Reuben Post Halleck.

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WHOSE ASSISTANCE IN THE PREPARATION

OF THIS WORK
HAS BEEN INVALUABLE



HISTORY



OF



ENGLISH LITERATURE



BY

REUBEN POST HALLECK, M.A. (YALE)




NEW YORK : CINCINNATI : CHICAGO

AMERICAN BOOK COMPANY



COPYRIGHT. 1900, BY
REUBEN POST HALLECK.



ENTERED AT STATIONERS' HALL,



HAL. ENG LIT.
W. P. 6



PREFACE

IN the following pages the author aims to furnish a
concise and interesting text-book of the history and devel-
opment of English literature from the earliest times to the
present. Especial attention is paid to literary movements,
to the essential qualities which differentiate one period
from another, and to showing the animating spirit of
each age. It is more important to understand the rela-
tion of the age of Pope to that of Wordsworth than to
know these two writers merely as individuals. It is bet-
ter for the student to catch the general drift of literary
thought than to study a large number of comparatively
unimportant authors and to ignore the law of the sur-
vival of the fittest. The majority of people never have
time for the study of any but the masters. Such people
need a guide to tell them what to select from each age,
just as much as travelers in England require a guidebook
to indicate the most interesting places.

The writer has made no attempt to minimize the study
of authors as individuals. One of the features of this work
consists in devoting a special section to summing up the
general characteristics of each of the greatest individual
authors. The theory that it is wise to teach the general
before the special is now happily going out of fashion.
But the moment we know two authors we ought to begin
to compare them, to note their likeness and their differ-
ence. For the cultivation of the thinking powers, the

5



6 PREFACE

study of the development of English literature may be
made as serviceable as mathematics. The individuality
and general characteristics of one author present them-
selves in sharpest outline only in comparison with those
of another author. For instance, Spenser's subjective
cast of mind will impress the student more forcibly when
contrasted with Chaucer's objective method of regarding
the world (see pp. 130-132).

During a long period of teaching English literature and
of superintending the instruction of others in that branch,
the author has repeatedly found that pupils who have not
had consecutive instruction in the history of English litera-
ture have the most vague ideas of its development and of
the relation of its parts. Various masterpieces seem like
unconnected islands in an unexplored ocean. There is no
way of making these masterpieces seem otherwise except
by teaching the history and development of the literature
of which they form a part. Mental association is based
primarily on contiguity. Ideas must be grasped by the
mind at the same time before they can be known to be
related. It is difficult for young minds to knit into one
fabric ideas which are presented at considerable intervals
and under associations so different as occur in the study
of various masterpieces.

In so far as the limits of his space would allow, the
author has endeavored to justify his criticisms by quota-
tions that show the characteristics attributed to authors.
Since it is the object of this work to enable students to
read English literature for themselves more intelligently,
there have been indicated at the end of each chapter defi-
nite Required Readings from the works of the authors
discussed. To guard against discouraging students, the
writer has tried to call for no more than they may be



PREFACE 7^

expected to read as they study this work. There have
also been added questions which, it is hoped, will stimulate
pupils to do some original thinking and to make a com-
parison of different ages and representative authors.

The optional list of Works for Consultation and Further
Study has been prepared to guide those who wish to make
a more extended study of certain periods and authors. A
Supplementary List of Minor Aiithors and their Chief
Works is given on pp. 485-491 for the purpose of aiding
those who wish to read the best work of minor authors, as
well as for the purpose of serving for convenient reference.

On account of the extent of the field to be covered, the
treatment of American literature is left to works dealing
especially with that branch.

The pronunciation of difficult names is indicated suffi-
ciently in the index.

The student should refer to the Literary Map of Eng-
land, pp. 8, 9, to familiarize himself with the location of
the birthplaces and homes of eminent authors. Whenever
he reads of the Quantock Hills or of the Lake District, of
the Exeter Book or of Stoke Poges churchyard, he ought
immediately to turn to the map to find the place indicated.

