Part 7 out of 7
previously met in artist circles in France. He first secured a popular
success with the boys' pirate story, 'Treasure Island,' in 1882. 'A Child's
Garden of Verses' (1885) was at once accepted as one of the most
irresistibly sympathetic of children's classics; and 'The Strange Case of
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' (1886), a unique and astonishingly powerful moral
lesson in the form of a thrilling little romance which strangely
anticipates the later discoveries of psychology, made in its different way
a still stronger impression. Stevenson produced, considering his
disabilities, a remarkably large amount of work--essays, short stories, and
romances--but the only others of his books which need here be mentioned are
the four romances of Scotch life in the eighteenth century which belong to
his later years; of these 'The Master of Ballantrae' and the fragmentary
'Weir of Hermiston' are the best. His letters, also, which, like his
widely-circulated prayers, reveal his charming and heroic personality, are
among the most interesting in the history of English Literature. His bodily
weakness, especially tuberculosis, which had kept him wandering from one
resort to another, at last drove him altogether from Europe to the South
Seas. He finally settled in Samoa, where for the last half dozen years of
his life he was busy not only with clearing his land, building his house,
and writing, but with energetic efforts to serve the natives, then involved
in broils among themselves and with England, Germany, and the United
States. His death came suddenly when he was only forty-four years old, and
the Samoans, who ardently appreciated what he had done for them, buried him
high up on a mountain overlooking both his home and the sea.
Stevenson, in the midst of an age perhaps too intensely occupied with the
deeper questions, stood for a return to the mere spirit of romance, and for
occasional reading he furnishes delightful recreation. In the last
analysis, however, his general lack of serious significance condemns him at
most to a secondary position. At his best his narrative technique (as in
'The Master of Ballantrae') is perfect; his portrayal of men (he almost
never attempted women) is equally certain; his style has no superior in
English; and his delicate sensibility and keenness of observation render
him a master of description. But in his attitude toward life he never
reached full maturity (perhaps because of the supreme effort of will
necessary for the maintenance of his cheerfulness); not only did he retain
to the end a boyish zest for mere adventure, but it is sometimes adventure
of a melodramatic and unnecessarily disagreeable kind, and in his novels
and short stories he offers virtually no interpretation of the world. No
recent English prose writer has exercised a wider influence than he, but
none is likely to suffer as time goes on a greater diminution of
RUDYARD KIPLING. The name which naturally closes the list of Victorian
writers is that of Rudyard Kipling, though he belongs, perhaps, as much to
the twentieth century as to the one preceding. The son of a professor of
architecture and sculpture in the University of Bombay, India, he was born
in that city in 1865. Educated in England in the United Services College
(for officers in the army and navy), he returned at the age of seventeen to
India, where he first did strenuous editorial work on newspapers in Lahore,
in the extreme northwestern part of the country. He secured his intimate
knowledge of the English army by living, through the permission of the
commanding general, with the army on the frontiers. His instinct for
story-telling in verse and prose had showed itself from his boyhood, but
his first significant appearance in print was in 1886, with a volume of
poems later included among the 'Departmental Ditties.' 'Plain Tales from
the Hills' in prose, and other works, followed in rapid succession and won
him enthusiastic recognition. In 1890 he removed to the United States,
where he married and remained for seven years. Since then he has lived in
England, with an interval in South Africa. He wrote prolifically during the
'90's; since then both the amount of his production and its quality have
Kipling is the representative of the vigorous life of action as led by
manly and efficient men, and of the spirit of English imperialism. His poem
"The White Man's Burden" sums up his imperialism--the creed that it is the
duty of the higher races to civilize the lower ones with a strong hand; and
he never doubts that the greater part of this obligation rests at present
upon England--a theory, certainly, to which history lends much support.
Kipling is endowed with the keenest power of observation, with the most
genuine and most democratic human sympathies, and with splendid dramatic
force. Consequently he has made a unique contribution to literature in his
portrayals, in both prose and verse, of the English common soldier and of
English army life on the frontiers of the Empire. On the other hand his
verse is generally altogether devoid of the finer qualities of poetry.
'Danny Deever,' 'Pharaoh and the Sergeant,' 'Fuzzy Wuzzy,' 'The Ballad of
East and West,' 'The Last Chantey,' 'Mulholland's Contract,' and many
others, are splendidly stirring, but their colloquialism and general
realism put them on a very different level from the work of the great
masters who express the deeper truths in forms of permanent beauty. At
times, however, Kipling too gives voice to religious feelings, of a simple
sort, in an impressive fashion, as in 'McAndrews' Hymn,' 'The Recessional,'
and 'When earth's last picture is painted.' His sweeping rhythms and his
grandiose forms of expression, suggestive of the vast spaces of ocean and
plain and of inter-stellar space with which he delights to deal, have been
very widely copied by minor verse-writers. His very vivid and active
imagination enables him not only to humanize animal life with remarkable
success, as in the prose 'Jungle-Books,' but to range finely in the realms
of the mysterious, as in the short stories 'They' and 'The Brushwood Boy.'
Of short-stories he is the most powerful recent writer, as witness 'The Man
Who Would Be King,' 'The Man Who Was,' 'Without Benefit of Clergy,' and
'Wee Willie Winkie'; though with all the frankness of modern realism he
sometimes leads us into scenes of extreme physical horror. With longer
stories he is generally less successful; 'Kim,' however, has much power.
THE HISTORIANS. The present book, as a brief sketch of English Literature
rather strictly defined, has necessarily disregarded the scientists,
economists, and philosophers whose writings did much to mold the course of
thought during the Victorian period. Among the numerous prominent
historians, however, two must be mentioned for the brilliant literary
quality of their work. James Anthony Froude (1818-1894) was a disciple of
Carlyle, from whom he took the idea of making history center around its
great men and of giving to it the vivid effectiveness of the drama. With
Froude too this results in exaggeration, and further he is sadly
inaccurate, but his books are splendidly fascinating. His great 'History of
England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Armada' is his longest work; his
'Sketch' of Julius Casar is certainly one of the most interesting books of
biography and history ever written. John Richard Green (1837-1883), who was
a devoted clergyman before he became a historian, struggled all his life
against the ill-health which finally cut short his career. His 'History of
the English People' is an admirable representative of the modern historical
spirit, which treats general social conditions as more important than mere
external events; but as a narrative it vies in interest with the very
different one of Macaulay. Very honorable mention should be made also of W.
E. H. Lecky, who belongs to the conscientiously scientific historical
school. His 'History of Rationalism in Europe,' for example, is a very fine
monument of the most thorough research and most effective statement; but to
a mature mind its interest is equally conspicuous.
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Beginning as early as the latter part of the eighteenth century literary
production, thanks largely to the tremendous increase of education and of
newspapers and magazines, has steadily grown, until now it has reached
bewildering volume and complexity, in which the old principles are partly
merged together and the new tendencies, for contemporary observers, at
least, scarcely stand out with decisive distinctness. Most significant
to-day, perhaps, are the spirit of independence, now carried in some
respects beyond the farthest previous Romantic limits, and the realistic
impulse, in which the former impulses of democracy and humanitarianism play
a large part. Facts not to be disregarded are the steady advance of the
short story, beginning early in the Victorian period or before, to a
position of almost chief prominence with the novel; and the rise of
American literature to a position approaching equality with that of
England. Of single authors none have yet certainly achieved places of the
first rank, but two or three may be named. Mr. William De Morgan, by
profession a manufacturer of artistic pottery, has astonished the world by
beginning to publish at the age of sixty-five a series of novels which show
no small amount of Thackeray's power combined with too large a share of
Thackeray's diffuseness. Mr. Alfred Noyes (born 1880) is a refreshingly
true lyric poet and balladist, and Mr. John Masefield has daringly enlarged
the field of poetry by frank but very sincere treatment of extremely
realistic subjects. But none of these authors can yet be termed great.
