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ple divided into two opposing parties, each suspicious of the other. Elizabeth set herself to bring them together; and her efforts met with success when Philip II of Spain attempted to invade England. Then it was that "patriotism proved stronger than religious fanaticism in the hearts of the English Catholics;" and their loyalty decided the fate of Philip's scheme.
(2) The People. One result of the Renaissance was, naturally, a great advance of the people as a whole in knowledge and intelligence. Accompanying this was a great increase in prosperity and in freedom of individual action. A man's chances in life were no longer limited by his rank or his purse.
A Yorkshire yeoman's son, Roger Ascham, devoted himself to learning, and became tutor to the Queen. A boy of humble birth, apprenticed at an early age on a small coasting vessel, developed a passion for exploration, was aided by the Queen, and is known in history as Sir Francis Drake, Admiral, circumnavigator of the earth. A Warwickshire peasant, who in some way got to London when he was about twenty-one years old, obtained work of some sort in a theatre; and ten or twelve years later he was acknowledged the foremost writer of both comedies and tragedies in English.
(3) Manner of Living. The national prosperity expressed itself in many ways. Houses were built more substantially. There was a great increase in the comforts of life; and among all classes except the very poor there was a great variety of food, especially meats. Great care and expense were given to dress, even by yeomen and men of low rank. There was a great fondness for amusements and a widespread indulgence in them; facts which doubtless did much to make the high development of the drama possible.
To summarize, it may be said that the chief national characteristic, found in all classes from the Queen and her advisers to the humblest peasants, was a "youthful exuberance of spirit." The Age of Elizabeth deserves the description "Merry England" more than any period before or since. It is not surprising that from such a period came the nation's greatest literature.
Here one of the most splendid entertainments of Elizabeth took place. See Scott's Kenilworth.
The first writer whom we are to take up is not one of the greatest. He fills only a small niche; but we should add that he fills it completely. This writer, whose field is that of prose, is
John Lyly (1554?-1606?). John Lyly, one of whose works has been named as marking the end of the period of preparation, was born in Kent about the year 1554. Nothing is positively known of his life until he became a student at
Magdalen College (Maudlin), Oxford, from which he was graduated A.B. and A.M. In 1579, the year of the appearance of Euphues, Lyly was connected with the university at Cambridge. Later he wrote nine comedies of the "romantic" type, the direct ancestors of Shakspere's A Midsummer Night's Dream and As You Like it. There are no other known facts about Lyly's life, though some have identified him with a man who served several years in Parliament. It is generally believed that he died in 1606.
Lyly's importance in literature arises from his romantic. comedies, his lyrics, and his popularizing of the prose style known as "euphuism." One of his best-known and delightful lyrics is that appearing in his play, Alexander and Campaspe, and beginning:
"Cupid and my Campaspe played
At cards for kisses; Cupid paid."
"Euphues," and Euphuism. - Euphues, or the Anatomy of Wit (1579), and its sequel, Euphues and His England, form together a sort of novel. The main story in the first is of a young Athenian, Euphues, who goes to Naples, becomes a great friend of one Philautus, falls in love with Lucilla, Philautus's betrothed, and is rejected by her. In the sequel Philautus and Euphues visit England, Philautus has an unfortunate love affair and then a fortunate one, Euphues indulges in extravagant praise of England and Englishwomen (especially Elizabeth), and departs.
The story, it will be seen, is slight, and the bare outline does not promise much entertainment. As a whole, Euphues is not what one would to-day call a " readable" book. Read in brief extracts, however, it is of not a little interest on the side of style, of which the striking features are alliteration, balanced phrases, and far-fetched figures.
Naples is said to be "a place of more pleasure than profit, and yet of more profit than piety." Elizabeth, we read, "was called from a prisoner to be a prince, from the castle to the crown." And later: And later: "God for his mercy's sake, Christ for his merit's sake, the Holy Ghost for his name's sake" grant the Queen long life, because the writer saw her "to surpass all in beauty, and yet a virgin, to excel all in piety, and yet a prince, to be inferior to none in all the lineaments of the body, and yet superior to every one in all gifts of the mind." "I lived," says
Euphues, "as the elephant doth by air, with the sight of my lady."
Popularity of the Style. - This sort of writing became the fashion: almost every writer, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, drops into the style. Shakspere has not a few euphuistic speeches in his best comedies; and it is by no means certain, as it was formerly said to be, that in Love's Labour's Lost he ridicules the popular style.
Sir Philip Sidney (1554?1586). An excellent example of the many-sided life lived by gifted Elizabethans is that of Sir Philip Sidney. Man of letters, distinguished in several lines, traveler, diplomat, and courtier, he crowded into a life of thirty-two years action and accomplishment enough for an average life twice as long.
He, like Lyly, was born in Kent, probably in the same year, but unlike Lyly, was of distinguished ancestry. After a preparatory course in one of the leading English schools, Sidney entered Christ Church College, Oxford, at the age
FACSIMILE TITLE-PAGE OF THE ARCADIA. This copy belonged to Sidney's sister, the Countess of Pembroke, for whom he wrote it.
(Widener Memorial Library, Harvard University.)
of fourteen, not a conspicuously early age for that day. An epidemic in Oxford caused him to leave without a degree, and he did not return. For four years he travelled, visiting under the most advantageous conditions France, Germany, Austria, and Italy, and coming under the influence of every expression of Renaissance spirit in the Continent.
Varying Fortunes. Returning to England, he became a prominent figure at Court, and a
year or so later was intrusted with governmental business which took him to Vienna a
second time, to Heidelberg, and to Antwerp. Falling into royal disfavor for a time, he retired to the country, and during his retirement wrote Arcadia, a pastoral romance, and Defence of Poesy, a critical essay. In 1583 he was knighted,