English literature during the Bourgeois Revolution
The English Civil War 1642-1651 was caused by many unpopular political decisions of Charles I executed in 1649 by Oliver Cromwell, who made a Republic and became Lord Protector.
Charles II, the son of Charles I, established the monarchy in England in 1660.
The English Bourgeois Revolution may be divided into three periods:
1 The Eve of the Revolution (1642);
2. The Civil War (1642-1649);
3. The Formation of the Commonwealth and the Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell which lasted until his death in 1660.
During the last years of Elisabeth's reign Parliament began to be very powerful. In summer 1642 King Charles I raised his army at Nottingham, and a Civil War began between the Royalists (the Supporters of the King) and the Puritans (Protestants who felt that the English Church had too many Catholic trappings). The Puritans were often called the Roundheads, because they cut their hair very close to the head to distinguish themselves from the Royalists. Puritanism was a fanatical movement. Its purpose was to purify the Church of England of all Roman Catholic influence. They banned organs in churches and simplified all church rituals. Moreover, the Puritans killed the priests as the mediators between Man and God. Their fanaticism made them close all the theatres as the centres of disorder and immorality. The Puritans wore black hats and clothes and condemned amusement as a sinful waste of time. Some left to start new lives abroad. The Pilgrim Fathers, who set sail in the "Mayflower" in 1620, headed for North America.
The closing of the theatres meant that no important drama was produced. The language of drama was poetry. Instead of poetry the political prose came into being. Meanwhile, the political struggle involved broad masses of the population. Not only the crown and parliamentary armies fought over a range of religious, constitutional and economic issues. The population divided into Royalists and Roundheads. Political literature appeared: there were leaflets and pamphlets. Leaflets reported the events, and pamphlets explained the events to the population. Journalism came to start. The proceedings of the sessions of Parliament were printed in "Diurnals" (journals in Old French). The "Diurnals" contained the daily information of the proceedings. Periodical political press sprang up. The most famous among the Roundheads' generals was Oliver Cromwell who managed to destroy the King's army. Cromwell was the first great modern revolutionary leader, the creator of the "New Model Army”. A staunch supporter of Charles I was Richard Lovelace (1618-1658), a successor of Ben Jonson, William Shakespeare's close friend. He wrote short and graceful verse and spent all his money in support of the king. In 1642 Richard Lovelace was put into prison for his appeal to free the monarch Charles I. Charles I was sentenced to death, and in 1649 he was beheaded. King Charles I's trial and execution marked a victory for Parliament. England was proclaimed a Commonwealth (a Republic). England was a semi-democratic republic. The House of Commons ruled the country till 1653 when Oliver Cromwell replaced the king. Royalist Scotland and Ireland were then forced into a short-lived "commonwealth" with England and Wales. As a result of British military power its international prestige increased. But neither Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell nor his son and successor Richard could devise a workable alternative to monarchic rule.
A real fighter of the Revolution in England was ^ a distinguished publicist of that time. He fought for equal rights for all people. He proclaimed the idea of a democratic Republic that should be based on a free agreement between the population and the government. Most of his works were written in the Tower. His pamphlet "The Agreement of the People” appeared in 1647. But the greatest of all publicists during the Puritan Revolution was John Milton. His works and pamphlets gave theoretical foundation to the struggle of the bourgeoisie against the monarchy. Milton became the main ideologist of that time.
John Milton (1608-1674)
John Milton was born in London in 1608 and educated at Christ's College, Cambridge.
It would be reasonable to divide Milton's literary activity into three groups:
1. The first short poems written at Horton (After leaving the University Milton settled in Horton, Buckinghamshire, 1632-1637);
2. Prose: "History of Britain" (1646);
3. The greatest epic poems: “Paradise Lost" (1667), "Paradise Regained" (1671).
John Milton was a great Puritan poet and pamphleteer. His life was closely connected with the Bourgeois Revolution, the short-lived Commonwealth and the restoration of English Monarchy.
Milton's father was both competent and fortunate. Music was his passion. He was a talented composer and received wide recognition in Protestant circles. He recognized his son's exceptional abilities early and sent him to an excellent day school. Milton's school days were happy. He blossomed in the atmosphere of love and music.
His difficulties started at Christ's College, Cambridge. The difficulties were not of an intellectual character. They were caused by the medieval traditions of drinking encouraged at the college. Some people nicknamed John Milton "The Lady”, because he never had the strength to drink off a bottle.
Milton’s graduation from Cambridge took place in 1629. Hе received his Master's Degree in 1632. After that he retired to Horton, his father’s estate in Buckinghamshire. He spent there, in Horton, six years of intensive study of modern and ancient history, maths, art, music and poetry. In Horton his first short poems appeared.
