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bounds and barriers of Nature, united by the bond of a social and moral community,

that deliberation I shall always advise to call in the aid of the farmer and the physician, rather than the professor of meta--all the Commons of England resenting, physics.

The science of constructing a commonwealth, or renovating it, or reforming it, is like every other experimental science, not to be taught a priori. Nor is it a short experience that can instruct us in that practical science; because the real effects of moral causes are not always immediate, but that which in the first instance is prejudicial may be excellent in its remoter operation, and its excellence may arise even from the ill effects it produces in the beginning. The reverse also happens; and very plausible schemes, with very pleasing commencements, have often shameful and lamentable conclusions. In states there are often some obscure and almost latent causes, things which appear at first view of little moment, on which a very great part of its prosperity depend. The science of government being, therefore, so practical in itself, and intended for such practical purpose, a matter which requires experience, and even more experience than any person can gain in his whole life, however sagacious and observing he may be, it is with infinite caution that any man ought to venture upon pulling down an edifice which has answered in any tolerable degree for ages the common purposes of society, or on building it up again without having models and patterns of approved utility before his eyes.

Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.


In the name of the Commons of England, I charge all this villany upon Warren Hastings, in this last moment of my application to you [the House of Lords].

My Lords, what is it that we want here to a great act of national justice? Do we want a cause, my Lords? You have the cause of oppressed princes, of undone women of the first rank, of desolated provinces, and of wasted kingdoms.

Do you want a criminal, my Lords? When was there so much iniquity ever laid to the charge of any one? No, my Lords, you must not look to punish any other such delinquent from India. Warren Hastings has not left substance enough in India to nourish such another delinquent.

My Lords, is it a prosecutor you want? You have before you the Commons of Great Britain as prosecutors; and I believe, my Lords, that the sun, in his beneficent progress round the world, does not behold a more glorious sight than that of men, separated from a remote people by the material

as their own, the indignities and cruelties that are offered to all the people of India.

Do we want a tribunal? My Lords, no example of antiquity, nothing in the modern world, nothing in the range of human imagination, can supply us with a tribunal like this. My Lords, here we see virtually, in the mind's eye, that sacred majesty of the crown under whose authority you sit, and whose power you exercise. We see in that invisible authority, what we all feel in reality and life, the beneficent powers and protecting justice of his Majesty. We have here the heir-apparent to the crown, such as the fond wishes of the people of England wish an heir-apparent of the crown to be. We have here all the branches of the royal family, in a situation between majesty and subjection, between the sovereign and the subject,-offering a pledge in that situation for the support of the rights of the crown and the liberties of the people, both which extremities they touch. My Lords, we have a great hereditary peerage here, those who have their own honour, the honour of their ancestors, and of their posterity to guard, and who will justify, as they have always justified, that provision in the Constitution by which justice is made an hereditary office. My Lords, we have here a new nobility, who have risen and exalted themselves by various merits,—by great military services which have extended the fame of this country from the rising to the setting sun. We have those who, by various civil merits and various civil talents, have been exalted to a situation which they well deserve, and in which they will justify the favour of their sovereign and the good opinion of their fellowsubjects, and make them rejoice to see those virtuous characters that were the other day upon a level with them now exalted above them in rank, but feeling with them in sympathy what they felt in common with them before. We have persons exalted from the practice of the law, from the place in which they administered high, though subordinate, justice, to a seat here, to enlighten with their knowledge and to strengthen with their votes those principles which have distinguished the courts in which they have presided.

My Lords, you have here also the lights of our religion, you have the bishops of England. My Lords, you have that true image of the primitive Church, in its ancient form, in its ancient ordinances, purified from the superstitions and the vices which a long succession of ages will bring upon the best institutions. You have the representatives of that religion which says that their God

is love, that the very vital spirit of their institution is charity,-a religion which so much hates oppression, that, when the God whom we adore appeared in human form, He did not appear in a form of greatness and majesty, but in sympathy with the lowest of the people, and thereby made it a firm and ruling principle that their welfare was the object of all government, since the Person who was the master of Nature chose to appear Himself in a subordinate situation. These are the considerations which influence them, which animate them, and will animate them, against all oppression,-knowing that He who is called first among them, and first among us all, both of the flock that is fed and of those who feed it, made Himself "the servant of all."

