Halleck's New English Literature eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 491 pages of information about Halleck's New English Literature.
“There is no antidote against the opium of time...  The greater part must be content to be as though they had not been, to be found in the register of God, not in the record of man...  But man is a Noble Animal, splendid in ashes, and pompous in the grave, solemnizing nativities and deaths with equal luster, not omitting ceremonies of bravery, in the infamy of his nature.”

Browne’s prose frequently suffers from the infusion of too many words derived from the Latin, but his style is rhythmical and stately and often conveys the same emotion as the notes of a great cathedral organ at the evening twilight hour.

VI. The Complete Angler of Izaak Walton (1593-1683) is so filled with sweetness and calm delight in nature and life, that one does not wonder that the book has passed through about two hundred editions.  It manifests a genuine love of nature, of the brooks, meadows, flowers.  In his pages we catch the odor from the hedges gay with wild flowers and hear the rain falling softly on the green leaves:—­

“But turn out of the way a little, good scholar, towards yonder high honeysuckle hedge; there we’ll sit and sing, whilst this shower falls so gently on the teeming earth, and gives yet a sweeter smell to the lovely flowers that adorn these verdant meadows.”

[Illustration:  IZAAK WALTON.]

[Illustration:  JEREMY TAYLOR.]

VII.  Of the many authors busily writing on theology, Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667), an Episcopal clergyman, holds the chief place.  His imagination was so wide and his pen so facile that he has been called a seventeenth-century prose Shakespeare.  Taylor’s Holy Living and Holy Dying used to be read in almost every cottage.  This passage shows his powers of imagery as well as the Teutonic inclination to consider the final goal of youth and beauty:—­

“Reckon but from the sprightfulness of youth, and the fair cheeks and full eyes of childhood, from the vigorousness and strong texture of the joints of five-and-twenty, to the hollowness and dead paleness, to the loathsomeness and horror of a three days’ burial, and we shall perceive the distance to be very great and very strange.  But so have I seen a rose newly springing from the clefts of its hood, and at first it was fair as morning, and full with the dew of heaven as a lamb’s fleece ... and at night, having lost some of its leaves and all its beauty, it fell into the portion of weeds and outworn faces.”

JOHN BUNYAN, 1628-1688

[Illustration:  JOHN BUNYAN. From the painting by Sadler, National Portrait Gallery.]

Life.—­The Bedfordshire village of Elstow saw in 1628 the birth of John Bunyan who, in his own peculiar field of literature, was to lead the world.  His father, Thomas Bunyan, was a brazier, a mender of pots and pans, and he reared his son John to the same trade.  In his autobiography, John Bunyan says that his father’s house was of “that rank that is meanest and most despised of all the families in the land.”

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Halleck's New English Literature from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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