English Literature, Considered as an Interpreter of English History eBook

Henry Coppée
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 540 pages of information about English Literature, Considered as an Interpreter of English History.
idealist.  This is no place to discuss his theory.  In the words of Dr. Reid, “He maintains ... that there is no such thing as matter in the universe; that the sun and moon, earth and sea, our own bodies and those of our friends, are nothing but ideas in the minds of those who think of them, and that they have no existence when they are not objects of thought; that all that is in the universe may be reduced to two categories, to wit, minds and ideas in the mind.”  The reader is referred, for a full discussion of this question, to Sir William Hamilton’s Metaphysics.  Berkeley’s chief writings are:  New Theory of Vision, Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, and Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous.  His name and memory are especially dear to the American people; for, although his scheme of the training-college failed, he lived for two years and a half in Newport, where his house still stands, and where one of his children is buried.  He presented to Yale College his library and his estate in Rhode Island, and he wrote that beautiful poem with its kindly prophecy: 

    Westward the course of empire takes its way: 
      The four first acts already past,
    A fifth shall close the drama with the day;
      Time’s noblest offspring is the last.



   The New Age.  Daniel Defoe.  Robinson Crusoe.  Richardson.  Pamela, and
   Other Novels.  Fielding.  Joseph Andrews.  Tom Jones.  Its Moral.  Smollett. 
   Roderick Random.  Peregrine Pickle.


We have now reached a new topic in the course of English Literature—­contemporaneous, indeed, with the subjects just named, but marked by new and distinct development.  It was a period when numerous and distinctive forms appeared; when genius began to segregate into schools and divisions; when the progress of letters and the demands of popular curiosity gave rise to works which would have been impossible, because uncalled for, in any former period.  English enterprise was extending commerce and scattering useful arts in all quarters of the globe, and thus giving new and rich materials to English letters.  Clive was making himself a lord in India; Braddock was losing his army and his life in America.  This spirit of English enterprise in foreign lands was evoking literary activity at home:  there was no exploit of English valor, no extension of English dominion and influence, which did not find its literary reproduction.  Thus, while it was an age of historical research, it was also that of actual delineations of curious novelties at home and abroad.

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