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.

Thomas Hope, 1770-1831:  an Amsterdam merchant, who afterwards resided in London, and who illustrated the progress of knowledge concerning the East by his work entitled, Anastasius, or Memoirs of a Modern Greek.  Published anonymously, it excited a great interest, and was ascribed by the public to Lord Byron.  The intrigues and adventures of the hero are numerous and varied, and the book has great literary merit; but it is chiefly of historical value in that it describes persons and scenes in Greece and Turkey, countries in which Hope travelled at a time when few Englishmen visited them.

William Beckford, 1760-1844:  he was the son of an alderman, who became Lord Mayor of London.  After a careful education, he found himself the possessor of a colossal fortune.  He travelled extensively, and wrote sketches of his travels.  His only work of importance is that called Vathek, in which he describes the gifts, the career, and the fate of the Caliph of that name, who was the grandson of the celebrated Haroun al Raschid.  His palaces are described in a style of Oriental gorgeousness; his temptations, his lapses from virtue, his downward progress, are presented with dramatic power; and there is nothing in our literature more horribly real and terror-striking than the Hall of Eblis,—­that hell where every heart was on fire, where “the Caliph Vathek, who, for the sake of empty pomp and forbidden power, had sullied himself with a thousand crimes, became a prey to grief without end and remorse without mitigation.”  Many of Beckford’s other writings are blamed for their voluptuous character; the last scene in Vathek is, on the other hand, a most powerful and influential sermon.  Beckford was eccentric and unsocial:  he lived for some time in Portugal, but returned to England, and built a luxurious palace at Bath.

William Roscoe, 1753-1831:  a merchant and banker of Liverpool.  He is chiefly known by his Life of Lorenzo de Medici, and The Life and Pontificate of Leo X., both of which contained new and valuable information.  They are written in a pleasing style, and with a liberal and charitable spirit as to religious opinions.  Since they appeared, history has developed new material and established more exacting canons, and the studies of later writers have already superseded these pleasing works.

CHAPTER XXXVII.

WORDSWORTH, AND THE LAKE SCHOOL.

   The New School.  William Wordsworth.  Poetical Canons.  The Excursion and
   Sonnets.  An Estimate.  Robert Southey.  His Writings.  Historical Value. 
   S. T. Coleridge.  Early Life.  His Helplessness.  Hartley and H. N.
   Coleridge.

THE NEW SCHOOL.

In the beginning of the year 1820 George III. died, after a very long—­but in part nominal—­reign of fifty-nine years, during a large portion of which he was the victim of insanity, while his son, afterwards George IV., administered the regency of the kingdom.

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