In 1642, when he was 35, he rode into the country to collect a family debt of £500 from a royalist, near Oxford, but returned a month later without the money. Instead of the money he brought a bride of seventeen, Mary Powell. From the very beginning the marriage was an unhappy one. His young wife went to her family estate and refused to return. Milton was shocked. He was in despair, because his moral principles were against the very idea of casual love-making. The idea of a good marriage proved his high respect for woman as an intellectual companion and comrade, rather than as merely a housekeeper and childbearer. These ideas were expressed in his work “The Doctrine and Discipliпе of Divorce". But Milton had to accept his wife back in 1645 when Mary's Royalist family decided to appeal to their Puritan son-in-law. In 1652 Mary died. There was no joy in their marriage. More than that, by that time Milton was totally blind. The death of his wife didn’t upset Milton much. Since 1646 he had been working on his “History of Britain", and when in 1656 Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector, Milton considered his dictatorship a progressive one. In the same year Milton married 28-year-old Catherine Woodcock. They were very devoted to each other, but in 1658 she died with her infant daughter. But again, Milton was not too much upset because another death, the death of Oliver Cromwell, was more important for him. The loss was terrible. On his death in 1658 Oliver Cromwell was succeeded by his son Richard. The country, however, decided that it would be reasonable to live under the rule of a king, but not under a protectorship. The restoration of Monarchy was only a matter of months. Finally, Charles II was brought back from exile to rule the country. The Monarchy was restored in 1660, but Parliament remained strong.
Almost alone Milton raised his voice boldly against the restoration of Monarchy. He spoke out in a published letter to general Monk. Then he wrote an open letter to a new Parliament. A politician and literary man ^ (1621-1678) played a great role in Milton's life. His influence in Parliament protected Milton. Marvell welcomed Restoration, although he was disillusioned with the disorder of the new court.
In 1660 the Monarchy was restored, with Charles I's elder son becoming King Charles II, and the search continued for a mutually-satisfactory balance of power between crown and Parliament. Charles II was called the "Merry Monarch", and his court became a centre of cultural vitality.
When Charles II became King, the change in English literature was almost as great as the change in government. For one thing, the theatres opened again, and new dramatists, therefore, appeared. The plays were written in heroic couplets, the men were brave and the women were beautiful. The public consisted mainly of the court and the wealthy. Moreover, the actors themselves were fashionably dressed. Even women were allowed to play in the performances. They appeared on the stage in their modern clothes. The stage itself changed the shape: a "picture-frame" form replaced the stage that came forward towards where the audience was. The plots of the plays centred around love and money. Everything and everybody protested against the strict rule of Puritanism. Unlike Ben Jonson's moral plays, these Restoration Comedies were cynical. A handsome young man became the hero of the play and was identified with the males in the public. William Congreve (1670-1729) was the master of the "Comedies of Manners" in which he described the manners of the Age: "Love for Love" and "The Way of the World”.
In 1660 the Royal Society, the oldest British scientific society, was founded. Among its earliest members were the diarist ^ , the architect Christopher Wren, and the physicist Isaac Newton, whose theory of gravitation brought a new coherence to the universe.
Milton became unpopular. He was arrested. The estate of £2000 was confiscated.
The rest of his story is a great one. Until 1663 his household consisted of three daughters, the two elder of whom had been brought up by Mary Powell's Royalist mother. Milton had to depend on them because of his blindness and poverty. The youngest daughter, Deborah, born in 1650 or 1651, had remained at Milton's home during his second brief marriage in 1656-1658. There were several close friends who visited him from time to time. Among them was his doctor who introduced a young woman of 24 to Milton. In 1663 they married.
That was the period when Milton wrote his great epic poem "Paradise Lost", based on the story of Adam and Eve and their failure to keep God's commands. Milton dictated his poem because of his blindness. It was planned in ten books, but it was written in twelve. The plot centres round Adam and Eve, Satan and his rebel-angels, God, three guardian angels: Raphael, Gabriel and Michael. The background is the whole Universe, including Heaven and Hell.
The revolutionary spirit is shown in Satan who revolts against God, and is driven away from Heaven with the rebel-angels. They fall into Hell where "No light, but rather darkness visible, ... and rest can never dwell, hope never comes". Though banished from Heaven, Satan is glad to have got freedom. Satan possesses human features. He is a rebel. God personifies Monarchy, Satan is determined to go on with the war against God. Milton's Adam and Eve are full of energy. They love each other and are ready to meet whatever the earth has in store for them. God banishes them from Paradise to the newly created world where they are to face a life of toil and woe. Milton's sympathies are with them.
"Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven”.
“The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven”.
The second great epic poem "Paradise Regained” was published in 1671. This story is more severe. It is devoted to the description of Christ's temptations in the desert. Much in this book is taken from Milton's youthful ambitions.
Milton wrote of life because he loved it enough to fight for it; he fought for freedom. Milton died in 1674, leaving all his property to the wife who spoke with warm affection of her talented husband.
In 1660's the biographies and diaries became a form of literature. Some of them were written as a record of the main events of the day. The Great Plague (1665) killed more than 70,000 of the total population of London. The Great Fire (1666) destroyed 13 000 houses, 87 churches and St Paul's Cathedral. The fire was blazing for five days and two-thirds of the population of London became homeless. Some people believed that both events, the plague and the fire, were the work of God angered by the killing of Charles I and the Civil War. All the rest thought that the fire was started by the Catholics to put an end to the plague.
