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MINOR POETRY OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.
Character of the transition from Milton to Dryden--The rank of Dryden
among the poets-English imagination in his age-Influence of Milton's
genius upon his contemporaries and successors--Wordsworth's apostrophe to
Milton-Decline of imaginative energy—Metaphysical Poetry-Daniel and
Drayton-Drayton's Polyolbion-Lamb's notice of this poem-Donne and
Cowley-The sin of this school of Poetry-Poetry a subject for studious
thoughtfulness-Donne's "Lecture"-Character of Cowley's genius-His
prose essays "The Complaint"-The conceits of the Poetry of this period
-Herbert's lines on Virtue; Life; Peace-Herbert's self-criticism-Sacred
Poetry of the seventeenth century-Robert Herrick-His Litany to the Holy
Spirit-The music of his verse-Literary interest of the Civil War-Lord
Chatham on the character of this struggle-The Puritan system adverse to
poetic culture-Richard Lovelace-"To Althea, from prison"-George
Wither-His character-His address to his Muse-A tribute to Wither's
THE AGE OF THE RESTORATION DRYDEN.
Ambiguities in the general titles adopted to designate particular literary eras-
The last quarter of the seventeenth century the age of Dryden-The degraded
tastes of his times-The alliance of high Poetry with virtue-The true stand-
ard of poetic merit-Dryden's Poetry a reflection of the times of Charles II.
-Profligacy of that age-Character of Charles Stuart-The spirit of Poetry is
a spirit of enthusiasm-The debasing effects of the Civil Wars-Shaftesbury
as Lord-Chancellor-Reception of the Paradise Lost-Winstanley's Lives
of the English Poets-Milton's exposition of kingly duty-The Drama during
age of the Restoration-Dryden's Plays--Defence of rhyming Tragedies
"The Fall of Innocence"-Dryden's alteration of "The Tempest"-
"Absalom and Achitophel"-Buckingham-Literary larceny-Sir Egerton
Brydges's Lines on Milton-"The Hind and the Panther"-"Alexander's
Feast"-Ode for St. Cecilia's Day-Dryden's later Poetry Page 167
THE AGE OF QUEEN ANNE: POPE; AND POETS OF THE LATER PART
OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY: COWPER.
age of Pope-Change in the social relations of Authors-Language of
Dedications Periodical publications-State of British parties-Lord Ma-
hon's illustrations of the age-Spirit of that age-Alexander Pope-His
aspirations-His want of sympathy with his predecessors-Imitation of
French Poetry-Pope's edition of Shakspeare-Pope's Pastorals-Corrup-
tions of the English tongue-John Dennis's Emendations of Shakspeare--
Pope's versification-The "Town"-The Moonlight Scene in the Iliad-
Pope and Milton contrasted-"Eloisa to Abelard"-The "Rape of the
Lock"-Pope's Satires-The "Essay on Criticism"-The "Essay on Man"
-Lord Bolingbroke Orthodoxy of the "Essay on Man"- His appreciation
of female character-William Cowper-His insanity-"The Task"-
"John Gilpin"—"The Dirge"-"The Castaway"-"Cowper's Grave"
BURNS (WITH NOTICES OF JOHNSON'S LIVES OF THE POETS).
Monotony of Pope's verse-
-Merit of Cowper-Dr. Johnson's literary dictatorship-His "Lives of the
Poets"-Sir Egerton Brydges's criticism on them-Cowper's judgment of
them-Johnson's incapacity for poetical criticism-Johnson's judgments on
Gray--"London"-"Vanity of Human Wishes"-Percy's "Reliques of
Ancient English Poetry"-The character of this Poetry-Robert Burns-
His boyhood-Early trials-Mossgeil Farm-The freshness of his Poetry-
Its universality-Wordsworth's lines-"The Mountain-Daisy"-"The
Field-Mouse". "Cotter's Saturday Night"-"Tam O'Shanter"-Mary
Campbell-Morality of Burns's Poetry-The Bard's Epitaph-Wordsworth's
The present age not an unpoetical one-Five names worthy of distinction--
Samuel Rogers—The "Pleasures of Memory"-Rogers's "Italy”—Galileo
and Milton-Moore's Songs-Irish patriotism-The true question respect-
ing poetical composition-Lamb's lines on the "Old Familiar Faces".