About the future it is useless to prophesy, but the horrible war of 1914 is
certain to exert for many years a controlling influence on the thought and
literature of both England and the whole world, an influence which, it may
be hoped, will ultimately prove stimulating and renovating.
Whatever may be true of the future, the record of the past is complete. No
intelligent person can give even hasty study to the fourteen existing
centuries of English Literature without being deeply impressed by its range
and power, or without coming to realize that it stands conspicuous as one
of the noblest and fullest achievements of the human race.
A LIST OF AVAILABLE EDITIONS FOR THE STUDY OF IMPORTANT AUTHORS
The author has in preparation an annotated anthology of poems from the
popular ballads down, exclusive of long poems. In the meantime existing
anthologies may be used with the present volume. The following list
includes rather more of the other authors than can probably be studied at
first hand in one college year. The editions named are chosen because they
combine inexpensiveness with satisfactory quality. It is the author's
experience that a sufficient number of them to meet the needs of the class
may well be supplied by the college. 'Everyman' means the editions in the
'Everyman Library' series of Messrs. E. P. Dutton and Co.; 'R. L. S.' the
'Riverside Literature Series' of The Houghton Mifflin Co.
BEOWULF. Prose translation by Child; R. L. S., cloth, 25 cents. Metrical
translation by J. L. Hall; D. O. Heath & Co., cloth, 75 cents, paper, 30
SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT. Prose translation by Miss J. L. Weston,
Scribner, 75 cents.
CHAUCER. Among numerous school editions of the Prolog and The Knight's Tale
may be named one issued by The American Book Co., 20 cents.
MALORY'S MORTE DARTHUR. Everyman, two vols., 35 cents each. The Medieval
Drama, Early Plays, ed. Child, R. L. S., cloth, 40 cents. 'Everyman and
Other Plays' (modernized), Everyman, 35 cents.
SPENSER'S FAERIE QUEENE. Everyman, three vols., 35 cents each. Vol. I
contains Books I and II.
ELIZABETHAN LYRICS, ed. Schelling, Ginn, 75 cents. Marlowe's Plays. Mermaid
ed., Scribner, $1.00.
SHAKSPERE'S PLAYS. Among the most useful 25 cent editions are those in the
R. L. S., the Arden series of D. C. Heath and Co., and the Tudor Series of
the Macmillan Co.
JONSON'S SEJANUS. Mermaid ed. of Jonson (Scribner), Vol. II, $1.00.
BACON'S ESSAYS. R. L. S., cloth, 40 cents. Everyman, 35 cents.
SEVENTEENTH CENTURY LYRICS, ed. Schelling, Ginn, 75 cents.
MILTON'S PARADISE LOST. Astor ed., T. Y. Crowell and Co., 60 cents.
BUNYAN'S PILGRIMS' PROGRESS. Everyman, 35 cents.
DRYDEN'S ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL. In Satires of Dryden, ed. Collins,
DEFOE'S ROBINSON CRUSOE. Everyman.
SWIFT'S GULLIVER'S TRAVELS. Everyman. There are two excellent volumes of
Selections from Swift, ed. Craik, Oxford University Press.
THE SPECTATOR PAPERS. Everyman, four vols.
SAMUEL JOHNSON. Selections, ed. Osgood, Henry Holt and Co., 50 cents.
BURKE. Selections, ed. Perry, Holt, 50 cents.
THOMSON'S SEASONS. Astor ed., Crowell, 60 cents.
MACAULAY'S ESSAYS. Everyman, three vols. Vol. I has the essays on Clive and
CARLYLE'S SARTOR RESARTUS. Everyman.
RUSKIN. Selections, ed. Tinker, R. L. S., 50 cents.
ARNOLD'S CULTURE AND ANARCHY. Nelson and Sons, 25 cents.
NINETEENTH CENTURY NOVELS. Largely included in Everyman.
ASSIGNMENTS FOR STUDY
These assignments must of course be freely modified in accordance with
actual needs. The discussions of the authors' works should sometimes, at
least, be made by the student in writing, sometimes after a day or two of
preliminary oral discussion in class. In addition to the special questions
here included, the treatment of the various authors in the text often
suggests topics for further consideration; and of course the material of
the preliminary chapter is assumed. Any discussion submitted, either orally
or in writing, may consist of a rather general treatment, dealing briefly
with several topics; or it may be a fuller treatment of a single topic.
Students should always express their own actual opinions, using the
judgments of others, recorded in this book or elsewhere, as helps, not as
final statements. Students should also aim always to be definite, terse,
and clear. Do not make such vague general statements as 'He has good choice
of words,' but cite a list of characteristic words or skilful expressions.
As often as possible support your conclusions by quotations from, the
author or by page-number references to relevant passages.
1. Above, Chapter I. One day.
2. 'BEOWULF.' Two days. For the first day review the discussion of the poem
above, pp. 33-36; study the additional introductory statement which here
follows; and read in the poem as much as time allows. For the second day
continue the reading, at least through the story of Beowulf's exploits in
Hrothgar's country (in Hall's translation through page 75, in Child's
through page 60), and write your discussion. Better read one day in a prose
translation, the other in a metrical translation, which will give some idea
of the effect of the original.
The historical element in the poem above referred to is this: In several
places mention is made of the fact that Hygelac, Beowulf's king, was killed
in an expedition in Frisia (Holland), and medieval Latin chronicles make
mention of the death of a king 'Chocilaicus' (evidently the same person) in
a piratical raid in 512 A. D. The poem states that Beowulf escaped from
this defeat by swimming, and it is quite possible that he was a real
warrior who thus distinguished himself.
The other facts at the basis of the poem are equally uncertain. In spite of
much investigation we can say of the tribes and localities which appear in
it only that they are those of the region of Scandinavia and Northern
Germany. As to date, poems about a historical Beowulf, a follower of
Hygelac, could not have existed before his lifetime in the sixth century,
but there is no telling how far back the possibly mythical elements may go.
The final working over of the poem into its present shape, as has been
said, probably took place in England in the seventh or eighth century; in
earlier form, perhaps in the original brief ballads, it may have been
brought to the country either by the Anglo-Saxons or by stray 'Danes.' It
is fundamentally a heathen work, and certain Christian ideas which have
been inserted here and there, such as the mention of Cain as the ancestor
of Grendel, and the disparagement of heathen gods, merely show that one of
the later poets who had it in hand was a Christian.
The genealogical introduction of something over fifty lines (down to the
first mention of Hrothgar) has nothing to do with the poem proper; the
Beowulf there mentioned is another person than the hero of the poem. In the
epic itself we can easily recognize as originally separate stories: 1.
Beowulf's fight with Grendel. 2. His fight with Grendel's mother. 3. His
fight with the fire-drake. And of course, 4, the various stories referred
to or incidentally related in brief.
Subjects for discussion: 1. Narrative qualities, such as Movement,
Proportion, Variety, Suspense. Do the style (terse and suggestive rather
than explicit) and the tendency to digressions seriously interfere with
narrative progress and with the reader's (or listener's) understanding? 2.
Dramatic vividness of scenes and incidents. 3. Descriptive qualities. 4. Do
you recognize any specifically epic characteristics? 5. Characterization,
both in general and of individuals. 6. How much of the finer elements of
feeling does the poet show? What things in Nature does he appreciate? His
sense of pathos and humor? 7. Personal and social ideals and customs. 8.
The style; its main traits; the effect of the figures of speech; are the
things used for comparisons in metaphors and similes drawn altogether from
the outer world, or partly from the world of thought? 9. The main merits
and defects of the poem and its absolute poetic value?
Written discussions may well begin with a very brief outline of the story
(not over a single page).
3. Above, chapter II. One day.
4. 'SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT' (in translation). One day.
