The New Student's Reference Work/Literature
How vast is the literature of China can be seen from the catalogue of works ordered to be collected by the government, in 1722, to be printed as a national library. This catalogue has 200 chapters. The Chinese classics are the books of Confucius and a few others. The histories of this great national library are those of China itself. What are called the dynastic histories give an account of each reign, followed by treatises on chronology, rites, music, law, food, property, state-sacrifices, astronomy, the five elements, geography and a list of the books of the reign. To these treatises is added a host of biographies of the leading men of the reign. There also are subdivisions of the histories, among which are chapters on Books on the Constitution, including such works as Ma Twin-lin's General Examination of Records and Scholars, said to be a library in itself. The philosophy and arts division of the library is made up of works on war, legislation, farming, horticulture, the mulberry tree, medicine, astronomy, mathematics, divination, music, engraving, the tea-plant, ink, the works of Roman Catholic missionaries, Taoism and Buddhism. The belles lettres division is made up of poetry and critical works. Chinese poetry is rich in ballads, songs, elegies and inscriptions for monuments. Its poets have been without number, many of them being women. One of the Confucian classics is The Book of Poetry, and poetry was one of the regular subjects in the former government examinations which were abolished on Sept. 3, 1905. Novels and dramas are not thought important enough to be put in the national library; but some of their historical romances are works of genius, as the Expanded Narrative of the Period of the Three Kingdoms, written in the 13th century of our era. Some of their best novels have been translated into English and French, as The Rambles of the Chang-Teh Emperor in Kiang-nan. Great as is this literature, it would have been greater, had it not been for the burning of the Confucian books by the founder of the Tsin dynasty, who wished all that came after him to think that he was the founder of China. One library, too, after another was burned or destroyed down to the middle of our 6th century. Paper was used for writing in the 1st Christian century, and printing on wooden blocks soon followed. Movable types were invented by a blacksmith, Pi Shing, in the 10th century.
The most important Hindu writings are religious. The famous Vedic hymns are found in four collections: the Rig-Veda, the largest; Sâma-Veda, verses that seem to be selected from the hymns of the Rig-Veda; Yajur-Veda, verses to be recited at sacrifices; and the Black Veda, apparently a continuation of the Rig-Veda. The two great Hindu epics are the Mahâbhârata, which tells of the feuds between two kingly races, and the Râmâyana, which describes the heroic deeds of Râma, a prince of Oude who conquered Ceylon and the Deccan. Râma is represented as the embodiment of Vishnu. What are known as the Purânas are continuations of these two epics, though written much later. Other epics were the Birth of the War-God and the Race of Raghu, by Kalidasa, who also wrote lyrics, as The Cloud-Messenger. Another lyric poet was Jayadeva, whose Gita-Govinda sings of the love-adventures of the god Krishna. Indian fables have found their way all over the world. The earliest collection is known as the Panchatantra. No nation, except Greece, founded independently a better drama than that of the Hindus. Among their best plays are the Toy-Cart of Sudraka and the plays of Kalidasa. Besides the well-known laws of Manu, there is a large mass of Brahmanical treatises and Buddhist Sanskrit literature.
The Babylonians in some respects were a literary people. Inscriptions are found as early as 2000 B. C., written by private persons, which show that a certain amount of education was required of every Babylonian. The writings were on tablets, kept in the temple-libraries of the different cities. In the sacred city of Ea were written most of the tablets on magic. The epic poem of Gizdhubar was composed at Erech, the oldest capital of the land. The poem, which relates the attack of the seven evil spirits on the moon, was written probably at Ur. Perhaps the finest work in Babylonian literature is the poem describing the war in heaven between Merodach and the demon Tiamat, which is in the library at Borsippa. The tablet, after telling the story graphically and beautifully, closes with a remarkable hymn of praise to the victor. In these libraries are found poems, fables, proverbs, works on law, geography, astronomy, magic, histories and mythologies.
One of the most important results of Assyrian explorations has been the discovery in the palace of Asur-bani-pal, at Nineveh, of a library of many thousand tablets. This library was undoubtedly founded to enable Assyrian boys to be taught at home, rather than be forced to go to Babylon, where they might become estranged from the government of Nineveh. One section is made up of text-books—tables of square and cube roots, lists of plants, metals and animals and lists of countries, with their noted products. The most interesting section is that of poetic and legendary literature. Here are found the poetic legends concerning the great Chaldean hero Gizdhubar or Izdubar, and among them a story of the flood, much like the Bible story of Noah. There also are stories of the creation, remarkably like the account in Genesis. Most of these tablets were written during the reign of Asur-bani-pal (669 to about 640 B. C.).
The Phœnicians were once thought to have invented letters, but it is now known that the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians, several of the cuneiform alphabets and the script of the Hittites are older. The Phœnicians, however, were a business people. They wished to be able to write rapidly, and so made simple one of the alphabets then known. This they did so well that it has outlived all other systems, and is the one in use to-day among all civilized nations, who have each adopted it with but slight changes. The Phœnicians had no real literature so long as they remained a nation. However, books were written by those of them who settled in Africa. The Periplus of Hanno is an interesting book of travels, and valuable works on history and geography are said to have been written by Mago, Hamilcar and others.
The famous Zend-Avesta is the name given to the sacred books of the Parsees, Avesta meaning text and Zend commentary. What now survives is but a fragment of what once existed of this literature. At the head stand the Gathas (900 or 1200 B. C.), probably the work of Zoroaster and his disciples. These are sacred prayers, songs and hymns. The names of other parts of the collection are Yasna, Visparad, Vendidad. The last part of the Vendidad was written as late as 500 B. C. For a while after the Mohammedan conquest (A. D. 642), the writers one and all were Moslems. But by the 9th century not only were the leaders of thought Persians, but the native language had again come into use. For five centuries the literary life flourished. The chief poets of the 11th century were Ausari (1039), author of Wamik and Asra; Ferruchi, Esedi and, above all, Firdausi, who wrote the Persian national epic, Shah-Nameh. Later came the famous Omar Khayyam (who died in 1123), Farid-ed-Din Attar, the author of Pend-Nameh (Book of Council), a work containing the lives of the saints, and a third greater poet, Jelal-ed-Din Rumi, whose chief poem was on Contemplative Life. In the 13th century, also, wrote Sádi, the first and greatest didactic poet. But far above all shines Hafiz (whom see), who sang of wine and love, of nightingales and flowers. With him Persian poetry reaches its height. Persia abounds in tales, stories and novels, but valuable history has also been written. In early times Reshid-ed-Din produced his history of all Mohammedan countries. Foremost among modern historians is Meikhond. Ferichtah (1640) wrote in Persian a history of India of high value. For a popular survey of this subject see E. A. Reed's Persian Literature.
The great product of early Jewish literature is the Bible (which see). In the period from 143 B. C. to 135 A. D. the Midrash, or inquiry into the meaning of the sacred writings, was divided into Halacha, practical teachings, and Hagada, religious and historical teachings. To this period belong The History of the Jewish War by Josephus (which kept its place as an authority on this event until lately) and the philosophical works of Philo. At this time, moreover, were composed the early Christian writings and the Apocrypha, or religious books by Jewish authors not included in the Protestant Bible. The period from 135 to 475 A. D. is noted mainly for the achievement of the scholars who worked on the Mishna, the oral law, made up of early traditions as to the meaning of the Mosaic law, and the Talmud, containing the Mishna when it had been reduced to writing, together with a commentary on it. During this period the Jews gave up the use of their own language for that of whatever country they happened to dwell in. Throughout the middle ages, especially in Spain, there were many Jews of the highest scholarship, but little real literature was produced. But one name of importance stands out from the rest, that of Maimonides, who was born at Cordova and spent part of his life there, but was forced to leave the country and settle in Egypt. He was the first of modern commentators on the Bible, and by his works, the greatest of which is Guide of the Erring, had so potent an influence on the growth of Judaism that he has often been placed next to Moses. In the 13th century the poet Jehuda Charisi wrote in Spain. The period from 1492 to 1755 is marked by the appearance of many Jewish scholars, foremost among whom was Spinoza. In modern times, under the leadership of Moses Mendelssohn, Jews have taken a prominent rank in literature, science and public life. Among them are Neander, Heine, Auerbach, Karl Marx, Lassalle, Disraeli, Halévy, Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer, Rubinstein, Grisi, Rachel, Montefiore, Rothschild, Belmont and Hirsch.
This seems to have had no gradual growth, like that of other countries. The most important part of it is religious. The Book of the Dead tells of the adventures of the soul after death. A copy of this book was placed in the coffin with the dead. The main part of the book was written not later than 3000 B. C. There also are books on the gods, hymns to the sun, proverbs and treatises on moral philosophy. Writings on magic are many. The Egyptian works on medicine show that this science was known long before 3000 B. C. We also find scientific works and many letters. We have two stories, The Two Brothers, written by the scribe Euna about the time of the Exodus, and The Romance of Setna, written in the 2d or 3d century B. C. The epic of Pentaur, the subject of which is the deeds of Rameses II, has been called the Egyptian Iliad.
The two Homeric poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, form the earliest Greek literature which has come down to us. But they are not at all like the simple ballad poetry of other countries. They are works of highly-finished art, which could not possibly have been created till poetry had flourished for a long time. These poems are epics; the name epic being given first to verses which were spoken, while lyric verses were sung, and then to the chief kind of poetry which was thus merely recited, not sung, namely, narrative poetry in hexameter verse. Hexameter verse is known to English readers by Longfellow's Evangeline. The Iliad means the poem of Ilium or Troy, a city of Mysia in the northwest of Asia Minor. Its subject is events in the ten years' siege of Troy by the Greeks. Its hero is Achilles, while that of the Odyssey is Odysseus, one of the Greek leaders at Troy, whose adventures on the homeward voyage are related. Long as these epics are, they were composed to be spoken, and were not written out till years afterward. This is true of classical Greek literature in general. Lyrics were songs sung at banquets; Herodotus, the Father of History, probably recited his accounts at the festival of the Olympian games; and Socrates, the first philosopher, never wrote a word. The Iliad and the Odyssey are said to be the work of Homer; but nothing certain is known concerning the poet or whether they are the work of any one man. In Bœotia epics were written by Hesiod, whose chief works are Theogony and Works and Days.
Lyrics were composed by Archilochus, Sappho, Alcman and many others, but the greatest lyric poet was Pindar. Of his many compositions we have odes written in praise of victorious heroes at the festival games.