Scott's career of authorship-Scott the second in rank of Scottish poets—
His childhood at Sandy Knowe-His early reading-His interview with
Burns-Influence of the Story of the Rebellion of 1745 on his genius--His
love of natural scenery-The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border-Hallam's
remark on the Scottish ballads-Story of "Christie's Will"-"The Lay of
the Last Minstrel"-Scott's merit as a poet-Influence of the French Revo-
lution on his mind-" Marmion"-"The Lady of the Lake"-Decline of
his poetical powers-"Bonny Dundee"-" Battle of Otterburne"-His
Advantage of connecting critical with historical considerations-Spenser and
his age-Spirit of the French Revolution-Contrast between the American
and the French Revolutions-Its influence over thought and action-Cole-
ridge's "France"-Nature of lyrical Poetry-Early developments of Cole-
ridge's genius-His philosophy-His critical papers-His consciousness of
his own poetical endowment His boyhood at Christ Church Hospital-
Monody on Chatterton-His love of nature-Ode on Dejection-Transla-
tions of Schiller's tragedies-"The Ancient Mariner"- "Christabel"-Its
SOUTHEY (WITH NOTICE OF CHARLES LAMB).
Charles Lamb, the friend of Coleridge and Southey-"The Old Familiar Faces"
-"Elia"-Robert Southey-Character of his prose-His complete poetical
works-His mental derangement-Personal interest of his poems-Satirical
power-"Wat Tyler "-"Joan of Arc"-The product of imagination is often
truth-"Madoc"-"Roderic"-"Thalaba". "The Curse of Kehama".
Scriptural character of "Thalaba”--Keble's “Christian Year"-Story of
"Thalaba and Oneiza"-Southey's Odes-"The Retreat from Moscow"-
"The Tale of Paraguay"-His playful Poetry-Ode on the Portrait of
A catholic taste in literature-Difficulties of a course of critical lectures-
Southey and Byron-The spirit of criticism the spirit of charity-Rogers's
plea for Byron's memory-Popularity of his Poetry-"English Bards and
Scotch Reviewers"-"Childe Harold"-His love of external nature-For-
mation of his literary character-Admiration for Pope-Success of "Childe
Harold"-His Oriental tales-Literature of the last century-Story of
Byron's marriage-Noctes Ambrosianæ Contrast between the "Corsair"
and the "Prisoner of Chillon"-"The Dream"-Materialism in his Poetry
-Manfred-Venice-The Dying Gladiator-Strains for liberty-Beauty of
womanly humanity-"Sardanapalus"-Byron's selfishness-His infidelity.
Difficulties in the way of a proper appreciation of contemporary genius-Can-
dour rare in criticism-Controversy in regard to Wordsworth's school of
Poetry-Comparative criticism between the Poetry of Wordsworth and Byron
--Correspondence of Wordsworth's life with the spirit of true Poetry-Con-
tinuity of his moral life-Recollections of his childhood-His love of nature
and of man-His sympathy with the French Revolution-His seclusion-
Communion with his brother-poets-Aim of his career of authorship-Lines
composed in the neighbourhood of Tintern Abbey-"The Excursion".
"Sonnet on Westminster Bridge"-"Lines on the Death of Mr. Fox".
