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upon Broumors“ scarce of the state.
of information, or, indeed, of any other kind of what is commonly called useful knowledge; for, in truth, he has done his best to diffuso a good many vulgar errors as monstrous as any he had corrected. For that matter, if his readers were to continue to believe with him in astrology and witchcraft, we shall all agree that it was of very little consequence what faith they may hold touching the phoenix and the griffin. Mr. Hallam, we think, has, in a manner which is not usual with him, fallen somewhat into this error of applying a false test in the judgment he has passed upon Browne. It is, no doubt, quite true that the Inquiry into Vulgar Errors“ scarcely raises a high notion of Browne himself as a philosopher, or of the state of physical knowledge in England ;"* that the Religio Medici shows its author to have been “far removed from real philosophy, both by his turn of mind and by the nature of his erudition;" and likewise that “he seldom reasons," that “ his thoughts are desultory," that “ sometimes he appears sceptical or paradoxical,” but that “credulity and deference to authority prevail” in his habits of thinking.f Understanding philosophy in the sense in which the term is here used, that is to say, as meaning the sifting and separation of fact from fiction, it may be admitted that there is not much of that in Sir Thomas Browne; his works are all rather marked by a very curious and piquant intermixture of the two. Of course, such being the case, what he writes is not to be considered solely or even principally with reference to its absolute truth or falsehood, but rather with reference to its relative truth and significance as an expression of some feeling or notion or other idiosyncracy of the very singular and interesting mind from which it has proceeded. Read in this spirit, the works of Sir Thomas Browne, more especially his Religio Medici, and his Urn Burial, will be found among the richest in our literaturefull of uncommon thoughts, and trains of meditation leading far away into the dimmest inner chambers of life and death—and also of an eloquence, sometimes fantastic, but always striking, not seldom pathetic, and in its greatest passages gorgeous with the emblazonry of a warm imagination. Out of such a writer the rightly attuned and sympathizing mind will draw many things more precious than any mere facts. * Lit. of Eur. iii. 461.
+ Id. iii. 153.
SIR JAMES HARRINGTON. We can merely mention Sir James Harrington's political romance entitled Oceana, which was published in 1656. Har. rington's leading principles are, that the natural element of power in states is property ; and that, of all kinds of property, that in land is the most important, possessing, indeed, certain characteristics which distinguish it, in its natural and political action, from all other property. “In general,” observes Mr. Hallam, “ it may be said of Harrington that he is prolix, dull, pedantic, yet seldom profound; but sometimes redeems himself by just observations."* This is true in so far as respects the style of the Oceana; but it hardly does justice to the ingenuity, the truth, and the importance of certain of Harrington's views and deductions in the philosophy of politics. If he has not the merit of absolute originality in his main propositions, they had at least never been so clearly expounded and demonstrated by any preceding writer.
It has now been satisfactorily shown that the three newspapers, entitled The English Mercurie, Nos. 50, 51, and 54, preserved among Dr. Birch's historical collections in the British Museum, professing to be "published by authority, for the contradiction of false reports," at the time of the attack of the Spanish Armada, on the credit of which the invention of newspapers used to be attributed to Lord Burleigh, are modern forgeries,-jeux d'esprit, in fact, of the reverend Doctor.t Occasional pamphlets, containing foreign news, began to be published in England towards the close of the reign of James I. The earliest that has been met with is entitled News out of Holland, dated 1619; and other similar papers of news from different foreign countries are extant which appeared in 1620, 1621, and 1622. The first of these news-pamphlets which came out at regular intervals appears to have been that entitled The News of the Present Week, edited by Nathaniel Butler, which was started in 1622, in the early days of the Thirty Years' War, and was continued, in conformity with its title, as a weekly publication. But the proper era of English newspapers, at least of those containing domestic intelligence, commences with the Long Parliament. The earliest that has been discovered is a quarto pamphlet of a few leaves, entitled The Diurnal Occurrences, or Daily Proceedings of Both Houses, in this great and happy parliament, from the 3rd of November, 1640, to the 3rd of November, 1641 ; London, printed for William Cooke, and are to be sold at his shop at Furnival's Inn Gate, in Holborn, 1641.* More than a hundred newspapers, with different titles, appear to have been published between this date and the death of the king, and upwards of eighty others between that event and the Restoration.t “When hostilities commenced,” says the writer from whom we derive this information, “every event, during a most eventful period, had its own historian, who communicated News from Hull, Truths from York, Warranted Tidings from Ireland, and Special Passages from several places. These were all occasional papers. Impatient, however, as a distracted people were for information, the news were never distributed daily. The various newspapers were published weekly at first; but in the progress of events, and the ardour of curiosity, they were distributed twice or thrice in every week. $ Such were the French Intelligencer, the Dutch Spy, the Irish Mercury, and the Scots Dove, the Parliament Kite, and the Secret Owl. Mercurius Acheronticus brought them hebdomadal News from Hell; Mercurius Democritus communicated wonderful news from the World in the Moon; the Laughing Mercury gave perfect news from the Antipodes; and Mercurius Mastix faithfully lashed all Scouts, Mercuries, Posts, Spies, and other Intelligencers."S Besides the newspapers, also, the great political and religious questions of the time were debated, as already mentioned, in a prodigious multitude of separate pamphlets, which appear to have been read quite as universally and as eagerly. Of such pamphlets printed in the twenty years from the meeting of the
* Lit. of Eur, iy. 200.