Preliminary, pages 57-58 above. The romance combines two stories which
belong to the great body of wide-spread popular narrative and at first had
no connection with each other: 1. The beheading story. 2. The temptation.
They may have been united either by the present author or by some
predecessor of his. Subjects for discussion: 1. Narrative qualities--Unity,
Movement, Proportion, Variety, Suspense. Is the repetition of the hunts and
of Gawain's experience in the castle skilful or the reverse, in plan and in
execution? 2. Dramatic power--how vivid are the scenes and experiences? How
fully do we sympathize with the characters? 3. Power of characterization
and of psychological analysis? Are the characters types or individuals? 4.
Power of description of scenes, persons, and Nature? 5. Character of the
author? Sense of humor? How much fineness of feeling? 6. Theme of the
story? 7. Do we get an impression of actual life, or of pure romance? Note
specific details of feudal life. 8. Traits of style, such as alliteration
and figures of speech, so far as they can be judged from the translation.
5. THE PERIOD OF CHAUCER. Above, pages 59-73. One day.
6. CHAUCER'S POEMS. Two or three days. The best poems for study are: The
Prolog to the Canterbury Tales. The Nuns' Priest's Tale. The Knight's Tale.
The Squire's Tale. The Prolog to the Legend of Good Women. The text, above,
pp. 65 ff., suggests topics for consideration, if general discussion is
desired in addition to reading of the poems.
7. THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY AND THE POPULAR BALLADS. One day. Study above,
pages 74-77, and read as many ballads as possible. A full discussion of the
questions of ballad origins and the like is to be found in the 'Cambridge'
edition (Houghton Mifflin) of the ballads, edited by Sargent and Kittredge.
In addition to matters treated in the text, consider how much feeling the
authors show for Nature, and their power of description.
8. MALORY AND CAXTON. Two or three days. Study above, pages 77-81, and read
in Le Morte Darthur as much as time permits. Among the best books are: VII,
XXI, I, Xlll-XVII. Subjects for discussion: 1. Narrative qualities. 2.
Characterization, including variety of characters. 3. Amount and quality of
description. 4. How far is the book purely romantic, how far does reality
enter into it? Consider how much notice is given to other classes than the
nobility. 5. The style.
9. THE EARLIER MEDIEVAL DRAMA, INCLUDING THE MYSTERY PLAYS. Two days.
Above, Chapter IV, through page 88. Among the best plays for study are:
Abraham and Isaac (Riverside L. S. vol., p. 7); The Deluge or others in the
Everyman Library vol., pp. 29-135 (but the play 'Everyman' is not a Mystery
play and belongs to the next assignment); or any in Manly's 'Specimens of
the Pre-Shakespearean Drama,' vol. I, pp. 1-211. The Towneley Second
Shepherds' Play (so called because it is the second of two treatments of
the Nativity theme in the Towneley manuscript) is one of the most notable
plays, but is very coarse. Subjects for discussion: 1. Narrative structure
and qualities. 2. Characterization and motivation. 3. How much illusion of
reality? 4. Quality of the religious and human feeling? 5. The humor and
its relation to religious feeling. 6. Literary excellence of both substance
and expression (including the verse form).
10. THE MORALITIES AND INTERLUDES. One day. Above, pp. 89-91. Students not
familiar with 'Everyman' should read it (E. L. S. vol., p. 66; Everyman
Library vol., p. 1). Further may be read 'Mundus et Infans' (The World and
the Child. Manly's 'Specimens,' I, 353). Consider the same questions as in
the last assignment and compare the Morality Plays with the Mysteries in
general excellence and in particular qualities.
11. THE RENAISSANCE, with special study of The Faerie Queene. Four days.
Above, Chapter V, through page 116. Read a few poems of Wyatt and Surrey,
especially Wyatt's 'My lute, awake' and 'Forget not yet,' and Surrey's
'Give place, ye lovers, heretofore.' In 'The Faerie Queene' read the
Prefatory Letter and as many cantos of Book I (or, if you are familiar with
that, of some other Books) as you can assimilate--certainly not less than
three or four cantos. Subjects for discussion: 1. The allegory; its
success; how minutely should it be applied? 2. Narrative qualities. 3. The
descriptions. 4. General beauty. 5. The romantic quality. 6. The language.
7. The stanza, e. g., the variety of poetical uses and of treatment in such
matters as pauses. The teacher may well read to the class the more
important portions of Lowell's essay on Spenser, which occur in the latter
12. THE ELIZABETHAN LYRIC POEMS. Two days. Above, pages 117-121. Read as
widely as possible in the poems of the authors named. Consider such topics
as: subjects and moods; general quality and its contrast with that of later
lyric poetry; emotion, fancy, and imagination; imagery; melody and rhythm;
contrasts among the poems; the sonnets. Do not merely make general
statements, but give definite references and quotations. For the second day
make special study of such particularly 'conceited' poems as the following
and try to explain the conceits in detail and to form some opinion of their
poetic quality: Lyly's 'Apelles' Song'; Southwell's 'Burning Babe';
Ralegh's 'His Pilgrimage'; and two or three of Donne's.
13. THE EARLIER ELIZABETHAN DRAMA, with study of Marlowe's Tamburlaine,
Part I. Two days. Above, Chapter VI, through page 129. Historically,
Tamerlane was a Mongol (Scythian) leader who in the fourteenth century
overran most of Western Asia and part of Eastern Europe in much the way
indicated in the play, which is based on sixteenth century Latin lives of
him. Of course the love element is not historical but added by Marlowe.
Written discussions should begin with a very brief outline of the story
(perhaps half a page). Other matters to consider: 1. Is there an abstract
dramatic theme? 2. Can regular dramatic structure be traced, with a clear
central climax? 3. Variety of scenes? 4. Qualities of style, e. g.,
relative prominence of bombast, proper dramatic eloquence, and sheer
poetry. 5. Qualities, merits, and faults of the blank verse, in detail.
E.g.: How largely are the lines end-stopped (with a break in the sense at
the end of each line, generally indicated by a mark of punctuation), how
largely run-on (without such pause)? Is the rhythm pleasing, varied, or
monotonous? 6. Characterization and motivation.
14. THE ELIZABETHAN STAGE; SHAKSPERE; AND 'RICHARD II' AS A REPRESENTATIVE
CHRONICLE-HISTORY PLAY. Three days. Above, pages 129-140. The historical
facts on which Richard II is based may be found in any short English
history, years 1382-1399, though it must be remembered that Shakspere knew
them only in the 'Chronicle' of Holinshed. In brief outline they are as
follows: King Richard and Bolingbroke (pronounced by the Elizabethans
_Bullenbroke_) are cousins, grandsons of Edward III. Richard was a
mere child when he came to the throne and after a while five lords, among
whom were his uncle, the Duke of Gloucester (also called in the play
Woodstock), and Bolingbroke, took control of the government. Later, Richard
succeeded in recovering it and' imprisoned Gloucester at Calais in the
keeping of Mowbray. There Gloucester was murdered, probably by Richard's
orders. According to Holinshed, whom Shakspere follows, Bolingbroke accuses
Mowbray of the murder. (This is historically wrong; Bolingbroke's charge
was another, trumped up, one; but that does not concern us.) Bolingbroke's
purpose is to fix the crime on Mowbray and then prove that Mowbray acted at
The story of the play is somewhat similar to that of Marlowe's 'Edward II,'
from which Shakspere doubtless took his suggestion. Main matters to
consider throughout are: The characters, especially Richard and
Bolingbroke; the reasons for their actions; do they change or develop? How
far are the style and spirit like Marlowe; how far is there improvement? Is
the verse more poetic or rhetorical? In what sorts of passages or what
parts of scenes is rime chiefly used? Just what is the value of each scene
in furthering the action, or for the other artistic purposes of the play?
As you read, note any difficulties, and bring them up in the class.
_For the second day,_ read through Act III. Act I: Why did Richard at
first try to prevent the combat, then yield, and at the last moment forbid
it? Are these changes significant, or important in results? (The 'long
flourish' at I, iii, 122, is a bit of stage symbolism, representing an
interval of two hours in which Richard deliberated with his council.)
_For the third day,_ finish the play and write your discussion, which
should consist of a very brief outline of the story and consideration of
the questions that seem to you most important. Some, in addition to those
above stated, are: How far is it a mere Chronicle-history play, how far a
regular tragedy? Has it an abstract theme, like a tragedy? Are there any
scenes which violate unity? Is there a regular dramatic line of action,
with central climax? Does Shakspere indicate any moral judgment on
Bolingbroke's actions? General dramatic power--rapidity in getting started,
in movement, variety, etc.? Note how large a part women have in the play,
and how large a purely poetic element there is, as compared with the
dramatic. The actual historical time is about two years. Does it appear so
15. 'TWELFTH NIGHT' AS A REPRESENTATIVE ROMANTIC COMEDY. Three days, with
written discussion. In the Elizabethan period the holiday revelry continued
for twelve days after Christmas; the name of the play means that it is such
a one as might be used to complete the festivities. Helpful interpretation
of the play is to be found in such books as: F. S. Boas, 'Shakspere and his
Predecessors,' pp. 313 ff; Edward Dowden, 'Shakspere's Mind and Art,' page
328; and Barrett Wendell, 'William Shakspere,' pp. 205 ff. Shakspere took
the outline of the plot from a current story, which appears, especially, in
one of the Elizabethan 'novels.' Much of the jesting of the clown and
others of the characters is mere light trifling, which loses most of its
force in print to-day. The position of steward (manager of the estate)
which Malvolio holds with Olivia was one of dignity and importance, though
the steward was nevertheless only the chief servant. The unsympathetic
presentation of Malvolio is of the same sort which Puritans regularly
received in the Elizabethan drama, because of their opposition to the
theater. Where is Illyria, and why does Shakspere locate the play there?
_First day_: Acts I and II. 1. Make sure you can tell the story
clearly. 2. How many distinct actions? 3. Which one is chief? 4. Why does
Shakspere combine them in one play? 5. Which predominates, romance or
realism? 6. Note specifically the improbable incidents. 7. For what sorts
of scenes are verse and prose respectively used? Poetic quality of the
verse? 8. Characterize the main persons and state their relations to the
others, or purposes in regard to them. Which set of persons is most
_Second day_: The rest. (The treatment given to Malvolio was the
regular one for madmen; it was thought that madness was due to an evil
spirit, which must be driven out by cruelty.) Make sure of the story and
characters as before. 9. How skilful are the interweaving and development
of the actions? 10. How skilful the 'resolution' (straightening out) of the
suspense and complications at the end? 11. Is the outcome, in its various
details, probable or conventional? 12. Is there ever any approach to tragic
_Third day_: Write your discussion, consisting of: I, a rather full
outline of the story (in condensing you will do better not always to follow
Shakspere's order), and II, your main impressions, including some of the
above points or of the following: 13. How does the excellence of the
characterization compare with that in 'Richard II'? 14. Work out the
time-scheme of the play--the amount of time which it covers, the end of
each day represented, and the length of the gaps to be assumed between
these days. Is there entire consistency in the treatment of time? 15. Note
in four parallel columns, two for the romantic action and two for the
others together, the events in the story which respectively are and are not
presented on the stage.
16. 'HAMLET' AS A REPRESENTATIVE TRAGEDY. Four days, with written
discussion. Students can get much help from good interpretative
commentaries, such as: C. M. Lewis, 'The Genesis of Hamlet,' on which the
theories here stated are partly based; A. C. Bradley, 'Shakspearean
Tragedy,' pp. 89-174; Edward Dowden, 'Shakspere Primer,' 119 ff.; Barrett
Wendell, 'William Shakspere,' 250 ff.; Georg Brandes, 'William
Shakespeare,' one vol. ed., book II, chaps. xiii-xviii; F. S. Boas,
'Shakespeare and his Predecessors,' 384 ff.; S. T. Coleridge, 'Lectures on
Shakspere,' including the last two or three pages of the twelfth lecture.
The original version of the Hamlet story is a brief narrative in the
legendary so-called 'Danish History,' written in Latin by the Dane Saxo the
Grammarian about the year 1200. About 1570 this was put into a much
expanded French form, still very different from Shakspere's, by the
'novelist' Belleforest, in his 'Histoires Tragiques.' (There is a
translation of Belleforest in the second volume of the 'Variorum' edition
of 'Hamlet'; also in Hazlitt's 'Shakespeare Library,' I, ii, 217 ff.)
Probably on this was based an English play, perhaps written by Thomas Kyd,
which is now lost but which seems to be represented, in miserably garbled
form, in an existing text of a German play acted by English players in
Germany in the seventeenth century. (This German play is printed in the
'Variorum' edition of 'Hamlet,' vol. II.) This English play was probably
Shakspere's source. Shakspere's play was entered in the 'Stationers'
Register' (corresponding to present-day copyrighting) in 1602, and his play
was first published (the first quarto) in 1603. This is evidently only
Shakspere's early tentative form, issued, moreover, by a piratical
publisher from the wretchedly imperfect notes of a reporter sent to the
theater for the purpose. (This first quarto is also printed in the
'Variorum' edition.) The second quarto, virtually Shakspere's finished
form, was published in 1604. Shakspere, therefore, was evidently working on
the play for at least two or three years, during which he transformed it
from a crude and sensational melodrama of murder and revenge into a
spiritual study of character and human problems. But this transformation
could not be complete--the play remains bloody--and its gradual progress,
as Shakspere's conception of the possibilities broadened, has left
inconsistencies in the characters and action.
It is important to understand the situation and events at the Danish court
just before the opening of the play. In Saxo the time was represented as
being the tenth century; in Shakspere, as usual, the manners and the whole
atmosphere are largely those of his own age. The king was the elder Hamlet,
father of Prince Hamlet, whose love and admiration for him were extreme.
Prince Hamlet was studying at the University of Wittenberg in Germany; in
Shakspere's first quarto it is made clear that he had been there for some
years; whether this is the assumption in the final version is one of the
minor questions to consider. Hamlet's age should also be considered. The
wife of the king and mother of Prince Hamlet was Gertrude, a weak but
attractive woman of whom they were both very fond. The king had a brother,
Claudius, whom Prince Hamlet had always intensely disliked. Claudius had
seduced Gertrude, and a few weeks before the play opens murdered King
Hamlet in the way revealed in Act I. Of the former crime no one but the
principals were aware; of the latter at most no one but Claudius and
Gertrude; in the first quarto it is made clear that she was ignorant of it;
whether that is Shakspere's meaning in the final version is another
question to consider. After the murder Claudius got himself elected king by
the Danish nobles. There was nothing illegal in this; the story assumes
that as often in medieval Europe a new king might be chosen from among all
the men of the royal family; but Prince Hamlet had reason to feel that
Claudius had taken advantage of his absence to forestall his natural
candidacy. The respect shown throughout the play by Claudius to Polonius,
the Lord Chamberlain, now in his dotage, suggests that possibly Polonius
was instrumental in securing Claudius' election. A very few weeks after the
death of King Hamlet, Claudius married Gertrude. Prince Hamlet, recalled to
Denmark by the news of his father's death, was plunged into a state of
wretched despondency by the shock of that terrible grief and by his
mother's indecently hasty marriage to a man whom he detested.
There has been much discussion as to whether or not Shakspere means to
represent Hamlet as mad, but very few competent critics now believe that
Hamlet is mad at any time. The student should discover proof of this
conclusion in the play; but it should be added that all the earlier
versions of the story explicitly state that the madness is feigned.