My Lords, these are the securities which we have in all the constituent parts of the body of this House. We know them, we reckon, we rest upon them, and commit safely the interests of India and of humanity into your hands. Therefore it is with confidence, that ordered by the Commons, I impeach Warren Hastings, Esquire, of high crimes and misdemeanours.

I impeach him in the name of the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, whose Parliamentary trust he has betrayed.

I impeach him in the name of all the Commons of Great Britain, whose national

character he has dishonoured.

I impeach him in the name of the people of India, whose laws, rights, and liberties he has subverted, whose properties he has destroyed, whose country he has laid waste and desolate.

I impeach him in the name and by virtue of those eternal laws of justice which he has


I impeach him in the name of human nature itself, which he has cruelly outraged, injured, and oppressed, in both sexes, in every age, rank, situation, and condition of life. Speech in Opening: Fourth Day.


a brother of Joseph Warton, supra, born 1728, Professor of Poetry, at Oxford, 17571767, instituted to the living of Kiddington, 1771, and presented to the donative of Hill Farrance, 1782, became Camden Professor of Ancient History and Poet-Laureate, both in 1785, and retained these posts until his death, 1790. Among his publications are Observations on the Faerie Queene of Spenser, Lond., 1754, 4to; Inscriptionum Romanorum Metricarum Delectus, accedunt

Notulæ, 1758, 4to; Life and Literary Remains of Ralph Bathurst, M.D., Lond., 1761, 8vo; Anthologiæ Græcæ, Oxon., 1766, 8vo; Theocritii Syracusii quae supersunt, etc., Oxon., 1770, 2 vols. 4to; Life of Sir Thomas Pope, Lond., 1772, 8vo; The History of English Poetry, Lond., 1774-78-81, 3 vols. 4to; and Portion I. of vol. iv., pp. 88; Poems, Lond., 1777, 8vo, and later; Specimen of a History of Oxfordshire, 1782, 4to: privately printed, 2d edit., Lond., 1783, 4to, 3d edit., Lond., 1815, 4to, 1. p. 4to. To the ordinary reader Warton is only now known by his History of English Poetry.

"He loved poetry well,-and he wrote its history well; that book being a mine."-PROFESSOP. WILSON: Blackw. Mag, xxx. 483.

"We have nothing historical as to our own poetry but the prolix volumes of Warton. They have obtained, in my opinion, full as much credit as they deserve without depreciating a book in which so much may be found, and which has been so great a favourite with the literary part of the public, it may be observed that its errors as to fact, especially in names and dates, are extraordinarily frequent, and that the criticism, in points of taste, is not of a very superior kind."-HALLAM: Lit. Hist. of Europe, Pref. to 1st edit., 1837-39.


The age of Queen Elizabeth is commonly called the golden age of English poetry. It certainly may not improperly be styled the most poetical age of these annals.

Among the great features which strike us in the poetry of this period, are the predominaney of fable, of fiction, and fancy, and a predilection for interesting adventures and pathetic events.

I will endeavour to assign and explain the cause of this characteristic distinction, which may chiefly be referred to the following principals, sometimes blended and sometimes operating singly: the revival and vernacular versions of the classics, the importation and reveries or refinements of false philosophy, translation of Italian novels, the visionary a degree of superstition sufficient for the purpose of poetry, the adoption of the machineries of romance, and the frequency and the improvements of allegoric exhibition in the popular spectacles.

