Page images

that deliberation I shall always advise to bounds and barriers of Nature, united by call in the aid of the farmer and the phy- the bond of a social and moral community, sician, rather than the professor of meta- -all the Commons of England resenting, physics.

as their own, the indignities and cruelties The science of constructing a common- that are offered to all the people of India. wealth, or renovating it, or reforming it, is Do we want a tribunal? My Lords, no like every other experimental science, not to example of antiquity, nothing in the modern be taught a priori. Nor is it a short experi- world, nothing in the range of human imagence that can instruct us in that practical ination, can supply us with a tribunal like science; because the real effects of moral this. My Lords, here we see virtually, in causes are not always immediate, but that the mind's eye, that sacred majesty of tho which in the first instance is prejudicial may crown under whose authority you sit, anı! be excellent in its remoter operation, and its whose power you exercise. We see in that excellence may arise even from the ill effects invisible authority, what we all feel in realit produces in the beginning. The reverse ity and life, the beneficent powers and proalso happens; and very plausible schemes, tecting justice of his Majesty. We have here with very pleasing commencements, have the heir-apparent to the crown, such as the often shameful and lamentable conclusions. fond wishes of the people of England wis In states there are often some obscure and an heir-apparent of the crown to be. We almost latent causes, things which appear at have here all the branches of the royal first view of little moment, on which a very family, in a situation between majesty and great part of its prosperity depend. The subjection, between the sovereign and the science of government being, therefore, so subject,-offering a pledge in that situation practical in itself, and intended for such for the support of the rights of the crown practical purposes, a matter which requires and the liberties of the people, both which experience, and even more experience than extremities they touch. My Lords, we have any person can gain in his whole life, how

a great hereditary peerage here,—those who ever sagacious and observing he may be, it have their own honour, the honour of their is with infinite caution that any man ought ancestors, and of their posterity to guard, to venture upon pulling down an editice and who will justify, as they have always which has answered in any tolerable degree justified, that provision in the Constitution for ages the common purposes of society, or by which justice is made an hereditary office. on building it up again without having My Lords, we have here a new nobility, models and patterns of approved utility be- who have risen and exalted themselves by fore his eyes.

various merits,—by great military services Reflections on the Revolution in France, which have extended the fame of this coun1790.

try from the rising to the setting sun. We IMPEACHMENT OF WARREN HASTINGS.

have those who, by various civil merits and

various civil talents, have been exalted to a In the name of the Commons of England, situation which they well deserve, and in I charge all this villany upon Warren Has- which they will justify the favour of their tings, in this last moment of my application sovereign and the good opinion of their fellowto you [the Ilouse of Lords).

subjects, and make them rejoice to see those My Lords, what is it that we want here virtuous characters that were the other day to a great act of national justice? Do we upon a level with them now exalted above want a cause, my Lords? You have the them in rank, but feeling with them in symcause of oppressed princes, of undone women pathy what they felt in common with them of the first rank, of desolated provinces, and before. We have persons exalted from the of wasted kingdoms.

practice of the law, from the place in which Do you want a criminal, my Lords ? When they administered high, though subordinate, was there so much iniquity ever laid to the justice, to a seat here, to enlighten with their charge of any one? No, my Lords, you knowledge and to strengthen with their votes must not look to punish any other such | those principles which have distinguished the delinquent from India. Warren Ilastings courts in which they have presided. has not left substance enough in India to My Lords, you have here also the lights nourish such another delinquent.