By 1714 the success, of British armies against France had made Britain a leading European power. Moreover, Britain had many new colonies. This led to self-confidence. London became far larger than any other town with more than 500.000 people.
The Age of Enlightenment was a period in Europe during the 18th century (1688-1789) when the writers wrote that science and the use of reason would help the society to develop. The Age of Enlightenment is often called "The Augustan Age”, because that title was chosen by the literary circles for the admiration of Rome under the Emperor Augustus. The form of polite literature was poetry. At the beginning of the 18th century verse was preferable to prose. By the end of the century prose and verse exchanged their places.
The history of England of the second half of the 17th century and during the 18th century was marked by British colonial expansion. London became a great trading metropolis as well as administrative, political and legal centre of England. Its commercial wealth helped the government become the ruling government all over the British Isles and develop contacts outside Britain. London was the centre of wealth and civilization. The City became the most important district in London; houses were not numbered, because common population couldn't read. Instead of the numbers pictures were used. Coffee-houses were very popular at that time. People met there to discuss the latest news, to drink tea or coffee, which became very popular as common drinks. Thus the coffee-houses eventually became centres of political life. Each social group had its own coffee-house. The poets and the literary men attended the coffee-houses to read their creations.
In 1688 the bourgeoisie managed to bring the royal power under the control of Parliament. The compromise was reached between the royal power and the bourgeois middle class in England. This agreement was called "The Glorious Revolution" which was relatively bloodless. It brought the Protestant William III (William of Orange) to the throne in place of his Catholic father-in-law King James II (1685-1688).
King William III and his wife Queen Mary reigned together (1689-1702). He accepted his role as a constitutional monarch.
Meanwhile, in Parliament the lines of the modern party system were already being drawn. The party of landowners was called "Tories", the party of merchants and nobles was called “Whigs". Both parties hated each other, that's why both words were of negative meaning. "Tory" was the name of certain Irish robbers, "Whigs" was an exclamation of the men driving horses. "Tories" wanted the peaceful domestic policy in England, "Whigs" wanted to force the king to rule through Parliament.
The Glorious Revolution was the political background of the development of the political literature. Literature met the interests of the bourgeoisie. The writers of the Enlightenment fought for freedom. Most of them wrote political pamphlets, but the best came from the pen of Daniel Defoe and Jonathan Swift. The greatest essayists were Richard Steele and Joseph Addison. Addison spoke more gently, Steele - a little bit warmly, Alexander Pope — more sharply. But all of them used to flatter the upper-class readers who thought that those essays were written about their neighbours or somebody else. Those writers could create such an illusion. That illusion was comfortable for the contemporary society.
Periodical newspapers had been published since the Civil War, and in 1702 the first daily newspaper was established. Much of the drama was written not in poetry but in prose. The leading form of literature became the novel. The hero of the novel was a representative of the middle class. Earlier the common people were shown only as comical personages. The writers of the Age of Enlightenment wanted to improve the world. But some of them hoped to do this only by teaching. Others openly protested against the social order.
Thus two groups of the Enlighteners could be distinguished:
I. ^ (1661-1731)
Joseph Addison (1672-1719)
Richard Steele (1672-1729)
Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
Samuel Richardson (1689-1761)
Laurence Sterne (1713-1768)
II. Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
Henry Fielding (1707-1754)
Tobias Smollett (1721-1771)
Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774)
Richard Sheridan (1751-1816)
In 1722 Defoe published his novel "The Adventure of Colonel Jack”, in 1724 his well-known book “Roxana” appeared.
Despite his several bankruptcies, Defoe wrote with enthusiasm about trade. In 1726 his "History of the History" was published, in 1727 his "Essay on the History" and in 1728 his "Plan of the English Commerce” appeared.
Defoe died in 1731 in London.
Daniel Defoe (1661-1731)
Daniel Defoe (Foe, he added "De" 40 years later) called himself fortunate in his education as well as in his family. He was the eldest son of an intelligent London chandler James Foe. His father expected him to become a Minister, but as Defoe later said of his desire to write about economics rather than politics, "trade was the thing I really desired to have taken up with". In 1680 when he was 21 he became a commission merchant, dealing manufacture and acting a jobber for wine, tobacco, woollens and other goods. He travelled a lot and knew several languages. Defoe wrote several comparative notes on manners and customs of different nations in the countries of Europe.
By 1684 Defoe was a well-to-do businessman, and he could marry an attractive young girl of 20 brought up in a rather more important commercial family than his own. Defoe was too energetic. That's why when his business began to bore him he looked for more thrilling speculations. As a result, in 1692 Defoe was forced into bankruptcy. But he wasn't upset. He was an optimist. He decided to publish his first real book "An Essay upon Projects" in 1698. He wrote down the suggestions how to improve roads.
