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THE great names of Jonson and Bacon meet us at the threshold of the seventeenth century, and the names of Milton and Hobbes are soon added to theirs; but disappointment awaits the scholar who expects to find their achievement in poetry and philosophy matched by a similar achievement in the field of criticism. It is doubtful whether any of these four justified one of the most significant of the critic's functions by interpreting a poet to his contemporaries, or by making an unknown name a real possession of English literature: not a single author was better understood because of any light shed by them. The utterances of Jonson concerning Shakespeare impressed themselves upon his countrymen, and, in a sense, increased Shakespeare's vogue and prestige; but, for the most part, they understated rather than illuminated the contemporary taste which they confirmed. Yet, it would be untrue to say that these critics did not accomplish anything, for they changed the attitude of men toward literature and the criticism of literature; and, by modifying the literary outlook of Englishmen, they so transformed the spirit of criticism that the transition from the age of Sidney to the age of Dryden seems not only intelligible but inevitable.

At the outset, we are met by Bacon, and it is no less true of him than of the others that his services to contemporary thought are not the measure of his services to criticism. But he, too, helped to transform the theory of literature, or, at least, to bring order out of the chaos of theory; and he created a new conception of literary history, which served as a touchstone to scholars from the moment he enunciated it, though its real significance was not apprehended for many generations to come. It was he who first defined the relation of poetry to the imagination, and attempted a classification of the arts and sciences based on the divisions of the mind, according to which poetry bears the same relation to the imaginative faculty that history and philosophy bear, respectively,

to memory and reason. The Spaniard Huarte, in his Examen de Ingenios, had already classified sciences and arts in a similar way, and Bacon adopted this foreign system. But, in elaborating it, he gave it a significance for criticism as well as for philosophy; and his classification became a more or less permanent possession of English thought and taste. Within the scope of the imagination, he included allegorical poetry; and, to his rationalising mind, this seemed the highest expression of poetic genius. He finds no difficulty in justifying this inclusion, though his conception of the imagination as a transformation of the realities of life into forms more sympathetic to the human mind, as external nature idealised, forces him to separate the lyric from truly imaginative poetry and to place it with rhetoric and philosophy.

All this may seem to have little to do with the actual progress of criticism; but it must be remembered that the critics of the preceding age had not thus definitely connected literature with the mental faculty that creates it, and that Bacon, in doing this, is a herald of the attitude of Hobbes and his successors. It is by his conception of literary history, however, that he has made his most important contribution. Just as literature was regarded as a product of the imagination, and not merely as something interesting in itself and by itself separate from the mind of man, so, here, he conceives of it as having certain external relations with the age in which it is produced, not a thing in vacuo but something expressive of the Zeitgeist, of which he was the first to have a fairly adequate conception. Yet, with all these ideas about the place of poetry in the scheme of the sciences and the meaning and function of literary history, Bacon has given us very few concrete judgments in respect to literature that are of any considerable value. His method of interpreting poetry is either through allegory, as in The Wisdom of the Ancients and elsewhere, where poetic truth becomes merely a symbol of moral truth, or through history, where a record of external changes in style and in manner passes for criticism, without for a moment grappling with the secret of an author's power or charm. His influence, both by his specific achievements and by his general theory, was in the direction of rationalism and science; yet he was an Elizabethan, and touched by the romantic longings of his time. His statement that art becomes more delightful when 'strangeness is added to beauty' foreshadows Pater's definition of romanticism, and his assertion that art works by felicity not by rule' places him in opposition to the whole tendency of criticism in the century that was to follow.

It was his contemporary Jonson, in fact, who first made this conception of 'rule' native to English thought. In the prologue of Volpone, he boasts that he has followed all the laws of refined comedy,

As best Criticks have designed;

The lawes of time, place, persons he observeth,
From no needfull rule he swerveth;

and it was his critical function throughout his life to make Englishmen realise that literary creation is not determined by individual whim, but by an external and ideal order given by literary tradition, and not to be swerved from without the sacrifice of art. This was the chief influence which he exerted on his younger contemporaries; and, in Jonsonus Virbius, the monument of verse reared to his memory, John Cleiveland could say that it was Jonson

Who first reform'd our Stage with justest Lawes,
And was the first best Judge in your own Cause;
Who, when his Actors trembled for Applause,
Could with a noble Confidence preferre

His own, by right, to a whole Theater,

From Principles which he knew could not erre.