Epics had been recited, evening after evening, to the family and retainers of the early chieftain at his home; lyrics had been sung at the feasts of the rich; but the drama was the outcome of a wish to reach a larger audience, the great democracy of Athens. It maintained the features of the epic, the audience being told what was supposed to take place behind the scenes, while the chorus was borrowed from the lyric. Though plays and playwrights were many, to us Æschylus, Sophocles and Euripides in tragedy and Aristophanes and Menander in comedy make the classical Greek drama.
The first historian of prominence was Herodotus of Halicarnassus, whose accounts of his travels in Asia Minor, Persia and other countries are one of the main sources of our knowledge of their early history. A far more painstaking and able historian was Thucydides, whose work on the Peloponnesian War has never been surpassed. Xenophon's writings were valuable, but are not equal to those of Thucydides.
Of the three great Greek philosophers, Socrates is known to us only through the reports of Plato and others. Plato's Dialogues are masterpieces of literary genius, while his philosophy has had the greatest influence on all thinkers since; as has also that of the more practical Aristotle, who wrote on logic, rhetoric, physics, metaphysics, natural history and politics.
Another department of literature in which the Greeks excelled was oratory. In Athens oratory was a regular business, as a suitor was compelled to speak in his own behalf and usually had a speech-writer compose a speech for him to learn and deliver as his own. For example, Lysias composed the greater part of his speeches, which are noted for their style, for his clients. Among them is the speech Against Agoratus. Antiphon's best speech, perhaps, is that On the Murder of Herodes. The greatest of all Athenian orators, however, was the statesman Demosthenes. His orations On the Crown and On the Peace and his Philippics, speeches against Philip of Macedon, are noteworthy examples.
The death of Alexander closes classical Greek literature. When political liberty ended, there ceased to be a great public which called forth an author's best efforts, and hence great works were no longer written. Without a great public, no great artist arises. Still, there were a few later writers who added luster to the times in which they lived, such as Theophrastus, the philosopher Theocritus, the poet Menander, who wrote good comedies, and Plutarch, the author of the famous Lives. See Jebb's Primer of Greek Literature.
Of literature, properly so called, there was nothing in Rome till the 3d century B. C. Marcus Porcius Cato, whose Origines (extant only in fragments) tells of the origin of Rome and some other Italian cities, is held to be the father of Latin prose. At the same time lived Ennius, a man of considerable genius, who wrote Roman history (Annales) in verse. Only fragments of the latter's works remain. In the 3d century, also, arose the drama. Andronicus, the first playwright, adapted his plays from the Greek. Of comedy the chief representative is Plautus, from whose work we have 20 plays, full of bright, witty dialogue and funny, laughable incidents. Plautus wrote at the end of the 3d and the beginning of the 2d century B. C. Soon after came Terence, six of whose comedies have come to us, which address a more refined and cultivated taste.
The drama was based on Greek plays, but the satire was wholly Roman. This was a general term to include most poetry which was not epic or dramatic. But the satire, in our sense of the term, or the really satirical satire was founded by Lucilius in the early half of the 2d century B. C. His satires were skits on the public men of the day and a free criticism of contemporary life; but we have only a few scraps of his poetry.
In the 1st century before Christ Varro was a writer of great learning on many subjects, and also a witty satirist. Cicero was ten years younger than Varro, and is held to have created a perfect prose style. His speeches show the power they must have had over the senators to whom they were addressed. He was the author also of many philosophical works. Cicero is noted more for his style than for deep thinking. Catullus was the first Roman to write lyrics in the Greek style. By many his odes are held to contain more real poetry than those of Horace. Lucretius sang of epicureanism in On the Nature of Things, which, like all of his work, is noted mainly for fine passages.
The Augustan age of Roman poetry—the latter part of the 1st prechristian century—was its greatest age, the time of Vergil, Horace and Ovid, familiar names throughout the civilized world. Vergil's Pastorals and his four Georgics, poems on farm life, are imitations of the Greek. His Æneid, in which he emulates Homer, was written to stir up Roman patriotism by tracing Rome's origin to Troy and the gods. Horace's father had been a slave, but he was given a good schooling. His Odes, though they imitate Greek lyric poetry, have much that is Roman and original. Their grace, beauty and finish of language are so exquisite as to escape even the most skillful translation. His satires and epistles were the most popular of his writings, because so full of homely common-sense. Ovid's great poem is the Metamorphoses, a collection of stories which turn on the change of men and women into animals, trees, plants or flowers.
In the same century the great prose-writers were Cæsar, Sallust and Livy. Cæsar told of his campaigns in a simple, straightforward style and in the best and purest Latin. Sallust, who wrote of the Catilinian conspiracy and the war with Jugurtha, was the first who really deserved to be called a historian. Of Livy's history of Rome the later and more important books are lost. His style is bright and picturesque.
Except for Seneca, the essayist, and Martial, the witty writer of epigrams, there was no writer of importance till the age of Domitian (81-96 A. D.), the age of Juvenal, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger and Quintilian. Juvenal's satires are bitter and savage. They grew out of his honest indignation against the vulgar rich and the fortune-hunters with whom Rome swarmed. Tacitus was a successful lawyer and a man of the world as well as a writer. His style is concise and nervous. His Agricola, the life of his father-in-law who was governor of Britain, is a masterpiece of biography. His Annals and Histories rank near Thucydides. His other main work was his Germany, a description of the region and its people. Pliny, as governor of a Roman province in Asia Minor, came into collision with the early Christians and gave his opinion of them to Emperor Trajan in a letter. His many other letters also are of interest, as illustrating sides of Roman life which would otherwise be unknown to us. Quintilian, a professor of rhetoric, has left a valuable treatise on this and kindred subjects, taking in the whole subject of education. See Wilkins' Primer of Latin Literature.
This is Christian. The oldest work we have is a translation of most of the Bible, known as the Peshito version, which is of great value to scholars. St. Ephraem, who lived in the 4th century, is the first important author. He was followed by a steady stream of writers until the 9th century, but most of their writings are lost. The work of these authors was chiefly important in that it acquainted the Arabs with classical learning. Among these scholars and authors were Jacob of Edessa, Bar-Ali and Bar-Hebræus.
Long before the time of Mohammed celebrated Arabian poets sang the feuds of tribes and the praises of heroes and fair women. During the great fairs at Mecca and Okadh (Okâz) poetic contests were held before the people, as at the Grecian games, and the prize-poems were written over again in golden letters. Among the famous poets of this early time were Na-begha and Kaab-ben-Zohair, whose verses are remarkable for pathos and rich imagery, and glow with love and hate. Literature, science and art flourished under the caliphs (750-1258 A. D.). They were most generously fostered by Almansor (754—775) and the famous Haroun-al-Rashid (786-808). Translations were made from the best Greek, Syriac and old Persian writers, schools founded and libraries gathered. While Europe was buried in the dark ages, the Arabians became a cultured race, and that almost as rapidly as the Mohammedan conquest had been achieved. The Arabs took the lead in geography, and refounded medicine, Avicenna's Canon of Medicine being the only handbook on the subject for a long time. Theology and law were based on the Koran. The collection of traditions, known as the Sunna, which gives an account of the sayings and doings of Mohammed, also is an authority. The most celebrated of the commentators on these books were Zamakhahari and Baidhawi. In philosophy the chief study of the Arabs was Aristotle, and their most famous commentator on him was Averroes, who wrote at the end of the 12th century. Albateni, who died in 929, was the greatest of their astronomers. In mathematics they introduced from India the numerals now in use, besides developing algebra and trigonometry. Perhaps the greatest historian was Masudi (died in 957), who called his work Golden Meadows. Motanebbi and Abu-Teman gathered the old poems that make up the collection Hamasah; Busiri's Bordah is a work in praise of Mohammed; and Azeddin's poem of The Birds and the Flowers was very popular. Harivi, who died in 1121, was famous for his novels, written in rhyming prose like the Koran. Romances and legendary tales abounded. The most famous were The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, The Exploits of Antar, The Exploits of the Champions and The Exploits of Bibars. From these books the tales of fays, charms, sorceries and enchantments passed into the poetry of the west. How the stories of The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments came to be told is noted by an Arabian historian. A Persian king used to marry a new bride every day, and kill her next morning. One wife was Scheherazade, who had understanding and prudence. As they sat together she began a tale, and late at night she broke it off at so interesting a point that the king next morning spared her life and at night begged her to go on with her tale. So she did for a thousand nights. Meantime she bore him a child. Presenting the child, she told of the craft she had used; and the king, whose love she had now gained, admired her sagacity and let her live. The book, we are told, was written for the Persian princess Homai, whose mother appears to be the Esther of the Bible. The Arabians obtained these stories from the Persians; additions were also made of Indian and Arabian tales. The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments has been more read than any other book of tales ever written.
The literary language of Europe, especially of Italy, during the middle ages was Latin. It was Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), who by a sublime masterpiece revealed the power and compass of the Italian tongue. That masterpiece is the Divine Comedy. Petrarch (1304-74) and Boccaccio (1313-75) with him form the trio who made the 14th century the golden age of Italian literature. Italy is the only country in which literature reached its height in its opening period. Petrarch lives in fame, not because of his many Latin books, but by reason of the unequaled beauty of his songs and sonnets, written in the despised tongue of the people. Boccaccio made a lasting place for himself among his country's great writers by his Decameron and other tales, which formed the standard of perfect Italian prose.
The revival of classical learning made the cities of Italy, especially Florence, centers of letters. On the Family is the best-known work of Alberti (1404-72), who excelled as architect, poet and prose-writer. The best work at this time consisted of narrative poems, the great names being Ariosto, the author of Orlando Furioso, and Boiardo. Machiavelli (1469-1527) was the leading historian, his Prince being translated into most modern languages. The graphic biography of Benvenuto Cellini (1500-71) the artist is a valuable picture of the times. The Pastor Fido of Giovanni Guarini (1537-1612) and the Aminta of Tasso (1544-95) are able dramas. Tasso, whose great poem was Jerusalem Delivered, ended the period in which Italian literature had been pre-eminent in Europe.
The foremost Italian of the 17th century was Galileo, whose scientific writings are penned in clear and pure prose. Alfieri, who wrote at the end of the 18th century, is the only great tragic writer that Italian literature possesses; and Manzoni, a writer of the 19th century, produced the only great Italian historical novel, The Betrothed. Silvio Pellico is known by My Prisons, his touchingly natural account of his imprisonment by the Austrians. The historians of the 19th century were Balbo, Capponi and Cantu. The eloquence and pure style of Mazzini's political writings make them valuable literature. Good poetry has been written, as the lyrics by Manzoni and the satires by Giusti. Among the best books produced since Italy became a united nation are Military Life and other works of E. de Amicis and the Autobiography of Dupré the sculptor. See Sismondi's Literature of the South of Europe.
