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"Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee
Quips and Cranks and wanton Wiles,
Nods and Becks and wreathed Smiles."
Nor is it likely that they would have agreed with Milton's estimate of Shakspere
"That kings for such a tomb would wish to die."
The Royalists and Literature.
that, while the period was dominated by Puritan ideals, by
no means all the literature from Elizabeth's time to the Restoration was of a Puritan cast. The cause of the Stuarts never lacked followers and sympathizers; and among these were not a few who regarded literature as a fine art, and devoted themselves to writing with aims quite opposed to those of the ruling party.
In Masterman's Age of Milton, a small handbook, are treated seven royalist theolo
After one of Van Dyck's numer- gians who used their pens to better purpose than edificaBesides these tion of the elect by long-winded sermons. there were the philosophers, whose investigations almost invariably put them into an attitude never characterized by the Puritans as less than sceptical. More important than either of these classes are the lyrists, nearly all of whom threw in their lot with the royalist or "cavalier" cause, and the greatest of whom - Carew, Lovelace, Suck
ling, and Herrick poets.
are commonly referred to as the Cavalier
Instead of the designation "Puritan Age," or the "Age of Milton," then, it is more accurate to call this the “ Age of Cavalier and Puritan," to indicate that the literature of the time is the product of two opposed theories of government and attitudes toward life. The lover of literature would not wish to dispense with either portion.
Overlapping of Periods. Not all the writers and works treated in this chapter come within the dates given on the first page. Milton's minor poems (except some of his sonnets) were written before 1642, as were many of the songs of Herrick and Lovelace; Suckling died in 1642, Carew in 1638. Milton was born eight years before the death of Shakspere, Herrick about the time when Shakspere was beginning to write; and both Herrick and Milton lived fourteen years after the Restoration. Sir Thomas Browne, the antiquarian doctor who requires a place here, was born three years before Milton, and outlived the poet eight years.
It is, nevertheless, proper to separate the writers of the present chapter from the Elizabethan period on one side and the Restoration on the other. Few of them possessed the dramatic gift, none were so intent on the new and untried, none so much the captive of an unfettered imagination, as were the Elizabethans. Yet imagination in no small degree is evident in these poets, delicacy of feeling and expression is found not universally but in a large number of poems, and the prose is marked by dignity and formality - qualities at variance with much the larger part of Restoration lit
THE CAVALIER POETS
We have remarked above that many of the lyric poets of the early seventeenth century adhered to the Cavalier cause, and were therefore called "Cavalier" poets. They are also referred to as Caroline" poets, from their close association with the court of Charles I. ("Caroline" is from Carolus,
RECEPTION HALL IN A TYPICAL CAVALIER MANSION. Home of Sir Edward Giles, Herrick's most distinguished parishioner.
Latin for Charles.) The four named as greatest we are now to study somewhat at length: Thomas Carew (1598?1638?), Sir John Suckling (1609-1642), Richard Lovelace (1618-1658), and Robert Herrick (1591-1674).
Common Characteristics. While their writings show many individual traits, and while they are of by no means equal rank, they show characteristics enough in common to
justify our considering them briefly together. All four were born in the vicinity of the "City;" all except Herrick belonged to prominent families; all came in early manhood to enjoy the favor of Charles; all were university men; all except Herrick seem to have indulged in the evil life of the Court circle; and only Herrick lived past the age of forty.
Writers of Society Verse." The best poems of all (except Herrick's religious verse, which need not concern us here) belong to a type known as "society verse." It is admirably characterized by Professor Schelling:
"This variety of the lyric recognizes in the highly complex conditions of modern society fitting themes for poetry, and makes out of the conventions of social life a subject for art. ... It makes demand not only on the poet's breeding and intimate acquaintance with the usages and varieties of conduct and carriage which distinguish his time; it demands also control, ease, elegance of manner, delicacy of touch, . . . perfection of technique and finish."1
Faults of this Kind of Poetry. - It will readily be seen that the satisfying of these demands requires no little skill; and .. will not surprise one to discover that few successful writers of "society verse" avoid altogether certain faults belonging to the type. It is charged with a lack of seriousness, and we declare it guilty on finding many poems of the tone of this from Suckling:
"Out upon it, I have loved
Three whole days together
And am like to love three more,
If it prove fair weather."
The charge of trivial subjects seems to be sustained by numerous titles such as To My Inconstant Mistress (Carew),
The English Lyric, pages 91-92.
Upon Julia's Hair Fill'd with Dew (Herrick), Ellinda's
"Her feet beneath her petticoat
Herrick matches this with:
"Her pretty feet
Like snails did creep
A little out, and then,
As if they started at bo-peep,
Ellinda's glove is thus addressed by the poet:
"Thou snowy farm with thy five tenements!"
And Carew surpasses them all :
"No more the frost
Candies the grass, or casts an icy cream
Of the merits of this school of poetry the words "ease," elegance," "delicacy," and "finish" in Professor Schelling's definition are the best indication. Of the four Lovelace is perhaps the least a poet; yet two of his poems To Lucasta, On Going to the Wars, and To Althea, from Prison would certainly be selected for any English anthology. The first contains two lines familiar to all:
"I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not honour more;"
and the whole poem is equally worthy of remembrance. In the second are found also two lines that have met universal and deserved favor: