Imagens das páginas

sopher, and in this department Leibnitz certainly falls very short of Bacon. Burke, perhaps, comes, of all modern writers, the nearest to him; but, though Bacon may not be more profound than Burke, he is still more copious and comprehensive.”


A remarkable prose work of this age, which ought not to be passed over without notice, is Burton’s “Anatomy of Melancholy.” Robert Burton, who, on his titlepage, takes the name of Democritus Junior, died in

* Lit. of Eur. iii. 218. Among many other admirable things thickly scattered over the whole of this section on Bacon (pp. 166—228), Mr. Hallam has taken an opportunity of pointing out an almost universal misapprehension into which the modern expositors of Bacon's Novum Organum have fallen on the subject of his celebrated Idola, which, as is here shown, are not at all what we now call idols, that is, false divinities, but merely, in the Greek sense of the word, images or fallacious appearances of things as opposed to realities (pp. 194–197). The reader may also be referred to another disquisition on Bacon, of great brilliancy, by Mr. Macaulay, which originally appeared in the Edinburgh Review (No. 132, for July 1837, pp. 1–104). And in addition to the illustrative expositions of the Novum Organum, of a more scientific character, by the late Professor Playfair, in his Dissertation on the Progress of Mathematical and Physical Science prefixed to the Encyclopædia Britannica (pp. 453–474); and by Sir John Herschell, in his Preliminary Discourse on the Objects, Advantages, and Pleasures of the Study of Natural Philosophy, in Dr. Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia, we would mention, as containing some views of the greatest importance, the Second Section of the Introduction to the Encyclopædia Metropolitana (pp. 24–32), which was written by Coleridge. Coleridge, by-the-by, is one of the very few modern writers who have not fallen into the misconception noticed above about Bacon's Idola. See his treatise, p. 28.

1640, and his book was first published in 1621. It is an extraordinary accumulation of out-of-the-way learning, interspersed, somewhat in the manner of Montaigne's Essays, with original matter, but with this, among other differences, that in Montaigne the quotations have the air of being introduced, as we know that in fact they were, to illustrate the original matter, which is the web of the discourse, they but the embroidery; whereas in Burton the learning is rather the web, upon which what he has got to say of his own is worked in by way of forming a sort of decorative figure. Burton is far from having the variety or abundance of Montaigne; but there is considerable point and penetration in his style, and he says many striking things in a sort of halfsplenetic, half-jocular humour, which many readers have found wonderfully stimulating. Dr. Johnson is said to have declared that Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy was the only book that ever drew him out of bed an hour sooner than he would otherwise have got up.

HIStortiCAL Writers.

Among the historical writers of the reign of James may be first mentioned the all-accomplished Sir Walter Raleigh. Raleigh is the author of a few short poems, and of some miscellaneous pieces in prose; but his great work is his ‘History of the World,” composed during his imprisonment in the Tower, and first published in a folio volume in 1614. It is an unfinished work, coming down only to the first Macedonian war; and there is no reason to suppose that any more of it was ever written, although it has been asserted that a second volume was burnt by the author. Raleigh's History, as a record of facts, has long been superseded; the interest it possesses at the present day is derived almost entirely from its literary merits, and from a few passages in which the author takes occasion to allude to circumstances that have fallen within his own experience. Much of it is written without any ambition of eloquence; but the style, even where it is most careless, is still lively and exciting, from a tone of the actual world which it preserves, and a certain frankness and heartiness coming from Raleigh's profession and his warm impetuous character. It is not disfigured by any of the petty pedantries to some one or other of which most of the writers of books in that day gave way more or less, and it has altogether comparatively little of the taint of age upon it; while in some passages the composition, without losing anything of its natural grace and heartiness, is wrought up to great rhetorical polish and elevation. Another celebrated historical work of this time is Richard Knolles's History of the Turks, published in 1610. Johnson, in one of his Ramblers, has awarded to Knolles the first place among English historians; and Mr. Hallam concurs in thinking that his style and power of narration have not been too highly extolled by that critic. “His descriptions,” continues Mr. Hallam, “are vivid and animated; circumstantial, but not to feebleness; his characters are drawn with a strong pencil..... In the style of Knolles there is sometimes, as Johnson has hinted, a slight excess of desire to make every phrase effective; but he is exempt from the usual blemishes of his age ; and his command of the language is so extensive, that we should not err in placing him WOL. III. L

among the first of our elder writers.” Mueh of this praise, however, is to be considered as given to the uniformity or regularity of Knolles's style; the chief fault of which perhaps is, that it is too continuously elaborated and sustained for a long work. We have already mentioned Samuel Daniel's History of England from the Conquest to the reign of Edward III., which was published in 1618. It is of little historical value, but is remarkable for the same simple ease and purity of language which distinguish Daniel's verse. The contribution to this department of literature of all those that the early part of the seventeenth century produced, which is at the same time the most valuable as an ori-. ginal authority and the most masterly in its execution, is undoubtedly Bacon's History of the reign of Henry VII. The series of popular national chronicles was continued in this period, from the publication of Edward Hall's ‘Union of the Two Noble and Illustrious Families of York and Lancaster,’ in 1548, by that of Richard Grafton’s “Chronicle at Large, down to the First Year of Queen Elizabeth,” in 1569; of Raphael Holinshed's “Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, in 1577; and by the various publications of the laborious antiquaries John Stow and John Speed; namely, Stow's ‘Summary of the English Chronicles,’ of which he published many editions between 1565 and 1598; his “Annals,” also frequently reprinted with corrections and enlargements between 1573 and 1600; his ‘Survey of London,’ first published in 1598, and again with additions in 1603; and Speed’s ‘Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain,’ 1606; and his ‘History of Great * Lit. of Eur. iii. 666.

Britain,’ coming down to the accession of James I., 1614. These various works of Stow and Speed rank among the head sources or fountains of our knowledge in the department of national antiquities.


With the exception of a magnificent edition of Chrysostom, in eight volumes folio, by Sir Henry Savile, printed at Eton, where Savile was provost of the College, in 1612, scarcely any great work in the department of ancient scholarship appeared in England during this period. It, however, produced a number of works written in Latin by Englishmen, which still retain more or less celebrity; among others, the illustrious Camden’s Britannia, first published in 1586, but not enlarged to the form in which its author ultimately left it till the appearance of the sixth edition, in 1607; the same writer’s “Annales Rerum Anglicarum regnante Elizabetha,” the first part of which was printed in 1615, the sequel not till-after Camden's death; John Barclay's two political romances of the “Euphormio,' the first part of which was published in 1603, and the more famous * Argenis,’ 1621; and Lord Herbert's treatise ‘De Veritate,’ 1624,


London:-Printed by WILLIAM Clowes and Sons, Stamford Street.

« AnteriorContinuar »