While the writer owes much to the great masters of
criticism, he has written this work only after long and
careful original study of the authors under discussion.
From one source he has received such valuable assistance
as to demand emphatic mention. During three years of
the time in which this work has been in preparation, he
has had the constant assistance of his wife, a critical stu-
dent of English literature. To her is due the entire treat-
ment of certain authors in periods that she has made the
subject of special study.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. FROM 449 A.D. TO THE NORMAN CONQUEST, 1066 . 11

II. FROM THE NORMAN CONQUEST, 1066, TO CHAUCER'S

DEATH, 1400 47

III. FROM CHAUCER'S DEATH, 1400, TO THE ACCESSION OF

ELIZABETH, 1558 89

IV. THE LITERATURE OF THE AGE OF ELIZABETH . . 103
V. THE PURITAN AGE, 1603-1660 . 184

VI. THE AGE OF THE RESTORATION, 1660-1700 . . . 213

VII. THE FIRST FORTY YEARS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CEN-
TURY, 1700-1740 232

VIII. THE SECOND FORTY YEARS OF THE EIGHTEENTH

CENTURY, 1740-1780 262

IX. THE AGE OF ROMANTICISM, 1780-1837 . . 305

X. THE VICTORIAN AGE, 1837-1901 385

CONCLUSION .......... 479

SUPPLEMENTARY LIST OF MINOR AUTHORS AND THEIR CHIEF

WORKS 485

INDEX . 491

TO



HISTORY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE

CHAPTER I

FROM 449 A.D. TO THE NORMAN CONQUEST, 1066

The Subject Matter. The history of English literature,
is a record of the best thoughts that have been expressed
in the English language. Literature appeals especially to
the imagination and the emotions. Literature aims not so
much to state a fact after the manner of a text-book on
science as to start imaginative activity and to appeal to
the emotions. When Macbeth says of the dead King :

" After life's fitful fever he sleeps well,"

our feelings are touched and the door is opened for
imaginative activity, as we wonder why life is called a
fitful fever and try to realize the mystery of that long and
restful sleep. True literature calls for such activity.

If we would broaden ourselves and increase our capacity
for appreciating the manifold sides of the life of the spirit,
we must become familiar with the thoughts and ideals of
those who have given us our inspiring literature. For
nearly fifteen hundred years the Anglo-Saxon race has
been producing the greatest of all literatures. The most
boastful of other nations make no claim to having a
Shakespeare on the list of their immortals.

ii



12 FROM 449 A.D. TO THE NORMAN CONQUEST, 1066

The Home and Migrations of the Anglo-Saxon Race.
Just as there was a time when no Anglo-Saxon foot had
touched the shores of America, so there was a period when
the ancestors of the English lived far away from the Brit-
ish Isles, and were rightly looked upon as foreigners there.
For nearly four hundred years prior to the coming of the
English, Britain had been a Roman province. In 410 A.D.
the Romans withdrew their legions from Britain to pro-
tect Rome herself against swarms of Teutonic invaders.
About 449 a band of Teutons, called Jutes, left Denmark,
landed on the Isle of Thanet (northeastern part of Kent),
and began the conquest of Britain. Warriors from the
tribes of the Angles and the Saxons soon followed, and
drove westward the original inhabitants, the Britons or
Welsh, i.e. foreigners, as the Teutons styled the natives.

Before the invasion of Britain, the Teutons inhabited
the central part of Europe as far south as the Rhine,
a tract which in a large measure coincides with modern
Germany. The Jutes, Angles, and Saxons were different
tribes of Teutons. These ancestors of the English dwelt
in Denmark and in the lands extending southward along
the North Sea.

The Angles, an important Teutonic tribe, furnished the
name for the new home, which was called Angle-land,
afterward shortened into England. The language spoken
by these tribes is generally called Anglo-Saxon or Saxon.

The Training of the Race. The climate is a potent factor
in determining the vigor and characteristics of a race.
Nature had reared the Teuton like a wise but not indul-
gent parent. By every method known to her, she endeav-
ored to render him fit to colonize and sway the world.
Summer paid him but a brief visit. His companions were
the frost, the fluttering snowflake, the stinging hail. For



THE TEUTONIC RACE 13

music, instead of the soft notes of a shepherd's pipe under
blue Italian or Grecian skies, he listened to the north wind
whistling among the bare branches, or to the roar of an
angry northern sea upon the bleak coast.

The feeble could not withstand the rigor of such a cli-
mate in the absence of the comforts of civilization. Only
the strongest in each generation survived ; and these trans-
mitted to their children increasing vigor. Warfare was
incessant, not only with nature but also with the surround-
ing tribes. Nature kept the Teuton in such a school until
he seemed fit to colonize the world, and to produce a lit-
erature which would appeal to humanity in every age.