'Laws' and 'principles which could not err' first entered English criticism through the agency of Jonson. It is true that Sidney, in his Defence of Poesie, had espoused the three unities, on the authority both of Aristotle and of 'common reason,' and it was from Sidney that Jonson may have derived his original impetus toward the acceptance of the classical tradition. Sidney's conception of the high dignity of poetry, of dramatic form and of humours in comedy are all to be found in the early writings of Jonson; and, though this early glow of Elizabethan fervour cooled with age, in the prefaces, prologues and epilogues of his plays, in epigrams and poems, he continued to expound the message of order in literature, of classical form, of the tempered spirit as opposed to boisterous energy and emphasis. He took counsel with the Latin rhetoricians, with Cicero, Quintilian, Seneca, Pliny, Petronius and, later, with the humanists of the continent, Erasmus, Daniel Heinsius, Justus Lipsius and Julius Caesar Scaliger. The star of scholarship in criticism was passing northward from Italy to Holland; and the deliberate and moderate classicism of the Dutch Latinists, their reasonableness and common sense, made a deep appeal to Jonson. Though his own classicism became more and more rigid, he never failed to echo their assertion of the 'liberty of poets' and their conception of the classics as 'guides, not commanders.'

The chief result of these studies, and the chief monument of Jonson as a critic, is to be found in his Timber or Discoveries, published, posthumously, in 1641. It is a commonplace book, certainly not intended for publication in its present form, and, possibly, never intended for publication at all. Certainly, not one of the utterances which it contains in respect to poetry and poetic criticism is the result of Jonson's own thought. Recent scholarship has been able to trace nearly every one of its famous passages to some contemporary or classical origin, and it is fair to assume that the slight remnant is equally unoriginal1.

If it were our purpose to judge Jonson as a literary artist, this would be of slight consequence, for the artist may consider the world as all before him where to choose, and may demand that we consider not whence he has borrowed his materials but what he has done with them. The critic's case is different. We have a right to expect of him that he shall have reflected on literature; that, out of the ideas of others, he shall mould ideas which shall seem as if they were his own. Jonson has translated his originals verbatim, and has not added a single idea that was not already full-grown in them. If we were merely studying the taste of the dramatist Jonson, all this would have high interest for us; but it would be idle to dispute that Jonson the critic suffers from the discovery. The 'constant good sense, occasional felicity of expression, conscientious and logical intensity of application or devotion to every point of the subject handled or attempted,' which Swinburne found in the critical portions of Discoveries, are virtues that must be credited to Jonson's originals rather than to Jonson himself.

Yet, though Dryden's statement that 'there are few serious thoughts which are new in' Jonson has proved truer with time, this did not affect the influence of his selective translation on the age that was to follow; and Dryden himself could say that, in Discoveries, we have as many and profitable rules for perfecting the stage as any wherewith the French can furnish us.' As an influence, Jonson remains what he was; as an original critic, he indubitably loses in prestige. His influence was immediately exerted on the younger men about him; some of its results may be observed, for example, in the comments on poets and prosemen in Bolton's Hypercritica; and, even now, the tremendous effects of this influence on restoration poetry and criticism are only partly comprehended. It was due to him that the pregnant utterances 1 See ante, vols. iv, pp. 348, 524, and v1, pp. 8, 9.

of post-classic rhetoricians and the lucid and rational classicism of Dutch scholars became part and parcel of English thought.

Despite changes of taste, a number of Elizabethan survivals may be found in the very heart of this period. The chapter on poetry in Peacham's Compleat Gentleman (1622) forms a kind of text-book borrowed from Puttenham and Scaliger. The chapter begins with a long and enthusiastic defence of poetry and a rhapsody on its history, quite in the Elizabethan manner, and this is followed by a brief survey of Latin and English poetry; but Peacham has nothing to say concerning the Latin poets that had not already been uttered by Scaliger, and nothing concerning the English poets that had not been said by Puttenham. In similar manner, Sir William Alexander, in his Anacrisis (1634 ?), reverts to the tradition of Sidney's Defence of Poesie, and summarises the taste begun with Arcadia and culminating, after his own day, in the heroic romances. Yet, even here, the new ideals of Caroline taste are beginning to assert themselves. Not only is modern poetry summed up in the prose romances, not only are Tasso and Sidney, Vergil and Lucan, his idols, but a comparison of poetry to a formal garden stands side by side with an attack on Scaliger and a defence of poetic freedom. Balzac's letters and the writings of other men of the new French school furnish us with the models of his style, and we are here on the threshold of D'Avenant's preface to Gondibert in manner and feeling. A new and tentative classicism was struggling through the ordeal of préciosité. To this period, too, belongs Suckling's Sessions of the Poets, with its casual and ironical judgments of some of his contemporaries; and a few minor essays of like character illustrate similar tendencies of the time.

In the next decade or two, the results of contact with France appear, also, in the new theory and practice of translation and in the critical trend toward simplicity in style. In France, a number of brilliant translators were adapting the classics to the taste of their countrymen. Of these, Perrot d'Ablancourt was the chief exemplar, and the prefaces of his numerous translations enunciate most clearly this new philosophy of paraphrase. 'I do not always limit myself to the words or even to the thoughts of this author,' he says, in his version of Lucian, 'but, mindful solely of his purpose, I accommodate it to the French air and manner'; and, in his complete version of Tacitus, he goes so far as to say that an injustice is done to a translation by comparing it with its original. When this theory reached England, it came into contact with the Jonsonian tradition of literal translation, and, for some time, these

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