Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

superior in dignity and simplicity to “Euphues." Sidney's work was highly popular and much imitated by later writers. It supplied Shakespeare with the underplot of Gloster and his sons in “ King Lear."

[graphic][merged small]

Four other novelists of this period deserve a passing word. These were Robert Greene (1560-1592), Thomas Lodge (1558–1625), Thomas Nashe (1567-1601), and Thomas Deloney (1543-1600?). In his life Greene was the opposite of Sidney, being a dissipated Bohemian; three early romances of his belong, however, in the same

[ocr errors]

" The

class with the “ Arcadia.” They are

Pandosto (1588), " Perimedes the Blacksmith" (1588), and “Menaphon (1589). From the first of these Shakespeare took the plot of “A Winter's Tale.” Lodge's best story, “Rosalynde," has a similar distinction, as it furnished the basis of “ As You Like It.” In his later stories, Greene turned from Arcadia to London, and gave numerous realistic pictures of low life, as did Thomas Nashe, who, like Greene, " lived hard, wrote fiercely, and died young.” Nashe's chief work, Unfortunate Traveller or the life of Jack Wilton," is what is known as a picaresque novel, the hero being an English page whose chief characteristic is “a malignant and insatiable love of mischief.” picaresque novel originated in Spain, but Nashe did more than imitate his Spanish originals. By introducing Jack Wilton into the society of Erasmus, Sir Thomas More, and Martin Luther, he really invented the historical novel. While Lyly, Sidney, Greene, and Lodge in their romances dealt mainly with gallants, and Greene and Nashe in their realistic novels with rogues, Thomas Deloney has the distinction of discovering and painting the humor and romance of the prosaic citizen. His “Thomas of Reading ”is written in the honor of the clothiers; his " Jack of Newberry” perpetuates the fame of a wealthy weaver; and “The Gentle Craft,” a series of tales, is dedicated to the shoemaking cult. In one of these, “ Master Peachey and his Men," there is a minstrel, Anthony Now-Now, from whose lips comes a lyric which shows how the topical song of to-day has an origin venerable by reason of its antiquity:

“When should a man show himself gentle and kind ?
When should a man comfort the sorrowful mind?

O Anthony, now, now, now.
What is the best time to drink with a friend?
When is it meetest my money to spend ?

O Anthony, now, now, now.”

The English colleges, schools, and teachers of the period from 1560 to 1600, like all of the other intellectual forces of the nation, felt the influence of the Renascence, the Reformation, and the new sense of national greatness. There is something agreeably modern in the discussions that were then current about the Oxford professors who never read, the insufficient preparation of undergraduates, the schemes of student government for schools, the efforts to reform English spelling on a phonetic basis, the decay of home discipline, and the microscopic size of teachers' salaries, which ranged from $500.00 to $30.00 a year. In spite of all this, the evidence is ample that schools were both numerous and excellent; and at least two Elizabethan masters, Roger Ascham and Richard Mulcaster, wrote books which may still be read with profit by their professional successors. In his “ Toxophilus,” Ascham urges the importance of physical training, especially of shooting with the long bow, as a measure of national safety. In his “Scholemaster,” he denounces harsh punishments, pleads for the boy with a slow but solid mind, condemns travel as a means of education as dangerous to morals, and recommends the imitation of classical models as the only way to attain a good English style. His own style is excellent. That of Mulcaster, on the other hand, is abominable. His ideas, however, are distinguished by great good sense. He believes, for instance, that all men and women should be educated, but that their training should fit them for their stations in life. He was probably the first Englishman to urge the establishment of training schools for teachers and to perceive the importance of giving sound instruction in the English language. As the probable prototype of Holofernes in "Love's Labour's Lost ” and as the tutor of Edmund Spenser, Mulcaster has additional claims upon the interest of the student of English literature.

We have postponed to the last the three topics that are at once most important and most interesting to the student of the literature of Elizabethan England. These are the poetry of Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare and the rise of the English drama, and Francis Bacon's prose. To each of these a separate chapter must be devoted.