The Early Teutonic Religion. Our ancestors were
heathen for some time after they came to England. Their
principal deity was Woden, the All-father, from whom
Wednesday is named. Thunor, the invincible god of
thunder, has also given his name to a day of the week.
In the old Norse mythology, to which the old Teutonic
religions are closely allied, heaven was called Valhal.
Woden's daughters were called Valkyries, and it was
their mission to ride their cloudlike steeds over earthly
battlefields, to note the bravest warriors, and to conduct
to Valhal such as were selected to fall. Death while
courageously fighting on the battlefield made the hero
sure of being taken to Valhal to become Woden's guest.
There at the table of the gods, the warrior ate of the flesh
of the magic boar, drank from a river of ale, and indulged
to his heart's content in the sword game. This old Norse
religion was instinct with a gloomy fatalism. Upon Val-
hal and the throng of heroes whom Woden summoned
to help him fight his foes, could be seen a ravenlike
shadow, growing ever larger and threatening to wrap all
in lasting darkness. Loki, the spirit of evil, was fated to



14 FROM 449 A.D. TO THE NORMAN CONQUEST, 1066

break his chains, and he, with the life-destroying giants of
the frost, would devour the very gods.

We cannot say exactly how much of this belief was held
by our ancestors in England. They certainly worshiped
some gods of the same names and were imbued with the
same fatalism. In Beowulf there is allusion to Wyrd (fate),
and the web of destiny is mentioned in several old poems.

Somber Cast of the Teutonic Mind. The early religious
beliefs of the Teuton received their gloomy coloring from
the rigor of nature's forces, from the frost giants with
whom he battled. The winter twilight fell upon him in
his northern home about three o'clock in the afternoon.
During the long evenings he would often think how the
world had promised him much and given him little, and
the gloom of this life would cast its shadow upon the next.
Even in summer days, his leaden sky was often obscured
with rain clouds driven by the restless winds. In wintry
nights the hours would drag wearily as he listened to the
hail or heard the half-human moaning of the fir trees.

We must remember this cast of the Teutonic mind in
order to understand its literature. We find Shakespeare
likening life to a fitful fever, and considering the gloomy
problem of existence in the person of Hamlet. We listen
to Gray, singing that everything we prize "awaits alike
the inevitable hour " ; to Burns, comparing pleasure to a
snowflake falling in the river ; to Poe, singing the melan-
choly song of the Raven ; to Tennyson, sighing :

" He will not hear the north wind rave,
Nor, moaning, household shelter crave
From winter rains that beat his grave." 1

The Anglo-Saxon Language. Our oldest English liter-

1 The Two Voices.



THE ANGLO-SAXON LANGUAGE 15

ature is written in the language spoken by the Angles and
the Saxons. This at first sight looks like a strange tongue
to one conversant with modern English only ; but the lan-
guage that we employ to-day has the framework, the bone
and sinew, of the earlier tongue. Modern English is no
more unlike Anglo-Saxon than a bearded man is unlike
his former childish self. A few examples will show the
likeness and the difference. " The noble queen " would in
Anglo-Saxon be seo ceflele cwen ; "the noble queen's," flare
ceflelan cwene. Seo is the nominative feminine singular,
flare the genitive, of the definite article. The adjective
and the noun also change their forms with the varying
cases. In its inflections Anglo-Saxon resembles its sister
language, the modern German.

After the first feeling of strangeness has passed away,
it is easy to recognize many of the old words. Take, for
instance, this from Beowulf:

". . . fly he "Sone feond ofercwom,
gehnsegde helle gast."

Here are eight words, apparently strange, but even a
novice soon recognizes five of them : he, feond (fiend),
ofercwom (overcame), helle (hell), gast (ghost). The word
"done, strange as it looks, is merely the article " the."

. . . therefore he overcame the fiend,
Subdued the ghost of hell.

Let us take from the same poem another passage, con-
taining the famous simile :

". . . leoht inne stod,
efne swa of hefene hadre seine's
rodores candel."

Of these eleven words, seven may be recognized : leoht



16 FROM 449 A.D. TO THE NORMAN CONQUEST, 1066

(light), inne (in), stod (stood), of, hefene (heaven), sclneS
(shineth), candel (candle).

... a light stood within,

Even so from heaven serenely shineth

The firmament's candle.

Some object to using the term "Anglo-Saxon," and
insist on substituting "Old English," because it might
otherwise be thought that modern English is a different
language and not merely a growth. They might with equal
justice claim that " grown boy " should be used in place
of a new term " man," to emphasize the fact that the boy,
who has grown into a man, is still the same person.

