Halleck's New English Literature eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 629 pages of information about Halleck's New English Literature.

[Footnote 8:  Ibid, line 262.]

[Footnote 9:  Ibid, line 649.]

[Footnote 10:  Sonnet:  On His Having Arrived at the Age of Twenty-three.]

[Footnote 11:  Milton:  A Sonnet.]

[Footnote 12:  For full titles, see list on p. 50.]

[Footnote 13:  For full titles, see p.6.]


History of the Period.—­This chapter opens with the Restoration of Charles II. (1660-1685) in 1660 and ends before the appearance, in 1740, of a new literary creation, Richardson’s Pamela, the novel of domestic life and character.  This period is often called the age of Dryden and Pope, the two chief poets of the time.  When Oliver Cromwell died, the restoration of the monarchy was inevitable.  The protest against the Puritanic view of life had become strong.  Reaction always results when excessive restraint in any direction is removed.

During his exile, Charles had lived much in France and had become accustomed to the dissolute habits of the French court.  The court of Charles II. was the most corrupt ever known in England.  The Puritan virtues were laughed to scorn by the ribald courtiers who attended Charles II.  John Evelyn (1620-1706) and Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) left diaries, which give interesting pictures of the times.  The one by Pepys is especially vivid.

In 1663 Samuel Butler (1612-1680) published a famous satire, entitled Hudibras.  Its object was to ridicule everything that savored of Puritanism.  This satire became extremely popular in court circles, and was the favorite reading of the king.

[Illustration:  SAMUEL BUTLER.]

Charles II. excluded all but Episcopalians from holding office, either in towns or in Parliament.  Only those who sanctioned the Episcopal prayer book were allowed to preach.  In order to keep England’s friendship and to be able to look to her for assistance in time of war, Louis XIV. of France paid Charles II.  L100,000 a year to act as a French agent.  In this capacity, Charles II. began against Holland.  From a position of commanding importance under Cromwell, England had become a third-rate power, a tail to a French kite.

James II. (1685-1688), who succeeded his brother, Charles II., undertook to suspend laws and to govern like a despot.  He was driven out in the bloodless revolution of 1688 by his son-in-law, William (1689-1702), and his daughter Mary.  William of Orange, who thus became king of England, was a prince of Holland.  This revolution led to the Bill of Rights (1689), the “third pillar of the British Constitution,” the two previous being Magna Charta and the Petition of Right.  The foundations were now firmly laid for a strictly constitutional monarchy in England.  From this time the king has been less important, sometimes only a mere figure-head.

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