Twenty years later in 1719, his masterpiece "Robinson Crusoe” appeared. Then he retired to the comfortable country house that he shared with his wife and two unmarried daughters.
Jonathan Swift was one of the famous English writers of the Age of Enlightenment. Moreover, he was a bitter satirist of the beginning of the 18th century.
In his "Battle of the Books" (1704) he supported the ancients. In the "Tale of a Tub" (1704) he attacked the religious ideas. Swift is known to students of literature as the writer of most bitter and utterly damning satire ever written in England — "A Modest Proposal" (1729). Jonathan is still loved and valued in Ireland as one of the first and greatest of the fighters for Irish freedom.
Swift was born in Dublin. The city's name comes from Irish dubh lin, the dark pool where the peaty waters of the Liffey flow into the bow of the great horseshoe of Dublin Bay. For 300 years it was the core of the Pale, the area fortified by dyke, bank and palisade, from which the Norman English attempted to rule Ireland. Later it was the centre from which Tudor, Stuart and Cromwellian governments sought to plant and colonize the land. In the 17th and 18th centuries Dublin grew to be the second city of the British Isles. Much of the beautiful architecture which its citizens cherish dates from this period.
Although Swift was born in Dublin, his parents were both English connected with several important families, but themselves possessed little property. His father was unfortunate, he died at 25 with his son still unborn. Swift was born on 30 November, 1667, six months alter his father's death. His uncle Godwin Swift undertook to pay for his upbringing and education, but Swift hated his uncle.
Swift was educated at Trinity College with little satisfaction to either himself or the teachers. This is a fragment of Swift s autobiography: "... he (Swift wrote in a third person) too much neglected his academic studies, for some parts of which he had no relish by nature, and turned himself to reading history and poetry,"
Swift was graduated without honours in 1688. In those times Sir William Temple was an important statesman and diplomat in England. In 1688 he had already retired and met with leading writers and politicians at Moon Park. Jonathan Swift became his secretary. This was an interesting position for a young man of 21, because it gave him wonderful chances of meeting the important people of that time. On the other hand, Swift learned much of the dishonesty of successful politicians.
Jonathan Swift remained at Moon Park until he was 32. During his work at Temple's Swift taught the housekeeper's daughter Stella who became his intimate friend and close companion up to the end. In 1699 Sir Temple died, and Swift had to search for a new job.
He was given the position of chaplain to the Earl of Berkeley who soon gave him a small living, the vicarage of Laracour in Ireland. Swift visited different political clubs wrote his important pamphlets and got acquainted with famous people.
In 1710 Swift joined the Tory party.
In 1720 he published his powerful pamphlet "A Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufacture" which proclaimed an economic independence for Ireland. Swift became the hero of Dublin, but the police were searching for the author of the rebellious pamphlet. The police didn't know who the author was, but the population knew the author quite well.
Jonathan's masterpiece, "Gulliver's Travels", appeared in 1726. It is divided into four books, but the young people prefer to read only two of them; about Gulliver's voyages to Lilliput (where the people are six inches high) and Brobdingnag (where the people are giants). The Lilliputians fight wars which seem foolish. The King of Brobdingnag thinks that people are the most terrible creatures on the Earth.
Stella, Swift's close friend, died in 1728. Swift suffered a lot, his mind was breaking. Ten years (1730-1740) he spent in loneliness... In 1742 at the age 74 Swift was declared insane. In 1745 he died and was buried with simplicity. It is interesting to know that he composed the Latin epitaph for himself. He made it in 1735 when he wrote his will. Translated it sounds like this:
Here Lies the Body
Once Dean of the Cathedral
Where Savage Indignation
Can No Longer Tear His Heart
And do, if you can, as he did
A Man's Part in Defence
of Human Freedom.
Swift remains one of the very few who have made satire an effective weapon with which he attacks the enemy.
of the Beginning of the 19th Century
(The Age of Romanticism)
Britain became a large trading empire. The cities grew fast. London remained the largest one. In the 19th century Britain was at its height and self confidence. It was called the "workshop" of the world. The rich feared the poor both in the countryside and in the fast-growing towns.
During the second half of the 18th century economic and social changes took place in England. The country went through the so-called Industrial Revolution when new industries sprang up and new processes were applied to the manufacture of traditional products. During the reign of King George III (1760-1820) the face of England changed. The factories were built, the industrial development was marked by an increase in the export of finished cloth rather than of raw material, coal and iron industries developed. Internal communications were largely funded. The population increased from 7 mln to 14 mln people. Much money was invested in road- and canal-building. The first railway line which was launched in 1830 from Liverpool to Manchester allowed many people inspired by poets of Romanticism to discover the beauty of their own country. Romanticism was the greatest literary movement in the period between 1770-1840. It meant the shift of sensibility in art and literature and was based on interdependence of Man and Nature. It was a style in European art, literature and music that emphasized the importance of feeling, emotion and imagination rather than reason or thought. Romanticism in literature was the reaction of the society not only to the French Revolution of 1789 but also to the Enlightenment connected with it. The common people didn't get what they had expected: neither freedom nor equality. The bourgeoisie was disappointed as well, because the capitalist way of development hadn't been prepared by the revolution yet. And the feudals suffered from the Revolution, because it was the Revolution that had made them much weaker. Everybody was dissatisfied with the result. In such a situation the writers decided to solve the social problems by writing. In England the Romantic authors were individuals with many contrary views.
