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HISTORY



OF



ENGLISH LITERATURE.



BY H. A. TAINE, D.C.L.



TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY H. VAN LAUN,

One of the Masters at the Edinburgh Academy.



COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME.



NEW YORK:
JOHN WURTELE LOVELL,

No. 24 BOND STREET.



PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION.



THIS edition of TAINE'S HISTORY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE has been
carefully revised and compared with the original. All the quotations have
been collated and verified anew, and no trouble has been spared to make
it as accurate as possible

For the favorable reception this translation has met with from the press
and the public, I feel much inflebtsd. , ',' ', ; ' ' * '

A : : ': % : *'.'- : : :.:"''? VAN
/*. r ::.-*;*./*::. fc : /. \

THE ACADEMY,
EDINBURGH, May 31, 1873,



H*N*Y MORSE STEPHEN*



CONTENTS.



INTRODUCTION.

PACK.

Historical documents serve only as a clue to reconstruct the visible individual 17

The outer man is only a clue to study the inner, invisible man 19

The state and the actions of the inner and invisible man have their causes in certain

general ways of thought and feeling 20

Chief causes of thoughts and feelings. Their historical effects 22

The three primordial forces

I. Race 23

II. Surroundings 24

III. Epoch 25

Historv is a mechanical and psychological problem. Within certain limits man can

foretell 26

Production of the results of a primordial cause. Common elements. Composition of

groups. Law of mutual dependence. Law of proportional influences 27

Law of formation of a group. Examples and indications 29

General problem and future of history. Psychological method. Value of literature.

Purpose in writing tlus book 30



BOOK I.- THE SOURCE.

CHAPTER I.

ty Siaxan*.

I. Their original country Soil, sea, sky, climate Their new country A moist land

and a thankless soil Influence of climate on character 33

II. Their bodily structure Food Manners Uncultivated instincts, German and Eng-

lish 35

III. Noble instincts in Germany The individual The family The state Religion

The Edda Tragi-heroic conception of the world and of mankind 38

IV. Noble instincts in England Warrior -and chieftain Husband and wife The

poem of Beowulf Barbarian society and the barbarian hero 42

V. Pagan poems Kind and force of sentiments Bent of mind and speech Force of

impression ; harshness of expression 45

VI. Christian poems Wherein the Saxons are predisposed to Christianity How

converted Their view of Christianity Hymns of Csedmon Funeral hymn
Poem of Judith Paraphrase of the Bible 47

VII. Why Latin culture took no hold on the Saxons Reasons drawn from the Saxon

conquest Bede, Alcuin, Alfred Translations Chronicles Compilations
Impotence of Latin writers Reasons drawn from the Saxon character Adhelm
Alcuin Latin verse Poetic dialogues Bad taste of the Latin writers.... 51

VIII. Contrast of German and Latin races Character of the Saxon race Its endurance

under the Norman conquest 55



515143



CONTENTS.
CHAPTER II.



PACK.

I. Formation and character of Feudalism .......................................... 56

II. The Norman invasion ; character of the Normans Contrast with the Saxons

The Normans are French How they became so Their taste and architecture

Their spirit of inquiry and their literature Chivalry and amusements
Their tactics and their success ............................................. 56

III. Bent of the French genius Two principal characteristics; clear and consecutive

ideas Psychological form of French genius Prosaic histories ; lack of
color and passion, ease and discursiveness Natural logic and clearness,
soberness, grace and delicacy, refinement and cynicism Order and charm The
nature of the beauty and of the ideas which the French have introduced . 60

IV. The Normans in England Their position and their tyranny They implant their

literature and language They forget the same Learn English by degrees

Gradually English becomes gallicised ..................................... 04

V. They translate French works into English Opinion of Sir John Mandeville

Layamon, Robert of Gloucester, Robert de Brunne They imitate in English
the French literature Moral manuals, chansons, fabliaux, Gestes Brightness,
frivolity, and futility of this French literature Barbarity and ignorance of
the feudal civilization Geste of Richard Cceur de Lion, and voyages of Sir
John Mandeville Poorness of the literature introduced and implanted in
England Why it has not endured on the Continent or in England ............ 67

VI. The Saxons in England Endurance of the Saxon nation, and formation of the
English constitution Endurance of the Saxon character, and formation of the
Engl ish character .......................................................... 73

VII-IX. Comparison of the ideal hero in France and England Fabliaux of Reynard,
and ballads of Robin Hood How the Saxon character makes way for and
supports political liberty Comparison of the condition of the Commons in
France and England Theory of the English constitution, by Sir John
Fortescue How the Saxon constitution makes way for and supports political
liberty Situation of the Church, and precursors of the Reformation in Eng-
land Piers Plowman and Wycliffe How the Saxon character and the situ-
ation of the Norman Church made way for religious reform Incompleteness
and importance of the national literature Why it has not endured ......... 75



CHAPTER III.



