Reuben Post Halleck.

Halleck's New English Literature online

. (page 29 of 43)
Online LibraryReuben Post HalleckHalleck's New English Literature → online text (page 29 of 43)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

harmony and stateliness. His language is so full of rich harmonies
that it challenges comparison with poetry. His long, periodic
sentences move with a quiet dignity, adapted to the treatment of lofty

De Quincey's work possesses also a light, ironic humor, which is
happiest in parody. The essay upon _Murder Considered as One of the
Fine Arts_ is the best example of his humor. This selection is one of
the most whimsical: -

"For, if once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he come,
to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to
drinking and Sabbath breaking, and from that to incivility and
procrastination. Once begin upon this downward path, you never know
where you are to stop."

De Quincey's gravest fault is digression. He frequently leaves his
main theme and follows some line of thought that has been suggested to
his well-stored mind. These digressions are often very long, and
sometimes one leads to another, until several subjects receive
treatment in a single paper. De Quincey, however, always returns to
the subject in hand and defines very sharply the point of digression
and of return. Another of his faults is an indulgence in involved
sentences, which weaken the vigor and simplicity of the style.

Despite these faults, De Quincey is a great master of language. He
deserves study for the three most striking characteristics of his
style, - precision, stateliness, and harmony.


The tide of reaction, which had for same time been gathering force,
swept triumphantly over England in this age of Romanticism.

Men rebelled against the aristocracy, the narrow conventions of
society, the authority of the church and of the government, against
the supremacy of cold classicism in literature, against confining
intellectual activity to tangible commonplace things, and against the
repression of imagination and of the soul's aspirations. The two
principal forces behind these changes were the Romantic movement,
which culminated in changed literary ideals, and the spirit of the
French Revolution, which emphasized the close kinship of all ranks of

The time was preeminently poetic. The Elizabethan age alone excels it
in the glory of its poetry. The principal subjects of verse in the age
of Romanticism were nature and man. Nature became the embodiment of an
intelligent, sympathetic, spiritual force. Cowper, Burns, Scott,
Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats constitute a group of
poets who gave to English literature a new poetry of nature. The
majority of these were also poets of man, of a more ideal humanity.
The common man became an object of regard. Burns sings of the Scotch
peasant. Wordsworth pictures the life of shepherds and dalesmen.
Byron's lines ring with a cry of liberty for all, and Shelley
immortalizes the dreams of a universal brotherhood of man. Keats, the
poet of the beautiful, passed away before he heard clearly the message
of "the still sad music of humanity."

While the prose does not take such high rank as the poetry, there are
some writers who will not soon be forgotten. Scott will be remembered
as the great master of the historical novel, Jane Austen as the
skillful realistic interpreter of everyday life, De Quincey for the
brilliancy of his style and the vigor of his imagination in presenting
his opium dreams, and Lamb for his exquisite humor. In philosophical
prose, Mill, Bentham, and Malthus made important contributions to
moral, social, and political philosophy, while Coleridge opposed their
utilitarian and materialistic tendencies, and codified the principles
of criticism from a romantic point of view.



Gardiner[27], Green, Walker, or Cheney. For the social side, see
Traill, V., VI., and Cheney's _Industrial and Social History of


_The Cambridge History of English Literature_, Vols. XI., XII.

Courthope's _A History of English Poetry_, Vol. VI.

Elton's _A Survey of English Literature from 1780-1830_, 2 vols.

Herford's _The Age of Wordsworth_.

Brandes's _Naturalism in England_ (Vol. IV. of _Main Currents in
Nineteenth Century Literature_.)

_The Revolution in English Poetry and Fiction_ (Chap. XXII. of Vol. X.
of _Cambridge Modern History_.)

Hancock's _The French Revolution and the English Poets_.

Scudder's _Life of the Spirit in the Modern English Poets_.

Symons's _The Romantic Movement in English Poetry_.

Reynolds's _The Treatment of Nature in English Poetry between Pope and

Mackie's _Nature Knowledge in Modern Poetry_.

Brookes's _Studies in Poetry_ (Blake, Scott, Shelley, Keats).