Earliest Anglo-Saxon Literature. As in the case of the
Greeks and Romans, poetry afforded the first outlet for
the feelings of the Teutonic race. The first productions
were handed down by memory. Poetry is easily memo-
rized and naturally lends itself to singing and musical
accompaniment. Under such circumstances, even prose
would speedily fall into metrical form. In addition to these
reasons, poetry is the most suitable vehicle of expression
for the emotions. Unlike modern writers, the ancients
seldom undertook to make literature unless they felt so
deeply that silence was impossible.

The Form of Anglo-Saxon Poetry. Each line is divided
into two parts by a major pause. Because each of these
parts was often printed as a complete line in old texts,
Beowulf has sometimes been called a poem of 6368 lines,
although it has but 3184.

A striking characteristic of Anglo-Saxon poetry is con-
sonantal alliteration, that is, the repetition of the same
consonant at the beginning of words in the 'same line :

" Grendel gongan ; Codes yrre baer."
Greauel going ; God's anger bare.



FORM OF ANGLO-SAXON POETRY I/

The usual type of Anglo-Saxon poetry has two allitera-
tions in the first half of the line and one in the second.
The lines vary considerably in the number of syllables-
The line from Beowulf quoted just above has nine sylla-
bles. The following line from the same poem has eleven;

" Flota famig-heals, fugle gelicost."

The floater foamy-necked, to a fowl most like.

This line, also from Beowulf, has eight syllables :

" Nipende niht, and norSan wind."
Noisome night, and northern wind.

Vowel alliteration is less common. Where this is em-
ployed, the vowels are generally different, as is shown in
the principal words of the following line :

" On ead, on zeht, on eorcan stan." ,

On wealth, on goods, on precious stone.

End rhyme is uncommon, but we must beware of think-
ing that there is no rhythm, for that is a pronounced char-
acteristic. Anglo-Saxon verse was intended to be sung, and
hence a fixed number of beats was necessary. There are
normally four accents in each line, two in the first half and
two in the second. In the first half, the two alliterative
syllables are accented ; in the second, besides the allitera-
tive syllable, the word corresponding to the most important
idea is accented. It should also be observed that allitera-
tion seldom falls on any but the most important words.

The Manuscripts that have handed down Anglo-Saxon
Literature. The earliest Anglo-Saxon poetry was trans-
mitted by the memories of men. Finally, with the slow
growth of learning, a few acquired the art of writing, and
transcribed on parchment a small portion of the current
songs. The introduction of Christianity ushered in prose



1 8 FROM 449 A.D. TO THE NORMAN CONQUEST, 1066

translations and a few original compositions, which were
taken down on parchment and kept in the monasteries.

The study of Anglo-Saxon literature is comparatively
recent, for its treasures have not been long accessible. Its
most famous poem, Beowulf, was not discovered until the
close of the eighteenth century. In 1822 Dr. Blume, a
German professor of law, happened to find in a monastery
at Vercelli, Italy, a large volume of Anglo-Saxon manu-
script, containing a number of fine poems and twenty-two
sermons. This is now known as the Vercelli Book. No
one knows how it happened to reach Italy. Another large




EXETER CATHEDRAL



parchment volume of poems and miscellany was deposited
by Bishop Leofric at the cathedral of Exeter in Devon-
shire, about 1050 A.D. This collection is now called the
Exeter Book, and it is still one of the prized treasures of
that cathedral.



THE ANGLO-SAXON SCOP AND GLEEMAN 19

Many valuable manuscripts were destroyed at the dis-
solution of the monasteries in the time of Henry VIII.,
between 1535 and 1540. John Bale, a contemporary
writer, says that " those who purchased the monasteries
reserved the books, some to scour their candlesticks, some
to rub their boots, some they sold to the grocers and soap-
sellers, and some they sent over sea to the bookbinders,
not in small numbers, but at times v/hole ships full, to
the wondering of foreign nations." Part of the valuable
Anglo-Saxon poem Waldhere was discovered in 1860 on
leaves of parchment which had been used in binding
another book.

The Anglo-Saxon Scop and Gleeman. Our earliest poetry
was made current and kept fresh in memory by the singers.
The kings and nobles often attached to them a scop, or
maker of verses. When the warriors, after some victorious
battle, were feasting at their long tables, the banquet was
not complete without the songs of the scop. While the
warriors ate the flesh of boar and deer, and warmed their
blood with horns of foaming ale, the scop, standing where
the blaze from a pile of logs disclosed to him the grizzly
features of the men, sang his most stirring songs, often
accompanying them with the music of a rude harp. As
the feasters roused his enthusiasm with their applause,
he would sometimes indulge in an outburst of eloquent
extempore song. Not infrequently the imagination of
some king or noble would be fired, and he would sing of
his own great deeds.

