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CHAPTER VIII.

THE AGE OF THE RESTORATION AND THE REVOLUTION.

A. D. 1660—A. D. 1702.

Charles II.
James II
William III

1660-1685.
1655-1687.
1685-1702.

1. Social and Literary Character of the Period.-PROSE. 2. Theology-Leighton-Ser

mons of Sonth, Tillotson, and Barrow-Nonconformist Divines - Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress-The Philosophy of Locke-Bentley and Classical Learning.-3. Antiquaries and Historians - Lord Clarendon's History--Bishop Burnet's Histories.-4. Miscellaneous Prose-Walton--Evelyn-L'Estrange-Butler and Marvell--John Dryden's Prose Writings -- His Style--His Critical Opinions Temple's Essays.POETRY. 5. Dramas—Their Character-French Influences-Dryden's Plays-Tragedies of Lee, Otway, and Southerne--The Prose Comedies-Their Moral Foulness. --6. Poetry Not Dramatic-Its Didactic and Satiric Character--Inferences.—7. Minor Poets --Roscommon--Marvell ---Butler's Hudibras—Prior. 8. John Dryden's Life and Works.--9. Dryden's Poetical Character.

1. The last forty years of the seventeenth century will not occupy us long. Their aspect is, on the whole, far from being pleasant; and some features, marking many of their literary works, are positively revolting

İn the reign of Charles the Second, England, whether we have regard to the political, the moral or the literary state of the nation, resembled a fine antique garden, neglected and falling into decay. A few patriarchal trees still rose green and stately; a few chance-sown flowers began to blossom in the shade: but lawn and parterre and alley were matted with noisome weeds; and the stagnant waters breathed out pestilential damps. When, after the Revolution, the attempt was made to re-introduce order and productiveness, many of the wild plants were allowed still to cumber the ground; and there were compartments which, worn out by the rank vegetation they had borne, became for a time altogether barren. In a word, the Restoration brought in evils of all kinds, many of which lingered through the age that succeeded, and others were not eradicated for several generations.

Of all the social mischiefs of the time, none infected literature so deeply as that depravation of morals, into which the court and the aristocracy plunged, and into which so many of the people followed them. The lighter kinds of composition mirrored faithfully the surrounding blackness. The drama sank to a frightful grossness: the tone of thinking was lowered also in other walks of poetry. The coarseness of speech survived the close of the century: the cool, selfish, calculating spirit, which had been the more tolerable form of the degradation, survived, though in a mitigated degree, very much longer. This bad morality was in part attributable to a second characteristic of the time, which produced likewise other consequences.

The reinstated courtiers imported a mania for foreign models, especially French. The favourite literary works, instead of continuing to obey native and natural impulses, were anxiously moulded on the tastes of Paris. This prevalence of exotic predilections endured for more than a century.

Amidst all these and other weaknesses and blots, there was not wanting either strength or brightness. The literary career of Dryden covers the whole of our period, and marks a change which contained improvements in several features. Locke was the leader of philosophical speculation : and mathematical and physical science, little dependent on the political or moral state of the times, had its active band of distinguished votaries headed by Newton;

a mind for ever Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone!” That philosophy and science did not even then neglect goodness, or despise religion, is proved by the names which we have last read; and, in many other quarters, there were uttered, though to inattentive ears, stern protests against evil, which have echoed from age to age till they reached ourselves. Those voices issued from not a few of the high places of the church; and others were lifted up, sadly but firinly, in the midst of persecution. The Act of Uniformity, by silencing the puritan clergy, actually gave to the ablest of them a greater power at the time, and a power which, but for this, would not so probably have bequeathed to us any record. The Nonconformists wrote and printed, when they were forbidden to speak. A younger generation was growing up among them : and some of the elder race still survived; such as the fiery Baxter, the calm Owen, and the prudent Calamy. Greatest of all, and only now reaching the climax of his strength, Milton sat in the narrow chamber of his neglected old age ; bating no jot of hope, yielding no point of honesty, abjuring no word or syllable of faith ; but consoling himself for the disappointments which had darkened a weary life, by consecrating its waning years, with redoubled ardour of devotion, to religion, to truth, and to the service of a remote posterity.

PROSE LITERATURE.

b. 1633.

2. Among those good and able Churchmen, who passed from the troubles of the Commonwealth and Protectorate to the seeming victory but real danger of the Restoration, were Jeremy Taylor, and several other men of eminence. Of those who, so situated, have not yet been named, the earliest we encounter is Leighton, Archbishop of Glasgow; a man whose apostolic gentleness of conduct endeared him deeply to his contemporaries, and whose devoutly meditative eloquence made him, in our own day, the bosom-oracle of Coleridge.

Much more famous, and possessed of much greater natural power, were three Theologians whose writings, all able and learned, yet want the charm of sentiment which Leighton's warmth of heart diffuses over all his works. These were South, Tillotson, and Barrow.

South was a man of remarkable oratorical endow1716. S ments: but probably no one would now claim for him a high rank as a Christian preacher. Dogmatical, sarcastic, and intolerant; shrewd in practical observation, unhesitatingly abundant in familiar wit, and possessing a wonderful stock of vigorous and idiomatic phrases : he is often impressively strong in his denunciation of prevailing vices, stronger still when he ridicules clerical brethren, (as in his parody of Taylor's peculiarities, and strongest of all in fierce polemical attacks on papists, and noncon6. 1630. formists, and all dissenters from the Church of England. d. 1694 ) Tilloston's writings are pervaded by a much higher and better spirit. They are not only kindly and forbearing towards opponents, but warmly earnest in their inculcation of religious belief and duty. But, in point of eloquence, he never rises above what has justly been called a noble simplicity : his fancy prompts to him no striking illustrations ; and his style always tends to being both clumsy and feeble. His fame as a preacher must have been owing, in a great degree, to the well-founded reliance which was placed on his sound judgment and excellent character, and to the ability with which he combated the papal doctrines on the 6. 1630. ? one hand and those of the puritans on the other. Bard. 1677. } row's sermons cannot but strike every one as being the works of a great thinker: they are, in truth, less properly orations, than trains of argumentative thought. His reasoning is prosecuted with an admirable union of comprehensiveness, sagacity, and clearness: and it is expressed in a style which, at once strong and regular, combines many of the virtues of the older writers with not a few of those that were appearing in the new. In this age, however, we have lost, almost wholly, that force of undisciplined eloquence, which had been so commanding in the first half of the century. None of the writers that have been named come nearly up to the point: and there is still less of the old strength of impressiveness in those divines who, like Stillingfleet, Pearson, Burnet, Bull, and the elder Sherlock, hold a more prominent place in the history of the church than in that of letters.

Among the contributors to theological literature were several of the leading men of science. Barrow was one of the greatest mathematicians of our country: Bishop Wilkins was one of the founders of the Royal Society. Such also were three distinguished laymen : the amiable and excellent Boyle; Ray, a Nonconformist, in whose writings are to be found the principles of the Natural System of Botany; and the philosopher whose name would alone have made the age immortal, the illustrious Sir Isaac Newton.

The Nonconformist clergy were active writers, casting bread on the waters, to be found after many days. But, though Baxter lived to see the Revolution, he has already been named among the men of that previous generation, to which in spirit he belonged: nor were there in the younger race any who, in a literary view, are entitled to be ranked as his equals. Yet the excellent 6: 1630. John Howe, whose“ Living Temple” is still one of our d. 1785.) religious classics, was not far from being worthy of a place by his side. At once through his enlightened kindliness, and his contemplative piety, he merited to be described by Baxter as heavenly-minded : and, though his turn of style has little regularity or compactness, and his diction no fine felicities of genius, there are in his works not a few passages that rise, nearer than anything of his time, towards the old force of eloquent persuasiveness. Owen, esteemed highly as a theologian, alike sound, and able, and learned, is a very indifferent writer: to the praise of eloquence he has no claim whatever; nor is he very clear in thinking, or very precise in style. The pious Flavel, and other authors of the class, possess still less literary importance. But

the great though untrained genius of Bunyan may most d. 1688. I conveniently be commemorated here; unless indeed we were, in virtue of the form of his best work, to set him down in another department, as a writer of romances. The fervently religious temper of " The Pilgrim's Progress" needs no commendation; and as little do the richness of characteristic representation, the ingenuity of analogy, and the semi-scriptural force and quaintness of style, which have placed the name of the self-trained tinker of Bedford on the file of our permanent literature.

b. 1628.

8. 1632.

Last among the religious writers, John Locke might d. 1704 be named, in virtue of some of his works. This celebrated man may be taken as the representative of the English Philosophy of the time. His influence on speculative opinions in his own day was only second to that of Hobbes; while by and by it became paramount, being indeed, in regard to the leading problems of metaphysics, an offshoot from the same root. The philosophical value of Locke's system is a matter of controversy ; especially between English thinkers on the one hand, and the followers of the Scottish school, or the German, on the other. But no one that is well acquainted with his “ Essay concerning Human Understanding," can refuse him very high praise, as a patient and singularly acute cultivator of that experimental and tentative kind of psychological analysis, from which has been gathered so much of valuable fruit. His merits as a writer are not very distinguished, his style being neither elegant, vigorous, nor exact.

The Classical Learning of this period was respectable, but can hardly be called high, with the exception of Gale, till we reach 6: 1662. Į the name of Bentley, the greatest of all British scholars. d. 1742. ' He, at the close of the seventeenth century, was in the flower of his age, and occupied in triumphantly closing his controversy on the genuineness of the Epistles of Phalaris ; a curious instance of the possibility of giving importance to trifling questions, by using them as an occasion for raising greater ones.

The dispute, indeed, besides bringing out Bentley's admirable contributions to Greek philology, history, and criticism, both began and ended in a discussion on the comparative importance of ancient and modern literature.

3. When we turn to the Historical field, we find several industrious collectors of materials, among whom may be named Wood, Dugdale, and Rhymer. There is a dearth of compositions sufficiently original or systematic to deserve the name of history. But two of our most famous historians may most conveniently be referred to this period. Lord Clarendon's writings were partly composed before its beginning : those of Bishop Burnet 8. 1608. { extended beyond its close. Clarendon's “ History of the d. 1674. / Rebellion” indicates by its title the opinions of the author, one of the best and ablest men among the royalists, though toc little of a partisan to be always acceptable to his own party. Its historical value is small in respect of minute accuracy, but great when we regard it as a picture of the times; and its portraits of characters, drawn with remarkable precision and spirit, give to the work a literary merit which is very distinguished. But he is not an animated narrator; and the mechanism of his style is very

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