Symons's _William Blake_.

Payne's _The Greater English Poets of the Nineteenth Century_ (Keats,
Shelley, Byron, Coleridge, Wordsworth).

Stephen's _Hours in a Library_, 3 vols. (Scott, De Quincey, Cowper,
Wordsworth, Shelley, Coleridge).

Dowden's _Studies in Literature_, 1879-1877.

Bradley's _Oxford Lectures on Poetry_ (Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats).

Lowell's _Among my Books, Second Series_ (Wordsworth, Keats).

Ainger's _Life of Lamb_. (E.M.L.)

Lucas's _Life of Charles Lamb_.

Goldwin Smith's _Life of Cowper_. (E.M.L.)

Wright's _Life of Cowper_.

Shairp's _Robert Burns_. (E.M.L.)

Carlyle's _Essay on Burns_.

Lockhart's _Life of Scott_., Hutton's _Life of Scott_. (E.M.L.)

Yonge's _Life of Scott_. (G.W.)

Goldwin Smith's _Life of Jane Austen_. (G.W.)

Helm's _Jane Austen and her Country House Comedy_.

Mitton's _Jane Austen and her Times_.

Adams's _The Story of Jane Austen's Life_.

Knight's _Life of Wordsworth_, 3 vols., Myers's _Life of Wordsworth_
(E.M.L.), Raleigh's _Wordsworth_.

Robertson's _Wordsworth and the English Lake Country_.

Traill's _Life of Coleridge_ (E.M.L.), Caine's _Life of Coleridge_
(G.W.), Garnett's _Coleridge_.

Sneath's _Wordsworth, Poet of Nature and Poet of Man_.

Mayne's _The New Life of Byron_, 2 vols, Nichol's _Life of Byron_
(E.M.L.), Noel's _Life of Byron_. (G.W.)

Trelawney's _Recollections of the Last Days of Shelley and Byron_.

Dowden's _Life of Shelley_, 2 vols., Symonds's _Life of Shelley_
(E.M.L.), Sharp's _Life of Shelley_ (G.W.). Francis Thompson's

Clutton-Brock's _Shelley: The Man and the Poet_.

Hogg's _Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley_(contemporary).

Angeli's _Shelley and his Friends in Italy_.

Colvin's _Life of Keats_ (E.M.L.), Rossetti's _Life of Keats_ (G.W.),
Hancock's _John Keats_.

Miller's _Leigh Hunt's Relations with Byron, Shelley, and Keats_.

Arnold's _Essays in Criticism, Second Series_ (Keats).

H. Buxton Forman's _Complete Works of John Keats_ (includes the
_Letters_, the best edition).

Masson's _Life of De Quincey_. (E.M.L.)

Minto's _Manual of English Prose Literature_ (De Quincey).


Blake. - Some of his best poems are given in Ward, IV., 601-608;
Bronson, III., 385-403; Manly, I., 301-304; _Oxford_, 558-566;
_Century_, 485-489, and in the volume in _The Canterbury Poets_.

Point out in Blake's verse (_a_) the new feeling for nature, (_b_)
evidences of wide sympathies, (_c_) mystical tendencies, and (_d_)
compare his verses relating to children and nature with Wordsworth's
poems on the same subjects.

Cowper. - Read the opening stanzas of Cowper's _Conversation_ and
note the strong influence of Pope in the cleverly turned but
artificial couplets. Compare this poem with the one _On the Receipt of
my Mother's Picture_ or with _The Task_, Book IV., lines 1-41 and
267-332, Cassell's _National Library, Canterbury Poets_, or _Temple
Classics_ and point out the marked differences in subject matter and
style. What forward movement in literature is indicated by the change
in Cowper's manner? _John Gilpin_ should be read for its fresh,
beguiling humor.

For selections, see Bronson,[28] III., 310-329; Ward, III., 422-485;
_Century_, 470-479; Manly, I., 285-294.

Burns. - Read _The Cotter's Saturday Night, For a' That and a' That,
To a Mouse, Highland Mary, To Mary in Heaven, Farewell to Nancy, I
Love My Jean, A Red, Red Rose_. The teacher should read to the class
parts of _Tam o' Shanter_.