I. Chaucer His education His political and social life Wherein his talent was

serviceable He paints the second feudal society - - ._ ............ .^ .......... 85

II. How the midd'e age degenerated Decline of the serious element in manners,

books, and works of art Need of excitement Analogies of architecture and
literature .................................................................. 85

III. Wherein Chaucer belongs to the middle age Romantic and ornamental poems

Le Roman de la Rose Troilns and Cressida Canterbury Tales
Order of description and events The House of Fame Fantastic dreams
and visions Love poems Troilus and Cressida Exaggerated development
of love in the middle age Why the mind took this path Mystic love The
Flower and the Leaf Sensual love Troilus and Cressida ................. 86

IV. Wherein Chaucer is French Satirical and jovial poems Canterbury Tales The

Wife of Bath and marriage The mendicant friar and religion Buffoonery,
waggery, and coarseness in the middle age ................... ./. .......... $J

V. Wherein Chaucer was English and original Idea of character and individual Van

Eyck and Chaucer contemporary Prologue to Canterbury Tales Portraits
of the franklin, monk, miller, citizen, knight, squire, prioress, the good clerk-^
Connection of events and characters General idea Importance of the same

Chaucer a precursor of the Reformation He halts by the way Tediousness
and Childishness Causes of this feebleness His prose, and scholastic notion

How he is isolated in his age ................... ...................... - . 96

VI. Connection of philosophy and poetry How general notions failed under the

scholastic philosophy Why poetry failed Comparison of civilization and
decadence in the middle age, and in Spain Extinction of the English literature

Translators Rhyming chroniclers Didactic poets Compilers of moralities

Gower Occleve Lydgate Analogy of taste in costumes, buildings, and
literature Sad notion of fate, and human misery Hawes Barclay Skelton

Elements of the Reformation and ci the Renaissance ...................... iea



CONTENTS.
BOOK II. THE RENAISSANCE.

CHAPTER I.



i. MANNERS OF THE TIME.

PAGE.

I. Idea \rhich men had formed of the world, since the dissolution of the old
society How and why human inventiveness reappears The form of the spirit
of the Renaissance The representation of objects is imitative, characteristic,
and complete ........... ................................................. 107

II Why the ideal changes Improvement of the state of man in Europe In England
Peace Industry Commerce Pasturage Agriculture Growth of public
wealth Buildings and furniture The palace, meals and habits Court
pageantries Celebrations under Elizabeth Masques under James 1 .......... 108

III. Manners of the people Pageants Theatres Village feasts Pagan development. 112

IV. Models The ancients Translation and study of classical authors Sympathy for

the manners and mythology of the ancients The moderns Taste for Italian
writings and ideas Poetry and painting in Italy were pagan The ideal is the
strong and happy man, limited by the present life ........................... 113

2. POETRY.

I. The English Renaissance is the Renaissance of the Saxon genius ................ 116

II. The forerunners The Earl of Surrey His feudal and chivalrous life His English

individual character His serious and melancholy poems His conception of
inward love ................................................................ 1 16

III. His style His masters, Petrach and Virgil His progress, power, precocious

perfection Birth of art Weaknesses, imitation, research Art incomplete. . . . 118

IV. Growth and completion of art Euphiies and fashion Style and spirit of the Re-

naissance Copiousness and irregularity How manners, style, and spirit 'corres-
pond Sir Philip Sydney His education, life, character His learning, gravity,
generosity, forcible expression The A readies. Exaggeration and mannerism of
sentiments and style Defence of Poesie Eloquence and energy His sonnets

Wherein the body and the passions of the Renaissance differ from those of
the moderns Sensual love Mystical love .................................. 120

V. Pastoral poetry The great number of poets Spirit and force of the poetry State

of mind which produces it Love of the country Reappearance of the ancient
gods Enthusiasm for beauty Picture of ingenuous and happy love Shak-
speare, Jonson, Fletcher, Drayton, Marlowe, Warner, Breton, Lodge, Greene

