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scious of the turn in their favour) for those great and glorious discoveries in literature and philosophy, which — since the adoption of the mariner's compass and the invention of printing, introducing liberty of thought, and, as a necessary consequence of the latter, freedom of speech, have made way for the diffusion of knowledge, revealing new arts and sciences, and calling up old ones from the dead in more perfect forms.

A VIEW

OF

MODERN ENGLISH LITERATURE.

A VIEW

OF

MODERN ENGLISH LITERATURE.

No I.

English Literature under the Tudors and the first

Stuarts.

The discovery of the mariner's compass, the invention of printing, the revival of classic learning, the Reformation, with all the great moral, commercial, political, and intellectual consequences of these new means, materials, and motives for action and thought, produced corresponding effects upon literature and science. With the

With the progress of the former alone, in our own country, have we to do at present.

From the reign of Elizabeth to the protectorate of Cromwell, inclusively, there rose in phalanx, and continued in succession, minds of all orders, and hands for all work, in poetry, philosophy, history, and theology, which have bequeathed to posterity such treasures of what may be called genuine English Literature, that whatever may be the transmigrations

of taste, the revolutions of style, and the fashions in popular reading, these will ever be the sterling standards. The translation of the Scriptures, settled by authority, and which, for reasons that need not be discussed here, can never be materially changed, consequently can never become obsolete, has secured perpetuity to the youth of the English tongue; and whatever may befall the works of writers in it from other causes, they are not likely to be antiquated in the degree that has been foretold by one, whose own imperishable strains would for centuries have delayed the fulfilment of his disheartening prophecy, even if it were to be fulfilled :

« Our sons their fathers' failing language see,
And such as Chaucer is shall Dryden be.

POPE.

Now it is clear, that unless the language be improved or deteriorated, far beyond any thing that can be anticipated from the slight variations which have taken place within the last two hundred years, compared with the two hundred years preceding, Dryden cannot become what Chaucer is; especially since there seems to be a necessity laid upon

all generations of Englishmen to understand, as the fathers of their mother-tongue, the great authors of the age of Elizabeth, James I., and Charles I.; from Spenser (though much of his poetry is wilfully obscured by affected phraseology) and Shakspeare, (the idolatry to whose name will surely never permit its divinity to die) to Milton, whose style cannot fall into decay, while there is talent or sensibility among his

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