The _Globe_ edition contains the complete poems of Burns with
Glossary. Inexpensive editions may be found in Cassell's _National
Library, Everyman's Library_, and _Canterbury Poets_. For selections,
see Bronson, III., 338-385; Ward. III., 512-571; _Century_, 490-502;
Manly, I., 309-326; _Oxford_, 492-506.

In what ways do the first three poems mentioned above show Burns's
sympathy with democracy? Quote some of Burns's fine descriptions of
nature and describe the manner in which he treats nature. How does he
rank as a writer of love songs? What qualities in his poems have
touched so many hearts? Compare his poetry with that of Dryden, Pope,
and Shakespeare.

Scott. - Read _The Lady of the Lake_, Canto III., stanzas iii.-xxv.,
or _Marmion_, Canto VI., stanzas xiii.-xxvii. (American Book Company's
_Eclectic English Classics_, Cassell's _National Library_, or
_Everyman's Library_.) Read in Craik, V., "The Gypsy's Curse" (_Guy
Mannering_), pp. 14-17, "The Death of Madge Wildfire" (_Heart of
Middlothian_), pp. 30-35, and "The Grand Master of the Templars"
(_Ivanhoe_), pp. 37-42. The student should put on his list for reading
at his leisure: _Guy Mannering, Old Mortality, Ivanhoe, Kenilworth,
and The Talisman_.

In what kind of poetry does Scott excel? Quote some of his spirited
heroes, and point out their chief excellences. How does his poetry
differ from that of Burns? In the history of fiction, does Scott rank
as an imitator or a creator? As a writer of fiction, in what do his
strength and his weakness consist? Has he those qualities that will
cause him to be popular a century hence? What can be said of his

Jane Austen. - In Craik, V., or Manly. II, read the selections from
_Pride and Prejudice_. The student at his leisure should read all this

What world does she describe in her fiction? What are her chief
qualities? How does she differ from Scott? Why is she called
a "realist"?

Wordsworth. - Read _I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, The Solitary
Reaper, To the Cuckoo, Lines Written in Early Spring, Three Years She
Grew in Sun and Shower, To my Sister, She Dwelt among the Untrodden
Ways, She Was a Phantom of Delight, Alice Fell, Lucy Gray, We Are
Seven, Intimations of Immortality from Recollection of Early
Childhood, Ode to Duty, Hart-Leap Well, Lines Composed a Few Miles
above Tintern Abbey, Michael_ and the sonnets: "It is a beauteous
evening, calm and free," "Milton, thou shouldst be living at this
hour," and "The world is too much with us, late and soon." Some
students will also wish to read _The Prelude_ (_Temple Classics_ or
A.J. George's edition), which describes the growth of Wordsworth's

All the above poems (excepting _The Prelude_) may be found in the
volume _Poems of Wordsworth, chosen and edited by Matthew Arnold_
(_Golden Treasury Series_, 331 pp., $1). Nearly all may also be found
in Page's _British Poets of the Nineteenth Century_ (923 pp., $2). For
selections, see Bronson, IV., 1-54; Ward, IV., 1-88; _Oxford_ 594-618;
_Century_, 503-541; Manly, I., 329-345.

Refer to Wordsworth's "General Characteristics" (pp. 393-396) and
select the poems that most emphatically show his special qualities.
Which of the above poems seems easiest to write? In which is his
genius most apparent? Which best presents his view of nature? Which
best stand the test of an indefinite number of readings? In what do
his poems of childhood excel?

Coleridge. - Read _The Ancient Mariner, Christabel, Kubla Khan, Hymn
before Sunrise in the Vale of Chamouni, Youth and Age_; Bronson, I.,
54-93; Ward, IV., 102-154; Page, 66-103; Century, 553-565; Manly, I.,
353-364; _Oxford_, 628-656.