When the corruptions and impostures of popery were abolished, the fashion of cultivating the Greek and Roman learning became universal: and the literary character was no longer appropriated to scholars by profession. but assumed by the nobility and gentry. The ecclesiastics had found it their interest to keep the languages of antiquity to themselves, and men were eager to know what had been so long injuriously concealed. Truth propagates truth, and the mantle of mystery was removed not only

from religion but from literature. The laity, who had now been taught to assert their natural privileges, became impatient of the old monopoly of knowledge, and demanded admittance to the usurpations of the clergy. The general curiosity for new discoveries, heightened either by just or imaginary idea of the treasures contained in the Greek and Roman writers, excited all persons of leisure and fortune to study the classics. The pedantry of the present age was the politeness of the last. An accurate comprehension of the phraseology and peculiarities of the ancient poets, historians, and orators, which yet seldom went further than a kind of technical erudition, was an indispensable and almost the principal object in the circle of a gentleman's education. Every young lady of fashion was carefully instituted in classical letters; and the daughter of a duchess was taught, not only to distil strong waters, but to construe Greek. Among the learned females of high distinction, Queen Elizabeth herself was the most conspicuous. Roger Ascham, her preceptor, speaks with rapture of her astonishing progress in the Greek nouns; and declares with no small degree of triumph, that, during a long residence at Windsor Castle, she was accustomed to read more Greek in a day than "some prebendary of that church did Latin in one week ;" and although a princess looking out words in a lexicon, and writing down hard phrases from Plutarch's Lives, may be thought at present a more incompatible and extraordinary character, than a canon of Windsor understanding no Greek and but little Latin, yet Elizabeth's passion for these acquisitions was then natural, and resulted from the genius and habitudes of her age.

The books of antiquity being thus familiarized to the great, everything was tinctured with ancient history and mythology, The heathen gods, although discountenanced by the Calvinists, on a suspicion of their tendency to cherish and revive a spirit of idolatry, came into general vogue. When the queen paraded through a country town, almost every pageant was a pantheon. When she paid a visit at the house of any of her nobility, at entering the hall she was saluted by the Penates, and conducted to her privychamber by Mercury. Even the pastry-cooks were expert mythologists. At dinner, select transformations of Ovid's Metamorphoses were exhibited in confectionery; and the splendid icing of an immense historic plumcake was embossed with a delicious bassorelievo of the destruction of Troy. In the afternoon, when she condescended to walk in the garden, the lake was covered with Tritons and Nereids; the pages of the fam

ily were converted into wood-nymphs who peeped from every bower; and the footmen gambolled over the lawns in the figure of satyrs.

I speak it without designing to insinuate any unfavourable suspicions, but it seems difficult to say why Elizabeth's virginity should have been made the theme of perpetual and excessive panegyric: nor does it immediately appear that there is less merit or glory in a married than a maiden queen. Yet, the next morning, after sleeping in a room hung with a tapestry of the voyage of Eneas, when her Majesty hunted in the park, she was met by Diana, who, pronouncing our royal prude to be the brightest paragon of unspotted chastity, invited her to groves free from the intrusions of Actæon. The truth is, she was so profusely flattered for this virtue because it was esteemed the characteristical ornament of the heroines, as fantastic honour was the chief pride of the champions, of the old barbarous romance. It was in conformity to the sentiments of chivalry, which still continued in vogue, that she was celebrated for chastity: the compliment, however, was paid in a classical allusion.

Queens must be ridiculous when they would appear as women. The softer attractions of sex vanish on the throne. Elizabeth sought all occasions of being extolled for her beauty, of which, indeed, in the prime of her youth, she possessed but a small share, whatever might have been her pretensions to absolute virginity. Notwith standing her exaggerated habits of dignity and ceremony, and a certain affectation of imperial severity, she did not perceive this ambition of being complimented for beauty to be an idle and unpardonable levity, totally inconsistent with her high station and character. As she conquered all nations with her arms, it matters not what were the triumphs of her eyes. Of what consequence was the complexion of the mistress of the world? Not less vain of her person than her politics, this stately coquette, the guardian of the Protestant faith, the terror of the sea, the mediatrix of the factions of France, and the scourge of Spain, was infinitely mortified if an ambassador, at the first audience, did not tell her she was the finest woman in Europe. No negotiation succeeded unless she was addressed as a goddess. Encomiastic harangues drawn from this topic, even on the supposition of youth and beauty, were surely superfluous, unsuitable, and unworthy; and were offered and received with an equal impropriety. Yet when she rode through the streets of Norwich, Cupid, at the command of the mayor and alderman, advancing from a