How the transformation of the people transforms art ........................ 126

VI. Ideal poetry Spenser His life His character His platonism His Hymns of

love and beauty Copiousness of his imagination How far it was suited for
the epic Wherein it was allied tc the "faerie" His tentatives Shepherd's
Calendar His short poems His masterpiece The faerie Queene His epic
is allegorical and yet life-like It embraces Christian chivalry and the Pagan
Olympus How it combines these ................................. , ......... 131

VII. The Faerie Queene Impossible events How they appear natural Belphcebe and

Chrysogone Fairy and gigantic pictures and landscapes Why they must be so

The cave of Mammon, and the gardens of Acrasia How Spenser composes

Wherein the art of the Renaissance is complete .... ........................ 135

3. PROSE.

1 Limit of the poetry Changes in society and manners How the return to nature
becomes an appeal to the senses Corresponding changes in poetry How agree-
ablenesss replaces energy How prettiness replaces the beautiful Refinements

Carew, Suckling, Herrick Affectation Quarles, Herbert, Babington,
Donne, Cowley Begininng of the classic style, and drawing-room life ........ 143

How poetry passed into prose Connection of science and art In Italy In
England How the triumph of nature develops the exercise of the natural reason
Scholars, historians, speakers, compilers, politicians, antiquaries, philoso-
phers, theologians The abundance of talent, and the rarity ol fine works
Superfluousness, punctiliousness, and pedantry of the style Originality, preci-
sion, energy, and richness of the style How, unlike the classical writers, they
represent the individual, not the idea ...................................... 147

III. Robert Burton His life and character Vastness and confusion of his acquirements

His subject, the Anatomy of Melancholy Scholastic divisions Medley of
moral and medical science .................................................. 149

IV. Sir Thomas Browne His talent His imagination is that of a North-man



II.



6 CONTENTS.

PACK.

Hydrtotaphiti, Religio Medici His ideas, curiosity, and doubts belong to the
age of the Renaissance Pseudodoxia Effects of this activity and this direction
of the public mind ................ ....................................... 151

V Francis Bacon His talent His originality Concentration and brightness of his
style Comparisons and aphorisms The Essays His style not argumentative,
but intuitive His practical good sense Turning-point of his rhilosophy The
object of science is the amelioration of the condition of man New Atlantis
The idea is in accordance with the state of affairs and the spirit of the times
It completes the Renaissance It introduces a new method The Organum
Where Bacon stopped Limits of the spirit of the age How the conception
of the world, which had been poetic, became mechanical How the Renaissance
ended in the establishment of positive science ................................ 153

CHAPTER II.



I. The public The stage ........................................................ 158

II. Manners of the sixteenth century Violent and complete expansion of nature,... 160
III* English manners Expansion of the energetic and gloomy character .............. 163

IV. The poets General harmony between the character of a poet and that of his age

Nash, Decker, Kyd, Peele, Lodge, Greene Their condition and life Mar-
lowe His life His works Tamburlaine The Jew of Malta Edward
II.FaustusH\s conception of man ....................................... 166

V* Formation of this drama The" process and character of this art Imitative
sympathy, which depicts by expressive examples Contrast of classical and
Germanic art Psychological construction and proper sphere of these two arts. 173

VI* Male characters Furious passions Tragical events Exaggerated characters
The Duke of Milan by Massinger Ford's A nnabella Webster's Duchess of
Malfi and Vittoria Corombona Female characters Germainic idea of love
and marriage Euphrasia, Bianca, Arethusa, Ordella, Aspasia Amoret, in
Beaumont and Fletcher Penthea in Ford Agreement of the moral and
physical type .............................................................. 176

CHAPTER III.



I. The masters of the school, in the school and in their age Jonson His mood

Character Education First efforts Struggles Poverty Sickness Death. 186

II. Learning Classical tastes Didactic characters Good management of his plots

Freedom and precision of his style Vigor of his will and passion ........... 188

III. Dramas Catiline and Sejanus How he was able to depict the personages and

the passions of the Roman decadence ............................. .......... igj

IV. Comedies His reformation and theory of the theatre Satirical comedies

Volpone Why these comedies are serious and warlike How they depict the
passions of the Renaissance His farces The Silent Woman Why these
comedies are energetic and rude How they conform with the tastes of the
Renaissance ............................................................ 194

V Limits of his talent Wherein he is inferior to Moliere Want of higher philosophy
and comic gayety His imagination and fancy The Staple of News and
Cynthia 1 's Revels How he treats the comedy of society, and lyrical comedy

His smaller poems His masques Theatrical and picturesque manners of
the court The 3ad Shepherd How Jonson remains a poet to his death ...... 200

VI. General idea of Shakspeare The fundamental idea in Shakspeare Conditions of
human reason Shakspeare's master faculty Conditions of exact represen-

tation ................................................................... 203

CHAPTER IV.