"Tribute to a favourite Dog' "Simon Lee"-"Story of the Deserted
Cottage"-His political poems-Conclusion
OBJECT OF THE COURSE-POETRY THE EMINENCE OF LITERATURE-THE HISTORY OF LITERATURE ILLUSTRATED BY GENERAL HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY-THE LIVES OF SPENSER AND MILTON-A CATHOLIC TASTE IN POETRY-VARIETY OF POETRY-INTOLERANCE OF LITERARY JUDGMENT-RYMER AND VOLTAIRE ON SHAKSPEARE-JOHNSON ON MILTON-JEFFREY ON WORDSWORTH-QUALIFICATIONS OF AN ENLIGHTENED CRITIC-UTILITARIAN CRITICISM-THE TRUE USE OF POETRY-ITS DEPRECIATION AND ABUSE-ALBUMS AND SCRAP-BOOKS-BEN JONSON'S PANEGYRIC ON HIS ART-WORDSWORTH-OBJECT OF THESE LECTURES NOT TO ENCOURAGE POETICAL COMPOSITION-SYDNEY'S DEFENCECONNECTION OF POETRY AND SCIENCE-THE SPIRIT OF OUR TIMES-MATERIALISM AND INFIDELITY-INFLUENCE ON IMAGINATIVE POWER-VINDICATION OF POETRY.
THE course of Lectures I am about attempting is the first of a contemplated series upon English Poetry, undertaken as well from an uncalculating impulse, as from a conviction that, in our systems of education, it is a department more than any neglected. The treasures of the English tongue are sacrificed to the attainment of those which are more recondite in the dead or foreign languages. As, year after year, I have wandered through the forsaken region (if I may be indulged in so far speaking of myself) and contemplated the mighty achievements of our English mind, a glowing admiration has kindled, higher and higher, the hope that it might not be beyond my strength to be the humble guide of others to the same unfailing springs of intellectual happiness.
The portion of literature to be treated of is that which may garded as its eminence,-its Poetry. I have ventured to speak of it as the noblest portion of our noble literature; and, if I shall succeed in awakening a thoughtful admiration of that which has been given to the world by the souls of mighty poets finding utterance in the music of English words, that opinion will not be condemned for its extravagance. It is a large field to travel over; and, therefore, among the introduc
•tory topics at present to be noticed, it is necessary to advert to the general plan, which will, however, more satisfactorily appear when practically illustrated in the succeeding lectures. It will be my aim to convey such information on the history of English poetry as the circumstances under which we meet will allow. To penetrate the obscurity of an early age, and thence to trace the progress of poetry from its rude beginnings down to modern years,-to show it in its successive eras,—to discover the connection between the poetry and the spirit of the age acting and reacting on each other,-to see how at one time the muse has soared and at another crept,— -are topics which the idea of these lectures comprehends, how far soever the execution may fall short of it. And here let me beg your reflection on the remark that there are few higher functions of criticism than to reveal the connection between illustrious literary production and the contemporaneous state of opinion and feeling, and to show especially the poet's inspirations in their relation to dominant thoughts and passions. For it is not to be questioned that, in God's providence over the destinies of the human race, men are called into being with powers to cheer or rebuke the spirit of their times with voices prophetic of weal or woe. This consideration with regard to literary history will, therefore, involve, to a certain extent, allusion to what is usually and eminently entitled history; I mean the narrative of national events. Further than this, comprehensive criticism embraces considerations of a biographical character; for, in studying the works of genius, it is a matter of no slight interest to examine the gradual structure, or rather growth, of the individual powers that have produced them. I should, for instance, deem that but an imperfect comment on the Faery Queen which took no heed of the age in which its author lived,- -a time animated by a high, adventurous spirit, when the sentiment of chivalry was still for a season outliving its institutions and usages, and which the poet sought imaginatively to perpetuate in his matchless allegory. It would also be a faulty negligence to turn away from the personal history which portrays Spenser embodying his high imaginings while dwelling in a barbarous island, and, at length, heart-stricken with neglect and domestic sorrow. It comes within the range of an enlarged criticism to tell of the young instincts ard presages of Milton's genius, such as break forth in the exquisite inspiration of Comus, and thence to trace his sombre-coloured life till, after having consorted with the stern Republicans, defending their sternest deed, and eulogizing their mightiest chieftain, he retired, in danger and the darkness of a hopeless blindness, to build up the immortal epic of the Paradise Lost.