+ See A Letter to Antonio Panizzi, Esq. By Thomas Watts, of the British Museum. 8vo, Lond. 1839.
* See Chronological List of Newspapers from the Epoch of the Civil Wars, in Chalmers's Life of Ruddiman, pp. 404–442.
+ See Chalmers's Life of Ruddiman, p. 114.
t In December, 1642, however, Spalding, the Aberdeen annalist, in a passage which Mr. Chalmers has quoted, tells us that “now printed papers daily came from London, called Diurnal Occurrences, declaring what is done in parliament."— Vol. i. p. 336.
& Chalmers, p. 116.
Long Parliament to the Restoration there are still preserved in the British Museum, forming the collection called the King's Pamphlets, no fewer than thirty thousand, which would give a rate of four or five new ones every day.
Where our modern newspapers begin, the series of our old chroniclers closes with Sir Richard Baker's Chronicle of the Kings of England, written while its author was confined for debt in the Fleet Prison, where he died in 1645, and first published in a folio volume in 1641. It was several times reprinted, and was a great favourite with our ancestors for two or three succeeding generations ; but it has now lost all interest, except for a few passages relating to the author's own time. Baker, however, himself declares it to be compiled “with so great care and diligence, that, if all others were lost, this only will be sufficient to inform posterity of all passages memorable or worthy to be known.” Sir Richard and his Chronicle are now popularly remembered principally as the trusted historical guides and authorities of Addison's incomparable Sir Roger de Coverley.*
Almost the only great work in the department of ancient scholarship that appeared in England in the reigns of James I. and Charles I. was the magnificent edition of Chrysostom, in eight volumes folio, by Sir Henry Savile, printed at Eton, where Savile was Provost of the College, in 1612. “The Greek language, however,” observes Mr. Hallam,“ was now much studied ; the age of James and Charles was truly learned ; our writers are prodigal of an abundant erudition, which embraces a far wider range of authors than are now read; the philosophers of every class, the poets, the historians, and orators of Greece, to whom few comparatively had paid regard in the days of Elizabeth, seem as familiar to the miscellaneous writers of her next successors as the fathers of the church are to the theologians. A few, like Jeremy Taylor, are equally copious in their libations from both streams. But, though thus deeply read in ancient learning, our old scholars are not very critical in philology."| The glory of English erudition in the days of the Commonwealth, though of
* See Spectator, No. 329.
+ Lit. of Eur. ii. 376.
erudition formed in the preceding age, and by men all attached to the cause upon the ruin of which the Commonwealth was reared, is the Polyglott Bible, commonly called the London Polyglott, edited by Brian Walton, in six volumes folio, the first of which appeared in 1654, the second in 1655, the third in 1656, and the three last in 1657. In this great work, which, taken altogether, including the Lexicon Heptaglotten of Dr. Edmund Castell, added, in two volumes folio, in 1669, still remains without a rival, the Scriptures are given, entirely or partially, in nine different languages, namely, Hebrew, Chaldee, Samaritan, Syrian, Arabic, Persian, Ethiopic, Greek, and Latin. Walton was, upon the Restoration, made Bishop of Chester, but he died in 1661. To the works written by Englishmen in the Latin language before the Restoration are also to be added, besides the splendid Defensio pro Populo Anglicano and Defensio Secunda of Milton, which have been already mentioned, the De Primordiis Ecclesiarum Britannicarum (afterwards entitled Britannicarum Ecclesiarum Antiquitates), 1639, and the Annales Utriusque Testamenti, 1650 and 1654, of the learned Archbishop Usher.
RETROSPECT OF THE COMMONWEALTH LITERATURE.
It thus appears that the age of the Civil War and the Commonwealth does not present an absolute blank in the history of our highest literature ; but, unless we are to except the Areopagitica of Milton, the Liberty of Prophesying, and a few other controversial or theological treatises of Jeremy Taylor, some publications by Fuller, and the successive apocalypses of the imperturbable dreamer of Norwich, no work of genius of the first class appeared in England in the twenty years from the meeting of the Long Parliament to the Restoration; and the literary productions having any enduring life in them at all, that are to be assigned to that space, make but a very scanty sprinkling. It was a time when men wrote and thought, as they acted, merely for the passing moment. The unprinted plays of Beaumont and Fletcher, indeed, were now sent to the press, as well as other dramatic works written in the last age; the theatres, by which they used to be published in another way, being shut up—a significant intimation, rather than anything else, that the