The earliest writings of France were the love-songs of the troubadours and the verses of the trouvères on the deeds of kings and knights. Of the many early chronicles the best is Froissart's, which is still read; while the Memoirs of Comines, who lived in the reign of Louis XI, are both valuable and well-written.
The revival of classical learning in the 16th century, which stirred literature with such power in England, had a like effect in France. It produced Rabelais, “the jester of France,” and Montaigne, one of the greatest of essay-writers, the perfect style of whose essays has made them classics. Calvin, also, in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, made French prose speak with an eloquence it had never before known. The tales of Margaret of Navarre have always been popular. Clement Marot's verses were more witty than poetic, but Mathurin Régnier (1573-1613) wrote strong satirical poems.
The age of Louis XIV is a noted one in French literature, and ranks among the foremost in the world's literature. At this time Pierre Corneille, the greatest French tragedian, wrote his masterpieces, The Cid, Horace, Cinna and Polyeucte. Second only to him, Racine wrote his Andromaque, Iphigénie and Phèdre, based on Greek stories, and Athalie, taken from an incident in Hebrew history. Corneille tried comedy in The Liar, but was far outshone in this department by Molière, whose Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, The School of the Women and other plays, are as familiar to the world as those of Shakespeare. The four most famous French preachers also lived at this time — Bossuet, Bourdaloue, Massillon and Fénelon. Lafontaine wrote fables as no one has written them since. Boileau, the leading poet of the time, was greater in his influence upon the work of other poets than because of anything he himself wrote. Descartes' Discourse on Method, Malebranche's Investigation of Truth and Pascal's Thoughts were important philosophical books of the period, while the last is a most precious work to Christians of all nations. The wits of the age, who are famous still, were La Rochefoucauld and La Bruyère. Cardinal de Retz in his Memoirs of the war of the Fronde and Hamilton in his Memoirs of the Count of Grammont produced valuable historical works. Fénelon's Télémaque became immensely popular, as it was thought to censure Louis XIV. French life under that monarch is best set forth in the Letters of Madame de Sévigné to her daughter and friends.
The 18th century was an age of philosophy and bold thought. Montesquieu, whose Persian Letters were a satire on everything French, as it then was, and whose best book was The Spirit of Laws, had great influence in stirring and emboldening French thought. But it would be impossible to exaggerate Voltaire's influence on the growth of thought which ended in the French Revolution. His tragedies, as Mérope or Mahomet rank next to those of Corneille and Racine, while his miscellaneous poems are unsurpassed. His views on philosophy are set forth in his Philosophical Dictionary, and his Age of Louis XIV is still worth reading. Rousseau's influence was almost as great. His Contrat Social, which was read both by learned and ignorant throughout the country, was a direct attack on the throne. Diderot's and D'Alembert's Encyclopédie also was influential, embodying the boldest views as to society, government and religion. Buffon's Natural History, though no longer of scientific authority, is one of the French classics. Two other classics are St. Pierre's Paul and Virginia and Prévost's Manon Lescaut. The leading novel of the day was Le Sage's Gil Blas. Beaumarchais' Barber of Seville is popular still.
In the 19th century first arose what was called the romantic school, the best plays of which were written by Hugo, Dumas and Alfed de Vigny. De Vigny also wrote a good novel, Cinq-Mars, but the greatest in this department was Hugo, whose masterpiece is Les Misérables. The most popular was Dumas, whose Count of Monte Cristo and Three Guardsmen are only two among the best of his many good stories. Dumas is noted also for his style. Much less read now than formerly are two other authors of this school, Eugène Sue and George Sand. The greatest French novelist, Honoré de Balzac, belongs to what is known as the realistic school of writers. In power, no story that has been written surpasses Father Goriot or Cousin Bette, unless it be Adam Bede. Of younger writers of the same school, the foremost perhaps, are Gautier and Guy de Maupassant; while as a writer of detective stories Émile Gaboriau's File No. 113 is unequaled even by Edgar Poe's Marie Roget. The chief French poet of the century was Alfred de Musset, though Hugo was even greater in his Odes and Ballads than as a novelist or playwright; while Béranger was one of the greatest French song-writers, and Lamartine also ranked high as a poet.
The most important work of the 19th century was done in history; the leading names are Guizot, Thierry, Sismondi, Michelet, Martin, Capefigue, Thiers, Mignet, Louis Blanc, Lamartine, Napoleon III and Lanfrey. Quatrefages, Champollion, Lenormant, Renan, Cuyier, Lavoisier, Laplace, Saint Simon, Fourier and Bastiat are some of the leading scholars and scientists into whose work we cannot go. The two greatest philosophers of this period were Victor Cousin and Auguste Comte, while Taine and Sainte-Beuve perhaps were its greatest critics. See Demogeot's History of French Literature.
The famous Poem of the Cid, composed, probably, in the latter half of the 12th century, is a song of warlike deeds, picturesque and spirited. In the 15th century appeared romances of chivalry and ballads. The Amadis of Gaul, first and best of books of chivalry, contains passages of great beauty. Spanish ballads were handed down orally from generation to generation, the great mass being gathered in the 16th and 17th centuries. The most interesting are those which celebrate the national heroes and the Moorish champions against whom they fought. At the end of the 15th century appeared Celestina, novel and drama in one, which soon became most popular and was read in translation throughout Europe.
Garcilaso de la Vega, writing in the first half of the 16th century, left at his early death a small collection of the most beautiful poetry in the language. In this period the best Spanish lyrics were written, one lyric writer, Herrera, being entitled to a high place among European poets. Just when the romance of chivalry was dying a natural death, Cervantes killed it by the fun poked at it in his famous Don Quixote, which, with its quaint humor and deep insight into human nature, is the best known and best loved of Spanish books. Lope de Vega, who lived at the same time as Cervantes, was called the prodigy of nature because of the mass and variety of his works. He is best known by his dramas, of which he wrote over 2,000. Calderon's plays are noted more for their fine poetry than as dramas. Molina and Moreto, as good playwrights but not as good poets as Lope de Vega and Calderon, are only two among many dramatists of ability in the golden age of Cervantes. At the end of the 17th century Spanish power and literature sank together and completely. Among recent books Juan Valera's Pepita Ximenez is one of the best novels of the century. See Ticknor's History of Spanish Literature.
The best early chronicle of Portugal is that of Fernam Lopez (1380-1459). The oldest and still the finest tragedy is the Ines de Castro of Antonio de Ferreira (1528-69). The national pride and glory, deeply stirred by the discoveries and conquests of the nation in Asia, Africa and America, found expression in the works of Portugal's one really great poet, Camoens (1524-80). His great work is The Lusiads, which, together with his sonnets, songs and dramas, show a breadth of genius that places him in the foremost rank of European poets. With Camoens Portuguese literature reached its height. The only other writers before the 19th century who are at all noteworthy are the historians, among them De Barros (1496-1570), who wrote The Conquest of the Indies, and Brandao, who wrote The Lusitanian Monarchy. Two writers at the beginning of the 19th century wrote good poetry, F. M. do Nascimento, noted for his lyrics, and Manoel du Bocage, whose sonnets are the finest in the language. Herculano was something of a poet, but is better known as one of Portugal's finest historians. Brazilian writers have also made their mark. Of the poets, besides the two Barposas, should be mentioned Magelhaens, the most national of them all. The leading historian is Varnhagen, who wrote The General History of Brazil. See Bouterwek's History of Spanish and Portuguese Literature.
By 1642 the translation of the Bible into Finnish, which had been begun in the 16th century, was completed. There was no written literature before this, but in 1835 Dr. Elias Lönnrot gave to the world Finland's famous epic of Kalevala, popular songs taken from the lips of the peasantry during many years of research and wandering. These songs had been handed down by singers, who sang to the sound of the kantela, a sort of rude harp. The style of Kalevala may be judged from Hiawatha, which is an imitation of the Finnish poem. The great poet and dramatist of Finland was Runeberg (1804-77).
Hooft (1581-1647) was the first writer to create a good prose Dutch. He was noted also as a poet and playwright. Vondel (1587-1679) is held to be the greatest poet of Holland, and wrote dramas that are still performed. But his popularity was not equal to that of Jakob Cats (1577-1660), whose maxims for a long time, with the Bible, were the only book found in every cottage. One of Cats' followers, Van der Goes, wrote a beautiful poem on Amsterdam. Erasmus, Boerhaave, Grotius and Spinoza, who wished to be read beyond the borders of their own land, wrote in Latin, and so their works hardly belong to Dutch literature. Bilderdijk's great epic poem, The Destruction of the First World, is the best work of the 18th century, though Helmer's patriotic songs against the French were very popular. Schimmel is noted for his dramas, and Beets for his Camera Obscura and other tales. Another popular novelist is Van Lennep, some of whose stories have been translated into English. “Multatuli” (Dekker) has in Max Havelaar written a book which has been translated into most European languages, and is a work of genius.
This has been written in Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The Eddas are two collections of old Scandinavian literature. The younger or prose Edda was written by the Icelander Snorri Sturluson about 1230. It is in three parts: the first a series of stories told by the god Odin to Gylfi, a Swedish king; the second and third are on the art of poetry and prosody. The elder Edda consists of legends in verse of Scandinavian gods and heroes. It was written mainly in Iceland from the 9th to the 11th century. Of great importance also are the Icelandic sagas, which were chronicles, local and family histories and biographies, as the Christian Saga, the story of the introduction of Christianity into Iceland, and the Chronicle of the Norwegian Kings. These sagas were numerous, and many of them were masterpieces of literary writing. This is all the more remarkable when it is remembered that, when this valuable literature flourished in this out-of-the way corner of the world, Europe was sunk in ignorance.
Sagas also form the early literature of Norway. There are no distinctively Norwegian writings of ability till modern times. The creator of this modern literature was Wergeland (1808-45), who addressed his poetry to the peasants. Jansen wrote good lyrics, Garborg wrote strong tales and novels, and Björnson's tales from peasant-life are of great merit. Ibsen in his poems and plays has shown power and genius, a desire for truth and a strongly realistic way of looking at things. The same, practically, may be said of the novels of Jonas Lie.