I, Life and character of Shakspeare Family Youth Marriage He becomes an

actor A donis Sonnets Loves Humor Conversation Melancholy The
constitution of the productive and sympathetic character Prudence Fortune
Retirement ................. ... ....... . ............ ..................... 204

II. Style Images Excesses Incongruities Copiousness Difference between the

creative and analytic conception ........................................... an



CONTENTS. 7

PACK.

III. Manners Familiar intercourse Violent bearing Harsh language Conversation

and action Agreement of manners and style . 2 14

IV. The dramatis personce All of the same family Brutes and idiots Caliban, Ajax,

Cloten, Polonius, the Nurse How the mechanical imagination can precede

or survive reason . / 217

V. Men of wit Difference between the wit of reasoners and of artists Mercutio,

Beatrice, Rosalind, Benedict, the clowns Falstaff 22f

VI. Women Desdemona, Virginia, Juliet, Miranda, Imogen, Cordelia, Ophelia,

Volumnia How Shakspeare represents love Why he bases virtue on
instinct or passion *,""," V 223

VII. Villains I ago, Richard III. How excessive lusts and tne lack of conscience are

the natural province of the impassioned imagination 224

VIII. Principal characters Excess and disease of the imagination Lear, Othello, Cleo-

patra, Coriolanus, Macbeth, Hamlet Comparison of Shakspeare's psychol-
ogy with that of the French tragic authors : 2*J

IX. Fancy Agreement of imagination with observation in Shakspeare Interesting

nature 'of sentimental and romantic comedy A s you like it Idea of exist-
ence Midsummer Nights Dream Idea, of love Harmony of all parts
of the work Harmony between the artist and his work 232

CHAPTER V.




of the conscience Renewal of heart Suppression of ceremonies Transfer- ^
mation of the clergy
III. Reforrr '
cle
convulsions me translation 01 tne DIUIC ixuw ui^i.wai v..v,..o ..- ~ ......

sentiments are in accordance with contemporary manners and with the English
character The Prayer Book Moral and manly feeling of the prayers and
church service Preaching Latimer His education Character Familiar and



UllUICll SCI Vl^C 1 icav.lllll, j-.a.iiii>-. . .

persuasive eloquence Death The martyrs under Mary England thencel<
Protestant ... : ' * * * ' '," ' ' .'. '."'

IV. The Anglicans Close connection between religion and society How the religious

sentiment penetrates literature How the sentiment of the beautiful subsists in
religion Hooker His breadth of mind and the ^ ness T f _h ls jgJSllSi;!

V. The

VI. Bunyan H.~ , _ r . - . 7 f

England 27>

CHAPTER VI.




I. General idea of his mind and character Family Education Studies Travels ^

II. Effect's a concentrated 'and "solitary character Austerity Inexperience

Marriage Children Domestic Troubles ;-.

III. Combative energy Polemic against the bishops Against the king Enthusia

and sternness Theories on government, church, and education btoi n
and virtue Old age, occupations, person

IV. Milton's residence in London and the country General appearance "

V. Milton as a prose-writer Changes during three centuries in countenances

ideas-Heaviness of his logic- The Doctrine and Discipline of Dn'orce-

Heavy Humor Animadversions upon the Remonstrant s Defence^

ness oi discussion-^/,^ '^'it"^*^'**^




since fioi hrgiveTpoeTry a moral tone Profane poems-
PtnserosoCotnusLycidas Religious poems Paradise Lost^



CONTENTS.

PAGE,

of a genuine epic They are not to be met with in the age or i: the poet Com-
parison of Adam and Eve with an English family Comparison of God and the
angels to a monarch's court The rest of the poem Comparison between the
sentiments of Satan and the republican passions Lyrical and moral character
of the scenery Loftiness and sense of the moral ideas Situation of the poet
and the poem between two ages Composition of his genius and his work ...... 193

BOOK III. THE CLASSIC AGE.

