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simple in expression ; and for balance, smoothness, point, raciness of idiom, and felicity of expression, the miscellaneous prose works of Dryden may challenge all the books that went before, or that have followed after them. Tillotson had once the highest reputation as a writer, and Dryden attributed all his own skill to the persistent study of his style. This is one of the literary judgments which have in later times been reversed, or at least amended. But though Tillotson is neither a very correct nor a very vigorous writer, yet there is in him a clearness and simplicity of expression which should entitle him to some notice from the student of composition. Barrow, again, has much strength and condensation of style, but is more remarkable for the force of his reasoning and the fulness of his thoughts than for the excellence of his language. South, on the other hand, is a very fine writer, with respect to style. His language is copious, varied, forcible. The sentences are well put together ; strong, steady, and harmonious in their flow. His Sermons should be studied by all who aim at excellence in preaching or public speaking; they are, indeed, a store-house from which men of all conditions and callings may equip themselves with language suited to every requirement of life.
The list of eminent writers belonging to this epoch, whose names we have not yet mentioned, is a long one. The student of language must not overlook such authors as Hobbes, the clearest and most exact of philosophical writers; Locke, plain and direct, but somewhat cumbrous; Temple, distinguished for a careless ease ; Shaftesbury, copious, stately, and musical, but wanting in simplicity; Swift, nervous and Saxon ; Berkeley, refined and forcible, managing Dialogue with something of a Plato's art.
The general characteristics of the prose of this age exhibit the effects of more extended social intercourse and greater attention to artificial refinements and elegancies. The language is easier, freer, and more colloquial. Short pointed sentences, neatly turned periods, a less laboured play of antithesis, are more frequently met with. French associations and the study of French literature seem to have exercised a considerable influence. In some writers of the timenotably in Dryden--we find many attempts to import and naturalize French words and idioms.
Greater care and elaboration, a more uniform smoothness and correctness, but withal a certain degree of formality and monotony, may be regarderl as characterizing the prose of the eighteenth
century. Johnson, Goldsmith, Burke, Hume, Robertson, Gibbon, Paley, and Adam Smith, will stand as representatives of the various . developments of style which belong to this period. The century itself was stiff and artificial, and its features are reflected in the contemporary literature. Words of Latin origin, abstract and general expressions, harmonious circumlocutions were affected by many of the most eminent writers. Their style fills and pleases the ear, but its stream would perhaps better sustain the attention and favour the memory if it were more broken into rapids, and more diversified in its flow. The language had by this time reached its full development, and assumed the conditions which still belong to it. Words were--with few exceptions-used by the writers of the eighteenth century in the same sense in which we now use them. The idiom, too, is for the most part identical. But yet in some trifling respects there is a difference. In our day, for instance, the subjunctive mood has almost altogether fallen into disuse. But the style of the nineteenth century has characteristics very distinct from those of the last. If we form our judgment of it as it appears in the writings of Hallam, Southey, Macaulay, Ruskin, and others, we shall find it more varied, brilliant, animated, and picturesque. We see also more examples of individual originality. Such an example is Carlyle. His style is unique, the embodiment of his own bold, erratic, and original turn of thought. It is a style abrupt, abnormal, contorted in arrangement, vicious in taste; but rich in colouring, dazzling in effect, glowing with the irregular fervour of a strong, far-searching, and adventurous mind.
But it would be tedious—and it cannot be necessary—to enumerate the great prose writers of the present day. Only we have to remark, in conclusion, that while the age has produced some admirable prose compositions, clear, accurate, polished, vigorous, idiomatic, and essentially English, there has appeared, in connection with the growth of serial literature, and the great increase in the number of writers, a tendency towards degeneracy and corruption of style. And this, it may be observed, has arisen very much from an affectation of fine writing. Mouth-filling phrases that mean very little, periphrastic forms of expression, a bias in favour of learned and inany-syllabled words, are very general characteristics of many of the popular novelists, and of a considerable section of the daily and weekly press.