Hamlet's temperament, however, should receive careful consideration. The
actual central questions of the play are: 1. Why does Hamlet delay in
killing King Claudius after the revelation by his father's Ghost in I iv?
2. Why does he feign madness? As to the delay: It must be premised that the
primitive law of blood-revenge is still binding in Denmark, so that after
the revelation by the Ghost it is Hamlet's duty to kill Claudius. Of course
it is dramatically necessary that he shall delay, otherwise there would be
no play; but that is irrelevant to the question of the human motivation.
The following are the chief explanations suggested, and students should
carefully consider how far each of them may be true. 1. There are external
difficulties, _a_. In the earlier versions of the story Claudius was
surrounded by guards, so that Hamlet could not get at him. Is this true in
Shakspere's play? _b_. Hamlet must wait until he can justify his deed
to the court; otherwise his act would be misunderstood and he might himself
be put to death, and so fail of real revenge. Do you find indications that
Shakspere takes this view? 2. Hamlet is a sentimental weakling, incapable
by nature of decisive action. This was the view of Goethe. Is it consistent
with Hamlet's words and deeds? 3. Hamlet's scholar's habit of study and
analysis has largely paralyzed his natural power of action. He must stop
and weigh every action beforehand, until he bewilders himself in the maze
of incentives and dissuasives. 4. This acquired tendency is greatly
increased by his present state of extreme grief and despondency.
(Especially argued by Professor Bradley.) 5. His moral nature revolts at
the idea of assassination; in him the barbarous standard of a primitive
time and the finer feelings of a highly civilized and sensitive man are in
conflict. 6. He distrusts the authenticity of the Ghost and wishes to make
sure that it is not (literally) a device of the devil before obeying it.
Supposing that this is so, does it suffice for the complete explanation,
and is Hamlet altogether sincere in falling back on it?
In a hasty study like the present the reasons for Hamlet's pretense of
madness can be arrived at only by starting not only with some knowledge of
the details of the earlier versions but with some definite theory. The one
which follows is substantially that of Professor Lewis. The pretense of
madness was a natural part of the earlier versions, since in them Hamlet's
uncle killed his father openly and knew that Hamlet would naturally wish to
avenge the murder; in those versions Hamlet feigns madness in order that he
may seem harmless. In Shakspere's play (and probably in the older play from
which he drew), Claudius does not know that Hamlet is aware of his guilt;
hence Hamlet's pretense of madness is not only useless but foolish, for it
attracts unnecessary attention to him and if discovered to be a pretense
must suggest that he has some secret plan, that is, must suggest to
Claudius that Hamlet may know the truth. Shakspere, therefore, retains the
pretense of madness mainly because it had become too popular a part of the
story (which was known beforehand to most theater-goers) to be omitted.
Shakspere suggests as explanations (motivation) for it, first that it
serves as a safety-valve for Hamlet's emotions (is this an adequate
reason?); and second that he resolves on it in the first heat of his
excitement at the Ghost's revelation (I, iv). The student should consider
whether this second explanation is sound, whether at that moment Hamlet
could weigh the whole situation and the future probabilities, could realize
that he would delay in obeying the Ghost and so would need the shield of
pretended madness. Whether or not Shakspere's treatment seems rational on
analysis the student should consider whether it is satisfactory as the play
is presented on the stage, which is what a dramatist primarily aims at. It
should be remembered also that Shakspere's personal interest is in the
struggle in Hamlet's inner nature.
Another interesting question regards Hamlet's love for Ophelia. When did it
begin? Is it very deep, so that, as some critics hold, when Ophelia fails
him he suffers another incurable wound, or is it a very secondary thing as
compared with his other interests? Is the evidence in the play sufficiently
clear to decide these questions conclusively? Is it always consistent?
_For the second day,_ study to the end of Act II. Suggestions on
details (the line numbers are those adopted in the 'Globe' edition and
followed in most others): I, ii: Notice particularly the difference in the
attitude of Hamlet toward Claudius and Gertrude respectively and the
attitude of Claudius toward him. At the end of the scene notice the
qualities of Hamlet's temperament and intellect. Scenes iv and v: Again
notice Hamlet's temperament, v, 107: The 'tables' are the waxen tablet
which Hamlet as a student carries. It is of course absurd for him to write
on them now; he merely does instinctively, in his excitement and
uncertainty, what he is used to doing. 115-116: The falconer's cry to his
bird; here used because of its penetrating quality. 149 ff.: The speaking
of the Ghost under the floor is a sensational element which Shakspere keeps
for effect from the older play, where it is better motivated--there Hamlet
started to tell everything to his companions, and the Ghost's cries are
meant to indicate displeasure. II, ii, 342; 'The city' is Wittenberg. What
follows is a topical allusion to the rivalry at the time of writing between
the regular men's theatrical companies and those of the boys.
_Third day,_ Acts III and IV. III, i, 100-101: Professor Lewis points
out that these lines, properly placed in the first quarto, are out of order
here, since up to this point in the scene Ophelia has reason to tax herself
with unkindness, but none to blame Hamlet. This is an oversight of
Shakspere in revising. Scene ii, 1 ff.: A famous piece of professional
histrionic criticism, springing from Shakspere's irritation at bad acting;
of course it is irrelevant to the play. 95: Note 'I must be idle.' Scene
iii: Does the device of the play of scene ii prove wise and successful, on
the whole? 73 ff.: Is Hamlet sincere with himself here?
_Fourth day:_ Finish the play and write your discussion. V, i: Why are
the clowns brought into the play? ii, 283: A 'union' was a large pearl,
here dissolved in the wine to make it more precious. In the old play
instead of the pearl there was a diamond pounded fine, which constituted
the poison. Why is Fortinbras included in the play?
Your discussion should include a much condensed outline of the play, a
statement of its theme and main meanings as you see them, and a careful
treatment of whatever question or questions most interest you. In addition
to those above suggested, the character of Hamlet is an attractive topic.
17. The Rest of the Dramatists to 1642, and the Study of Jonson's
'Sejanus.' Three days, with written discussion of 'Sejanus.' Above, pp.
141-150. Preliminary information about 'Sejanus:' Of the characters in the
play the following are patriots, opposed to Sejanus: Agrippina, Drusus, the
three boys, Arruntius, Silius, Sabinus, Lepidus, Cordus, Gallus, Regulus.
The rest, except Macro and Laco, are partisans of Sejanus. In his estimate
of Tiberius' character Jonson follows the traditional view, which scholars
now believe unjust. Sejanus' rule actually lasted from 23-31 A.D.; Jonson
largely condenses. Livia Augusta, still alive at the time of the play, and
there referred to as 'the great Augusta,' was mother of Tiberius and a
Drusus (now dead) by a certain Tiberius Claudius Nero (not the Emperor
Nero). After his death she married the Emperor Augustus, who adopted
Tiberius and whom Tiberius has succeeded. The Drusus above-mentioned has
been murdered by Tiberius and Sejanus. By the Agrippina of the play Drusus
was mother of the three boys of the play, Nero (not the Emperor), Drusus
Junior, and Caligula (later Emperor). The Drusus Senior of the play is son
of Tiberius. In reading the play do not omit the various introductory prose
addresses, etc. (The collaborator whose part Jonson has characteristically
displaced in the final form of the play may have been Shakspere.)
_For the second day,_ read through Act IV. Questions: 1. How far does
Jonson follow the classical principles of art and the drama, general and
special? 2. Try to formulate definitely the differences between Jonson's
and Shakspere's method of presenting Roman life, and their respective power
and effects. Does Jonson's knowledge interfere with his dramatic
effectiveness? 3. The characters. Why so many? How many are distinctly
individualized? Characterize these. What methods of characterization does
Jonson use? 4. Compare Jonson's style and verse with Shakspere's. 5.
Effectiveness of III, 1? Is Tiberius sincere in saying that he meant to
_For the third day_, finish the reading and write your discussion. 6.