But all of them were against immoral luxuries of the world, against injustice and inequality of the society, against suffering and human selfishness.
The period of Romanticism in England had its peculiarities. The Romantic writers of England did not call themselves romanticists (like their French and German contemporaries). Nevertheless, they all depicted the interdependence of Man and Nature. The Romantic writers based their theories on the intuition and the wisdom of the heart. On the other hand, they were violently stirred by the suffering of which they were the daily witnesses. They hoped to find a way of changing the social order by their writing, they believed in literature being a sort of Mission to be carried out in order to reach the wisdom of the Universe.
The Industrial Revolution in England had a great influence on the cultural life of the country. The writers tried to solve the problems, but we can't treat all the Romantics of England as belonging to the same literary school. ^ (1757-1827) was bitterly disappointed by the downfall of the French Revolution. His young contemporaries, Samuel Coleridge (1772— 1834) and William Wordsworth (1770-1850), both were warm admirers of the French Revolution, both escaped from the evils of big cities and settled in the quietness of country life, in the purity of nature, among unsophisticated country-folk. Living in the Lake country of Northern England, they were known as the Lakists. The Late Romantics, George Byron (1788-1824), Percy Shelley (1792-1822), and John Keats (1795-1821), were young rebels and reflected the interests of the common people. That is why the Romantic Revival of the 18th-19th centuries can be divided into three periods: the Early Romantics, the Lakists and the Later Romantics.
The representatives of the early stage of English Romanticism were George Crabbe (1754-1832), William Blake (1757-1827) and Robert Burns (1759-1796).
The most outstanding representative of the Early Romanticism in England was Robert Burns. Unlike George Crabbe and William Blake, he was very popular in his time. Robert Burns became the national bard of Scotland. His hatred of injustice was firmly rooted in his personal life experience full of trouble and sufferings.
His attitude to life Robert Burns shows in his "Poem on Life" written in the year of his death:
— Dame Life, tho` fiction out may trick her,
And in paste gems and flipp`ry deck her,
Oh! flick`ring, feeble and unsicker I’ve found her still,
Aye wav'ring like the willow wicker, tween good and ill.
Robert Burns was born on 25 January 1759 in Alloway, near Ayr. His father, William Burnes, was a hard-working small farmer who had come from the north-east of Scotland. William Burnes (Robert dropped the "e" from the spelling of the family name) took great trouble to give his children education, he had the traditional Scottish respect for education “...valuing knowledge, possessing some and open-minded for more" (wrote Thomas Carlyle, the influential writer and historian born not far from Dumfries in 1795).
Robert's mother was Agnes Brown, a farmer's daughter from South Ayrshire. Although his mother was uneducated, Robert Burns nevertheless inherited from her a great love for the rich tradition of Scottish balladry. When Burns was seven, his family moved to Mount Oliphant farm not far from Alloway. Robert got much of his schooling there. Burns at early age worked on the family farm. Despite the desperate hardship of the farm (where by the age of thirteen Burns did most of ploughing and reaping and threshed the corn with his own hands) he would always have a volume of Scottish ballads ready to read in any spare minute. It was the combination of hard labour and poor food that caused heart attacks which troubled him during all his life and from which he died.
Meanwhile, from his mid-teens onwards, Burns was conscious of the Scottish folk songs and dances of Ayrshire where he was brought up. He wrote his first poem at fourteen. The poem was inspired by and devoted to a young girl with whom Robert worked in the fields.
By 1777 Robert Burns had acquired a good knowledge of English Literature, Greek, Latin and French. He attended a young men's debating society in Tarbolton.
In 1781 Burns went to Irvine to train as a flax dresser; linen was one of the profitable branches of the Scottish economy in the 18th century. Burns worked with his father and brothers. But in 1784 his father died, and Burns moved to Mossgiel farm which they had rented from the Ayr lawyer Gavin Hamilton when it was clear that William Burnes was going to die. During this period Robert Burns met Jean Armour, his future wife. He seemed to have married her some time later because of objections of her father. Fortune was against Robert. As a farmer he was very unsuccessful. Therefore, he decided to emigrate to the West Indies. His most brilliant poems appeared in 1785—1786. He published them in August, 1786 in Kilmarnock under the title “Poems Chiefly in Scottish Dialect”. This volume contained some of his most popular earlу songs, as well as “To a Mouse", "To a Mountain Daisy” and others.
Wee modest crimson-tipped flow`r
Thou's met me in a evil hour;
For I maun crush amang the stoure
Thy slender stem:
To spare thee now is past my pow`r,
Thou bonnie gem.