We read in Beowulf that in Hrothgar's famous hall



"... '$j>er waes hearpan sweg,
swutol sang scopes."

. . . there was sound of harp.
Loud the singing of the scop.



20 FROM 449 A.D. TO THE NORMAN CONQUEST, 1066

In addition to the scop, who was more or less permanently
attached to the royal court or hall of noble, there was a
craft of gleemen who roved from hall to hall. In the
song of WidstiS we catch a glimpse of the life of a glee-
man:

' Swa scriSende gesceapum hweorfaft
gleomen gumena geond grunda fela."

Thus roving, with shape'd songs there wander
The gleemen of the people through many lands.

The scop was an originator of poetry, the gleeman more
often a mere repeater, although this distinction in the use
of the terms was not observed in later times.

The Songs of Scop and Gleeman. The subject matter
of these songs was suggested by the most common experi-
ences of the time. These were with war, the sea, and
death.

The oldest Anglo-Saxon song known is called WtdsiXfu/t
the Far Traveler, and it has been preserved in the Exeter
Book. This song was probably composed in the older
Angle-land on the continent, and brought to England in
the memories of the singers. The poem is an account of
the wanderings of a gleeman over a great part of Europe.
Such a song will mean little to us unless we can imagina-
tively represent the circumstances under which it was
sung, the long hall with its tables of feasting, drinking
warriors, the firelight throwing weird shadows among the
smoky rafters. The imagination of the warriors would be
roused as similar experiences of their own were suggested
by these lines in WidsiS's song :

" Ful oft of Sam heape hwmende fleag
giellende gar on grome tieode."

Full oft from that host hissing flew
The whistling spear on the fierce folk.



THE SONGS OF SCOP AND GLEEMAN 21

The gleeman ends this song with two thoughts character-
istic of the poets of the Saxon race. He shows his love
for noble deeds, and he next thinks of the shortness of life,
as he sings :

" In mortal court his deeds are not unsung,
Such as a noble man will show to men,
Till all doth flit away, both life and light."

A greater scop, looking at life through Saxon eyes,

sings :

" We are such stuff

As dreams are made on ; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep." 1

Another old song, also found in the Exeter Book, is the
Seafarer. We must imagine the scop recalling vivid expe-
riences to our early ancestors with this song of the sea :

" Hail flew in hard showers,
And nothing I heard
But the wrath of the waters,
The icy-cold way ;
At times the swan's song ;
In the scream of the gannet
I sought for my joy,
In the moan of the sea whelp
For laughter of men,
In the song of the sea-mew
For drinking of mead." 3

To show that love of the sea yet remains one of the
characteristics of English poetry, we may quote by way of
comparison a song sung more than a thousand years later,
in Victoria's reign :

1 Shakespeare : The Tempest, Act IV., scene i .

2 Morley's translation, English Writers, Vol. II., p. 21.
HAL. ENG. LIT. 2



22 FROM 449 A.D. TO THE NORMAN CONQUEST, 1066

" The wind is as iron that rings,
The foam heads loosen and flee ;
It swells and welters and swings,
The pulse of the tide of the sea.

" Let the wind shake our flag like a feather,
Like the plumes of the foam of the sea !

In the teeth of the hard glad weather,
In the blown wet face of the sea." 1

Another song from the Exeter Book is called The For-
tunes of Men. It gives vivid pictures of certain phases
of life among the Anglo-Saxons. The notes of the harp
must have sounded sad, as the scop sang :

" One shall sharp hunger slay ;
One shall the storms beat down ;
One be destroyed by darts,
One die in war.
One shall live losing
The light of his eyes,
Feel blindly with fingers ;
And one lame of foot,
With sinew-wound wearily
Wasteth away,
Musing and mourning,
With death in his mind.

One shall die by the dagger,

In wrath, drenched with ale,

Wild through wine, on the mead bench,

Too swift with his words ;

Too lightly his life

Shall the wretched one lose. 1 ' 2 -

The songs that we have noted are only a small fraction
of scopic poetry, but they will, together with Beowulf, the
greatest of them all, give a fair idea of this type of verse.

1 Swinburne's A Song in Time of Order.

8 Morley's English Writers, Vol. II., pp. 33, 34.



THE SONGS OF SCOP AND GLEEMAN 23



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