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Mariner's Hymn, and Longfellow's Building of the Ship. A few prose allegories, among which are Addison's Vision of Mirza, and Johnson's Hill of Science, and The Journey of a Day, are so poetical in thought and conception that they may be studied with profit in this connection.
FABLES: Of the fables in our language we need speak but very briefly. The student has but to remember what we have said concerning some of our earliest allegories to understand the close relationship which exists between the fable and the ordinary allegory. Chaucer's Parlament of Foules, his Nun's Priest's Tale, and other similar stories, might with propriety be called fables. The best-known collection of fables in the language is that made by John Gay, about 1720. These are written in easy octo-syllabic verse, in a style easily understood and readily appreciated by young people. There is but little to recommend them, however, in the way of picturesqueness or genuine wit, and they fall far below the matchless performances of Æsop and La Fontaine. Hazlitt says: “They are certainly a work of great merit, both as to the quantity of invention implied and as to the elegance and facility of the execution.” The following is an example:
THE TURKEY AND THE ANT.
In other men we faults can spy,
A Turkey tired of common food,
“ Draw near, my birds !" the mother cries,
How bless'd, how envied were our life,
An Ant who climb'd beyond his reach,
"Ere you remark another's sin,
Single short fables may be found in great numbers throughout our literature. Spenser, in The Shepherd's Calendar, introduces the two fables of The Briar and the Oak and The Fox and the Kid. Dryden, in The Hind and the Panther, relates the fables of The Swallows and the Martin and The Pigeons and the Buzzard. Such fables have always been used as a convenient and simple means of illustration, and will never lose their popularity.
Burns's poem, The Twa Dogs, may be included among the fables of our literature. In it two dogs are represented as discussing the relative amount of happiness enjoyed by the rich and the poor, leading us to conclude that, after all, there is not very much real difference. The Brigs of Ayr is a similar performance, being a conversation between the old bridge and the new, wherein an ingenious comparison is drawn between the architecture and manners of olden times and those of the present. Both poems are admirable examples of their author's rare ability in combining humorous and picturesque descriptions with sober reflections and moralizing sentiments.
We shall close the present chapter with the following charming little fable from Leigh Hunt:
THE FISH, THE MAN, AND THE SPIRIT.
A Fish Answers.
Amazing monster! that, for aught I know,
O breather of unbreathable, sword-sharp air,
The Fish turns into a Man, and then into a Spirit, and again
And, in sweet clang, the spheres with music fill.
Man's life is warm, glad, sad, 'twixt loves and graves,
Study the history of England from the close of the fourteenth century to the beginning of the seventeenth century, with special reference to the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
Chaucer : See list of references at the end of the fourth chapter. Study Lounsbury's edition of The Parlament of Foules. A good edition of Chaucer's complete works is that by Thomas Tyrwhitt (1775), republished in London (1874). See, also, The Life of Chaucer, by William Godwin, London (1803); Illustrations of Chaucer, by Rev. John Todd (1810); Tales from Chaucer in Prose, by Matthew Brown ; Coleridge's Table Talk.
SPENSER: Hazlitt's English Poets; Morley's Library of English Literature; Craik's Spenser and his Poetry; Life of Spenser, by Rev. John Todd; Lowell's Among My Books; Taine's English Literature. A good edition of Spenser's complete works is that by Rev. Henry John Todd (1805), republished in London (1872). A good American edition was edited by George S. Hillard (1839).
Dunbar: See Warton's History of English Poetry; Morley's First Sketch of English Literature. His works, edited by Laing, were published in 1824.
BUNYAN: Study the rise and progress of Puritanism in England. Read Macaulay's Essay on Bunyan; George Offor's edition of the Pilgrim's Progress (1856); Cheever's Lectures on Bunyan; Taine's English Literature,
THOMSON: One of the best editions of his works is that by Robert Bell (1855).
Gay: See the Biographia Britannica and Thackeray's English Humorists. CHAPTER VI.
Definition-Early Rhyming Chronicles—The Mirror for Magistrates
Michael Drayton-Polyolbion-Other Works of Drayton-Samuel Daniel-The Civil Wars- -Mirabilis Annus-Annus Mirabilis of Dryden-Addison's Campaign-Scott's Field of Waterloo—The Columbiad, by Joel Barlow— Miscellaneous Poems.
An historical poem is a metrical narrative usually written to commemorate some important public event. Properly speaking, it is not poetry, for although it may be constructed strictly according to the rules of versification, it lacks those elements which appeal to the fancy and the imagination, and without which no real poetry can exist. Whether the poetical romance suggested the historical poem, or the historical poem the poetical romance, it is impossible to say, as both appeared at about the same period in our literature, and the earliest specimens of botlı possess so many characteristics in common that it is sometimes difficult to determine to which class a poem properly belongs. This is especially true of the early rhyming chronicles, of which we have spoken in a preceding chapter. The chronicles of Layamon and of Robert Manning of Brunne, although professing to be metrical histories, contain so large an element of the purely fabulous and imaginative, that they are more properly romances. Robert of Gloucester's Chronicle contains niore trustworthy information regarding the physical features and the social condition of England in the thirteenth century, and yet it does not rise to the dignity or truthfulness of history. Neither can we say much more for the historical accuracy of the histories, or “ tragedies," as they were called, which compose the Mirror for Magistrates, published in 1559. The