Excellence in general dramatic qualities, especially Movement, Suspense,
Variety. Is the act-division organic? 7. State the theme. 8. Locate the
points in the line of action, especially the central climax. 9. Specific
points of influence from Greek and Senecan tragedy. Begin your discussion
with a summary of the story (but do not merely copy from Jonson's own
18. Francis Bacon and his Essays. One day. Above, pp. 151-156. Read half a
dozen of the Essays, including those on Studies and Friendship. The
numerous illustrations from classical history and literature were of course
natural to Bacon and his readers. The main matters for consideration are
suggested above. It would be interesting to state definitely, with
illustrations, those characteristics of Bacon's mind which make it
impossible that he should have written Shakspere's plays. Or you might
compare and contrast his essays with others that you know, such as those of
Emerson, Addison, Macaulay, or Lamb.
19. The King James Bible. If circumstances permit any number of hours may
be devoted to the style of the Bible or its contents--literary form,
narrative qualities or a hundred other topics. Comparison with the
Wiclifite or other earlier versions is interesting. Above, pp. 156-157.
20. The Seventeenth Century Minor Lyric Poets. Two days. Above, pages
157-164. Read as many as possible of the poems of the authors named.
Consider the differences in subjects and tone between them and the
Elizabethan poets on the one hand and the nineteenth century poets on the
other. Form a judgment of their absolute poetic value.
21. Milton. Above, pp. 164-170. Every one should be familiar with all the
poems of Milton mentioned in the text. Suggested assignments:
One day. The shorter poems. In the 'Nativity Hymn,' 'L'Allegro,' and 'Il
Penseroso' note appeals to sight (especially light and color), sound, and
general physical sensation, and cases of onomatopoeia or especial
adaptation of metrical movement to the sense. Of Lycidas write a summary
outline, indicating thought-divisions by line numbers; state the theme; and
consider Unity. Does the conventional pastoralism render the poem
artificial or insincere? Respective elements of Classicism and Romanticism
in the shorter poems?
Questions on 'Paradise Lost' are included in the present author's
'Principles of Composition and Literature,' Part II, pages 204 ff. Perhaps
the most important Books are I, II, IV, and VI.
One of the most suggestive essays on Milton is that of Walter Bagehot.
22. Bunyan and 'Pilgrim's Progress.' Above, pages 171-174. Many students
will have read 'Pilgrim's Progress' as children, but most will gain by
critical study of it. Perhaps two days may be devoted to Part I. Subjects
for discussion, in addition to those above suggested: 1. The allegory.
Compare with that of 'The Faerie Queene.' 2. The style. Compare with the
Bible and note words or expressions not derived from it. 3. Bunyan's
religion--how far spiritual, how far materialistic? 4. His personal
qualities--sympathy, humor, etc. 5. His descriptions. Does he care for
external Nature? Any influence from the Bible?
23. THE RESTORATION PERIOD AND DRYDEN, Above, Chapter VIII. One day.
24. DRYDEN'S 'ALEXANDER'S FEAST' AND ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL,' Part I. How
does the lyric quality of 'Alexander's Feast' compare with that of the best
lyrics of more Romantic periods? Compare 'Absalom and Achitophel' with the
source in II Samuel, Chapter XIII, verse 23, to Chapter XVIII. 1. How
cleverly is the ancient story applied to the modern facts? (The comparison
of Charles II to David was not original with Dryden, but was a commonplace
of the Court party. Of the minor characters: Ishbosheth, line 58, is
Richard Cromwell; Zimri, 544 ff., the Duke of Buckingham; Corah, 632 ff.,
Titus Dates; Bathsheba, 710, the Duchess of Portsmouth; Barzillai, 817, the
Duke of Ormond; Zadoc, 864, Archbishop Bancroft. The 'progress' of 729 ff.
is that which Monmouth made in 1680 through the West of England. Who or
what are the Jebusites, Egypt, Pharoah, and Saul?) 2. Power as a satire? 3.
Qualities and effectiveness of the verse, as you see it. How regularly are
the couplets end-stopped? 4. Is it real poetry?
25. THE PSEUDO-CLASSIC PERIOD AND DANIEL DEFOE, with study of Part I of
'Robinson Crusoe.' Three days. Above, pages 189-195, and in 'Robinson
Crusoe' as much as time allows. Better begin with Robinson's fourth voyage
(in the 'Everyman' edition, page 27). Consider such matters as: 1. The
sources of interest. Does the book make as strong appeal to grown persons
as to children, and to all classes of persons? 2. The use of details. Are
there too many? Is there skilful choice? Try to discover some of the
numerous inconsistencies which resulted from Defoe's haste and general
manner of composition, and cases in which he attempts to correct them by
supplementary statements. 3. The motivation. Is it always satisfactory? 4.
Characterize Robinson. The nature of his religion? How far is his character
like that of Defoe himself? 5. Success of the characterization of the other
persons, especially Friday? Does Defoe understand savages? 6. Narrative
qualities. How far has the book a plot? Value of the first-personal method
of narration? 7. The Setting. Has Defoe any feeling for Nature, or does he
describe merely for expository purposes? 8. The style. 9. Defoe's nature as
the book shows it. His sense of humor, pathos, etc. 10. Has the book a
26. JONATHAN SWIFT. Two days. Above, pages 195-202. In the reading, a
little of Swift's poetry should be included, especially a part of 'On the
Death of Dr. Swift'; and of the prose 'A Modest Proposal,' perhaps the
'Journal to Stella' (in brief selections), 'A Tale of a Tub,' and
'Gulliver's Travels.' Of course each student should center attention on the
works with which he has no adequate previous acquaintance. In 'The Tale of
a Tub' better omit the digressions; read the Author's Preface (not the
Apology), which explains the name, and sections 2, 4, 6, and 11. Subjects
for discussion should readily suggest themselves.
27. STEELE AND ADDISON AND THE 'SPECTATOR' PAPERS. Two days. Above, pages
202-208. Read a dozen or more of the 'Spectator' papers, from the De
Coverly papers if you are not already familiar with them, otherwise others.
Subjects: 1. The style. What gives it its smoothness-balance of clauses,
the choice of words for their sound, or etc.? The relation of long and
short sentences. 2. The moral instruction. How pervasive is it? How
agreeable? Things chiefly attacked? 3. Customs and manners as indicated in
the essays-entertainments, modes of traveling, social conventions, etc. 4.
Social and moral standards of the time, especially their defects, as
attacked in the papers. 5. The use of humor. 6. Characterization in the De
Coverly papers. Is the method general or detailed? Is there much
description of personal appearance? Is characterization mostly by
exposition, action or conversation? How clear are the characters? 7. Is Sir
Roger real or 'idealized'? 8. General narrative skill (not merely in the De
Coverly papers). 9. How near do the De Coverly papers come to making a
modern story? Consider the relative proportions of characterization,
action, and setting. 10. Compare the 'Spectator' essays with any others
with which you are familiar.
28. ALEXANDER POPE. The number of exercises may depend on circumstances.
Above, pages 190-191 and 208-215. As many as possible of the poems named in
the text (except 'The Dunciad') should be read, in whole or in part. 'An
Essay on Criticism': (By 'Nature' Pope means actual reality in anything,
not merely external Nature.) Note with examples the pseudo-classical
qualities in: 1. Subject-matter. 2. The relation of intellectual and
emotional elements. 3. The vocabulary and expression. 4. How deep is Pope's
feeling for external Nature? 5. State his ideas on the relation of
'Nature,' the ancients, and modern poets; also on authority and
originality. 6. In relation to his capacity for clear thought note in how
many different senses he uses the word 'wit.' 'The Rape of the Lock': Note
the attitude toward women. Your opinion of its success? How far is it like,
how far unlike, the 'Essay on Criticism'? Was the introduction of the
sylphs fortunate? Pope took them from current notions--books had been
written which asserted that there was a fantastic sect, the Rosicrucians,
who believed that the air was full of them. 'Eloisa to Abelard': (Abelard
was a very famous unorthodox philosopher of the twelfth century who loved
Heloise and was barbarously parted from her. Becoming Abbot of a monastery,
he had her made Abbess of a convent. From one of the passionate letters
which later passed between them and which it is interesting to read in
comparison Pope takes the idea and something of the substance of the poem.)