group of gods who had left Olympus to grace the procession, gave her a golden arrow, the most effective weapon of his well-furnished quiver, which under the influence of such irresistible charms was sure to wound the most obdurate heart. "A gift," says honest Holinshed, "which her majesty, now verging to her fiftieth year, received very thankfully." In one of the fulsome interludes at court, where she was present, the singing-boys of her chapel presented the story of the three rival goddesses on Mount Ida, to which her Majesty was ingeniously added as a fourth; and Paris was arraigned in form for adjudging the golden apple to Venus which was due to the queen alone.

This inundation of classical pedantry soon infected our poetry. Our writers, already trained in the school of fancy, were suddenly dazzled with these novel imaginations, and the divinities and heroes of pagan antiquity decorated every composition. The perpetual allusions to ancient fable were often introduced without the least regard to propriety. Shakspere's Mrs. Page, who is not intended in any degree to be a learned or an affected lady, laughing at the cumbersome courtship of her corpulent lover Falstaff, says, "I had rather be a giantess and lie under Mount Pelion." This familiarity with the pagan story was not, however, so much owing to the prevailing study of the original authors, as to the numerous English versions of them which were consequently made. The translation of the classics, which now employed every pen, gave a currency and a celerity to these fancies, and had the effect of diffusing them among the people. No sooner were they delivered from the pale of the scholastic languages, than they acquired a general notoriety. Ovid's Metamorphoses just translated by Golding, to instance no further, disclosed a new world of fiction even to the illiterate. As we had now all the learned fabrics in English, learned allusions, whether in a poem or a pageant, were no longer obscure and unintelligible to common readers and common spectators. And here we are led to observe that at this restoration of the classics, we were first struck only with their fabulous inventions. We did not attend to their regularity of design and justness of sentiment. A rude age, beginning to read these writers, imitated their extravagances, not their natural beauties. And these, like other novelties, were pursued to a blameable


I have given a sketch of the introduction of classical stories, in the splendid show exhibited at the coronation of Queen Anne Boleyn. But that is a rare and a premature

instance; and the pagan fictions are there complicated with the barbarisms of the Catholic worship, and the doctrines of scholastic theology. Classical learning was not then so widely spread either by study or translation as to bring these learned spectacles into fashion, to frame them with sufficient skill, and to present them with propriety.

Another capital source of the poetry peculiar to this period consisted in the numerous translations of Italian tales into English. These narratives, not dealing altogether in romantic inventions, but in real life and manners, and in artful arrangements of fictitious yet probable events, afforded a new gratification to a people which yet retained their ancient relish for tale-telling, and became the fashionable amusement of all who professed to read for pleasure. This gave rise to innumerable plays and poems which would not otherwise have existed; and turned the thoughts of our writers to new inventions of the same kind. Before these books became common, affecting situations, the combination of incident, and the pathos of catastrophe, were almost unknown. Distress, especially that arising from the conflicts of the tender passion, had not yet been shown in its most interesting forms. It was hence our poets, particularly the dramatic, borrowed ideas of a legitimate plot, and the complication of facts necessary to constitute a story either of the tragic or comic species. In proportion as knowledge increased, genius had wanted subjects and materials. These species usurped the place of legends and chronicles. And although the old historical songs of the minstrels contained much bold adventure, heroic enterprise, and strong touches of rude delineation, yet they failed in that multiplication and disposition of circumstances, and in that description of characters and events approaching nearer to truth and reality, which were demanded by a more discerning and curious age. Even the rugged features of the original Gothic romance were softened by this sort of reading; and the Italian pastoral, yet with some mixture of the kind of incidents described in Heliodorus's Ethiopic History, now newly translated, was engrafted on the feudal manners in Sydney's Arcadia.