Alas! it`s no thy neibor sweet,
The bonnie lark, companion meet,
Bending thee `mang the dewy weet
Wi` spreckl`d breast
When upward springing, blythe to greet
The purpling east.
Cauld blew the bitter-biting north
Upon thy early humble birth;
Yet cheerfully thou glinted forth
Amid the storm,
Scarce rear`d above the parent-earth
Thy tender form.
Although Burns never received more than £20 for his book, it was a great success, being admired by everyone from ploughboys to the educated circles of Edinburgh.
Burns was so encouraged by such a warm reception given to his poems that he decided to move to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland since 1452. ^ said that "no situation could be more commanding for the lead city of a Kingdom; none better chosen for noble prospects”. Edinburgh lies between the Pentland Hills and the Firth of Forth — a situation which gives a different view from whichever point of the compass the arrivals approach.
They call Edinburgh "the Athens of the North”. Edinburgh Castle dominates the city and is an irresistible start-point. In addition the Royal Mile and the Old Town are admirable. In contrast the New Town with its wide leafy streets and splendid buildings is enjoyed on a casual stroll from Princes Street.
The development of the New Town, the birth of Classical Edinburgh, the concept of Athens of the North made the capital the most beautiful city in Britain.
The Old Town was a centre of not only Royal Court and Parliament, but the centre of culture, science and thought. It was a place where men like David Hume, the philosopher, and Adam Smith, the economist, strolled the High Street. Robert Burns was introduced to many famous people there; he found love, comfort and appreciation in Edinburgh. All were impressed by his modesty and talent. That was the Golden Age, the end of the 18th century when the first New Town was at the peak of its intellectual power.
The first Edinburgh edition of Burns's poetry appeared in spring of 1787. He became famous. The so-called "ploughman poet" was befriended and courted. No party in Edinburgh was held without him. He was respected in the capital of Scotland. He made friends with Lord Newton and Walter Scott. Robert Burns was called the "Caledonia's Bard".
Meanwhile, a second edition of Burns's poems appeared. The publication brought the author sufficient financial security to allow him to return to Ayrshire in 1788 where he produced two of his best-loved works, "Auld Lang Syne" and "Tam o`Shanter”, his last major work and many would say his masterpiece.
George Gordon Byron (1788-1824), Percy Byshe Shelley (1792-1822), John Keats (1795-1821) were the representatives of the highest level of the Age of Romanticism and all the three were greatly influenced by the Lakists. Unlike the Conservative Lake poets, the Later Romantics were progressive poets. They were young revolutionary rebels, talented and fascinating. Byron called the style of William Wordsworth "dull and simple", while his own poetic manner is often vivid and vigorous. His noble origin, charm, mysterious love affairs, eventful life, independence and pride, a great lyrical power established him as a Romantic poet and rebellious aristocrat.
Byron's friend Percy Byshe Shelley, also a revolutionary idealist, the lover of classical poetry, was very metaphorical.
John Keats was the youngest among the Revolutionary Romantics. He died at 25 of tuberculosis. The style of his poetry was lofty and very lyrical. Keats was fond of writing odes. His talent made the poet mysterious and charming. Keats deeply felt the interdependence of Man and Nature and in his "Ode to a Nightingale” emphasized the contrast between the ugliness of Life and the beauty of the world of Nature.
George Gordon Byron was born in London on 22th of January, 1788. His father was English, but mother was of the Scottish origin. She was poor but noble, her name was Catherine Gordon. Byron spent his childhood in the small town of Aberdeen in the eastern coast of Scotland. Soon his father died, leaving his wife and child in more than reduced circumstances.
When Byron was ten, his great uncle died, and the boy inherited the title of Lord Byron and the family castle of Newstead Abbey. Lord Byron and his mother moved to Nottinghamshire where they got a small pension from the government.
Lord Byron was educated at Cambridge. When he was twenty-one he became a member of the House of Lords. In 1809 he went on a two-year-long voyage to Portugal, Spain, Albania, Greece and Turkey. He returned home in 1811.
In 1812 Byron published the first two parts of his major work “Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" in which he described his journey to the foreign lands. Thus Byron's literary activity began. It can be divided into four periods:
1. The London period (1812-1816)
"Childe Harold's Pilgrimage” (parts 1, 2 ) (1812)
"The Corsair" (1814)
2. The Swiss period (May-October, 1816)
"Childe Harold's Pilgrimage” (part 3)
"Manfred" (a philosophic drama);
3. The Italian period (1816-1823)
"Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" (part 4)
"Don Juan" (1818-1823)
“The Vision of Judgment" (1821);
4. The Greek period (1823-1824)
Several lyrical poems.
All the periods of his literary activity were marked by the corresponding periods of his political life.
During the first period, which was called the London period and which brought him fame and universal acclaim after the publication of his “Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" in 1812, Lord Byron delivered his Parliamentary speeches in the House of Lords. Byron was a peer of the realm. His first speech was in defence of the Luddites (industrial workers who destroyed the equipment as a protest against unemployment and low pay). His main ideas were expressed in his poem "Song for the Luddites".
The name of Sir Walter Scott is closely connected with the genre of the historical novel. It was he who introduced it into English Literature, because he was interested in the romantic aspects of Scottish history. Walter Scott expanded the range of the novel as a literary form. His historical novels changed attitudes towards the past, he made the world aware of Scotland, his novels struck the reader with their epic quality.
Walter Scott was born on 15th of August, 1771 into the family of a well-known Edinburgh lawyer. His mother Anne Rutherford was the eldest daughter at a professor of medicine of Edinburgh University. Both parents were descended from old Border families. Therefore, Walter Scott acquired an interest in the history and legends of the Borders. When a child, he spent much time with his grandparents at their farm in the Borders.
At the age of seven Walter Scott entered the High School of Edinburgh. He spent there five years.
In 1783 he proceeded to Edinburgh University. His father wanted him to study law. But Walter Scott's profound interest in history and passionate love for his country changed the course of his life. He was greatly interested in the folklore of Scotland; he collected legends and popular ballads of the Highlands and Border Country, filling his mind with romantic tradition. The works of the German romantics, Schiller and Goethe, attracted him. He possessed a great knowledge of romantic literature. Though personally friendly to the Lakists (William Wordsworth was his life-long friend), he never shared their literary tastes.
His early reputation was as a narrative poet. In 1802-1803 Walter Scott published a collection of Scottish legends under the title of "The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border”.
In hunting for ballads he also hit upon the goblin story out of which he developed his first verse-tale of Border chivalry, “The Lay of the Last Minstrel”(1805).
Waiter Scott's tales portrayed vivid image of the chivalry of feudal times, well-drawn pictures of Border and Highland scenery. The great success of the collection encouraged Scott to make literature his main pursuit in life. The following literary ballad comes from “The Heart of Midlothian". It is called "Maisie". It is the death song of a mad peasant woman:
Walking so early;
Sweet Robin sits on the bush,
Singing so rarely.
“Tell me, thou bonny bird,
When shall I marry me?" —
“When six braw gentlemen
Kirkward shall carry ye."
"Who makes the bridal bed,
Birdie, say truly?” —
“The grey-headed sexton,
That delves the grave duty”.
The glow-worm o'er grave and stone
Shall light thee steady;
The owl from the steeple sing,
"Welcome, proud lady".
In 1808 Walter Scott published "Marmion":
— Such dusky grandeur clothed the height,
Where the huge castle holds its state,
And all the steep slope down,
Whose ridgy back heaves to the sky,
Piled deep and massy, close and high,
Mine own romantic town.
In 1810 Walter Scott published the most powerful poem, “^
— The summer dawn's reflected hue,
To purple changed Loch Katrine blue,
Mildly and soft the western breeze,
Just kissed the Lake, just stirr'd the trees.
Loch Katrine is situated not far from Edinburgh. There is the steamship "Sir Walter Scott" named after the great poet who wrote "The Lady of the Lake". It makes 8 miles cruise from the narrow inlet at Trossachs Pier to the Loch's southwestern shore, Royal Cottage and Glengyle House at the northern head of the Loch — the birthplace of Rob Roy MacGregor.
Sir Walter Scott combined the life of a poet and country gentlemen with that of a principal clerk of the Court of Session (the Supreme Civil Court of Scotland). Edinburgh was a vital part of Scott's being and his books were published there. Up to 1814 Scott wrote poems on historical and legendary subjects and became famous as a poet. Meanwhile, he purchased a farmhouse on the banks of the Tweed.
During 1814-1832 he began to write novel after novel. "Waverley", his first historical novel was published in 1814. It was the beginning. It was a success, and from then to the end of his life Walter Scott devoted himself only to prose. Every year he produced a novel. But he concealed his authorship until 1827, because he was Sheriff of Selkirk. But the success of the "Scotch Novels” was great and brought him a large income. Walter Scott managed to create a new genre — a historical novel by blending historical fact with romantic fancy. With his growing fame as a writer Walter Scott was made a baronet in 1820.
The historical events that attracted his attention were those closely connected with the relations between Scotland and England, the struggle for Scottish independence. For many centuries England, that was much more economically developed than its northern neighbour, had oppressed Scotland and the freedom-loving Scots. The author described the 17th-18th centuries of the Scottish history. Among his most famous novels are "Rob Roy” (1818). "The Bride of Lammerтооr” (1819). He chose for his heroes the common people of Scotland.
Later Walter Scott extended his background also to England. He wrote several historical novels about England; the periods he chose there were the end of the 16th century (the Elizabethan Age) and the middle of the 17th century (the Bourgeois Revolution and the Restoration of Monarchy). Among those novels were: "Ivanhoe" (1820), "The Monastery” (1820), "The Abbot" (1820), "Quentin Durward” (1823).
England and Scotland were closely connected with each other in their historical development. Thus in "The Abbot” Walter Scott described one of the episodes of the tragic life of Mary, Queen of Scots.