In your opinion does it show that Pope had real poetic emotion? Does the
rimed pentameter couplet prove itself a possible poetic vehicle for such
emotion? The translation of 'The Iliad': Compare with corresponding
passages in the original or in the translation of Lang, Leaf, and Myers
(Macmillan). Just how does Pope's version differ from the original? How
does it compare with it in excellence? The 'Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot': Note
Pope's personal traits as they appear here. How do the satirical portraits
and the poem in general compare with Dryden's 'Absalom and Achitophel'? In
general summary consider: Pope's spirit, his artistry, his comparative rank
as a poet, and the merits and defects of the couplet as he employs it.
29. SAMUEL JOHNSON. Two days. Above, pages 216-223. 'The Vanity of Human
Wishes': How far does it illustrate the pseudo-classical characteristics
(above, pages 190 and 215) and Johnson's own traits? How does it compare
with Pope's poems in artistry and power? The prose reading should consist
of or include the letter to Lord Chesterfield, a few essays from 'The
Rambler,' one or more of the 'Lives of the Poets' and perhaps a part of
'Rasselas.' 1. The style, both absolutely and in comparison with previous
writers. Is it always the same? You might make a definite study of (a) the
relative number of long and short words, (b) long and short and (c) loose
and balanced sentences. 2. How far do Johnson's moralizing, his pessimism,
and other things in his point of view and personality deprive his work of
permanent interest and significance? 3. His skill as a narrator? 4. His
merits and defects as a literary critic? 5. His qualifications and success
as a biographer?
30. BOSWELL AND HIS 'LIFE OF JOHNSON.' One day. Above, pages 223-225. Read
anywhere in the 'Life' as much as time allows, either consecutively or at
intervals. Your impression of it, absolutely and in comparison with other
biographies? Boswell's personality. Note an interesting incident or two for
citation in class.
31. GIBBON AND 'THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.' One day. Above,
pages 225-229. Read a chapter or two in the history. Among the best
chapters are numbers 1, 2, 3, 11, 14, 17, 24, 26, 29, 30, 35, 39, 40, 44,
50, 52, 58, 59, 68. Questions for consideration are suggested above, such
as: his power in exposition and narration; how his history compares with
later ones; his style.
32. EDMUND BURKE. Two days. Above, pages 229-236. Every one should be
familiar with the speech 'On Conciliation with America.' The speeches at
Bristol are among the briefest of Burke's masterpieces. Beyond these, in
rapid study he may best be read in extracts. Especially notable are:
'Thoughts on the Present Discontents'; 'An Address to the King'; the latter
half of the speech 'On the Nabob of Areot's Debts'; 'Reflections on the
Revolution in France'; 'A Letter to a Noble Lord.' Subjects for
consideration are suggested by the text. It would be especially interesting
to compare Burke's style carefully with Gibbon's and Johnson's. His
technique in exposition and argument is another topic; consider among other
points how far his order is strictly logical, how far modified for
33. THE ROMANTIC MOVEMENT, THOMSON, AND COLLINS. One day. Above, pages
236-240. The reading may include extracts from Thomson and should include
most of Collins' 'Odes.' The student should note specifically in Collins
respective elements of classic, pseudo-classic; and romantic spirit, in
general and in details.
34. GRAY, GOLDSMITH, PERCY, MACPHERSON, AND CHATTERTON. One day. Above,
pages 240-247. The reading should include most of Gray's poems and 'The
Deserted Village.' Questions for consideration are suggested in the text,
but students should be able to state definitely just what are the things
that make Gray's 'Elegy' a great poem and should form definite opinions as
to the rank of 'The Bard' and 'The Progress of Poesy' among lyrics. These
two poems are the best examples in English of, the true Pindaric Ode as
devised by the ancient Greeks. By them it was intended for chanting by
dancing choruses. It always consists of three stanzas or some multiple of
three. In each set of three the first stanza is called the strophe (turn),
being intended, probably, for chanting as the chorus moved in one
direction; the second stanza is called the antistrophe, chanted as the
chorus executed a second, contrasting, movement; and the third stanza the
epode, chanted as the chorus stood still. The metrical structure of each
stanza is elaborate (differing in different poems), but metrically all the
strophes and antistrophes in any given poem must be exactly identical with
each other and different from the epodes. The form is of course artificial
in English, but the imaginative splendor and restrained power of expression
to which it lends itself in skilful and patient hands, give it especial
distinction. Lowell declares that 'The Progress of Poesy' 'overflies all
other English lyrics like an eagle,' and Mr. Gosse observes of both poems
that the qualities to be regarded are 'originality of structure, the varied
music of their balanced strophes, as of majestic antiphonal choruses,
answering one another in some antique temple, and the extraordinary skill
with which the evolution of the theme is observed and restrained.' 'The
Progress of Poesy' allegorically states the origin of Poetry in Greece;
expresses its power over all men for all emotions; and briefly traces its
passage from Greece to Rome and then to England, with Shakspere, Milton,
Dryden, and finally some poet yet to be. 'The Bard' is the imagined
denunciatory utterance of a Welsh bard, the sole survivor from the
slaughter of the bards made by Edward I of England on his conquest of
Wales. The speaker foretells in detail the tragic history of Edward's
descendants until the curse is removed at the accession of Queen Elizabeth,
who as a Tudor was partly of Welsh descent.
35. COWPER, BLAKE AND BUMS. One day. Above, pages 247-253. The reading
should include a few of the poems of each poet, and students should note
definitely the main characteristics of each, romantic and general.
36. THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY NOVEL AND GOLDSMITH'S 'VICAR OF WAKEFIELD.'
Above, pages 253-264. Most students will already have some acquaintance
with 'The Vicar of Wakefield.' Read again as much as time allows,
supplementing and correcting your earlier impressions. Consider: 1. The
relation of idealism, romance, and reality. 2. Probability, motivation, and
the use of accident. 3. The characterization. Characterize the main
persons. 4. Narrative qualities, such as unity, suspense, movement. 5. Is
moralizing too prominent! 6. The style.
37. COLERIDGE. One day. Above, pages 265-270. Read at least 'Kubla Khan,'
'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,' and Part I of 'Christabel.' In 'Kubla
Kahn' 'Xanadu' is Coleridge's form for 'Xamdu,' the capital of Kublai Khan
in Purchas's Pilgrimage, which Coleridge was reading when he fell into the
sleep in which he wrote the poem. Coleridge said (though he is not to be
trusted explicitly) that he composed the poem, to a length of over 200
lines, without conscious effort; that on awaking he wrote down what has
been preserved; that he was then called out on an errand; and returning
after an hour he could recollect only this much. How far do you agree with
Swinburne's judgment: 'It is perhaps the most wonderful of all poems. We
seem rapt into that paradise revealed to Swedenborg, where music and color
and perfume were one, where you could hear the hues and see the harmonies
of heaven. For absolute melody and splendor it were hardly rash to call it
the first poem in the language. An exquisite instinct married to a subtle
science of verse has made it the supreme model of music in our language,
unapproachable except by Shelley.' In all the poems consider: 1. Is his
romantic world too remote from reality to be interesting, or has it poetic
imagination that makes it true in the deepest sense? 2. Which is more
important, the romantic atmosphere, or the story? 3. How important a part
do description or pictures play? Are the descriptions minute or
impressionistic? 4. Note some of the most effective onomatopoeic passages.
