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.

HUMPHREY CLINKER.—­His last work of any importance, and perhaps his best, is The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker, described in a series of letters descriptive of this amusing imaginative journey.  Mrs. Winifred, Tabitha, and, best of all, Lismahago, are rare characters, and in all respects, except its vulgarity, it was the prototype of Hood’s exquisite Up the Rhine.

From the year 1756, Smollett edited, at intervals, various periodicals, and wrote what he thought very good poetry, now forgotten,—­an Ode to Independence, after the Greek manner of strophe and antistrophe, not wanting in a noble spirit; and The Tears of Scotland, written on the occasion of the Duke of Cumberland’s barbarities, in 1746, after the battle of Culloden: 

    Mourn, hapless Caledonia, mourn
    Thy banished peace, thy laurels torn! 
    Thy sons, for valor long renowned,
    Lie slaughtered on thy native ground.

Smollett died abroad on the 21st of October, 1771.  His health entirely broken, he had gone to Italy, and taken a cottage near Leghorn:  a slight resuscitation was the consequence, and he had something in prospect to live for:  he was the heir-at-law to the estate of Bonhill, worth L1000 per annum; but the remorseless archer would not wait for his fortune.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

STERNE, GOLDSMITH, AND MACKENZIE.

   The Subjective School.  Sterne—­Sermons.  Tristram Shandy.  Sentimental
   Journey.  Oliver Goldsmith.  Poems—­The Vicar.  Histories, and Other
   Works.  Mackenzie.  The Man of Feeling.

THE SUBJECTIVE SCHOOL.

In the same age, and inspired by similar influences, there sprang up a widely-different school of novelists, which has been variously named as the Sentimental and the Subjective School.  Richardson and Fielding depicted what they saw around them objectively, rather than the impressions made upon their individual sensitiveness.  Both Sterne and Goldsmith were eminently subjective.  They stand as a transparent medium between their works and the reader.  The medium through which we see Tristram Shandy is a double lens,—­one part of which is the distorted mind of the author, and the other the nondescript philosophy which he pilfered from Rabelais and Burton.  The glass through which the Vicar of Wakefield is shown us is the good-nature and loving heart of Goldsmith, which brighten and gladden every creation of his pen.  Thus it is that two men, otherwise essentially unlike, appear together as representatives of a school which was at once sentimental and subjective.

STERNE.—­Lawrence Sterne was the son of an officer in the British army, and was born, in 1713, at Clonmel, in Ireland, where his father was stationed.

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