Writers of this class cannot speak of marriage without a reference
to the bonds of Hymen, or the nuptial tie; with them every happy time is an auspicious occasion ; every bad accident, a frightful catastrophe; every gay gathering a scene of enchantment, or a spectacle of dazzling magnificence. In their vocabulary the working classes are the toiling multitude, and the rich and high-born appear as a galaxy of rank and fashion. But this affectation of a swelling and highsounding diction is not the only thing to be complained of in modern English composition. Words are often very loosely and improperly used. Such phrases as, Mutual friend, Disgusted to a degree, It is so beautiful, are constantly met with. The laws of grammar, again, are not seldom violated. Sentences the syntax of which is sadly out of joint, clauses where the end seems to have forgotten the beginning, may be discovered in many books of very considerable repute.
The remedy for this must be found in the setting up of a severer standard of language. And to this end we would insist on a more thorough and scientific study of our great English Prose Authors, the writers of our Golden Age. Such a study should be included in the course of instruction prescribed for every Englishman who is to receive what it is the custom to call a liberal education.
THE LITERARY READER:
Richard HOOKER, a worthy of Devonshire, and one of the brightest ornaments of the Church of England, was born at Exeter A.D. 1553. His parents, “ not so remarkable for their extraction and riches as for their virtue and industry," sought to provide him with the elements at least of a sound and liberal education. When it seemed probable that, from the narrowness of their circumstances, their son would have to adopt some mechanical calling, a generous friend and patron interposed, and through the aid of Bishop Jewel young Richard was enabled to enter the University of Oxford, commencing residence at Corpus Christi College in his fifteenth year. As a youth he was grave, thoughtful, slow of speech, modest, curious after knowledge, quick of apprehension, possessed of a "sweet, serene quietness of nature;' and such continued to be his character through life. His was a humble, shrinking spirit, courting the shade ; impatient of the stir, and press, and excitement of cities; loving best a country home, where he could “see God's blessing spring out of the earth, and be free from noise." Being elected Fellow of his college, he continued to reside at Oxford for some years, and in 1581 made what his biographer Walton calls “his first public appearance in the world,” by preaching at Paul's Cross. The most important result of this “public appearance" was his marriage, the circumstances of which illustrate the guileless simplicity of his character, and might by some ill-natured critics be quoted to prove that in the affairs of life, at all events, “the greatest clerks are not the wisest men.” A few years later he was appointed Master of the Temple. This appointment brought him into collision with Walter Travers, the evening lecturer there, who was a zealous advocate of the ecclesiastical platform of Geneva. Hence arose the well-known controversy between Trarers and Hooker-a controversy which undoubtedly gave to the studies and meditations of the latter that direction which they afterwards took, and ultimately led to the composition of his great work on the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. But he felt that active controversy was not his proper element, nor London a congenial home. Weary of “the noise and oppositions” of the place, he sought and obtained preferment in the country. In the first instance he was appointed to the living of Boscum, in the diocese of Salisbury; and thence in 1594 was preferred by the Queen to the rectory of Bishop's Bourne in Kent, where he passed six peaceful, pious years, devoted to study and yet faithful to the claims and duties of his pastoral charge. Here in 1600 he dier a simple, good man's death, as he said himself in the latest words he spoke, hinuself at peace with all men, and God at peace with him.
The one great work of Hooker is his treatise on the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. In addition to this a few of his sermons and discourses remain, and are marked by that weighty sense, that fulness of matter, that grave and tempered unction, so characteristic of him-not unmixed with something of the scholastic manner, relieved by passages of real eloquence. It is, however, on the Ecclesiastical Polity that his fame rests ; and of this work it was most truly said by Pope Clement VIII. that “there is in it euch seeds of eternity as shall endure till the last fire shall consume all learning.” Its theme is, indeed, a controversy that has now in most of its details passed away—the great controversy between Puritans and Anglicans on questions of Church order. But in vindicating the laws and constitution of his own Church, Hooker lays his foundation so broad and deep, takes so wide and comprehensive a view of the questions at issue, appeals to principles of such universal application, and deals with the whole subject in so philosophical a spirit, that his work rises far above the level of a merely controversial treatise, and is a storehouse of great thoughts, and a possession for all time.
In their objections to the constitution of the Church of England, the Puritans laid it down as an axiom, that no custom, order, rite, or ceremony, was lawful, unless it could be shown to be expressly and directly enjoined or authorized by Holy Scripture. They insisted, therefore, on the obligation to organize the Christian Church according to this principle. They wished to see what they called a purely Scriptural Church, and they denounced everything in the Church of England on behalf of which no conclusive text could be adduced.
Hooker, accordingly, set himself to controvert these views. In doing so,