How do _The Ancient Mariner_ and _Christabel_ manifest the spirit of
Romanticism? What are the chief reasons for the popularity of _The
Ancient Mariner_? Would you call this poem didactic? Select stanzas
specially remarkable for melody, for beauty, for telling much in few
words, for images of nature, for conveying an ethical lesson. What
feeling almost unknown in early poetry is common in Coleridge's _The
Ancient Mariner_, Wordsworth's _Hart-Leap Well_, Burns's _To a Mouse,
On Seeing a Wounded Hare Limp by Me, A Winter Night_, and Cowper's _On
a Goldfinch Starved to Death in his Cage_?

The advanced student should read some of Coleridge's prose criticism
in his _Biographia Literaria_ (_Everyman's Library_). The parts best
worth reading have been selected in George's _Coleridge's Principles
of Criticism_ (226 pp., 60 cents) and in Beers's _Selections for the
Prose Writings of Coleridge_ (including criticisms of Wordsworth and
Shakespeare, 146 pp., 50 cents).

Note how fully Coleridge unfolds in these essays the principles of
romantic criticism, which have not been superseded.

Byron. - Read _The Prisoner of Chillon_ (_Selections from Byron,
Eclectic English Classics_), _Childe Harold_, Canto III., stanzas
xxi-xxv. and cxiii., Canto IV., stanzas lxxviii., and lxxix. "Oh,
Snatch'd away in Beauty's Bloom," "There's not a joy the world can
give like that it takes away," and from _Don Juan_, Canto III., the
song inserted between stanzas lxxxvi. and lxxxvii. All these poems
will be found in the two volumes of Byron's works in the _Canterbury
Poets'_ series.

Selections are given in Bronson, IV., 125-174; Ward, IV., 244-303;
Page, 170-272; Oxford, 688-694; _Century_, 586-613; Manly, I.,

From the stanzas indicated in _Childe Harold_, select, first, the
passages which best illustrate the spirit of revolt, and, second, the
passages of most poetic beauty. What natural phenomena appeal most to
Byron? What qualities make _The Prisoner of Chillon_ a favorite? Why
is his poetry often called rhetorical?

Shelley. - Read _Adonais, To a Skylark, Ode to the West Wind, To
Night, The Cloud, The Sensitive Plant_, and selections from _Alastor_
and _Prometheus Unbound_. Shelley's _Poetical Works_, edited by Edward
Dowden (_Globe Poets_), contains all of Shelley's extant poetry. Less
expensive editions are in _Canterbury Poets, Temple Classics_, and
_Everyman's Library_. Selections are given in Bronson, IV., 182-227;
Ward, IV., 348-416; Page, 275-369; _Oxford_, 697-717; _Century_,
614-638; Manly, I., 394-411.

Under what different aspects do _Adonais_ and _Lycidas_ view the life
after death? Has Shelley modified Wordsworth's view of the spiritual
force in nature? Does Shelley use either the cloud or the skylark for
the direct purpose of expressing his own feelings? Why is he sometimes
called a metaphysical poet? What is the most striking quality of
Shelley's poetic gift?

Keats. - Read _The Eve of St. Agnes_, _Ode to a Nightingale_, _Ode on
a Grecian Urn_, _To Autumn_, _Hyperion_ (first 134 lines), _La Belle
Dame sans Merci_, _Isabella_, and the sonnets: _On First Looking into
Chapman's Homer_, _On the Grasshopper and Cricket_, _When I have Fears
that I May Cease to Be_, _Bright Star! Would I Were Steadfast as Thou
Art_. The best edition of the works of Keats is that by Buxton Forman.
The _Canterbury Poets_ and _Everyman's Library_ have less expensive
editions. All the poems indicated above may be found in Page's
_British Poets of the Nineteenth Century_. For selections, see
Bronson, IV., 230-265; Ward, IV., 427-464; _Oxford_, 721-744;
_Century_, 639-655; Manly, I., 413-425.

By direct reference to the above poems, justify calling Keats "the
apostle of the beautiful," in both thought and language. Give examples
of his felicitous use of words and phrases. Show by illustrations his
mastery in the use of the concrete. To what special senses do his
images appeal? Was he at all affected by the new human movement? Why
does Arnold say, "Keats is with Shakespeare"? In what respects is he
like the Elizabethans?

De Quincey. - Read _Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow_ (Craik, V.,
264-270). The first chapters of _The Confessions of an English
Opium-Eater_ (_Everyman's Library_; _Temple Classics_; _Century_,
683-690; Manly, II., 357-366) are entertaining and will repay reading.

Does his prose show any influence of a romantic and poetic age?
Compare his style with that of Addison, Gibbon, and Burke. In what
respects does De Quincey succeed, and in what does he fail, as a model
for a young writer?

Lamb. - From the _Essays of Elia_ (Cassell's _National Library_;
_Everyman's Library_, _Temple Classics_) read any two of these essays:
_A Dissertation upon Roast Pig, Old China, Dream Children, New Year's
Eve, Poor Relations_. For selections, see Craik, V., 116-126;
_Century_, 575-578; Manly, II., 337-345.

In what does Lamb's chief charm consist? Point out resemblances and
differences between his _Essays_ and Addison's.

Landor, Hazlitt, and Hunt. - Good selections are given in Craik, V.;
Chambers, III.; Manly, II. Inexpensive editions of Landor's _Imaginary
Conversations_ and _Pericles and Aspasia_ may be found in the _Camelot
Series_. Hazlitt's _Characters of Shakespeare's Plays, Lectures on the
English Poets, Lectures on the English Comic Writers_, and _Table
Talk_ are published in _Everyman's Library_. The _Camelot Series_ and
the _Temple Classics_ also contain some of Hazlitt's works. A
selection from Leigh Hunt's _Essays_ is published in the _Camelot

What are the main characteristics of Landor's style? Select a passage
which justifies the criticism: "He writes in marble." Give some
striking thoughts from his _Imaginary Conversations_. Compare his
style and subject matter with Hazlitt's. Show that Hazlitt has the
power of presenting in an impressive way the chief characteristics of
authors. Select some pleasing passages from Leigh Hunt's _Essays_.
Compare him with Addison and Lamb.


[Footnote 1: _Prelude_, Book XI.]

[Footnote 2: gold.]

[Footnote 3: _For a' That and a' That_.]

[Footnote 4: _Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle_.]

[Footnote 5: _Hart-Leap Well_.]

[Footnote 6: _Intimations of Immortality_.]

[Footnote 7: Wordsworth's _Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern

[Footnote 8: _Retirement_.]

[Footnote 9: _Conversation_.]

[Footnote 10: _I Love My Jean_.]

[Footnote 11: remedy.]

[Footnote 12: _Epistle to John Lapraik_.]

[Footnote 13: _The Vision_.]

[Footnote 14: _Sonnet_: "The world is too much with us."]

[Footnote 15: _Hart Leap Well_.]

[Footnote 16: _A Day-Dream_.]

[Footnote 17: _Biographia Literaria_, Chapter XIV.]

[Footnote 18: _Ibid_., Chapter XXII.]

[Footnote 19: _Manfred_, Act I.]

[Footnote 20: _Childe Harold's Pilgrimage_, Canto III.]

[Footnote 21: _The Dream_.]

[Footnote 22: _Adonais_, Stanza xlix]

[Footnote 23: _Epipsychidion_.]

[Footnote 24: _Ode to the West Wind_.]

[Footnote 25: For a discussion of the different sensory images of the
poets, see the author's _Education of the Central Nervous System_,
pages 109-208.]

[Footnote 26: _Sleep and Poetry_.]

[Footnote 27: For full titles, see p. 50.]

[Footnote 28: For full titles, see p. 6.]


History of the Period. - In the two periods of English history most
remarkable for their accomplishment, the Elizabethan and the
Victorian, the throne was occupied by women. Queen Victoria, the
granddaughter of George III., ruled from 1837 to the beginning of
1901. Her long reign of sixty-three years may be said to close with
the end of the nineteenth century.