of our religion, you have the bishops of My Lords, is it a prosecutor you want? England. My Lords, you have that true You have before you the Commons of Great image of the primitive Church, in its ancient Britain as prosecutors; and I believe, my form, in its ancient ordinances, purified from Lords, that the sun, in his beneficent pro- the superstitions and the vices which a long gress round the world, does not behold a succession of ages will bring upon the best more glorious sight than that of men, sepa- institutions. You have the representatives rated from a remote people by the material of that religion which says that their God is love, that the very vital spirit of their Notulæ, 1758, 4to; Life and Literary Reinstitution is charity, a religion which so mains of Ralph Bathurst, M.D., Lond., 1761, much hates oppression, that, when the God dvo; Anthologiæ Græcæ, Oxon., 1766, 8vo; whom we adore appeared in human form, Theocritii Syracusii quæ supersunt, etc., He did not appear in a form of greatness Oxon., 1770, 2 vols. 4to; Life of Sir Thomas and majesty, but in sympathy with the Pope, Lond., 1772, 8vo; The History of lowest of the people, and thereby made it a English Poetry, Lond., 177+-78–81, 3 vols. firm and ruling principle that their welfare 4to ; and Portion I. of vol. iv., pp. 88; Poems, was the object of all government, since the Lond., 1777, 8vo, and later ; Specimen of Person who was the master of Nature chose a History of Oxfordshire, 1782, 1to: prito appear Himself in a subordinate situation. vately printed, 21 edit., Lond., 1783, 4to, 3d These are the considerations which influence edit., Lond., 1815, 4tó, 1. p. 4to. 'To the them, which animate them, and will animate ordinary reader Warton is only now known them, against all oppression,-knowing that by his Íristory of English Poetry. Ile who is called first among them, and first

“He loved poetry well, -and he wrote its history among us all, both of the Hock that is fed well; that book being a mine."-PROFESSOP. Watand of those who feed it, made IIimself “the son : Blackio. Mag , xxx. 483. servant of all."

“We have nothing historicalas to our own poetry My Lords, these are the securities which but the prolix volumes of Warton. They have obwe have in all the constituent parts of the tained, in my opinion, full as much credit as they body of this House. We know them, we

deserve : without depreciating a book in which so

much may be found, and which has been so great a reckon, we rest upon them, and commit favourite with the literary part of the public, it may safely the interests of India and of humanity be observed that its errors as to fact, especially in into your hands. Therefore it is with con- names and dates, are extraordinarily frequent, and fidence, that ordered by the Commons, I im- that the criticism, in points of taste, is not of a very peach Warren Hastings, Esquire, of high superior kind.”—HALLAM: Lit. Hist. of Europe, crimes and misdemeanours.

Pref. to 1st edit., 1837–39. I impeach him in the name of the Com

POETRY OF THE AGE OF ELIZABETI. mons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, whose Parliamentary trust he has be

The age of Queen Elizabeth is commonly trayed.

called the golden age of English poetry. It † impeach him in the name of all the certainly may not improperly be styled the Commons of Great Britain, whose national most poetical age of these annals. character he has dishonoured.

Among the great features which strike us I impeach him in the name of the people in the poetry of this period, are the predomof India, whose laws, rights, and liberties he inancy of fable, of fiction, and fancy, and a has subverted, whose properties he has de- predilection for interesting adventures and stroyed, whose country he has laid waste pathetic events. and desolate.

I will endeavour to assign and explain the I impeach him in the name and by virtue cause of this characteristic distinction, which of those eternal laws of justice which he has may chiefly be referred to the following prinviolated.

cipals, sometimes blended and sometimes opI impeach him in the name of human erating singly: the revival and vernacular nature itself, which he has cruelly outraged, versions of the classics, the importation and injured, and oppressed, in both sexes, in every translation of Italian novels, the visionary age, rank, situation, and condition of life.

reveries or refinements of false philosophy, Speech in Opening: Fourth Day.

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 THOMAS WARTON,

the popular spectacles.