"Quentin Durward" was written on a different subject. Walter Scott portrayed the King of France as one of the most cunning politicians of his time.
Among the outstanding historical novels "Ivanhoe" was one of the best.
George Byron, a great admirer of Scott's talent, said that "he (Walter Scott) was a library in himself”. Like Walter Scott, Byron had an exact feeling of the historical development. Unlike Walter Scott, Byron didn't share the Lake poets' disapproval of revolutionary methods.
But it was Walter Scott, the first writer of a new genre of the historical novel who depicted Scotland as a mysteriously romantic country full of adventure.
There are many places of interest connected with the name of Sir Walter Scott all over Scotland. Scott Monument in Edinburgh is one of the famous landmarks with a 287 step climb to the top.
In 1832 an architectural competition for an appropriate memorial to Sir Walter Scott was launched.
As a result the design by George Meikle Kemp had won.
In 1840 the construction of the monument to Walter Scott began in Princes Street Gardens.
In 1846 the monument was built. Sinсе then millions of tourists have climbed the 200 foot structure to admire the views of Edinburgh and the statues of Walter Scott's characters which decorate the monument.
Scott Monument in Edinburgh attracts tourists greatly. Not far from the monument there is Sir Walter Scott's Tea Room, a cosy place where you can enjoy the view of Edinburgh castle just from the window of the Tea Room while enjoying the waitress service tearoom with authentic Scottish cooking. The festival Menu includes such delicious Festival Fancies as Haggis and Oatcakes, Salmon Pate Piper's Pie (chicken and mushroom), Juggler’s Lunch (ploughman's lunch) or Soup of the day (with a crusty roll) and Bread and Butter Pudding.
Sir Walter Scott's Tea Room invites the visitors:
If you’re caught on the hoof,
Whilst doing The Fringe,
Why not come into our Tea Room,
Embark on a binge
We’ve Shortbread and Haggis
And Clootie Dumpling too,
If you're not sure what they are,
You should try a fair few.
The name of Sir Walter Scott is commemorated by his relief profile on the north wall of the Writers` Museum in Edinburgh. More than that, the quotation from his "The Lay of the Last Minstrel” is inscribed in stone and set in the paving which leads to the door of the Writers` Museum:
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
The Museum has a unique collection of relics and manuscripts relating to Walter Scott: the rocking horse he used as a boy, his dining table from 39, Castle Street, the printing press on which Scott's Waverley Novels were printed and his chess set.
In Glasgow the tourists can enjoy the monument to Sir Walter Scott in the middle of the city square where there are many other monuments to great men of Scotland.
The Age of Critical Realism
In 1815 Britain occupied a strong position in the world after the defeat of Napoleon. Its self-confidence was based on industry, trade and navy. Britain used its power to control the world markets. Britain kept its ships in almost every ocean of the world. It became a very powerful empire in a world scale. But at home Britain was in danger. The population in 1815 was 13 million people. A lot of former soldiers who had taken part in the Napoleonic Wars were looking for work; unemployment was increasing, the prices doubled, the disappointment of the working class was growing. Towards the end of 1820's the rise of a powerful manufacturing and trading class was obvious. The political victory of the bourgeoisie brought no relief to the working class and worsened their living conditions.
The new methods of exploitation were invented. Crime and misery caused much trouble. People were hungry, they ate birds and animals. The dirty and crowded workhouses were hated and feared. There in the workhouses, the poor lived in dangerous conditions. Nevertheless, only those who lived in the workhouses were given any help at all.
Several uprisings took place in the period between 1815 and 1830. In 1819 the working people and their families gathered in Manchester to protest against the social inequality. They were attacked by the government forces and eleven people were killed during that riot. The rich feared the poor, but they understood the need to reform the law in order to improve social life in the country. The Whigs wanted to avoid the revolution only by reform. The Tories were more conservative: they hoped that Parliament would accept only the rich. Nevertheless, the middle class was represented in Parliament. The poor were still kept out of it.
There were reasons for fear. Since 1824 workers began to join together in unions. They tried to defend their rights, and in 1838 they put forward a People's Charter, demanding the democratic changes of the Parliament, including the right to vote and be elected.
Chartism had important literary results in the development of popular poetry. The Chartists revived the revolutionary poems of Byron and Shelley. It is interesting tо know that Shelley’s "Song to the Man of England” became a Chartist marching-song:
Song to the Men of England
Men of England, wherefore plough
For the lords who lay ye low?
Wherefore weave with toil and care
The rich robes your tyrants wear?
Wherefore feed, and clothe, and save,
From the cradle to the grave,
Those ungrateful drones who would
Dram your sweat - nay, drink your blood?
Wherefore, Bees of England, forge
Many a weapon, chain and scourge,
That these stingless drones may spoil
The forced produce of your toil?
Have ye leisure, comfort, calm.
Shelter, food, love's gentle balm?
Or what is it ye buy so dear
With your pain and with your fear?
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