For nearly fifty years after the battle of Waterloo (1815), England
had no war of magnitude. In 1854 she joined France in a war against
Russia to keep her from taking Constantinople. Tennyson's well-known
poem, _The Charge of the Light Brigade_, commemorates an incident in
this bloody contest, which was successful in preventing Russia from
dismembering Turkey.

When the Turks massacred the Christians in Bulgaria in 1876, Russia
fought and conquered Turkey. England again intervened, this time after
the war, in the Berlin Congress (1878). In return for her diplomatic
services and for a guaranty to maintain the integrity of certain
Turkish territory, England received from Turkey the island of Cyprus.
As a result of this Congress, the principalities of Roumania, Servia,
and Bulgaria were formed, but the Turk was allowed to remain in
Europe. A later English prime minister, Lord Salisbury (1830-1903),
referring to England's espousal of the Turkish cause, said that she
had "backed the wrong horse." The bloody war of 1912-1913 between
Turkey and the allied armies of Bulgaria, Servia, Montenegro, and
Greece was the result of this mistake.

An important part of England's history during this period centers
around the expansion, protection, and development of her colonies in
Asia, Australia, Africa, and America. England was then constantly
agitated by the fear that Russia might grow strong enough to seize
India or some other English colonial possessions.

A serious rebellion in India (1857) led England to take from the East
India Company the government of that colony. "Empress of India" was
later (1876) added to the titles of Queen Victoria. Had India not been
an English colony, literature might not have had Kipling's fascinating
_Jungle Books_ and Hindu stories. England's protectorate over Egypt
(1882) was assumed in order to strengthen her control over the newly
completed Suez Canal (1869), which was needed for her communication
with India and her Australian colonies.

The Boer war in South Africa (1899-1902)required the largest number of
troops that England ever mustered into service in any of her wars. The
final outcome of this desperate struggle was the further extension of
her South African possessions.

In the nineteenth century, England's most notable political
achievement was "her successful rule over colonies, ranging from
India, with its 280,000,000 subjects, to Fanning Island with its
population of thirty." Her tactful guidance was for the must part
directed toward enabling them to develop and to govern themselves. She
had learned a valuable lesson from the American revolution.

Ireland, however, failed to secure her share of the benefits that
usually resulted from English rule. She was neither regarded as a
colony, like Australia, nor as an integral part of England. For the
greater part of the century her condition was deplorable. The great
prime minister, William E. Gladstone (1809-1898), tried to secure
needed home rule for her, but did not succeed. Toward the end of the
century, more liberal laws regarding the tenure of the land and more
self-government afforded some relief from unjust conditions.

During the Victorian age the government of England became more
democratic. Two reform bills (1867 and 1884) gave almost unrestricted
suffrage to men. The extension of the franchise and the granting of
local self-government to her counties (1888) made England one of the
most democratic of all nations. Her monarch has less power than the
president of the United States.

The Victorian age saw the rise of trades unions and the passing of
many laws to improve the condition of the working classes. As the
tariff protecting the home grower of wheat had raised the price of
bread and caused much suffering to the poor, England not only repealed
this duty (1846) but also became practically a free-trade country. The
age won laurels in providing more educational facilities for all, in
abridging class privileges, and in showing increasing recognition of
human rights, without a bloody revolution such as took place in
France. A rough indication of the amount of social and moral progress
is the decrease in the number of convicts in England, from about
50,000 at the accession of Victoria to less than 6000 at her death.

An Age of Science and Invention. - In the extent and the variety of
inventions, in their rapid improvement and utilization for human
needs, and in general scientific progress, the sixty-three years of
the Victorian age surpassed all the rest of historic time.

When Victoria ascended the throne, the stage coach was the common
means of traveling; only two short pieces of railroad had been
constructed; the electric telegraph had not been developed; few
steamships had crossed the Atlantic. The modern use of the telephone
would then have seemed as improbable as the wildest Arabian Nights'
tale. Before her reign ended, the railroad, the telegraph, the
steamship, and the telephone had wrought an almost magical change in
travel and in communication.

The Victorian age introduced anaesthetics and antiseptic surgery,

Online LibraryReuben Post HalleckHalleck's New English Literature → online text (page 29 of 43)