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mind the true relation of government and people. The question of moment, therefore, is, How was the poetry of the time, as impassioned, affected by the history of the time? That English poetry was greatly modified by such a history cannot be doubted. We find Wordsworth a traveler in France at the very time of the Revolution, coming fully into sympathy with the popular movement and evincing in all his subsequent writing the effect of the contact. Coleridge is at Bristol lecturing on politics. Southey, radical and conservative in turn, wrote and spoke on the questions of the hour. In noting the more particular features of this influence in the line of the emotive we remark:
(a) That the issues now at stake were urgent and practical. We read in the biography of Wordsworth the interesting fact that while sojourning in France in revolutionary days, the special motive of his change from English conservatism to republicanism was, that he seemed to discern in this French national movement the ardent desire of the people for political liberty. There was a something here that appealed to all the sympathies of the poet's nature. Forgetting, for the moment, the wild excesses to which the nation was advanc
ing, he is glad to lend his personal indorsement. In this cry for freedom, and struggle toward it, there was a deep and genuine emotive element, and its effect upon poetry was most significant. The voice of the people must ever be heard above the counsels of kings and cabinets. The authors of the age apprehend, at once, the meaning of the hour, and English poetry is henceforth to be of and to the people.
(b) By far the most important benefit accruing to the reviving literature from the political agitations of the time is seen in the fact that it was a time of change. The spirit of inquiry. was awakened in all the departments of human thought. In Natural Science the work of the Royal Society was being zealously done. In Theology, there were special discussions by Clarke, Butler, and Warburton. In Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations," Social Science may be said to have taken its origin, while it was closely followed by the "Fragments" of Bentham, and later by the works of Malthus and Ricardo. In Jurisprudence, Blackstone was preparing his great commentary on the Laws of England; Burke and Blair, Alison and Jeffrey, were discussing the principles of Esthetic Art, while Hume and Robertson and Gibbon were
writing Civil History. It was, however, in the domain of Mental and Moral Philosophy that this spirit of inquiry was specially manifest. wrote his "Inquiry concerning the Human Understanding." A few years later, Reid followed with his "Inquiry into the Human Mind," while he is ably supplemented by Stewart and the Scottish school. From France, Locke's philosophy is returned with foreign perversions, to which are added the dangerous theories of Bolingbroke and Rousseau. Early in the century, Berkeley had given to the world his Ideal Philosophy. Toward the middle of the century Hartley appeared with his Philosophy of Association, while near its close we see the skeptical philosophy of Gibbon, the rationalism of Paine, and the gross materialism of Priestley. In the line of foreign philosophy as bearing upon British thought, there are two sets of influences. The one was started and maintained by the critical discussions of Kant, and the other, by the encyclopædists of France, who began in doubt and ended in the bold denial of all moral truth. Catching its spirit from the teachings of Voltaire, it desired to construct a system fully in keeping with the reorganizing spirit of the time. It was successful in this, in so far as its promi
nent idea was the discovery and diffusion of knowledge. Such, in brief, was the age-an age of bold and rapid experiment, an age of revolution and excitement. The poets were seeking what all others were seeking a breaking down of the old landmarks, and an establishment of new standards. The change in literature, and more especially in poetry, was as great as in any other sphere the change from criticism to passion.
(3) We may mention, as a third and suggestive cause of this transition, the revival of Early English poetry. Such an attempt to reingraft the older poetry into the body of the later was not confined to the closing years of the eighteenth century, although it was now, for the first time, fully successful. Chaucer looks back of English literature as national to the days of Layamon. Spenser glories in drinking deeply from the well of Chaucer. In Milton's "L'Allegro" and "Comus" the influence of the olden time is most manifest, and he goes so far as to write a history of Saxon England. John Dryden, critical and classical as he was, is never weary of commending to his readers the pages of the earlier authors, while to many of our minor poets it was nothing less than their poetical education to study these primitive bards.
In 1765, Percy's "Reliques of Ancient English Poetry" was published. A few years later, Thomas Warton issued a "History of English Poetry," which, as it ends before the close of Spenser's time, may justly be called a History of Early English Poetry. Later still, Ritson produced his "Ancient Popular Poetry," while various authors of lesser note were busily at work in the same direction. The celebrated forgeries by Chatterton and Macpherson were partially induced by a growing interest in the older poetry. These overambitious writers felt that if they were to be in sympathy with the age and secure a general patronage, the old must be revived. This explains, in part, why such a gifted intellect as that of Chatterton should be under the necessity of borrowing the name of Rowley, or Macpherson that of Ossian. Readers were waiting to be carried back to the days of Celtic and Scottish song. The Athenian cry for something new gave way to the British cry for the old, and the merry minstrels of yore once again went about with harp and song. The people listened to the romantic story of Sir Cauline and Christabelle, and to the daring exploits of Robin Hood against the exactions of the Norman Lords. Those quaint old tales are revived on