Swift.—Caik’s English Prose Selections, Vol. III., pp. 391-424, contains representative selections from Swift’s prose. The best of these are The Philosophy of Clothes, from A Tale of a Tub (Craik, III., 398); A Digression concerning Critics, from the same (Craik, III., 400); The Emperor of Lilliput (Craik, III., 417) and The King of Brobdingnag (Craik, III., 419), from Gulliver’s Travels.
Selections may be found also in Manly, II., 184-198; Oxford Treasury, III., 125-129; Century, 299-323.
Is Swift’s a good prose style? Does he use ornament? Can you find a passage where he strives after effect? In what respects do the subjects which he chooses and his manner of treating them show the spirit of the age? Why is Gulliver’s Travels so popular? What are the most important lessons which a young writer may learn from Swift? In what is he specially lacking?
Addison and Steele.—From the Sir Roger de Coverley Papers the student should not fail to read Spectator No. 112, A Country Sunday. He may then read Spectator No. 2, by Steele, which sketches the De Coverley characters, and compare the style and characteristics of the two authors. The student who has the time at this point should read all the De Coverley Papers (Eclectic English Classics, American Book Company).
Good selections from both Addison and Steele may be found in Craik, III., 469-535; Manly, II., 198-216; Century, 324-349.
In what did Addison and Steele excel? What qualities draw so many readers to the De Coverley Papers? Why may they be called a prelude to the modern novel?
Select passages which will serve to bring into sharp contrast the style and humor of Swift and of Addison.
Pope.—Read The Rape of the Lock (printed with the Essay on Man in Eclectic English Classics, American Book Company, 20 cents). Selections from this are given in Ward, III., 73-82. The Essay on Man, Book I. (Ward, III., 85-91), will serve as a specimen of his didactic verse. The Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot (Ward, III., 103-105) will illustrate his satire, and the lines from the Iliad in Ward, III., 82, will show the characteristics of his translation.
The Rape of the Lock and full selections are given in Bronson, III., 89-144; Century, 350-368; Manly, I., 228-253.
How does Pope show the spirit of the classical school? What are his special merits and defects? Does an examination of his poetry convince you that Leslie Stephen’s criticism is right? Select lines from six great poets of different periods. Place beside these selections some of Pope’s best lines, and see if you have a clearer idea of the difference between rhetoric and true poetry.