The early Danish popular songs were collected by Vedel in 1591. In the 18th century Ludvig Holberg wrote stories, poems and plays, and founded Copenhagen Theater. His most popular plays were The Pewter Statesman and The Arabian Powder. His History of Denmark is a standard work. The next poet of first rank was Johannes Evald, who, besides his plays of Balder's Death, The Harlequin Patriot etc., wrote the national song, King Christian at the High Mast Stands. The popular lyric poet was Jens Baggesen, while the leading poet of the 19th century is Adam Oehlenschläger, among whose plays are Baldur the Good and Gods of the North. The great novelist of Denmark was Hans Christian Andersen, who, however, is best known by his short tales and fairy-stories, which have been translated into most modern languages. The contemporary writer, Georg Brandes, born in 1842, has won fame as critic and littérateur, especially as a student and expositor of Shakespeare.
The earliest Swedish literature was the heroic and chivalric ballads. In the 14th century chronicles and some lyrics were written. Stjernhjelm (1598-1672) first wrote sonnets, and his best masque is The Captive Cupid. The great botanist, Linné, powerfully influenced literary activity by his own work and through the pupils that surrounded him, many of whom became celebrated. In theology in the 18th century the great name was Swedenborg. Bellman (1740-95) was a song-writer of power. The foremost Swedish historian is Geijer (1783-1847), while Tegnér (1782-1846) is the chief poet of the country. His Frithiof's Saga, translated by Holcomb and by Sherman, is an epic worthy of Scott. Other leading modern poets were Franzén, Atterbom, the historian Geijer and Stagnelius. One of the best of Swedish tragedies is the Eric XIV of Börjesson; while no comedies stand higher than those of three women: Fredrika Bremer, E. S. Carlén and Mme. Schwartz. Perhaps the most powerful Swedish novel is The Last Athenian by Viktor Rydberg.
This dates back to the rude literatures of the races whose union has formed the German people. Charlemagne made a collection of German popular poetry, and during the days of chivalry many nobles and men of humbler birth belonged to the minnesinger or singers of love, who roamed from castle to castle and court to court, and sang the history of Troy and the story of King Arthur and his knights. It is to this period that the greatest treasures of German national literature belong, the Nibelungen Lied and Gudrun, epic poems telling of the heroic combats of the gallant Sigfried and how he won the hand of Kriemhild, the world's wonder of grace and beauty, the daughter of King Gunther; of Brunhilde, the unconquerable warrior-queen; of the Nibelungen treasure sunk in the Rhine; of Etzel (Attila) the Hun; and of the great battle and death of the heroes in Hungary. In the 15th century the mysteries and passion plays were at their height, which still linger in a few places (notably Oberammergau) and gave origin to the German drama. During the Reformation Luther's translations of the Bible fixed the literary language of the Germans, and his beautiful hymns are still sung.
The brilliant epoch of modern German literature begins with Lessing, and since his time every branch of scholarship and learning has been enriched by German genius, and the Germans are acknowledged the foremost scholars of the day. In philosophy the intellectual brilliancy and keenness of Kant, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel have few parallels in any other country; and such names as Schopenhauer, Von Hartman and Lotze may well be mentioned. Paulus, De Wette, Neander, Baur, Straus, Wellhausen and others brought new life into the study of the Bible, and in history Ranke, Niebuhr and Mommsen, among others, are of world-wide reputation. The travels and works of Humboldt gave impetus to the taste for scientific inquiry. In poetry and prose the name of Goethe is a host in itself, and closely associated with him is the name of Schiller, whose early works threw the whole German people into a frenzy of excitement, Schlegel and Tieck made Shakespeare talk German. Jean Paul Richter, the satirist and humorist, during the closing years of the 18th and the early part of the 19th century exerted a mighty influence over the middle classes. In the middle of the 19th century Heine ranked with Goethe and Schiller. Gustav Freytag, one of the oldest, is also the most eminent, of recent novelists; and among other names in fiction may be mentioned Ebers. Fritz Reuter is one of the greatest of German humorists. See Hosmer's History of German Literature.
The earliest writings of Englishmen cannot be read to-day except by scholars. Part of these are in Latin and part in Anglo-Saxon. The first great poet of England was Geoffrey Chaucer, born probably in 1340. A scholar as well as a man of the world, he early in life studied the French romances of love and chivalry, his first great work being a translation of the Romance of the Rose into English verse. In the same strain were his Court of Love and other early poems. But there was another literature which he studied in later years, which greatly influenced him and his successors for a century and a half; this was the Italian. Dante had lived in the generation before Chaucer; Petrarch and Boccaccio were men of his own time. Chaucer's Troilus and Cressida, his Assembly of Fowls and some of his Canterbury Tales are founded on Boccaccio. The greatest and most famous of Chaucer's works, is the Canterbury Tales. The plan of the poem is the journey of 30 pilgrims from London to Canterbury, to visit the shrine of St. Thomas à Becket, the journey being enlivened by the telling of a series of stories by the travelers in turn. First, a prologue describes each of the company, then come the stories, most of them told in verse of most exquisite music. Chaucer is a poet of real life, not of manners and the outside of society. In the same age appeared the first prose works in what would be recognized by most people of to-day as readable English. The most important are the writings of John Wiclif, who in 1382 furnished the people the first English Bible. His tracts on the abuses of the church, written in plain and powerful English, had great influence throughout the country and in Bohemia.
The 15th century was barren of important works. Before the middle of the century printing was invented, not by accident, but because of the hitherto unheard-of demand for books. The reawakening of classical learning in Europe was another great event of this century. During the middle ages the literature of Greece and the greater part of the most brilliant Roman literature had been lost to western Europe. In Constantinople Greek scholarship and much of Greek literature lingered. A desire to learn the Greek language, a thirst to read Homer and Plato, had been awakened in the preceding age, and when in 1453 Greek scholars were driven from Constantinople by the Turks and forced to gain a livelihood by teaching, they found the west eager to learn and read. Printers began to publish these classics, and young scholars from England rushed to Italy to study under the new teachers. To this new knowledge of the greatness of the past was added the discovery of America. The world grew larger and richer to men; they began to see and wonder and think. Thus began the modern era.
The Reformation came after Erasmus's Greek Testament, while our present English Bible we owe to Tindale more than to any other man. The spirit of what was called the new learning, as well as that of social, political and religious reformation, found expression in the Utopia of Sir Thomas More, written in Latin and describing an ideal state on the island of Nowhere. The two poets of the reign of Henry VIII who are best known to our times are the two friends, Wyatt and Surrey. They, like Chaucer, had studied the poets of Italy. Both were of noble birth and the highest courtly accomplishments, and both wrote sonnets, metrical versions of the Psalms and love-poems of great fervor.
The great Elizabethan literature reached far into the reign of James I. England became a land of poets; Sidney, Raleigh, Hall, Donne, Peele, Marlowe, Daniel, Drayton, Greene and a host of others filled the island with the voice of song; and Spenser and Shakespeare alone would have made their age famous. At the beginning of the period Thomas Sackville planned a series of poems on great men of English history who had been cut down by trouble, called A Mirror for Magistrates. The part of it that was finished is poetry of power. But the greatest non-dramatic poet of that age was Edmund Spenser, whose pastoral poem, The Shepherd's Calendar, first gave him reputation and favor at Queen Elizabeth's court. His masterpiece is The Faerie Queene, a poem of chivalry, full of encounters of knights, combats with giants and dragons, with many a rescue of the weak by the valiant. As a mere story it is a poem of great power, but under the guise of chivalrous adventures the poet wrought out a supreme allegory of life.
It was in this age that the drama rose to a height never reached before or since. Dramatic representations began in England as early as the 12th century in the form of miracle plays, the subjects being Bible stories and legends from the lives of the saints. Later, allegorical plays called moralities were in vogue. But in the latter half of the 16th century was born the modern English drama, the drama of real life. How sudden was this outburst of dramatic genius is seen in the fact that in less than 50 years after the first rude tragedy, Hamlet and Lear were created. Greene, Peele, Lyly, Marlowe and their companions, brilliant and eager young men, attached themselves to the stage and made it and themselves suddenly famous. Marlowe is a type of the class, raising himself to fame by a tragedy produced just after leaving the university and writing several plays of great power. His Doctor Faustus, founded on the same story as Goethe's Faust, is a tragedy of terrible power, and has passages worthy of Shakespeare.
But in the last 20 years of Elizabeth's reign, when Marlowe and his friends were in their glory, the greatest of poets arose and eclipsed them all. The plays of Shakespeare fill the period from 1585 to 1616, when the poet died. It is impossible here to give any worthy account of these great works. The plays, early classified as comedies, tragedies and histories, embody all the feelings and passions of the human soul; they possess such wealth of imagination, largeness and many-sidedness of thought and power to touch every chord of feeling and teach every kind of wisdom as set them apart from all other works of human genius.
Next after Shakespeare, in order of time and merit, comes his friend Ben Jonson, who wrote in the reigns of James I and Charles I. Most of his plays were comedies and masques. The masques were entertainments, not for the theater, but for the court, with little dialogue but with much costly scenery and costumes and with mythical characters, as nymphs and river-gods. As a song-writer Jonson had few equals. Beaumont and Fletcher lived at the same time as Jonson, and wrote joint plays which by some critics are ranked next to those of Shakespeare.
Roger Ascham, at the beginning of this period, wrote clear and vigorous prose in his Toxophilus and his Schoolmaster. John Lyly in his Euphues indulged in a fantastic style which was named euphuism from the title of his book. Sir Philip Sidney's famous Arcadia is a romance with all the impossibilities and enchantment of a story of mediaeval times. His Defense of Poetry is one of the earliest attempts at literary criticism in English. Richard Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, the first book of which has been compared to the peal of a cathedral organ, is a work of genius. It is a defense of the Church of England as established under Elizabeth. In 1597 Francis Bacon published 10 short essays: in the latest edition there were 58. Nothing equal to them in any way has ever been written since. His Advancement of Learning is a view of knowledge as it then was. His great work in Latin, Novum Organum, is a treatise on the inductive philosophy. This, the true method of studying nature, was not created by Bacon, but he held it up before the world in such a light as to make its claims seen and felt and to earn for himself the title of Father of Modern Science.
John Milton, born in 1608, ranking next to Shakespeare among English poets, wrote in three distinct periods. That of his early poems began in his boyhood, the noble Hymn on the Nativity being written before he left the university. His two companion pieces, L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, show, the one, cheerful sympathy with the bright side of nature and life, and the other, sober thought on the earnestness and mystery which belong to them. The elegy Lycidas and the masque Comus are others of his early poems. Milton's second period as a writer was spent in defending Parliament against Charles I. For 20 years he poured forth tracts and treatises, the most eloquent of which is his Areopagitica, a plea for the freedom of the press. His last period as a writer gave to the world the tragedy of Samson Agonistes and the epics of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. Paradise Lost is his masterpiece and the greatest English epic.