CHAPTER I.



i. THE ROISTERERS.

I. The excesses of Puritanism How they induce excesses of sensuality ............. 309

II. Picture of these manners by a stranger The Memoir es de Grammont Difference

of debauchery in France and England ...................................... 311

IlJ Butler's Hudibras Platitude of his comic style, and harshness of his rancorous

style ............... ............................................... - - - ... 313

IV. Baseness, cruelty, brutality, debauchery, of the court Rochester, his life, poems,

style, morals .............................................................. 314

V. Philosophy consonant with these manners Hobbes, his spirit and his style His

curtailments and his discoveries His mathematical method In how much he
resembles Descartes His morality, esthetics, politics, logic, psychology,
metaphysics Spirit and aim of his philosophy ............................... 318

VI. The theatre Alteration in taste, and in the public Audiences before and after

the Restoration ....................................................... ..... 321

VII. Dryden Disparity of his comedies Unskilfulness of his indecencies How he

translates Moliere's A mphitryon ...... .................................... 322

VIII \\fycherley Life Character Melancholy, greed, immodesty Love in a Wood,
Cormtry Wife, Dancing Master Licentious pictures, and repugnant details



His energy and realism Parts of Olivia and Manly in his Plain Dealer
Certain words of Milton's Paradise Lost



324



THE WORLDLINGS.



I. Appearance of the worldly life in Europe Its conditions and causes How it was

established in England Etiquette, amusements, conversations, manners, and
talents of the drawing-room 329

II. Dawn of the classic spirit in Europe Its origin Its nature Difference of conver-

sation under Elizabeth and Charles II 331

III. Sir William Temple His life, character, spirit, and style 332

IV. Writers of fashion Their correct language and gallant bearing Sir Charles Sed-

ley, the Earl of Dorset, Edmund Waller His opinions and style Wherein
consists his polish Wherein he is not sufficiently polished Culture of style
Lack of poetry Character of monarchical and classic style 335

V. Sir John Denham His poem of Cooper's Hill Oratorical swell of his verse

English seriousness of his moral preoccupations How people of fashion and
literary men followed then the fashions of France 339

VI. The comic-authors Comparison of this theatre with that of Moliere Arrange-

ment of ideas in Moliere General ideas in Moliere How in Moliere the odious
is_concealed, while the truth is depicted How in Moliere the honest man is
still the man of the world How the respectable man of Moliere is a French
type 340

VII. Action Complication of intrigues Frivolity of purpose Crudeness of the charac-

ters Crossness of manners Wherein consists the talent of Wycherley, Con-
greve, Vanbrugh, and Farquhar Kind of characters they are able to produce. 344
VIII. Natural characters Sir John Brute, the husband ; Squire Sullen Sir Tunbelly,
the father Miss Hoyden, the young lady Squire Humphry, the young
gentleman Idea of nature according to this theatre 346

IX. Artificial characters Women of the world Miss Prue, Lady Wishfort^ Lady

Pliant, Mrs. Millamant Men of the world Mirabftt-\&t& of socity ac-
cording to this theatre Why this culture and this literature have not produced
durable works Wherein they are opposed to the English character Transfor-
mation of taste and manners 34&

X. The continuation of comedy Sheridan Life Talent The School for Scandal

How comedy degenerates and is extinguished Causes of the decay of the
theatre in Europe and in England 35?



CONTENTS. g

CHAPTER II.

jlrgbm

PAGB.

I. Dryden's beginnings Close of the poetic age Cause of literary decline and regen-

eration ........................................................ .......... 359

II. Family Education Studies Reading Habits Position Character Audience

Friendships Quarrels Harmony of his life and talent. . . ................. 360

III. The theatres re-opened and transformed The new public and the new taste Dra-

matic theories of Dryden His judgment of the old English theatre His judg-
ment of the new French theatre Composite works Incongruities of his drama

Tyrannic Love Crossness of his characters The Indian Emperor A ureng-
zebe, A Imanzor ......................................................... 361

IV. Style of his drama Rhymed verse Flowery diction Pedantic tirades Want of

agreement between the classical .style and romantic events How Dryden bor-
rows and mars the inventions of Shakspeare and Milton Why this drama fell



Online LibraryHippolyte TaineHistory of English literature → online text (page 1 of 133)