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me for not coming home.” “ To a coffee-house, to drink Jocolattevery good.” “Mr. Barlow is dead, for which I am as sorry as one can be for a stranger by whose death he gets 100£ per annum." “ Each thinks the other a fool, and I think neither of them, in that point, much in the wrong." "I saw one pretty piece of household stuff, as the company increaseth, to put a larger leaf upon an ovall table.” “I am worth 1900€, for which the great God of Heaven and Earth be praised!” “ I boxed my boy that I do hurt my thumbe so much that I was not able to stir all the day after and in great pain.” “A fellow imitated all manner of birds and dogs and hogs with his voice, and was mighty pleasant.” “Othello seems a mean thing.” “ Eat a musk melon.” The best prose writers of the time, however, were the scientists and philosophers. Among these the greatest were Robert Boyle (1627–1691), the physicist; John Locke (1632–1704), author of “ An Essay on the Human Understanding,” “ The Conduct of the Understanding,” and “ Thoughts on Education," who is justly considered the father of the science of psychology; and Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727), the inventor of the differential calculus, the discoverer of the law of gravitation, and the founder of the science of optics. Of the last of these three great men, Pope wrote:
“Nature and Nature's works lay hid in night;
God said, “Let Newton be, and all was light! He himself said of his work: “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
The literary dictator of this period, a writer preëminent alike in drama, in prose, and in verse, was John Dryden, whose life and works will be discussed in the next chapter.
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES 1. Be able to stand up and give an intelligent talk upon the government
in England from 1660 to 1688. (Refer to any school history of
England.) 2. Does George V rule by divine right or “by the consent of the
3. When you understand the conditions of England between 1660 and 1687,
is light cast upon the life and work of Bunyan? 4. Who wrote the greatest satire in the English language? Whom did it
satirize? 5. Name four of the Restoration dramatists and discuss the general char
acteristics of their plays. 6. Why is the Diary of Samuel Pepys, Esquire, good literature? 7. What is psychology? Who is considered the founder of the science? 8. Aside from the apple-tree incident, what do you know of Sir Isaac
Newton ? 9. What is meant by “the reaction" as applied to Restoration Literature ?
What was the reaction against ? 10. Through what channels did the French influence Restoration
Suggested Readings.—The spirit of the period may pleasurably be derived by reading at random in the Diaries of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn. For the formal history continue in Gardiner's “ School History of England.” Dip into “Hudibras." Read Macaulay's “Comic Dramatists of the Restoration.”
JOHN DRYDEN (1631-1700) “As a satirist he has rivalled Juvenal. As a didactic poet he might perhaps with care an meditation have rivalled Lucretius. Of lyric poets he is, if not the most sublime, the most brilliant and spirit stirring.”Macaulay.
“I admire his talents and genius greatly, but his is not a poetical genius.”-Wordsworth.
THE greatest genius of the Restoration Period is John Dryden. He is its finest intellect, and best typifies both its good and its evil characteristics. Dryden was born in Aldwinkle, a little village of Northamptonshire. He came of sound Puritan stock. But few details are known of Dryden's early life, and his boyhood surroundings seem to have left upon him but slight impress. He entered Westminster School under the great Doctor Busby, who, no doubt, caned him roundly at suitable intervals, but who commended his Latin translations. At nineteen he entered Trinity College, Cambridge. Nothing that he wrote before 1658 is of much worth; but in that year appeared an eulogy of Oliver Cromwell which contains lines that give promise of the strength and polish later to be shown. After leaving Cambridge he went to London, where he wrote occasional pieces, and where he chatted with the bright men whom he met at Will's Coffee House, which was later to be the seat of his literary empire. In 1660 the Restoration gave him his opportunity. In a poem entitled “ Astræa Redux" he welcomed Charles Stuart; the poem abounds in fulsome flattery of Charles and some of his chief adherents, as does also a panegyric written for the occasion of the coronation. A short excerpt will serve to show their tenor:
“Methinks I see those crowds on Dover's Strand,
Guiding our eyes to find and worship you."
In 1667 appeared “ Annus Mirabilis,” a poem describing the great fire of London and some events in the war with Holland. In this poem Dryden employed quatrains instead of his favorite couplet. With the theatres reopened, however, play-writing was likely to
bring in greater money returns than anything else, so to this Dryden turned his attention. He agreed to write three plays annually for the King's theatre. Although he did not wholly fulfill this contract, for twenty years he gave his efforts almost entirely to the writing
of plays which are, for the most part, discreditable. They were written for revenue only. The age demanded wit; and wit, it was supposed, could not co-exist with decency and virtue. Although these plays contain passages of excellence, they have passed into the oblivion that they deserve. Many were original only in form; several were adaptations of translations; all except one were written to please a debased public taste. In later years Dryden frankly admitted the justice of Jeremy Collier's strictures upon his plays. In “ All for Love," written, as he tells us, to please himself, Dryden has taken for his theme that of Shakespeare's" Antony and Cleopatra." This is the only one of Dryden's plays written in blank verse; and although it is far better than any of his others, it furnishes proof sufficient of the truth of Dryden's own saying:
"Shakespeare's magic could not copied be;
Within that circle none durst walk but he." In 1663 Dryden married Lady Elizabeth Howard. Three sons were born of this marriage. In 1670 he was appointed Poet Laureate, and later was made collector of the port of London, an office which, it will be remembered, Chaucer had held. Honors and emoluments were showered upon him; he was on familiar terms with the nobles and literary fashionables of Charles's court; he became an arbiter in matters of literary taste. Dryden had never shown particular interest in governmental or political questions. After the exposure of the Rye House Plot, however, Dryden attacked the Whigs in a poem which for trenchant, biting satire has never been outdone. Under the title “ Absalom and Achitophel ” the story of Absalom's revolt against King David was made to fit contemporary English politics, and Dryden painted in scorching colors a series of portraits that made the originals writhe. Several replies were attempted to this stinging satire. One of these counter-attacks drew down upon its author, Shadwell, the satire “ Mac Flecknoe,” in which Dryden held up the unfortunate Shadwell to the most bitter ridicule. A few lines will suffice to show how Dryden could stab with couplets: