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journey and less interesting because of the simple character of the central figure; and The Holy War, an allegory the idea of which is plainly taken from Paradise Lost, and in which the banished spirits, led by Diabolus (Satan), attack the forces of Emmanuel (Christ), defending the town of Mansoul. In addition to attaining great fame as a writer, Bunyan had now come to be recognized as a great preacher. Offers of more prominent and more lucrative positions came to him, but he declined to leave Bedford permanently, though he made an annual visit to London and preached to large and enthusiastic audiences.
Death. He gave himself freely to humanity, and his death resulted
From a portrait by Sadler.
from exposure on a journey that he certainly would have called one of Christian duty. The journey was to bring about a reconciliation between a father and son, and was successful. Riding afterward to London in a heavy rain, he caught cold, which developed into fever. In about ten days he died, and was buried in London.
A Humble Man. In view of Bunyan's phenomenal success, especially with such an unpromising start in life, no
characteristic is more noteworthy than his humility. A single incident will illustrate this. A member of his congregation once complimented him on a sermon he had preached, calling it a sweet" sermon. The great man, to whose imagination the forces of evil were very real and always present, replied: "You need not tell me that, for the devil whispered it to me before I was well out of the pulpit."
A Noteworthy Pamphlet. This chapter should not end without mention of a publication that had a great effect on the drama of this period, and incidentally upon the moral tone of the literature as a whole. This was a pamphlet entitled, Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage, by Jeremy Collier, a dissenting clergyIt appeared in 1698, two years, that is, before Dryden's death; and it was very specific as to names of both authors and plays, Dryden receiving a due share of condemnation. He differed from other offenders in admitting the justice of the charges, and making a feeble apology.
That such a spectacle as the comedy of the Restoration must have come to an end in time is doubtless true; but it is also true that the reform was hastened by the clergyman's blast. While the pamphlet is an absolutely uncritical performance, it appeared at a moment when merely a vigorous statement of the situation would contribute much toward a removal of the evil.
FROM THE DEATH OF DRYDEN TO THE PUBLICATION OF THE "LYRICAL BALLADS" (1700-1798)
General Character of Eighteenth-century Literature. Despite repeated assertions to the contrary, Matthew Arnold's characterization of the eighteenth century as "our age of prose and reason" remains the most accurate brief characterization yet offered. The objectors to the phrase apparently labor under the impression that the critic was disparaging the age, overlooking the fact that he also described it as "excellent and indispensable." After Chaucer, Shakspere, and Milton (to name only the greatest poets before 1700) English literature could well afford an entire century for perfecting its prose.
An Age of Prose. Even an age of prose may produce poets, and Arnold counts Gray a classic and Burns a poet of great power. In the opinion of most students it requires no indulgence to add the names of Thomson, Cowper, Collins, and Goldsmith to the list of real poets. When all is said, however, the fact stands out that not by reason of all six of these names does the eighteenth century hold its high place in our literary annals. That place is due to a number of prose writers of the highest merit - Defoe and Swift, Addison and Steele, Johnson and Goldsmith, Boswell and Burke; to the founders of the novel1— Richardson,
1 The novelists are separated from other prose writers because their contribution is to the establishment of a literary form rather than “a fit prose" style.
Fielding, Smollett, Sterne; and to one poet - Pope - who, as we shall presently see, treated in metrical form just the sort of subjects treated by the others in prose and in a not dissimilar fashion.
An Age of Reason. It was an age of reason in that the appeal of its writers was largely to the intellect and slightly to the imagination or to the emotions. This assertion may be disputed by one who recalls that Gulliver's Travels, Robinson Crusoe, and Sir Roger de Coverley belong to the first half of the century. But the De Coverley Papers were popular because readers found in them so much of the life of their own day; and Robinson Crusoe was read not as a creation of the imagination, but as sober narrative of real experiences. Swift's object in Gulliver's Travels was not to entertain, but to satirize politics, religion, learning, and well nigh every phase of life. Even the titles of Pope's poems show lack of imagination and feeling, qualities inseparably connected in most minds with any poetry worthy the name. He wrote an Essay on Criticism, Essay on Man, Moral Essays, Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot (his closest friend), Epistle on Taste, Satires (imitations of Horace), The Dunciad (a long series of spiteful, personal attacks on contemporaries). Although some characteristics run through the literature of the entire century, certain differences between the first half of the century and the second half make a subdivision desirable. It is convenient to name these subdivisions from the men whose influence dominated each: the age of Pope (to his death in 1744), and the age of Johnson.
between conditions in England at the time and conditions in Rome under the Emperor Augustus. "The parallel between the two eras," says Professor Sellar, "consists in the relation which poets and writers held to men eminent in the State, and also in the finished execution and moderation of tone common to both." Statesmen vied with each other,
in the encouragement and substantial patronage of men of
Augustan writers were interested chiefly in city life. Places connected with writers of other periods may be noted.
letters. Great emphasis was laid on literary "finish," on elegance. Said Dryden :
"Polish, repolish, every color lay,
And sometimes add, but oftener take away."
Following Dryden's example, the early eighteenth-century writers busied themselves much with theories of poetry
1 The Roman Poets of the Augustan Age: Virgil, 3d ed., page 5.