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whole play is intensely emotional.” Bothwell is a continuation of Chastelard. Concerning it the same critic remarks: “Swinburne, by this massive and heroic composition, has placed himself in the front line of our poets; no one can be thought his superior in true dramatic power. Considered as a dramatic epic, this work has no parallel."
In order to a thorough understanding and appreciation of the subjects treated in this chapter, the student should possess a very full knowledge of the history and social condition of England during the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. He should study the causes of the Puritan Revolution, and both its immediate and later influences. Then be should make brimself acquainted with the peculiar conditions of society which prevailed during the time of the later Stuarts, the causes of the Revolution of 1688, and its great results, and finally the history of the reigns of Queen Anne and the first George. The later drama has not so intimate a connection with politics and society in general, and hence the history of the last hundred and fifty years may be postponed until another occasion.
THE DRAMA IN GENERAL: Collier's Dramatic Poetry and Annals of the Stage (1831); Dodsley's Old Plays : edited by Collier (1825); Ward's History of the Drama; Coleridge's Literary Remains; Schlegel's Drumatic Literature.
MYSTERIES AND MIRACLE-PLAYS: An Essay on the Origin of the English Stage, in Percy's Reliques of Ancient Engtish Poetry; Warton's IIistory of English Poetry ; Shakspeare's Life, Art, and Characters, by Rev. H. N. Hudson, vol. i. ; White's Introduction to the Study of Shakspeare's Works ; Morley's English Writers.
SHAKSPEARE AND THE ELIZABETHAN DRAMATISTS: The Works of Rev. H. N. HIudson ; The Works of Richard Grant White; Whipple's Literature of the Age of Elizabeth ; Lowell's Among My Books ; Taine's English Literature; Hazlitt's Age of Elizabeth; Characters of Shakspeare's Plays; and Comic Writers; Abbot's Shakspearian Grammar; Coleridge's Literary Remains ; Craik's English of Shakspeare; De Quincey's Il ritings ; Leigh Hunt's Imagination and Fancy ; Mrs. Cowden Clarke's Concordance to Shakspeare ;
Dowden's Mind and Art of Shakspeare; Weiss's Wit, Humor, and Shak. speare; Morgan's The Shakspearian Myth; the various publications of the Shakspeare Society and of the New Shakspeare Society; the various editions of Shakspeare's Works, named below.
The Comic DRAMATISTS OF THE RESTORATION : Hazlitt's English Comic Writers; Johnson's Lives of the Poets ; Thackeray's English IIumorists ; Macaulay's Essays ; Green's History of the English People.
SHELLEY: Moore's Life of Lord Byron; Swinburne's Essays and Studies ; De Quincey's Essays; Leigh Hunt's Imagination and Fancy; Symond's Shelley, in English Men of Letters.
EDITIONS OF SHAKSPEARE.
First Folio Edition (1623).
The Variorum Shakspeare. Edited by H. II. Furness. (- vols., Philadelphia, 1871 —.)
Definition- Essential Qualities of the Epic Poem-Great Epics-John
Milton-His Life—His Learning-Paradise Lost-History of its Production—Its Plan-Analysis of the Poem-Milton's Choice of Subject-The Style of Paradise Lost—The Metre—The Characters, General Criticisms—Methods of Study--Passages deserving Special Study-Sources from which Milton may bave received AssistanceParadise Regained–The Davideis, by Cowley-Blackmore's Prince Arthur-Glover's Leonidas-Wilkie's Epigoniad-Southey's So-called Epics—Landor's Gebir-Heroic Poetry—The Bruce, by John Barbour-Gondibert, by Sir William Davenant-Mock Heroics--The Rape of the Lock, by Alexander Pope.