When the corruptions and impostures of a brother of Joseph Warton, supra, born popery were abolished, the fashion of culti1728, Professor of Poetry, at Oxford, 1757- vating the Greek and Roman learning be1767, instituted to the living of Kidding- came universal: and the literary character ton, 1771, and presented to the donative of was no longer appropriated to scholars by Hill Farrance, 1782, became Camden Pro- profession, but assumed by the nobility and fessor of Ancient History and Poet-Laureate, gentry. The ecclesiastics had found it their both in 1785, and retained these posts until interest to keep the languages of antiquity his death, 1790. Among his publications to themselves, and men were eager to know are Observations on the Faerie Queene of what had been so long injuriously conSpenser, Lond., 1754, 4to ; Inscriptionum cealed. Truth propagates truth, and the Romanorum Metricarum Delectus, accedunt mantle of mystery was removed not only from religion but from literature. The ily were converted into wood-nymphs who laity, who had now been taught to assert peeped from every bower; and the footmen their natural privileges, became impatient gambolled over the lawns in the figure of of the old monopoly of knowledge, and de- satyrs. inanded admittance to the usurpations of I speak it without designing to insinuate the clergy. The general curiosity for new any unfavourable suspicions, but it seems discoveries, heightened either by just or difficult to say why Elizabeth's virginity imaginary idea of the treasures contained should have been made the theme of perin the Greek and Roman writers, excited petual and excessive panegyric: nor does it all persons of leisure and fortune to study immediately appear that there is less merit the classics. The pedantry of the present or glory in a married than a maiden queen. age was the politeness of the last. An ac- Yet, the next morning, after sleeping in a curate comprehension of the phraseology room hung with a tapestry of the voyage and peculiarities of the ancient poets, his- of Æneas, when her Majesty hunted in the torians, and orators, which yet seldom went park, she was met by Diana, who, pronounfurther than a kind of technical erudition, cing our royal prude to be the brightest parwas an indispensable and almost the prin- agon of unspotted chastity, invited her to cipal object in the circle of a gentleman's groves free from the intrusions of Actæon.. education. Every young lady of fashion The truth is, she was so profusely flattered was carefully instituted in classical letters; for this virtue because it was esteemed the and the daughter of a duchess was taught, characteristical ornament of the heroines, not only to distil strong waters, but to con- as fantastic honour was the chief pride of strue Greek. Among the learned females the champions, of the old barbarous roof high distinction, Queen Elizabeth her mance. It was in conformity to the sentiself was the most conspicuous. Roger As- ments of chivalry, which still continued in cham, her preceptor, speaks with rapture of vogue, that she was celebrated for chastity: her astonishing progress in the Greek nouns; the compliment, however, was paid in a and declares with no small degree of triumph, classical allusion. that, during a long residence at Windsor Cas- Queens must be ridiculous when they tle, she was accustomed to read more Greek would appear as women. The softer attracin a day than “some prebendary of that tions of sex vanish on the throne. Elizachurch did Latin in one week ;' and al- beth sought all occasions of being extolled though a princess looking out words in a for her beauty, of which, indeed, in the lexicon, and writing down hard phrases prime of her youth, she possessed but a from Plutarch's Lives, may be thought at small share, whatever might have been her present a more incompatible and extraordi- pretensions to absolute virginity. Notwith nary character, than a canon of Windsor standing her exaggerated habits of dignity understanding no Greek and but little Latin, and ceremony, and a certain affectation of yet Elizabeth's passion for these acquisitions imperial severity, she did not perceive this was then natural, and resulted from the ambition of being complimented for beauty genius and habitudes of her age.

to be an idle and unpardonable levity, toThe books of antiquity being thus famil- tally inconsistent with her high station and iarized to the great, everything was tinc- character. As she conquered all nations tured with ancient history and mythology: with her arms, it matters not what were the The heathen gods, although discountenanced triumphs of her eyes. Of what consequence by the Calvinists, on a suspicion of their was the complexion of the mistress of the tendency to cherish and revive a spirit of world? Not less vain of her person than idolatry, came into general vogue.' When her politics, this stately coquette, the guarthe queen paraded through a country town, dian of the Protestant faith, the terror of almost every pageant was a pantheon. When the sea, the mediatrix of the factions of she paid a visit at the house of any of her France, and the scourge of Spain, was innobility, at entering the hall she was saluted finitely mortified if an ambassador, at the by the Penates, and conducted to her privy- first audience, did not tell her she was the chamber by Merenry. Even the pastry-cooks finest woman in Europe. No negotiation were expert mythologists. At dinner, select succeeded unless she was addressed as a transformations of Ovid's. Metamorphoses goddess: Encomiastic harangues drawn were exhibited in confectionery; and the from this topic, even on the supposition of splendid icing of an immense historic plum- youth and beauty, were surely superfluous, cake was embossed with a delicious basso- unsuitable, and unworthy; and were ofrelievo of the destruction of Troy. In the fered and received with an equal impropriafternoon, when she condescended to walk ety. Yet when she rode through the streets in the garden, the lake was covered with of Norwich, Cupid, at the command of the Tritons and Nereids; the pages of the fam- | mayor and alderman, advancing from a