What is the main meaning or idea of 'The Ancient Mariner'? With reference
to this, where is the central climax of the story? Try to interpret
38. WORDSWORTH. Two days. Above, pages 270-277. Read as many as time allows
of his most important shorter poems. Your impressions about: 1. His Nature
poems. 2. His ideas of the relation of God, Nature, and Man. 3. The
application of his theory of simple subjects and simple style in his
poems--its consistency and success. 4. His emotion and sentiment. 5. His
poems in the classical style. 6. His political and patriotic sonnets. 7.
His power as philosopher and moralizer. 8. His rank as a poet. For the last
day write a clear but brief outline in declarative statements, with
references to stanza numbers, of the 'Ode on Intimations of Immortality.'
What is its theme?
39. SOUTHEY, SCOTT, AND BYRON. Two days, with discussion of Byron. Above,
pages 277-288. No reading is here assigned in Southey or Scott, because
Southey is of secondary importance and several of Scott's works, both poems
and novels, are probably familiar to most students. Of Byron should be read
part of the third and fourth cantos of 'Childe Harold' and some of the
lyric poems. Subjects for discussion are suggested in the text. Especially
may be considered his feeling for Nature, his power of description, and the
question how far his faults as a poet nullify his merits.
40. SHELLEY. Two days. Above, pages 288-294. The reading should include the
more important lyric poems. 1. Does his romantic world attract you, or does
it seem too unreal? 2. Note specific cases of pictures, appeals to various
senses, and melody. 3. Compare or contrast his feeling for Nature and his
treatment of Nature in his poetry with that of Wordsworth, Coleridge,
Scott, or Byron. Read 'Adonais' last and include in your report an outline
of it in a dozen or two sentences, with references to stanza numbers. The
outline should indicate the divisions of the poems and should make the
thought-development clear. (The poem imitates the Greek elegies, of which
the earliest now preserved was the Lament by Bion for Adonis, the
mythological youth beloved by Venus.) Shelley seems to have invented the
name 'Adonais' (standing for 'Keats') on analogy with 'Adonis.' Stanzas 17,
27-29, and 36-38 refer to the reviewer of Keats' poems in 'The Quarterly
Review.' In stanza 30 'The Pilgrim of Eternity' is Byron and the poet of
Ierne (Ireland) is Thomas Moore. 231 ff: the 'frail Form' is Shelley
41. KEATS. One day. Above, pages 294-298. Read 'The Eve of St. Agnes,' the
'Ode to a Nightingale,' 'Ode to a Grecian Urn,' and others of the shorter
poems. 1. Note definitely for citation in class passages of strong appeal
to the various senses and of beautiful melody and cadence. 2. Just what are
the excellences of 'The Eve of St. Agnes'? Is it a narrative poem? 3.
Consider classical and romantic elements in the poems.
42. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE VICTORIAN PERIOD, AND MACAULAY. Two days,
with written discussion, of Macaulay. Above, pages 299-309. read either (1)
one of the essays, for example that on Olive or Bacon or Pitt or Chatham or
Warren Hastings, or (2) a chapter in the History. Good chapters for the
purpose are: 3, 5, 8, 15, 16, 20, 25. The following topics may be used for
written discussions, or may be assigned to individual students for oral
reports in class. Oral reports should be either written out in full and
read or given from notes; they should occupy five or ten minutes each and
may include illustrative quotations. 1. The effect of Macaulay's
self-confidence and dogmatism on the power of his writing and on the
reader's feeling toward it. 2. His power in exposition; e.g., the number
and concreteness of details, the power of selection, emphasis, and bringing
out the essentials. 3. Structure, including Unity, Proportion, Movement. 4.
Traits of style; e.g., use of antithesis and figures of speech; sentence
length and balance. 5. How far does his lack of Idealism injure his work?
Has he the power of appealing to the grand romantic imagination? 6. His
power in description. 7. Power as a historian. Compare him with other
43. CARLYLE. Two days. Above, pages 309-314. Unless you are already
familiar with 'Sartor Resartus' read in it Book II, chapters 6-9, and also
if by any means possible Book III, chapters 5 and 8. Otherwise read in
'Heroes and Hero-Worship' or 'The French Revolution.' (The first and third
books of 'Sartor Resartus' purport to consist of extracts from a printed
book of Teufelsdrockh, with comments by Carlyle; the second book outlines
Teufelsdrockh's (Carlyle's) spiritual autobiography.) In 'Sartor Resartus':
1. Make sure that you can tell definitely the precise meaning of The
Everlasting No, The Center of Indifference, and The Everlasting Yea. Look
up, e. g. in 'The Century Dictionary,' all terms that you do not
understand, such as 'Baphometic Fire-Baptism.' 2. Your general opinion of
his style? 3. Note definitely its main peculiarities in (a) spirit; (b)
vocabulary and word forms; (c) grammar and rhetoric.
44. RUSKIN. Two days. Above, pages 314-319. Most convenient for the
purposes of this study is Tinker's 'Selections from Ruskin' (Riverside
Literature Series). Everything there is worth while; but among the best
passages are 'The Throne,' page 138, and 'St. Mark's,' page 150; while
pages 20-57 are rather more technical than the rest. Among Ruskin's
complete works 'Sesame and Lilies,' 'The Crown of Wild Olives,' and
'Praterita' are as available and characteristic as any. Subjects for
written or oral reports: 1. His temperament and his fitness as a critic and
teacher. 2. His style--eloquence, rhythm, etc. 3. His power of observation.
4. His power in description. Consider both his sensitiveness to
sense-impressions and his imagination. 5. His expository power. 6. His
ideas on Art. How far are they sound? (In the 'Selections' there are
relevant passages on pages 164, 200, and 233.) 7. His religious ideas. How
far do they change with time? 8. His ideas on modern political economy and
modern life. How far are they reasonable? (Perhaps 'Munera Pulveris' or
'Unto This Last' states his views as well as any other one of his works.)
9. Compare with Carlyle in temperament, ideas, and usefulness.
45. MATTHEW ARNOLD. Three days. Above, pages 319-325. The poems read should
include 'Sohrab and Rustum' and a number of the shorter ones. The
discussion of the poems may treat: The combination in Arnold of classic and
romantic qualities; distinguishing traits of emotion and expression; and,
in 'Sohrab and Rustum,' narrative qualities. If you are familiar with
Homer, consider precisely the ways in which Arnold imitates Homer's style.
Of the prose works best read 'Culture and Anarchy,' at least the
introduction (not the Preface), chapters 1, 3, 4 and 5, and the Conclusion.
Otherwise read from the essays named in the text or from Professor L. E.
Gates' volume of Selections from Arnold. Consider more fully any of the
points treated above. If you read the 'Essays on Translating Homer' note
the four main qualities which Arnold finds in Homer's style.
46. TENNYSON. Two days. Above, pages 325-329. Special attention may be
given to any one, or more, of the statements or suggestions in the text,
considering its application in the poems read, with citation of
illustrative lines. Or consider some of the less simple poems carefully. E.
g., is 'The Lady of Shalott' pure romance or allegory? If allegory, what is
the meaning? Outline in detail the thought-development of 'The Two Voices.'
Meaning of such poems as 'Ulysses' and 'Merlin and the Gleam'?
47. ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING AND ROBERT BROWNING. Two days. Above, pages
329-335. In general consider the application of the statements in the text;
and in the case of Robert Browning consider emotional, dramatic,
descriptive, and narrative power, poetic beauty, and adaptation of the
verse-form to the substance. Interpret the poems as carefully as possible;
discussions may consist, at least in part, of such interpretations.
48. ROSSETTI, MORRIS AND SWINBURNE. Above, pages 335-341. Students might
compare and contrast the poetry of these three men, either on the basis of
points suggested in the text or otherwise.
From this point on, the time and methods available for the study are likely
to vary so greatly in different classes that it seems not worth while to
continue these suggestions.