Among the theological writers of Milton's time was Jeremy Taylor, whose sermons are famous in literature. Holy Living and Holy Dying and Liberty of Prophesying are his best-known books. George Herbert's religious poetry is good, as are also the love-poems of Lovelace, Herrick, Cowley and Waller. To the era of the Restoration belongs the immortal prose allegory of the Bedford tinker and nonconformist preacher, The Pilgrim's Progress of John Bunyan.
The greatest writer of the Restoration was John Dryden, whose many plays were highly popular. His Absalom and Achitophel has been called the most powerful satire in English verse. Another satire was Mac Flecknoe, while Religio Laici and Hind and Panther are religious discussions in verse.
In this period, from Charles II to Anne, modern science arose on the foundation laid by Bacon; Newton's Principia was an epoch-making book. At this time, also, John Locke and Thomas Hobbes wrote on politics and metaphysics. Their chief books are Hobbes' Leviathan and Locke's famous Essay on the Human Understanding.
The literature of the reign of Queen Anne was second only to that of the Elizabethan age. The famous essays of Richard Steele and Joseph Addison appeared in The Tatler, The Spectator and The Guardian, periodicals mostly made up of these and other essays. The most forcible prose-writer of the age was Jonathan Swift, whose Tale of a Tub is a satire against all churchmen outside the Anglican state-church; while Gulliver's Travels is an ingenious and humorous satire against mankind.
Alexander Pope was the chief poet of the day. His Essay on Criticism was written at 21. His Rape of the Lock and his Dunciad are keen and bitter satires. The Essay on Man is full of brilliant sayings, often quoted. Thomson's Seasons showed a heart in love with nature. Gray's Elegy and Ode on Eton College are perfect specimens of finished verse, as are also the Odes of William Collins.
Defoe's Robinson Crusoe is the one of his many works that has given him lasting fame. Samuel Richardson's Pamela was the first modern novel. A much greater writer, Henry Fielding, followed him, whose Tom Jones is one of the best of English novels. Then came Sterne with his wonderful humor, exemplified in his Tristram Shandy.
In history Hume and Robertson gave a new character and aim to the treatment of the past; and Hume's History of England and Robertson's History of Scotland and History of Charles V were the first of what might be called modern histories. Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire took even higher rank. In philosophy and kindred subjects the great names were Berkeley, Hume, Adam Smith (Wealth of Nations) and Joseph Butler (Analogy).
Johnson and Goldsmith are brilliant examples of the miscellaneous writers of their day. Johnson's Lives of the Poets is that one of his works which is most read at present. Some of these essays are classics. Goldsmith's Traveller and Deserted Village are charming poems; She Stoops to Conquer is one of the most successful of English plays; and The Vicar of Wakefield long was a favorite novel wherever English is read.
Cowper's poetry had great influence on later poets. His chief poem is The Task; John Gilpin shows his humor; Lines on the Receipt of My Mother's Picture his tenderness. The poems of Burns have a depth and intensity of passion and sweetness of rhythm that have made them widely popular. Among them are Highland Mary, Tam O'Shanter and The Cottar's Saturday Night.
The fullness of the literature of the 19th century makes it impossible to go into details. A new poetry of imagination and feeling had begun to spring up before the century opened. Coleridge devoted but a small part of his life to poetry, but his Christabel, The Ancient Mariner and Love are gems of English verse. Wordsworth's Excursion is but a fragment of a vast plan. Walter Scott was the poet of the Scotch chivalric legends, which he embodied in the Lay of the Last Minstrel, Marmion and The Lady of the Lake. But Scott left poetry for fiction when Byron suddenly became the first poet of the day. Byron, Shelley and Keats were poets of imagination and passion. Campbell and Southey would have had much greater reputations as poets had it not been for the brilliant galaxy that shone around them. Robert Browning and Mrs. Browning have a firm place among English poets, while Tennyson (1809-92) was the greatest poet of the past century and its chief representative of that grand English song which has done much to elevate the national character and refine the human heart.
In 1802 a few brilliant young men started the Edinburgh Review. Other reviews and magazines followed, and for them much of the most brilliant writing of the first half of the century was done by such men as Brougham, Mackintosh, Lockhart, Wilson (“Christopher North”), Macaulay, Carlyle, Lamb and De Quincey.
Beginning with Scott's 30 odd novels, which have entranced the world by their wonderful stories so vividly told, and coming through those of Thackeray, Dickens, George Eliot, Charlotte Bronté, Charles Reade, Anthony Trollope, Wilkie Collins, Dinah M. Muloch, Bulwer-Lytton, Charles Kingsley, George Macdonald, R. D. Blackmore and George Meredith to those of Wm. Black, Thomas Hardy, J. M. Barrie, Walter Besant, Rudyard Kipling, Hall Caine, S. R. Crockett, Conan Doyle and Mrs. Humphry Ward, the novel has become the largest department of English literature.
In the number of these writers of fiction, naturally the range covered by the novel in our time is an enormous and varied one. There hardly is a domain which is deemed foreign to it, even outside its natural field of adventure, with its pictures of social life and its studies in and portrayal of character. Happily its legitimate function of entertainment in a wearying and engrossing age has not been lost, in spite of the ultrarealistic tendencies of the novel and its degenerating trend in the hands of ambitious but unpleasant and sometimes unwholesome writers. In this prolific department of literature it is gratifying to find the public taste, in the main, quickly nauseated with the pernicious in fiction and reverting, with unfeigned pleasure, to the historical romance in the successors of the gallant school of Scott.
The student of history has in the past half-century had much to entertain as well as instruct him in many solid and enduring contributions. The writers are many who have brought not only high scholarship, industry and great powers of research, but the rare gifts of animated and picturesque style. The master historians include—besides Macaulay, Carlyle, Grote, Milman, Hallam, Merivale, Buckle, Lecky, Stubbs, Freeman, Rawlinson, Green, Seeley, Creasy and Stephen—men of almost equal eminence, as S. R. Gardiner, James Bryce, Goldwin Smith, Herbert Paul and Justin McCarthy. Much of the work of these writers has enriched thought as well as informed the mind. Nor ought we to neglect to speak of the men who have done much excellent work in departments akin to that of the historian. We refer to the writers, among whom are jurists, university lecturers, professors and other eminent men of letters, who by their research have thrown light on English political institutions and the recent trend of the nation in legislation as well as in national expansion. A few of these may be cited, as E. S. Creasy, who wrote authoritatively on The Rise and Progress of the English Constitution; T. Erskine May on Parliamentary Law and Usage as well as on the Constitutional History of England since George III and on Democracy in Europe; Henry Maine on Popular Government and International Law; Frederick Pollock on The Science of Politics and the History of English Law; and R. F. D. Palgrave on The House of Commons, with illustrations of its history and practice. Further and helpful light on the politics and political problems of the time is afforded by the memoirs of prominent statesmen and the many instructive biographies which recent years have produced. Among the more important of these may be mentioned the many biographies of Mr. Gladstone, notably those by John Morley and by G. Barnett Smith, who also wrote a Life of John Bright, sketches of The Prime Ministers of Queen Victoria and a History of the English Parliament. Baron Rowton's monograph on Lord Beaconsfield (Benjamin Disraeli) should also be known to the modern student of English politics, as well as the monographs in the English Statesmen Series; H. D. Traill's Marquis of Salisbury in the Queen's Prime Ministers Series; John Morley's Life of Richard Cobden; Leslie Stephen's Life of Henry Fawcett; Andrew Lang's Life and Letters of Sir Stafford Northcote (Earl of Iddesleigh); Winston Spencer Churchill's Life of Lord Randolph Churchill; Herbert Paul's illuminative Modern England; and Lord Rosebery's Lives of William Pitt and Sir Robert Peel and his Questions of Empire. In the record of notable books in politics and the political life of the motherland it is proper to note the important treatise on The American Commonwealth by James Bryce, dealing with the American constitution and its development, a work which has been written not only with a scholar's dispassionateness but with remarkable intelligence and sympathy. Here also we must chronicle J. R. Seeley's Expansion of England; Lord Cromer's Modern Egypt; Sir Alfred Lyall's The Rise of the British Dominion in India; and the instructive series of political biographies connected with England's dominion in India, edited by Sir W. W. Hunter, under the title of Rulers of India. The series embraces the lives of the great English consuls and governors-general in India, from the era of Clive, Cornwallis and Hastings to that of Dalhousie, Canning, Lawrence and Mayo.
Wide and entertaining is the field of general biography, in the department that deals with the lives and work of contemporary men outside the ranks of statesmen and politicians. Our limited space will permit the mention of but a few productions of note that are likely to endure. Perhaps the more useful to the student consulting these pages are those that deal with littérateurs and include the monographs of recent years on the great writers of the English motherland. Of these, John Morley's series of English Men of Letters has the merit, not only of compactness of form as well as of modest cost, but the special advantage of being written by literary specialists of eminence, of keen critical powers, trained judgment and, as a rule, fine qualities in writing English prose. Besides these may be mentioned such works as Trevelyan's Life of Macaulay, Froude's Life of Carlyle, Uowden's Life of Shelley, Forster's Life of Dickens, Stanley's Life of Thomas Arnold, Saintsbury's Matthew Arnold, Colonel Maurice's Life of Frederick Denison Maurice, Collingwood's John Ruskin, Harrison's Tennyson, Mill and Ruskin, Stopford Brooke's Tennyson and His Art, Prothero's Life of Dean Stanley and Leonard Huxley's Life and Letters of Prof. T. H. Huxley. A colossal undertaking also deserves to be noted—the 60 volumes of the Dictionary of National Biography, which has recently been completed under the editorship first of Leslie Stephen and finally of Sidney Lee.