group of gods who had left Olympus to instance; and the pagan fictions are there grace the procession, gave her a golden complicated with the barbarisms of the arrow, the most effective weapon of his Catholic worship, and the doctrines of well-furnished quiver, which under the in- scholastic theology. Classical learning was fluence of such irresistible charms was sure not then so widely spread either by study to wound the most obdurate heart. “A or translation as to bring these learned gift,” says honest Holinshed, " which her spectacles into fashion, to frame them with majesty, now verging to her fiftieth year, sufficient skill, and to present them with received very thankfully." In one of the propriety. fulsome interludes at court, where she was Another capital source of the poetry present, the singing-boys of her chapel pre- peculiar to this period consisted in the sented the story of the three rival goddesses numerous translations of Italian tales into on Mount Ida, to which her Majesty was English. These narratives, not dealing ingeniously added as a fourth ; and Paris altogether in romantic inventions, but in was arraigned in form for adjudging the real life and manners, and in artful argolden apple to Venus which was due to rangements of fictitious yet probable events, the queen alone.

afforded a new gratification to a people This inundation of classical pedantry soon which yet retained their ancient relish for infected our poetry.

Our writers, already tale-telling, and became the fashionable trained in the school of fancy, were sud- amusement of all who professed: to read denly dazzled with these novel imagina- for pleasure. This gave rise to innumertions, and the divinities and heroes of pagan able plays and poems which would not antiquity decorated every composition. The otherwise have existed; and turned the perpetual allusions to ancient fable were thoughts of our writers to new inventions often introduced without the least regard of the same kind. Before these books beto propriety; Shakspere's Mrs. Page, who came common, affecting situations, the comis not intended in any degree to be a learned bination of incident, and the pathos of catasor an affected lady, laughing at the cum-trophe, were almost unknown. Distress, bersome courtship of her corpulent lover especially that arising from the conflicts of Falstaff, says, “I had rather be a giantess the tender passion, had not yet been shown and lie under Mount Pelion." This famil- in its most interesting forms. It was hence iarity with the pagan story was not, how- our poets, particularly the dramatic, borever, so much owing to the prevailing study rowed ideas of a legitimate plot, and the of the original authors, as to the numerous complication of facts necessary to constiEnglish versions of them which were con- tute a story either of the tragic or comic sequently made. The translation of the species. In proportion as knowledge inclassics, which now employed every pen, creased, genius had wanted subjects and gave a currency and a celerity to these materials. These species usurped the place fancies, and had the effect of diffusing them of legends and chronicles. And although among the people. No sooner were they the old historical songs of the minstrels delivered from the pale of the scholastic contained much bold adventure, heroic enlanguages, than they acquired a general terprise, and strong touches of rude delineanotoriety. Ovid's Metamorphoses just trans- tion, yet they failed in that multiplication lated by Golding, to instance no further, dis- and disposition of circumstances, and in closed a new world of fiction even to the that description of characters and events illiterate. As we had now all the learned approaching nearer to truth and reality, fabrics in English, learned allusions, whether which were demanded by a more discerning in a poem or

pageant, were no longer ob- and curious age. Even the rugged features scure and unintelligible to common readers of the original Gothic romance were softand common spectators. And here we are ened by this sort of reading; and the Italian led to observe that at this restoration of the pastoral, yet with some mixture of the kind classics, we were first struck only with their of incidents described in Heliodorus's Ethifabulous inventions. We did not attend to opic History, now newly translated, was entheir regularity of design and justness of grafted on the feudal manners in Sydney's sentiment. A rude age, beginning to read Arcadia. these writers, imitated their extravagances,

But the Reformation had not yet destroyed not their natural beauties. And these, like every delusion, nor disenchanted all the other novelties, were pursued to a blameable strongholds of superstition. A few dim excess.