An epic poem is one which is written in a lofty and somewhat impassioned style, and which deals principally with the fortunes of a hero, but which, by its length and character, admits of a great diversity of topics and variety of treatment. Aristotle, in enumerating the essential qualities of an epic poem, says that it should be dramatically constructed after the manner of tragedy, and that it should have for its subject one entire and perfect action, " with a beginning, a middle, and an end." The principal personages must be of high rank and exalted character. The style must possess a sublime dignity in full accord with the loftiness of the subject. The action may be developed variously, by narration, dialogue, soliloquy, and apostrophe. In a word, an epic poem is a sublime action treated with all the grandeur of style and fullness of detail which the nature of the subject demands or will admit. It is the noblest of all poetic performances.
There have been many attempts at the writing of epic poems, but the very greatness of the undertaking has most generally prevented success. The world can boast of but
three-or, at most, of but four-great epics. These are Homer's Iliad; Virgil's Æneid; Milton's Paradise Lost; to which we may add Dante's Divina Commedia. There are other poems of a high degree of merit which may be called epics, but they are of a lower rank than those we have just mentioned. Among these may be mentioned Homer's Odyssey; Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered; and Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso. But in English poetry the only real epic is Paradise Lost. It stands so immeasurably superior to all other attempts at epic production in our language, that to institute any comparison would be not only irrelevant but impossible.
John Milton was born in London on the 9th of December, 1608. His father, an ardent republican in full sympathy with Puritan doctrines, was by profession a moneyscrivener, but a gentleman of more than ordinary intellectual abilities, and of high moral excellence. From him the poet doubtless derived most, if not all, of those political and religious opinions which had so marked an influence upon his life. From childhood the boy showed unmistakable signs of the wonderful intellectual powers which were to distinguish him through all time, and he early decided upon the profession of literature as his life's vocation. He was, at first, carefully educated at home, then at St. Paul's School, London, and, at the age of sixteen, he entered Christ's College, Cambridge. He remained in the university a little more than seven years, leaving it in July, 1632, with the degree of Master of Arts. After this he resided for five years with his father at the country-seat of the family, at Horton. Then he traveled for some months on the continent, visiting the great seats of learning, and adding largely to his stores of knowledge and experience. Upon the breaking out of the civil war in England, he returned home; for, as he said, he thought it disgraceful while his fellow-countrymen were fighting for liberty, that he should be traveling abroad for pleasure.
The twenty years which succeeded (1610-1660) was a
period of the most intense political excitement, and Milton, who, previous to this time, had written many delightful poems,* now confined himself to the composition of prose treatises and controversial tracts on the topics of the times. Upon the restoration of Charles II., in 1660, he withdrew from public, and the remainder of his life was passed in the closest retirement. Blind, disappointed, and in poverty, he continued his literary labors, and in these latter years produced his greatest works. In 1667 he published Paradise Lost, and a short time afterwards Paradise Regained. In 1671 appeared his last work, Samson Agonistes, a tragedy written according to the rules of the Greek drama. Milton died on the 8th of November, 1674, at the age of sixty-six.
Of the extent of Milton's learning, one critic says: "His studies embraced the whole circle of human knowledge; the literature of every age and of every cultivated language, living and dead, gave up all its stores of truth and beauty to his all-embracing mind; the most arduous subtleties of philosophy, the loftiest mysteries of theological learning, were familiar to him: there is no art, no science, no profession, with which he was not more or less ácquainted; and however we may wonder at the majesty of his genius, the extent of his acquirements is no less astounding.” But another writer says: “Milton was not a learned
Such men there were in his day,–Usher, Selden, Voss, in England; in Holland, Milton's adversary, Salmasius, and many more. A learned man was one who could range freely and surely over the whole of classical and patristic remains in the Greek and Latin Languages, with the accumulated stores of philological, chronological, and historical criticism necessary for the interpretation of those remains. Milton had neither made these acquisitions nor aimed at them. IIe cultivated not letters, but himself, and
* Chief among these poems are The Hymn on the Nativity; L'Allegro; Il Penseroso; and The Masque of Comus.