The transition is natural to the essay and the numberless writers in modern belles-lettres. The age is rich in workers here, especially in poetry, art and criticism. One of the sanest and most thoughtful of these critics was Richard Holt Hutton, the late editor of the London Spectator, who wrote largely and with earnestness on modern philosophical, literary and religious topics. To single out but one of his works we may mention Criticisms on Contemporary Thought and Thinkers. Another of these writers of eminence is George Saintsbury, professor of English literature at the University of Edinburgh. Besides his History of Nineteenth Century Literature (1790-1895), he has compiled an excellent collection of Specimens of English Prose Style, and written Essays on English Literature and a Short History of French Literature. Leslie Stephen was another able and competent critic, whose Hours in a Library, Studies of a Biographer and History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century repay perusal. Frederic Harrison is yet another well-equipped writer, of the positivist school, whose Victorian Literature, study of Oliver Cromwell, The New Calendar of Great Men, The Meaning of History and inspiring Choice of Books are worthy of attention and study. Nor should Walter H. Pater's writings be overlooked, especially Appreciations, Imaginary Portraits and Studies in the History of the Renaissance. Important also are the Essays and Addresses by A. I. Balfour; as are also the writings of Benjamin Kidd on Social Evolution, Principles of Western Civilization and Control of the Tropics. The late Mrs. Oliphant was an industrious and interesting writer in general literature. Mark Pattison, Austin Dobson, A. C. Swinburne, Le Gallienne, Aubrey de Vere, Edmund Gosse, Augustine Birrell and versatile Andrew Lang are additional names among the instructive and delightful essayists. Even a brief reference must be made to writers in religious philosophy among English churchmen and others, who have done excellent as well as thoughtful work, and in apologetics, and have chronicled the trend of the great religious movements of the period. Especially have they done good work in their defense of theistic beliefs after the assaults of Darwinism and evolution. A few of these writers we mention with their chief works: James Martineau's Religion as Affected by Modern Materialism and The Seat of Authority in Religion; R. Flint's Philosophy of History in Europe and Theism and anti-Theistic Theories; John Caird's Evolution of Religion; A. M. Fairbairn's Studies in the Philosophy of Religion and History and Religion in History and Modern Life; Trench on Miracles and Whately on Christian Evidences. Here also may be chronicled Wilfrid Ward's The Oxford Movement and the Catholic Revival and Charles Gore's Lux Mundi, an attempt to harmonize High Churchism with advanced thought in modern science and biblical criticism. Other writers deserve brief mention, among them Dean Stanley who wrote the Jewish Church and Church and State; Robertson Smith on the Old Testament in the Jewish Church and The Prophets of Israel; Mandell Creighton on the History of the Papacy during the Reformation, The Tudors and the Reformation and The Age of Elizabeth. Dean Mansel's Bampton Lectures, Dean Farrar's Early Days of Christianity, Life of Christ, Life and Work of St Paul and Witness of History to Christ and Dr. William Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, Dictionary of Christian Biography and Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities are additional works that merit notice.
The past half-century also was the era of the investigation of facts. Darwin, Lyell, Faraday, Tyndall and Huxley made science clear and charming. The great names in philosophy were Stewart, Brown, Mansel, Hamilton and Stuart Mill. In philosophy the chief figure was Herbert Spencer, an author of ability, who wrote largely on evolutionary sociology, but more from the mechanical than from the moral side. Since Tennyson and Browning the poets have been mainly minor ones, including Edwin Arnold, Wm. Morris, the Rossettis, Kipling, Alfred Austin and Wm. Watson. See Henry Morley's Short Sketch of English Literature, John Morley's English Men of Letters Series, Stedman's Victorian Poets, Taine's English Literature and Mrs. Oliphant's Victorian Age of English Literature. G. M. A.
|Geoffrey Chaucer||Ben Jonson|
|Sir Phillip Sidney||Edmund Spenser|
|John Dryden||Francis Bacon|
|GREAT ENGLISH WRITERS PREVIOUS TO THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY|
|For portraits of Shakespeare and Milton, see text|
|Copyright, 1904, by C. B. Beach|
|Joseph Addison||Jonathan Swift|
|Alexander Pope||Robert Burns|
|Samuel Johnson||Oliver Goldsmith|
|ENGLISH WRITERS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY|
|Copyright, 1904, by C. B. Beach|
|Wm. M. Thackeray||George Eliot|
(Mary Ann Evans)
|Thomas De Quincey||John Ruskin|
|Charles Dickens||Thomas Carlyle|
|ENGLISH NOVELISTS AND PROSE WRITERS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY|
|Copyright, 1904, by C. B. Beach|
Colonial literature (1607-1765) mainly is sources of history, not literature proper. In Virginia, though the first press was set up in 1681, it was soon suppressed, and nothing was printed before 1729. William and Mary College received its charter in 1693. Among the early Virginian books the most noteworthy were the True Relation (1608) and the General History of Virginia (1624) of famous Capt. John Smith. Others had a hand in the latter book, though passing under his name. The one early Virginian romance, the charming story of Pocohantas, is told by Smith. Other books of importance were the Westover Manuscripts of Col. William Byrd and the Virginian histories of Robert Berkeley and William Stith. A printing press was set up at Cambridge, Mass., in 1639. In 1636, only 16 years after the landing of the Pilgrims, Harvard College was founded and Yale in 1701. The first book printed in America north of Mexico was a collection of the Psalms in metre, The Bay Psalm-Book (1639-40). One of its chief editors was John Eliot, the Apostle to the Indians, who translated the Bible into the Algonquin language. The most important accounts of the settlement of New England are the journals of Governors Winthrop and Bradford. In the dry entries of Winthrop's History of New England are scattered the germs of much of the poetry and romance of Longfellow, Whittier and Hawthorne. But the book which best details the life and thought of old New England life is Cotton Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana, a mass of materials for the history of the colonial church. Mather wrote in the full style of Milton, overweighted with learning, puns, stories and italics. He took a leading part in the witchcraft trials, of which he gave an account in his Wonders of the Invisible World. The religion of New England was Calvinism, and its great expounder was Jonathan Edwards, a Massachusetts minister, president of Princeton College and one of the greatest thinkers America has produced. His masterpiece, An Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will (1754), attempts to reason Calvinistic doctrines out philosophically. His sermons, as was then common, were addressed to man's fear of God rather than to God's love for man, and his most famous sermon was Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. This, however, showed but one side of his character; the kindlier is seen in his Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections. Benjamin Franklin, of whom Turgot the French statesman said: “He snatched the thunderbolt from heaven and the scepter from tyrants,” was the most useful of men. His bent was to the practical in his writings. Poor Richard's Almanac, begun in 1732 and maintained for 25 years, was filled with proverbs in prose and verse, teaching the value of work, honesty and economy: as “Three removes are as bad as a fire” and “Early to bed and early to rise make a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Next to the Almanac his most popular work was his Autobiography; but some of his lighter pieces, with their homely wisdom, are equally good, as the famous story of the Whistle, Dialogue between Franklin and the Goat and verses on Paper.
Literature from the Revolution to 1815 was mostly political. The fame of the speeches of Samuel Adams, James Otis and Josiah Quincy in Massachusetts and of Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee in Virginia comes to us mostly by tradition, though Patrick Henry's speeches are preserved at least in substance. The most famous is his speech in the convention of delegates ending with the well-known sentence: “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” The political essays of such patriots as Adams, Otis, Quincy, Warren and Hastings, published in the newspapers, greatly helped the course of liberty. Among them were the Circular Letter to Each Colonial Legislature of Adams and Otis, Quincy's Observations on the Boston Port-Bill and Otis' Rights of the British Colonies. The Declaration of Independence is credited to Thomas Jefferson. Another noteworthy writing of his was his first Inaugural Address. His Notes on Virginia contain a fine description of the passage of the Potomac through the Blue Ridge. The great orator of the Federal party was Alexander Hamilton, whose finest speech perhaps is the one On the Expediency of Adopting the Federal Constitution. But the best thought of the Federal party is contained in the 85 papers, called The Federalist, written by Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison. The best known of Washington's writings is his Farewell Address. During John Adams' administration the best Federal orator was Fisher Ames, whose best speech was made in Congress in 1796 on the British treaty. Thomas Paine came to Philadelphia from England in 1774, and wrote his Common Sense and Crisis in aid of the colonial cause. His pamphlets were popular, easily understood by plain people, and did great service to the American cause. He afterwards went to France, where he wrote his Rights of Man and The Age of Reason, his best-known work.
The popular poem of Revolutionary times was John Trumbull's McFingal, a satire on the American loyalists or tories. Droll and genuinely humorous, it is one of the best American political satires. Many of its lines have become proverbs, as the couplet:
|“||No man e'er felt the halter draw|
|With good opinion of the law.”|
Joel Barlow, whose huge Columbiad is merely grandiose, wrote one piece of good humor, his Hasty Pudding. A number of ballads had wide circulation. Yankee Doodle was the outgrowth of the Revolution, the chorus being taken from an old Dutch song and first applied in derision to the colonists by British soldiers. A popular humorous ballad was The Battle of the Kegs, written by Francis Hopkinson, whose son Joseph wrote Hail Columbia. Much better than Hail Columbia is The Star-Spangled Banner, written during the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1812, by Francis Scott Key. The first real American poet was Philip Freneau, whose best poems are Wild Honeysuckle, Indian Student and Indian Burying-Ground, the last of which was highly praised by Sir Walter Scott. Another American to receive high praise abroad was John Woolman, a New Jersey Quaker, of whose Journal Charles Lamb wrote: “Get the writings of John Woolman by heart, and love the early Quakers.”
