritanism, the old Common Law surged back; and it has Aowed on to the present day, the stronger if not the nobler of the two forces which the history of our native language compels us to admit as the ideals of our race.
By most constitutional lawyers, then, the dominance of Puritanism personified in Cromwell has been held an accidental and almost unimportant disease which may be neglected in considering the life history of the English Constitution. How far this view is right, we need not trouble ourseives to inquire; constitutional history is not within our province. What more concerns us is a fact which general readers of the social history of England during the seventeenth century can hardly fail to remark, perhaps more certainly than thorough students whose attention is rightly, but often bewilderingly, encumbered by detail. The records which remain to us of Elizabethan England, and of the England which finally broke into civil war, seem records of a remote past. Take, for example, almost at random, three names: those of the adventurer, Ralegh; of the soldier and courtier, Essex; and, a little later, of that most chivalrous of autobiographers, Lord Herbert of Cherbury. All three are marked by a big, simple, youthful spontaneity, different at once from any general trait of modern times and from those which are common to every period of history. Take, equally at random, three other names which belong to the years after Cromwell's dominant Puritanism had failed; Monk, the first Duke of Albemarle; Samuel Pepys, the diarist; and John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough. Though this last little group seem by no means contemporary with ourselves, yet, in comparison with the elder group, they seem almost modern, -old-fashioned men rather than men of an earlier type than those we live with. The contrast is deeply typical. The England which came before the dominant Puritanism of Cromwell, the England to which we may broadly give, as we often give to its literature, the name “ Elizabethan,” vanished when Puritan dominance broke for a while the progress of English constitutional law; the England which came afterwards, whatever its merits or its faults, lacked, as England has continued to lack ever since King Charles II. was restored, certain traits which we all feel in the old Elizabethan world.
1 The line of thought here set forth was suggested by one of Mr. A. V Dicey's Lowell Institute lectures, in the autumn of 1898.
For our purpose there is hardly anything more important than to realise, if we can, what these Elizabethan traits were, which distinguish the England before Cromwell's time from that which has come after him. Perhaps we shall have done a little to remind ourselves of what Elizabethan England possessed, when we say that in the older time we can everywhere find three characteristics which in the later time are more and more dimly discernible, — spontaneity, enthusiasm, and versatility.
ENGLISH LITERATURE FROM 1600 to 1700
The social history of seventeenth-century England broadly groups itself in three parts: that which preceded the dominant Puritanism of the Commonwealth; the dominant Puritanism itself; and what came after. All three of these phases of English life found adequate expression in lasting literature. An easy way to remind ourselves of these literary types is to glance at some records of publication in England during the three distinct periods of the seventeenth century." Between 1600 and 1605 appeared plays by Dekker, Ben Jonson, John Lyly, Shakspere, Marston, Middleton, Heywood, and Chapman; Fairfax's translation of Tasso, Lodge's of Josephus, and Florio's of Montaigne ; “ England's Helicon,” Campion's “ Art of English Poetry,” and Davidson's “Poetical Rhapsody; " and, among many other lesser works, the last volume of Hakluyt's “Voyages.” Between 1648 and 1652 appeared works by Fuller, Herrick, Lovelace, Milton, Francis Quarles, Jeremy Taylor, Baxter, Bunyan, Cowley, Hobbes, Vaughan, Davenant, Izaak Walton, and George Herbert. Finally, between 1695 and 1700 appeared plays by Colley Cibber, Southern, Congreve, Farquhar, and Vanbrugh; and works of one sort or another by Bentley, Blackmore, Defoe, Evelyn, Garth, Lord Shaftesbury, and Dryden; not to speak of Tate and Brady's version of the “ Psalms.” These random lists will
1 Throughout our study, the names recorded in Ryland's “Chronologi. cal Outlines of English Literature,” published by Macmillan, should suffice for such purposes as that now in mind. Though sometimes slightly inac. curate, this admirably useful book is always trustworthy enough to warrant generalisation.
define, almost as clearly as lists made with thoughtful care, the chief facts which we should now keep in mind.
In the beginning of the century, even though Elizabeth's reign was very near its end, the literature which we call Elizabethan was at its height; and as the generations have passed, we begin to see how surely its central figure, the dominant figure of all English literature, is that of Shakspere. In the middle of the century there was more confusion; yet it takes no great knowledge of English letters to feel in the first place that the Elizabethan temper was no longer strong; and in the second place, that among the men who were then writing, there was one who — if not so surely central - rose almost as superior to the rest as Shakspere was fifty years before. That
. man, of course, is Milton. In the last five years of the century, when the Commonwealth, the Restoration, and the Glorious Revolution had done their work, there was another group,
less diverse than that of Cromwell's time, almost as homogeneous indeed as that of Elizabeth's, but as different from either of the others as the periwigs of Marlborough were from the jewelled caps of Walter Ralegh; and in this last group, as in both the others, one figure emerged from the rest. Here that figure is John Dryden, the first great maker of heroic couplets, and the first masterly writer of what has become modern English prose. It is worth our while to glance in turn at each of these literary periods, — the periods of Shakspere, of Milton, and of Dryden.
Elizabethan literature, in which Shakspere declares himself more and more supreme, is at once the first, and spects the greatest, of the schools or periods of letters which have come to constitute modern English literature as a whole. Marked throughout by the spontaneity, the enthusiasm, and the various versatility of the England which bred it, this period is clearly marked as well by the fact that it brought to final excellence two kinds of poetry, — the lyric, and a little later the dramatic. In thinking of 'Elizabethan literature, then,