But the Reformation had not yet destroyed every delusion, nor disenchanted all the strongholds of superstition. A few dim characters were yet legible in the mouldering creed of tradition. Every goblin of ignorance did not vanish at the first glimmerings of the morning of science. Reason suffered a few demons still to linger, which

she chose to retain in her service under the guidance of poetry. Men believed, or were willing to believe, that spirits were yet hovering around who brought with them airs from heaven, or blasts from hell: that the ghost was duly released from his prison of torment at the sound of the curfew; and that fairies imprinted mysterious circles on the turf by moonlight. Much of this credulity was even consecrated by the name of science and profound speculation. Prospero had not yet broken and buried his staff, nor drowned his book deeper than did ever plummet sound. It was now that the alchymist, and the judicial astrologer, conducted his occult operations by the potent intercourse of some preternatural being, who came obsequious to his call, and was bound to accomplish his severest services, under certain conditions, and for a limited duration of time. It was actually one of the pretended feats of these fantastic philosophers to evoke the queen of the fairies in the solitude of a gloomy grove, who, preceded by a sudden rustling of the leaves, appeared in robes of transcendent lustre. The Shakspere of a more instructed and polished age would not have given us a magician darkening the sun at noon, the sabbath of the witches, and the caldron of incantation.

Undoubtedly most of these notions were credited and entertained in a much higher degree in the preceding periods. But the arts of composition had not then made a sufficient progress, nor would the poets of those periods have managed them with so much address and judgment. We were now arrived at that point when the national credulity, chastened by reason, had produced a sort of civilised superstition, and left a set of traditions, fanciful enough for poetic decoration, and yet not too violent and chimerical for common sense.

Hobbes, although no friend to this doctrine, observes happily, "In a good poem both judgment and fancy are required; but the fancy must be more eminent, because they please for the extravagancy, but ought not to displease by indiscretion."

In the mean time the Gothic romance, although somewhat shook by the classical fictions, and by the tales of Boccace and Bandello, still maintained its ground; and the daring machineries of giants, dragons, and enchanted castles, borrowed from the magic storehouse of Boiardo, Ariosto, and Tasso, began to be employed by the epic muse. The Gothic and pagan fictions were now frequently blended and incorporated. The Lady of the Lake floated in the suite of Neptune before Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth, and assumes the semblance of a seanymph; and Hecate, by an easy association,

conducts the rites of the weird sisters in Macbeth.

Allegory had been derived from the religious dramas into our civil spectacles. The masques and pageantries of the age of Elizabeth were not only furnished by the heathen divinities, but often by the virtues and vices impersonated, significantly decorated, accurately distinguished by their proper types, and represented by living actors. The ancient symbolical shows of this sort began now to lose their old barbarism and a mixture of religion, and to assume a degree of poetical elegance and precision. Nor was it only in the conformation of particular figures that much fancy was shown, but in the contexture of some of the fables or devices presented by groups of ideal personages. These exhibitions quickened creative invention, and reflected back on poetry what poetry had given. From their familiarity and public nature they formed a national taste for allegory: and the allegorical poets were now writing to the people. Even romance was turned into this channel. In the "Faery Queen" allegory is wrought upon chivalry, and the feats and figments of Arthur's Round Table are moralized. virtues of magnificence and chastity are here personified; but they are imaged with the forms and under the agency of romantic knights and damsels. What was an afterthought in Tasso appears to have been Spenser's premeditated and primary design. In the mean time we must not confound these moral combatants of the "Faery Queen" with some of its other embodied abstractions, which are purely and professedly allegorical.


It may here be added that only a few critical treatises, and but one Art of Poetry were now written. Sentiment and images were not absolutely determined by the canons of composition, nor was genius awed by the consciousness of a future and final arraignment at the tribunal of taste. A certain dignity of inattention to niceties is now visible in our writers. Without too closely consulting a criterion of correctness, every man indulged his own capriciousness of invention. The poet's appeal was chiefly to his own voluntary feelings, his own immediate and peculiar mode of conception; and this freedom of thought was often expressed in an undisguised frankness of diction.

No satires, properly so called, were written till towards the latter end of the queen's reign, and then but a few. Pictures drawn at large of the vices of the times did not suit readers who loved to wander in the regions of artificial manners. The muse, like the people, was too solemn and reserved,

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