The time between 1815 and 1837 has been called the era of good feeling. The Mississippi valley was being rapidly settled. “Westward the course of empire takes its way” expressed the feeling of the emigrants; and ideas of the greatness of America, such as the Revolutionary fathers had never imagined, were dawning upon men's minds. It was at this time, when Sydney Smith had sneeringly asked: “Who reads an American book?” that American literature of genuine worth began to be produced. The first of our writers whose books were read for their own sake, and not merely to find out about the men and times described, was Washington Irving. His Sketch Book, in some respects his best work, consists of tales, sketches and essays, two of which, the famous story of Rip Van Winkle and the legend of Sleepy Hollow, he wove from the old Dutch traditions of the Hudson. He used these traditions also in the book which gave him his reputation, Knickerbocker's History of New York, a burlesque account of the old Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam. This was a real addition to humorous literature. Irving's most ambitious work, his Life of Washington, remains an authority, but the most notable of his biographies is the Life of Oliver Goldsmith. Joseph Rodman Drake, a promising poet who died when he was only 25, wrote the best of our patriotic lyrics, The American Flag, while his Culprit Fay was the finest poem yet written in America, except Bryant's Thanatopsis (1816). A friend of Drake was Fitz-Greene Halleck, whose Alnwick Castle and especially his Marco Bozzaris will always be remembered. James Fenimore Cooper was the first American novelist of note, as he still is the most widely read. His earliest success was The Spy, a tale of the Revolution. His sea-tales, the best of which are The Pilot and The Red Rover, are only rivaled, not surpassed, by those of Marryat and William Clark Russell. Cooper created the novel of the sea and of the backwoods; but in his stories of wild adventure in the wilderness he has no rivals. The hero of the famous Leatherstocking Tales, Natty Bumpo or Leatherstocking, the backwoods philosopher, is Cooper's finest character. Almost as good are his Indian characters, known to all America and Europe, Chingachgook, Uncas, Hist and the Huron warriors. A number of single poems written at this period have kept their popularity, as John Howard Payne's Home, Sweet Home, Samuel Woodworth's The Old Oaken Bucket, Richard Henry Wilde's My Life is Like the Summer Rose and Albert Gorton Greene's Old Grimes. The senate was made illustrious by the speeches of Clay, Webster and Calhoun. Calhoun was greater as a debater than as an orator. Clay's speeches depended so much for their effect on his voice and personality that the mere reading of them reveals only the smoldering embers of the fire once there. With Daniel Webster, perhaps the greatest of English-speaking orators, the case is different. Webster's great underlying thought was the Union, and the power and passion with which this thought is expressed in his speeches made them lasting literature. Rufus Choate perhaps ranks next to Webster, while Edward Everett's speeches are more polished than powerful. William Ellery Channing gave his time and thought to the Unitarian movement in Massachusetts, of which he was the head; but his critical essays on John Milton and Napoleon Bonaparte rank high.
The movement in Massachusetts, known as transcendentalism, which by-and-large was the ideal philosophy of Kant applied to religion, nature and life, is related to literature in that to it we owe not only its leaders, Emerson and Thoreau, but in great measure Hawthorne, Lowell, Whittier and Holmes, the leading writers from 1837 to the Civil War. The center of the movement was Concord, where was published The Dial, which contained some of the best prose and poetry published in America. Emerson's views are set forth in Nature and his address on the American Scholar, but he will be longest remembered by his Essays, bis published lectures, Conduct of Life, Society and Solitude and Representative Men, writings which are rich and striking and teach a high morality. Thoreau, the poet-naturalist, wrote of nature as no one else had then done. Among his books are Walden, Cape Cod, A Yankee in Canada and Maine Woods. Hawthorne, the greatest American novelist, wrote Mosses from an Old Manse, a collection of stories, as was also his first important venture, Twice-Told Tales. His greatest book is The Scarlet Letter, with quiet and fine humor, grasp of human nature and a powerful story, whose background is the somber life of the early settlers of New England. The House of the Seven Gables is almost equally good. Besides these and his Notebooks, Marble Faun and The Blithedale Romance, Hawthorne wrote two first-class children's books, The Wonder-Book and Tanglewood Tales. Harvard College, as well as Concord, was a center of literature. Longfellow, though not one of its graduates, was identified with Cambridge for over 50 years. His first prominence came from Voices of the Night (1839). Some of the pieces in this collection are as fine as any he afterwards wrote—as Hymn to Night, The Reaper and the Flowers and The Beleaguered City. Others of his smaller pieces are the fine ballads of The Skeleton in Armor, The Wreck of the Hesperus Seaweed, The Old Clock on the Stair and The Building of the Ship. Evangeline, the story of an Acadian peasant-girl, appeared in 1847. Hiawatha, the most original of Longfellow's poems, came out in 1856. Longfellow is the most widely read of any American poet—one reason being that he wrote for the home; and it would be hard to overstate the influence for good of his writings. Hundreds of thousands of copies of them have been sold in America and England.
Oliver Wendell Holmes' well-known ballad of Old Ironsides first gained him notice. Most of his poetry is humorous, and of the finest; as Rip Van Winkle, M. D., The Boys and The One-Hoss Shay. Some pieces, though, are pathetic as well as humorous, as The Last Leaf, which Abraham Lincoln called “inexpressibly touching;” or exquisitely beautiful, as The Chambered Nautilus. His masterpiece, however, is his table-talk, The Autocrat at the Breakfast Table, in which Holmes put the best of his humor, satire and sense. Lowell, besides being one of our leading poets and perhaps the greatest American critic, was a native of Cambridge. His popularity came with the appearance of The Biglow Papers (1846), rhymed satires on the government in its conduct of the Mexican War and in Yankee dialect. A second series came out during the Civil War. His critical papers, which took high rank, appeared as Among My Books, My Study Windows, and in other titles. The oldest of our leading historians was Prescott, who, in spite of being almost blind, entertained the world with brilliantly tinted histories of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Conquest of Mexico, and the Conquest of Peru. George Bancroft spent over half a century on his History of the United States, which comes down only to 1789, but is written with a thoroughness that leaves nothing to be desired. He supplemented it with a volume on the federal constitution. Our greatest historians are Motley, Parkman and Fiske; Motley's Rise of the Dutch Republic, History of the United Netherlands and Life of John of Barneveldt tell the story of the Netherlands with the brilliancy of Prescott, while the leading characters are painted with a far more masterly hand. Parkman's A Half Century of Conflict (1892) is the seventh and last of his invaluable series of histories entitled France and England in North America. His Oregon Trail sketched his adventures when, fresh from Harvard, he visited the far west. His Conspiracy of Pontiac reads more like a novel than a history. Among the later historians we must include such writers as Capt. A. T. Mahan, who has contributed much on the naval history of the nation and on The Influence of Sea-Power upon History, besides biographies of Admiral Farragut and Lord Nelson; Benjamin Lossing, who wrote interestingly on the War of Independence, the War of 1812 and the Civil War; Henry Adams, who is well-known by his History of the United States in the early years of the 19th century, Documents relating to New England Federalism, Historical Essay and lives of Albert Gallatin and John Randolph; E. Benj. Andrews, who, besides his Brief Institutes of General and of Constitutional History, has written two Histories of the United States, the later one dealing with the last quarter-century; Albert Bushnell Hart, familiar to students of American political history by his American Government, The Formation of the Union and The Foundations of American Foreign Policy; the late John Hay, who in addition to poems and essays gave us, in association with John G. Nicolay, an important history of the United States between 1830 and 1865 in the Life of Abraham Lincoln; A. H. Stephens, known by his War between the States; and James Schouler, whose legal and historical work is familiar to students of American letters and to investigators of American history and biography.
The two leading orators of the antislavery cause, Wendell Phillips and Charles Sumner, were both Harvard graduates. Phillips was one of our greatest speakers, simple and impassioned. One of his best speeches was made in Faneuil Hall, Boston, on the murder of Lovejoy the abolitionist. Among Sumner's best orations were The Kansas-Nebraska Bill and The True Grandeur of Nations.
Good literature was also written in the cities. Bryant wrote much of his poetry in New York. (Thanatopsis was written while a sophomore at Williams College). Much of his best work was done in writing of nature; such poems are Green River, Death of the Flowers and the song, O Fairest of the Rural Maids. Though writing throughout a long life his work varied little, his later poems, as The Flood of Years, being as fresh as his youthful pieces. Whittier is a rival of Bryant and Lowell for first place among our poets. Hardly anything could be more martial than the war-hymns of the Quaker poet, as Voices of Freedom and In War Time; Barbara Frietchie, Maud Mutter and Skipper Ireson's Ride are as popular as anything he wrote. The Tent on the Beach and The Bridal of Pennacook are among his ballads. The worth of Poe as poet and storyteller is becoming more and more recognized. The Raven is his most read poem. Annabel Lee is one of the finest ballads in the language. Others of his best pieces are Ulalume, The Valley of Unrest, The City in the Sea, Israfel and The Sleeper. Ligeia perhaps is his most powerful tale. The Gold Bug, The Mystery of Marie Roget and others are rivaled only by Gaboriau's tales as detective stories, while for sheer terror nothing can approach The Cask of Amontillado or The Red Death, though better than either is The Fall of the House of Usher. Some of Willis' tales, as The Ghost-Ball at Congress Hall, and poems like Unseen Spirits will not be forgotten. Bayard Taylor's fine rendering of Goethe's Faust is better than any of his original writings. Thomas Buchanan Read is remembered for his Pons Maximus, Sheridan's Ride, Deserted Road and Drifting.
More, perhaps, than Garrison, Phillips, Sumner, Whittier or Lowell did Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, through Uncle Tom's Cabin, do to rouse America against slavery. The sale of the book by the hundred thousand and its translation into over 40 languages made it the most popular novel written in America. Walt Whitman held a peculiar place, in that there was no agreement as to his ability. By some he was styled the greatest of American poets; others allege that his poems are merely bad prose. His most popular poem, My Captain, was written after the assassination of Lincoln. He, however, is best known by his Leaves of Grass.
The Civil War brought out many ballads and songs, the best of which was Julia Ward Howe's Battle-Hymn of the Republic. The death of Sidney Lanier, who wrote The Mocking Bird and The Song of the Chattahoochee, robbed the south of a great poet. Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), who stands as the best exponent of American humor, has produced work of genuine interest, though his reputation as a humorist interfered somewhat with the reception of his admirable biography of Joan of Arc. Of interest also are the quieter fun of Frank Stockton and the inimitable sketches of western life given by Bret Harte in tales like The Luck of Roaring Camp. Worthy of mention are Hale's Man without a Country and Eggleston's Hoosier Schoolmaster.
Recent Literature (1865—1908). The characteristic fact of the later period is its wide range, even to the extent of diffuseness. There are some who see in the new era, with its widening and broadening of American thought in literary expression, a sensible loss of power and a dearth of original creative work in the more important departments. But this is hardly a just view of the age and its work, which has been one of ceaseless literary activity and a high order of production; though in the more serious studies there has, admittedly, been a lack of laborers who have attained high eminence and whose writings might have made the epoch preëminently rich in its intellectual possessions. If we except the novel and practical science, the gains of the later time have not been so great as to mark the new literary product with distinction and overshadow the era which we naturally expected it to supplant. At successive periods we must look for the ebb and flow of the literary tide, as the world is orphaned by the hushing of its older and masterful voices and again sired by the coming of new aspirants for literary honor and historic fame. That there has been more than this interregnum between the old and the new era we do not admit; nor is the characteristic of it, in comparison with a former age, by any means disadvantageous to the later time. What the earlier era had to its credit was a period of greater repose, when the voices that then arose in the literary world of our continent had a more attentive and responsive audience, undistracted by the clamor of a hurrying, distraught, preoccupied time. Work wrought by minds gifted with genius is rare in any age; but in our day genius has not altogether been lacking, nor have we been without books that inspire as well as instruct — books that delight and even enchain. The product, nevertheless, is comparatively small in weighty and serious studies; though, until the new era has been well-ushered in and the new writers have put the coping-stone on their achievements, no fair appraisement can be made of their abilities or of the place that contemporary writers are likely to hold in literature. One advantage the era has gained over that past is manifest in the protection which international copyright has given to writers by supplying them with a remunerative market on both sides of the Atlantic, with the stimulus which this practically affords to those who have taken, or may yet take, advantage of it. That this has been helpful to the literary product goes without saying; while the extended market has made bookpublishing less precarious, and, with the improvement in critical taste on the part of publishers and readers, has been highly and unexceptionably beneficial.
