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very touching serious poems, among them The Death-bed, The Bridge of Sighs, Song of the Shirt, etc.
JAMES MONTGOMERY (1771-1854), author of Greenland, Pelican Island, Hymns, etc.
Jas. SHERIDAN KNOWLES (1784-1862), a distinguished dramatist, author of Virginius, The Wife, The Hunchback, William Tell, etc.
Scott and several others who are sometimes classed as poets, will be considered under the head of prose writers.
AMERICAN CONTEMPORARIES. Robert Treat Paine, Joseph Rodman Drake, and Fitz-Greene Halleck.
II. PROSE WRITERS OF THE AGE OF SCOTT.
SCOTT. 1771–1832. Sir Walter Scott, the great Scotch poet and novelist, was born in 'Edinburgh, in 1771. He was not a profound scholar, but being a great reader and having a wonderful memory, he acquired a vast amount of historical and legendary lore, which he poured forth in boundless profusion in his works.
Scott was truly a great man. Great in poetry, great in prose, great in character,—he was great also in misfortune. Having accumulated a large fortune, and built himself a fine mansion known as Abbotsford, he lost everything by the failure of a publishing house, and was plunged in debt to the amount of over half a million dollars. Undismayed, he applied himself, though nearly sixty years old, to the payment of this immense sum, and succeeded, though at the expense of his life. In 1832, broken in mind and body, he died, amid the lamentations of all Scotland, and was buried in Dryburgh Abbey.
Scott's works are of three classes : 1. Poems, 2. Novels, 3. Miscellaneous.
His principal poems are The Lay of the Last Minstrel, The Lady of the Lake, and Marmion.
His novels, known as the Waverley Novels, twenty-nine in number, are imong the greatest creations of human genius.
Among the best of them are-Waverley, Guy Mannering, Old Mortality, Heart of Mid-Lothian, Legend of Montrose, Ivanhoe, and Kenilworth.
The most celebrated of his miscellaneous works are Tales of a Grandfather, Life of Napoleon, and History of Scotland.
Tears are the softening showers which cause the seed of heaven to spring up in the human heart.
11. When a man has not a good reason for doing a thing, he has one good reason for letting it alone.
And many a word at random spoken,
Lord of the Isles.
Lay of the Last Minstrel.
SOUTHEY. 1774-1843. Robert Southey is sometimes classed among the poets, but his best writings are in prose. He was one of the most industrious and prolific authors of the age. His best prose works are his Life of Nelson, Life of Cowper, and Life of Wesley. His best poems are Thalabır and Curse of Kehama.
Call not that man wretched who, whatever ills he suffers, has a bild to love.
Breaks the serene of heaven:
Beneath her steady ray
The desert circle spreads
; COLERIDGE. 1772-1834. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Southey, and Wordsworth were intimately associated, and belong to the group called the “ Lake Poets.” Coleridge, like Southey, is greater in prose than poetry, though great in both. He was one of the greatest thinkers and talkers that ever lived; but he lacked continuity of thought, hence he has left no works commensurate with his great genius.
Among his best prose works are-Aids to Reflection, The Friend, Lectures on Shakspeare, Lay Sermons, Table Talk, and Biographia Literaria. His chief poems are Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Christabel.
Religion is the most gentlemanly thing in the world.
Cleverness is a sort of genius for instrumentality. It is the brain of the hand.
PROF. WILSON. 1785-1854. Prof. John Wilson, who sometimes wrote under the name of “Christopher (or Kit) North,” was long the editor of Blackwood's Magazine, and Professor in the University of Edinburgh. He wrote poems and novels that were well received, but his reputation rests chiefly upon his critical Essays, and the brilliant series of articles published under the title of Noctes Ambrosianæ. His style is very beautiful and attractive.
EXTRACT. For every sort of suffering there is sleep provided by a gracious Providence, save that of sin.
DE QUINCEY. 1785-1859. Thomas De Quincey, known as “ The English Opium Eater," was one of the n:ost brilliant writers of the age. He was a man of wonderful genius and learning, but, like Coleridge, lacked continuity of purpose. Macaulay says of him that “ he finished nothing but his sentences.” His style is unsurpassed by any English writer. His chief works are his Confessions of an English Opium Eater and Essays.
EXTRACT. Far better, and more cheerfully, I could dispense with some part of the downright necessaries of life, than with certain circumstances of elegance and propriety in the daily habits of using them.
LAMB. 1775-1834. Charles Lamb, who wrote under the name of “ Elia,” excelled as an essayist and a letter writer. The essays of Elia have a subtle and peculiar charm of style that can nowhere else be found, and that will always render Lamb a favorite among cultivated people.
EXTRACT. How often you are irresistibly drawn to a plain, unassuming woman, whose soft silvery tones render her positively attractive i
In the social circle, how pleasant it is to hear a woman talk in that low key which always characterizes the true lady! In the sanctuary of home, how such a voice soothes the fretful child, and cheers the weary husband !
OTHER PROSE WRITERS OF THIS AGE.
HISTORICAL. HENRY HALLAM (1778-1859), author of History of the Middle Ages, Constitutional History of England, and Literature of Europe.
John LINGARD (1771-1851), author of History of England, from a Roman Catholic point of view, written with great candor, learning, and ability.
Thos. ARNOLD, of Rugby (1795-1842), History of Rome, and Lectures on Modern History.
FICTITIOUS. WM. GODWIN (1756-1836), author of Caleb Williams, St. Leon, and other novels; also of Life of Chaucer, Political Justice, etc.
COUNTESS D’ARBLAY (1752-1840), daughter of Dr. Burney, author of Evelina, etc.
Maria EDGEWORTH (1767-1849), author of Early Lessons, Parent's Assistant, Castle Rackrent, etc.
JANE AUSTEN (1775-1817), author of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, etc.
John Galt (1779-1839), a prolific Scotch writer, author of Ayrshire Legatees, Annals of a Parish, etc.
Miss Mary Russell MITFORD (1786-1855), author of Our Village, American Tales, etc.
CAPT. MARRYATT (1792-1848), author of Midshipman Easy, Peter Simple, Jacob Faithful, etc.
SCIENTIFIC. DUGALD STEWART (1753-1828), Prof. of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, author of Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind, Outlines of Moral Philosophy, etc.
JEREMY BENTHAM (1748-1832), a bold and original writer on legal and political science.
CRITICAL AND MISCELLANEOUS. Wm. Gifford (1756-1826), a satirist and slashing reviewer, long editor of The London Quarterly.
JIR Jas. MACKINTOSH (1765-1832), a statesman, a college professor, and brilliant writer on ethical, political, and historical subjects.
WM. HAZLITT (1778-1830), author of several volumes of critical Essays.
SYDNEY SMITH (1771-1845), Canon of St. Paul's, one of the wittiest and ablest of the contributors to the Edinburgh Review.