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posing the faults of authors under review. When he speaks of Milton as " vaporing away his patriotism in a private boarding school," or of the "wild dramas" of Shakespeare, or of Dryden, that "it would be difficult to prove that he ever made any great advances in literature," he carries the courage of his convictions to the extreme, and must, moreover, be charged with inconsistency. Despite all this however, his prevailing spirit was charitable, and most of his judgments were catholic, so that he rendered an invaluable service in the line of critical development.

A few names of note should in justice here be cited as working along the lines that Johnson laid down and hastening the incoming of the later eras of literary criticism. Edmund Burke, in his "Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful," explained the laws and principles of the æsthetic arts with a scientific accuracy hitherto unknown. Bentley, in his "Dissertation on the Epistles of Phalaris," aimed to show that these were modern forgeries, and thus provoked one of the most violent controversies of literature. His Observations on the Faerie Queene" should also be mentioned as possessing exceptional merit. Thomas Warton's


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History of English Poetry" was the first of its

kind, and opened up the way for all subsequent discussions in this direction. Alison's "Essay on Taste" was in the line of Burke's reflections, while Lord Kames, in his "Elements of Criticism," sought to establish the canons of taste in art and letters. The critical work of Gray, though limited, was of a scholarly order, and exhibited the best features of the developing art. All these critics and their less distinguished co-workers may be said to have constituted the transitional school between the earlier and the later eras of English criticism, between the somewhat preparative work of Dryden and Johnson and the more highly elaborated methods of Coleridge and his followers.

Thus does the expanding record of our vernacular criticism run from Sidney and Bacon on to the days of Matthew Arnold, and the contemporary work of Morley and Bagehot and Saintsbury and Dowden and our own American Stedman. Nor is it a history of which the English people need be ashamed, safely developing, as it has done, from the sixteenth century to the twentieth, along the course of our general national progress, and our more specific literary advancements, never divorced, for any length of time, from the creative work of our greatest authors,

and rarely forgetting the fact that the just object. of criticism, as of literature in general, is, what Arnold declares it to be, "a disinterested endeavor to learn and propagate the best that is known and thought in the world."

The later era of English literary criticism may be said to have two well-defined periods, the first extending from 1800 to 1850, and the second from the middle of the last century to the present.



This opens with the name and work of Coleridge, a name which recalls to the mind of the English student the entire content of antecedent English criticism, the greatest critic of his time, and greater by far than any who preceded him, the influence of whose thought and life seems to widen and deepen with the years. One of the many significant facts connected with his critical work is that it comes to prominence just at the opening of the nineteenth century, just at the border line between the older and the younger schools, and inaugurates the Modern Era Proper. Coleridge stands in his day as a critic much as Spenser stood as a poet in the time of Elizabeth, having in hand the difficult problem of adjusting the

old and the new, the conservative and the progressive; a problem, we may add, more successfully solved by the critic than by the poet.

Another fact of importance as to Coleridge is that of the general relation of English literature to the German, and their special relations within the sphere of criticism. So decided is this relation that a recent American critic dwells upon "The German Sources of Coleridge's Criticism," stating what these sources are and to what extent the great English critic availed himself of them. First of all was the accepted fact that Germany stood for thought and thinking, for a new form and measure of mental life as distinct from the superficial habits of mind that had so largely prevailed in Europe. It was this specifically intellectual quality that at once attracted the contemplative Coleridge, inciting him to new ambitions in philosophy and letters, and making it necessary for him to resort to Germany in 1798 as a university student in order to bring himself in fullest contact with the scholarly activity that there prevailed. As Dryden had resorted to Corneille and other French masters as a model, Coleridge under the newer impulse from the Continent looked back to Lessing and Schelling and kindred

authors, who in their study of philosophy and literature and art based their researches on fundamental principles and followed a logical method. Indeed, so captivated was Coleridge by this new awakening in Northern Europe that he was accused of being under the dominance of it. The Introduction to the "Biographia Literaria " devoted to a defense of the critic against the aspersions of Blackwood's, especially as to his use of Schelling's ideas. Nothing in the line of plagiarism was ever proved against him.


In noting the specific work of Coleridge as a critic, there are two of his productions that deserve special study, the "Biographia Literaria" and his "Lectures on Shakespeare."

Some of his topics and statements in the "Biographia" may be noted. In writing of the poetry of Pope and his school, it is clear that he is out of sympathy with it as too artificial and too dependent on French authority, even though he speaks of Pope's "Iliad" as "an astonishing product of matchless talent and ingenuity." He affirms a significant literary law as he states that


not the poem which we have read, but that to which we return with the greatest pleasure, possesses the general power and claims the name of


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