In the new era we have been especially under the reign of the novelist and the novel. Legitimate history has seemed to suffer in this respect, for, if we except a few notable achievements and the issue of the ordinary historical text-book, history proper has been but sparingly written, save in the guise and with the trickings out of fiction. Considering the indifference of the masses toward historic annals, this may not be without its compensations, though at times it may be perilous to truth to accept sober history in the bedizened attire of the alluring and picturesque novel. Much depends upon the writer and the extent of his historical equipment, as well as on the fidelity of the history and portraiture of the period with which he deals. The more eminent writers of fiction are notably careful in their methods and are, in the main, true to fact in their pictures of it, while their art contributes greatly to the interest with which they invest the time. This is especially so in the case of many novelists who have won fame and have wrought with wonderful skill and fidelity to fact in historical fiction. The names of a few of the more prominent of these historical romancers will readily occur to the reader. It would be no uninteresting study to point out with what success each has striven to interpret the romantic element in American history and to present, with vivid reality, characteristic pictures of the local life and environment of the various regions, settled and unsettled, of the continent. Of colonial Virginia, Mary Johnston has in Prisoners of Hope, To Have and to Hold and Audrey given realistic pictures in the beginning and middle of the 17th century. The field of Mary Hartwell Catherwood's romances has been mainly that of New France, though she has also exploited the south, especially in Old Kaskaskia and The Story of Tonti. The best of her novels that deal with early French-Canadian history is The Romance of Dollard. In Hugh Wynne, by the distinguished Philadelphia physician, poet and novelist, S. Weir Mitchell, we have an enthralling study of old colonial days preceding and during the War of the Revolution. It is especially interesting as a picture of the social life of Philadelphia, with its admixture of Tory, Whig and Quaker elements at the time of the British occupation. In his Adventures of François Dr. Mitchell has written an engaging story—the fictional memoirs of a foundling, choir-boy, thief, juggler and fencing-master during the French Revolution, a study which lightens the gloom of an era of hideous carnage. Characteristics, Circumstance and When All the Woods Are Green are others of his entertaining stories. In Alice of Old Vincennes Maurice Thompson wrote a strong story of the era of the French settlement of Indiana. With this class, also, belong Richard Carvel, a dramatic picture of Revolutionary days by Winston Churchill, and The Crisis, where we enter the scenes of the Civil War, made impressive by the figure of Lincoln, with glimpses from the southern point of view. When Knighthood Was in Flower, an English romance, by Charles Major, and Janice Meredith, a story of the Revolution, by Paul Leicester Ford, attained wide but brief popularity, Mr. Ford's book proving a disappointment to many who had read his admirable novel, The Hon. Peter Stirling and the charmingly original Story of an Untold Love. James Lane Allen remains true to his first love, his former Kentucky home and environment, where he won abiding fame by A Kentucky Cardinal and his inimitable sketches, as The Blue-Grass Region of Kentucky, Aftermath, Summer in Arcady and his thoughtful, poetic The Choir Invisible. Marion Crawford is a cosmopolitan, and only through his mother and by virtue of his early childhood, spent in New York, can we claim him as an American. We owe much, nevertheless, to his cultured and tireless pen for many novels about Italy. Saracinesca, Sant’ Ilario, Don Orsino and A Roman Singer are the chief, and among his best. In Katharine Lauderdale and its sequel The Ralstons, with Marion Darche and The Three Fates, we have stories of American life, and in these there is much of merit and entertainment, though he is more at home in describing European, especially Italian, life.
Among American writers who are winning lasting names are Henry James, William Dean Howells and George W. Cable. Mr. James, the subtlest and most realistic of American novelists, has much of achievement, though he is lacking in the elements of popularity. He has, however, done much clever work in fiction, and manifested a high degree of art. His more notable stories are Roderick Hudson, Daisy Miller, The American, The Europeans, What Maisie Knew, The Princess Casamassima, The Portrait of a Lady and The Awkward Age. Mr. Howells has done much good and varied work, and the American world of letters owes him a heavy debt. He is essentially American in his ideals and tastes, and is always the artist. His most representative novel is The Rise of Silas Lapham, though we prefer his earlier and less realistic stories, as A Foregone Conclusion and A Chance Acquaintance. Mr. Cable is best known for his delightful pictures of Creole days, drawn with a pen skillful in catching the finest, most delicate traits of Creole character and preserved in such stories as Old Creole Days, The Grandissimes and Madame Delphine. In The Cavalier he has left his chosen field, but not added to his fame. As a writer of the short story, Mary E. Wilkins holds high place. Her art is always delicate and her workmanship at times exquisite. Her more notable books are A New England Nun, A Humble Romance, Pembroke and Giles Corey, Yeoman. Sarah Orne Jewett has an industrious and clever pen, and has done much excellent work from Deephaven to The Tory Lover. Mrs. Burton Harrison is a successful writer of society novels. She has culture, and has seen the world and its many and varied types. Her most interesting stories are The Anglomaniacs, Good Americans, A Son of the Old Dominion, A Triple Entanglement and A Princess of the Hills. The author of That Lass o’ Lowrie's and Little Lord Fauntleroy (Mrs. Frances Hodgson Burnett) continues to add to her fame and to address cosmopolitan tastes. A Lady of Quality, His Grace of Ormonde and The Making of a Marchioness are, with her plays, examples of her work. Gertrude Atherton did promising work in The Doomswoman and The Californians, and evinced skill in portraiture in The Aristocrats. Kate Douglas Wiggin (Mrs. Riggs) is at her best in such tales as Marm Lisa, Penelope's Progress and A Cathedral Courtship. Adeline D. T. Whitney was always sure of readers, especially young girls, in her delightful stories of the type of Faith Gartney's Girlhood, We Girls and Real Folks. The work of Miss Murfree (“Charles Egbert Craddock”) is strong, vigorous and dramatic. The mountain country of Tennessee she has made highly interesting by her pictorial descriptions and studies of character. Her best-known stories are In the Tennessee Mountains, In the Clouds and The Prophet of the Great Smoky Mountains. To these writers have to be added the names of others who have done good, often notable, work as novelists and writers of short stories, many of them also being known as poets and essayists of repute. These include Julian Hawthorne, T. B. Aldrich, A. S. Hardy, Susan Warner, Edgar Fawcett, “Octave Thanet” (Alice French), J. G. Holland, Harriet P. Spofford, E. Stuart Phelps Ward, J. T. Trowbridge, Helen Hunt Jackson and Hamlin Garland. Of poets and litterateurs the modern period enrolls the names, high in their art, of such writers as Geo. W. Curtis, E. C. Stedman, R. W. Gilder, R. H. Stoddard, Alice and Phœbe Cary, Lucy Larcom and P. H. Hayne.
Among other successes in American fiction must be noted such writers as Irving Bacheller, Judge Robert Grant, C. F. Goss and Edward Noyes Westcott. Mr. Bacheller's success is recent, but it is gratifying as well as emphatic, as is witnessed by Eben Holden and D'ri and I. The stories are new creations in fiction, and have a freshness that must be enjoyed by jaded novel readers. They are admirable in character-drawing, and bracing and wholesome fiction. Judge Grant has done much clever work, especially in his skillful picture of contemporary American life, entitled Unleavened Bread. The Redemption of David Corson by C. F. Goss and David Harum by the late E. N. Westcott have been read by multitudes, and in many respects have earned success, as has the late Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage and Wounds in the Rain. A new writer, Dr. J. B. Naylor, has in Ralph Marlowe interestingly described village life in southeastern Ohio, and amusingly sketched, and to the life, one of its garrulous rustic characters. From the same pen we have The Sign of the Prophet, a bright romance of the War of 1812, the heroine of which is a ward of Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee prophet and brother of Tecumseh. Other notable fiction has come from the pen of Hamlin Garland, the Wisconsin poet and novelist, who has given us Rose of Dutcher's Coolly and Her Mountain Lover; from G. C. Eggleston, in A Carolina Cavalier; from Gen. Lew Wallace in Ben Hur; from T. Nelson Page in Red Rock; and from Booth Tarkington in The Gentleman from Indiana.
The lighter literature of the period has so occupied us that a closing paragraph must suffice for the enumeration of a few writers among the many who have dealt with weightier themes. This can hardly, however, be deemed a slight, as those writers and their works are, for the most part, referred to in biographical articles under the authors' names. The sources of information in literary biography are, moreover, now so many and so readily accessible, that the consulter of these pages will do better to refer to the separate monographs, especially to the monumental Library of the World's Best Literature edited by Charles Dudley Warner — the most comprehensive source-book of literary biography which the era has produced. Other useful material will be found in Charles Dudley Warner's American Men of Letters Series, J. T. Morse, Jr's American Statesmen Series, H. E. Scudder's American Commonwealth Series and in the works of such American writers as Carl Schurz, Henry Cabot Lodge, J. B. McMaster, Moses Coit Tyler, W. M. Sloane, J. T. Morse, Jr., James Ford Rhodes, Hamlin Garland and the late Justin Winsor and James Parton. In American history, especially in its early and romantic beginnings, the writings of the late John Fiske should also be consulted, for the era produced no abler or more philosophic historian or more thoughtful writer in religious philosophy. Akin in interest to the historians are the publicists who have dealt with current problems of government and with questions arising from territorial expansion and national issues, including economics, education and racial problems. The war with Spain brought forth a literature of its own, dealing with both arms of the service and with the status and future civil administration of our extracontinental possessions. Not the least interesting figure among the writers on these subjects is Theodore Roosevelt — the stalwart campaigner, sportsman, “Rough Rider” and president — who, moreover, is to be included among the thoughtful contributors to recent literature, his productions embracing The Winning of the West, American Ideals, History of the Naval War of 1812 and lives of Gouverneur Morris and Oliver Cromwell, besides his sporting adventures. G. M. A.