Reign
Events

Contemporary Literature Modern Literature Henry VII. .1502 Margaret Tudor 1499 Erasmus visits 1485-1509 marries James IV England.

of Scotland. Henry VIII .1513 Luther de- 1509 Erasmus-“Praise Shakespeare's 1509–1547 nounces indulgences. of Folly.”.

Henry VIII.” 1520 Luther

irns 1512 Colet founds St.
Pope's bull.

Paul's School.
1531 Henry head of 1516 More's “Utopia.”
English church.

1525 Tyndale's Bible.
1539 Abbeys sup- 1535 Death of More.

pressed. Edward VI..

1548 Book of Common 1547-1553

Prayer. Mary ..1555 Protestants perse1553-1559 cuted.

1556 Archbishop Cran

mer burned. Elizabeth ...1568 Mary of Scotland 1576 First English 1559-1603 flees to England. Theatre.

1572 Low Countries 1578 “Euphues."

rise against Spain. 1579 Shepherd's 1577 Drake sails for Calendar." Pacific.

1586 Shakespeare in 1584 Virginia

London.
colonized.

1587 Marlowe's “Tam-
1587 Mary executed. burlaine.”
1588 Spanish Armada 1588 Martin Marprelate.
defeated.

1590 Faery Queene.”
1603 Ireland con- 1593 " Venus and Adonis.”
quered.

1594 Hooker's “ Ecclesi

astical Polity.”

1597 Bacon's “Essays.” QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES 1. What event did most to inaugurate the inovement known as the Renas

cence ? 2. What new forms were then brought into English literature? 3. What new thoughts and conceptions developed in the English people? 4. What was the cause of the Reformation ? 5. Along what lines did it develop in England ? 6. Who were the great reformers in Scotland ? 7. Christopher Marlowe wrote a play called Tamburlaine,” with the

scene laid in Persia. Why was this ypical of the period ? 8. With your knowledge of the facts concerning the iranslation of the

Bible, made in the sixteenth century, what effect would you say

that this translation has had upon the English we use to-day? 9. Name a few of the men besides Shakespeare and Bacon who made the

end of the sixteenth century the golden age of English literature. 10. Write a composition upon the England of the fourteenth century com

pared with England at the end of the fifteenth. laying special

emphasis upon the thoughts in the minds of the people.

Suggested Readings.-(a) More's “Utopia”; (b) a little of Foxe's " Book of Martyrs”; (c) all of Marlowe's plays.

66

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER IX
EDMUND SPENSER (1552–1599)

Whose deep conceit is such
As, passing all conceit, needs no defence.”

- Shakespeare.
Our sage and serious poet Spenser.”—Milton.
EDMUND SPENSER was born 1552 in London. His family was
aristocratic enough to understand the value of an education but too
poor to give him one. Accordingly we find Edmund enrolled in the
Merchant Taylors' School under Dr. Mulcaster as a sort of charity
pupil, and when he went up to Cambridge in 1569 he went as one of
those students who earn their own way and in the language of the
university are called sizars. At Cambridge Spenser studied hard and
made friends, which is only another way of saying that he made the
most of the opportunities that the university afforded. Though he
ranged the entire field of Greek, Roman, and Italian literature, he
was influenced by Plato more than by any other author. Of his friends,
Gabriel Harvey was the most picturesque and influential. Somewhat
older than Spenser, he bullied the poet, loved him, introduced him to
great lords and ladies, was by turns proud and jealous of his success,
and to the end of his days gave him bad advice, which Spenser for
the most part had sense enough not to follow.

English versification in those days was in an unsettled state. Changes in pronunciation, especially the silencing of final “e,” had caused the secret of Chaucer's melody to be lost. Nobody understood how to make a line as melodious as

“Whan that Aprillë with his shourës sootë' until Shakespeare translated it thus into modern English:

“When proud pied April, dressed in all his trim.” Spenser and Harvey doubtless had many a discussion about the problem while they were at Cambridge. Harvey, in common with Sir Philip Sidney, in his enthusiasm for the classics, thought that its solution was to be found in adopting into English poetry the metrical

[ocr errors]

14*

« AnteriorContinuar »