characters were yet legible in the moulderI have given a sketch of the introduction ing creed of tradition. Every goblin of of classical stories, in the splendid show ex- ignorance did not vanish at the first glimhibited at the coronation of Queen Anne merings of the morning of science. Reason Boleyn. But that is a rare and a premature suffered a few demons still to linger, which

she chose to retain in her service under the conducts the rites of the weird sisters in guidance of poetry. Men believed, or were Macbeth. willing to believe, that spirits were yet hov- Allegory had been derived from the reering around who brought with them airs ligious dramas into our civil spectacles. from heaven, or blasts from hell: that the The masques and pageantries of the age of ghost was duly released from his prison of Elizabeth were not only furnished by the torment at the sound of the curfew; and heathen divinities, but often by the virtues that fairies imprinted mysterious circles on and vices impersonated, significantly decthe turf by moonlight. Much of this cre- orated, accurately distinguished by their dulity was even consecrated by the name of proper types, and represented by living acscience and profound speculation. Prospero tors. The ancient symbolical shows of this had not yet broken and buried his staff, nor sort began now to lose their old barbarism drowned his book deeper than did ever plum- and a mixture of religion, and to assume a met sound. It was now that the alchymist, degree of poetical elegance and precision. and the judicial astrologer, conducted his Nor was it only in the conformation of paroccult operations by the potent intercourse ticular figures that much fancy was shown, of some preternatural being, who came ob- but in the contexture of some of the fables sequious to his call, and was bound to ac- or devices presented by groups of ideal percomplish his sererest services, under certain sonages. These exhibitions quickened creconditions, and for a limited duration of ative invention, and reflected back on poetry time. It was actually one of the pretended what poetry had given. From their fafeats of these fantastic philosophers to evoke miliarity and public nature they formed a the queen of the fairies in the solitude of a national taste for allegory; and the allegloomy grove, who, preceded by a sudden gorical poets were now writing to the people. rustling of the leaves, appeared in robes of Even romance was turned into this channel. transcendent lustre. The Shakspere of a In the “ Faery Queen' allegory is wrought more instructed and polished age would not upon chivalry, and the feats and figments of have given us a magician darkening the sun Arthur's Round Table are moralized. The at noon, the sabbath of the witches, and the virtues of magnificence and chastity are here caldron of incantation.

personified; but they are imaged with the Undoubtedly most of these notions were forms and under the agency of romantic credited and entertained in a much higher knights and damsels. What was an afterdegree in the preceding periods. But the thought in Tasso appears to have been arts of composition had not then made a Spenser's premeditated and primary design. sufficient progress, nor would the poets of In the mean time we must not confound these those periods have managed them with so moral combatants of the “Faery Queen" much address and judgment. · We were now with some of its other embodied abstracarrived at that point when the national cre- tions, which are purely and professedly alledulity, chastened by reason, had produced a gorical. sort of civilised superstition, and left a set It may here be added that only a few critof traditions, fanciful enough for poetic deco-ical treatises, and but one Art of Poetry ration, and yet not too violent and chimerical were now written. Sentiment and images for common sense.

were not absolutely determined by the caHobbes, although no friend to this doctrine, nons of composition, nor was genius awed observes happily, “In a good poem both by the consciousness of a future and final judgment and fancy are required; but the arraignment at the tribunal of taste. A fancy must be more eminent, because they certain dignity of inattention to niceties is please for the extravagancy, but ought not now visible in our writers. Without too to displease by indiscretion."

closely consulting a criterion of correctness, In the mean time the Gothic romance, al- every man indulged his own capriciousthough somewhat shook by the classical ness of invention. The poet's appeal was fictions, and by the tales of Boccace and chiefly to his own voluntary feelings, his Bandello, still maintained its ground; and own iminediate and peculiar mode of conthe daring machineries of giants, dragons, ception ; and this freedom of thought was and enchanted castles, borrowed from the often expressed in an undisguised frankness magic storehouse of Boiardo, Ariosto, and of diction. Tasso, began to be employed by the epic No satires, properly so called, were written

The Gothic and pagan fictions were till towards the latter end of the queen's now frequently blended and incorporated. reign, and then but a few. Pictures drawn The Lady of the Lake floated in the suite at large of the vices of the times did not of Neptune before Queen Elizabeth at Ken- suit readers who loved to wander in the ilworth, and assumes the semblance of a sen- regions of artificial manners. The muse, nymph; and Hecate, by an easy association, like the people, was too solemn and reserved,


« EelmineJätka »