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INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR.

VERY

RY wonderful is the vitality of names; and there is reason to believe that books and essays continue to this day to make their appearance, in which the period of our literary history coinciding with the literary life of Pope is spoken of as our Augustan age. Were this transfer of title intended to imply the existence during the period in question of any royal patronage of letters such as the first of the legitimate Caesars was too prudent absolutely to neglect, it would condemn itself at once. The English Augustans were not warmed by the favour of any English Augustus. William the Deliverer, in whose reign they had grown up, had been without stomach for the literature of a nation with whose tastes and habits he had never made it part of his political programme to sympathise. Queen Anne's very feeble light of personal judgment was easily kept under by the resolute will of her favourites, or flickered timidly under cover of the narrowest orthodoxy. Of the first two Georges the former, indifferent to an unpopularity which never seemed to endanger his tenure of the throne, neither possessed an ordinary mastery of the English tongue nor manifested even a transient desire to acquire it. His successor had no objection to be considered, in virtue of his mistress rather than his wife, the patron of the literary adherents of a political party, until, on mounting the throne, he blandly disappointed the hopes of that party itself. The epoch of our Augustans had all but closed, when the death of Frederick, Prince of Wales, put an absolute end to the nominal hopes in the advent of a golden age for the liberal arts, by averting the accession of a Patriot King.

Neither was the defect of royal patronage supplied by any genuine Mæcenas from among the great ones of the realm. The traditions in this respect of the Stuart period-traditions doubtless exaggerated in the age of Pope, yet not wholly baseless-had barely survived the expulsion of the last Stuart King. Of King William's Batavian comrades, none had sought to grace their newly-acquired dignities and incomes by fostering the efforts of genius in the country which they had consented to adopt. Among the chief English-born noblemen and gentlemen

HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY

BEQUEST OF

MRS. JOSEPHINE H. HILDRETH
OCTOBER 31, 1941

First Edition 1869.

Reprinted 1870, 1873, 1876, 1879, 1882, 1885, 1889.

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