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before their very eyes became anxious to study the great past. Great individualities and great events dwarf literature and throw literary pursuits into shadow. It is when they have passed that the imagination of the solitary thinker and writer begins to know their fertilising influence. It is the first half of the nineteenth century that shows in literature the effect of the striking characters and occurrences of the eighteenth. Only in oratory and the prose that is moulded by it do we see a great impulse communicated by the immediate presence of surpassing individuality in the service of the state.
3. The English House of Commons and its orators felt that they were dealing with great issues when they were deciding on the action of the nation in India, in America, on the Continent. India did not trouble them much ; and yet the growth of an Eastern empire to govern became almost a romance before the close of the century and influenced the imagination of the reading public. Eastern ideas of luxury crept into the new literature of fiction and gave a sensuous atmosphere to it. Even the forensic oratory was touched into enthusiasm when it handled cases like that of Warren Hastings. The American revolution and its results excited the legislature only for a few years and then vanished for a time and the new continent reappeared only in the debates prompted by the anti-slavery agitation.
Section 8. I. It was France that was the great protagonist in the struggles of English statesmanship and oratory, as it had been for a century or more. Never long was it out of the minds of the legislature, especially during the last decade of the century.
Some of the finest speeches had the Revolution or the Napoleonic wars as their theme. And all the literature that came within the influence of oratory (history, journalism, pamphleteering, political philosophy,) was bent in this direction. On the one side we have as permanent results the Reflections on the French Revolution by Burke and the smart burlesques and lyrics of Canning in The Anti-Jacobin.
On the other we have the Political
Justice of Godwin, the Rights of Women of Mary Wollstonecraft, the political lyrics of Burns, and the writings of Jeremy Bentham. The enormous pamphlet and journalistic literature of the time has vanished ; only the caricatures of Gillray and Rowlandson show how deeply English public opinion was stirred by events in France.
2. But through the whole period French thought and literature had influenced English and that more directly and less in the reactionary way than the Revolution affected them, Hume and Adam Smith and Gibbon owed much of their clearness of style to their knowledge of French and many of the cues and starting-points of their thought to their sojourn on the Continent and their study of French authors. Helvetius and Voltaire strengthened the destructive and sceptical ideas in the mind of David Hume. Montesquieu with his Esprit des Lois and Turgot and the physiocrats suggested many of the points of view of The Wealth of Nations. Rousseau and the Encyclopedists are to some extent responsible for the tone of antagonism to Christianity and religion in general apparent in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. And it is the sneers of Voltaire that are reproduced in such books and pamphlets as Tom Paine's Age of Reason. Voltaire and Diderot, Condorcet and Volney had taken their first lessons from the English deists of the Queen Anne period; but they gave back to England sharper and more keenly polished the weapons they had drawn from her. Reaction from them also produced 'a considerable literature, including Paley's Evidences of Christianity. And the same writers that showed the emotional effect of the new revolution revealed like Cowper this reactionary tendency. Rousseau and St. Pierre had an undoubted influence on the romantic and sentimental movements in England, though they did not originate them. The salons of Paris and the system of journals and letter-writing that rayed from them had much to do with the evolution of the English epistolary and conversational style. The letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Horace Walpole, the Diary of Madame D'Arblay, and the conversations introduced into the fiction of the time owe much to French example; and coteries,
like the Blue-stocking Club_formed by Mrs. Montagu, originated in the customs of French society. Madame du Deffand, Madame D'Epinay, Mademoiselle L'Espinasse, Madame Recamier, and other Parisian ladies gave the intellectual and emotional cue to English ladies of literary and learned proclivities. And the style of English prose began to show again the influence of the study of French. Beckford wrote his Vathek in that language and then 'translated it into English. Mary Wollstonecraft and Godwin and Bentham reveal in the lucidity and definiteness of their style a close study of it. Even as early as Goldsmith imaginative prose had benefitted by it in clearness of expression and brevity of sentences. Whilst Sheridan in his dramas and epigrams, if not in his speeches too, reveals the influence of Beaumarchais and the French comedians and epigrammatists.
3. And the thought of England had profited as much from French research. In science and philosophy France showed extraordinary activity during this period; her whole spirit seemed moved by the latent revolutionism to enterprise in the world of thought; no sphere seemed too difficult to traverse in search of new fact, new cause, or new theory. If we select only the names that have European fame, the list is striking compared with that of any other period or country. Buffon and Cuvier, Lamarck and Bichat, the Bernouillis and Coulomb, Lagrange and Legendre, Lavoisier and Carnot, D'Alembert and Laplace, Voltaire and Rousseau, Condillac and Diderot and Condorcet explored every region of human knowledge and mapped them out or added to them. It was the preparation for the Revolution and not the Revolution itself that drew this extraordinary array of power into the world of research and speculation. For in the period after the Revolution the names of French scientists and thinkers are far fewer and less known ; war and the state then absorbed the ambition and talent of the country. The passion and struggle for half a century before the great cataclysm were within the human spirit.
3. Hence the great influence of France of last century upon the thought of England. Few departments of English science and philosophy but profited by the glowing life of contemporary French thought. Some of their most eminent representatives crossed the Channel in order to draw inspiration by direct intercourse. Others studied the results with ardour. Whilst all English thought, whether advancing or retrogressive, profited by the atmosphere of French thought. We can see how far it penetrated when we find it in the pietism of Cowper, the chopped-up Homerism of Ossian, the early fervours of Southey, and the localised inspiration of Burns. It was a subtle influence breathing through the soul of English literature more than a definite mould or model for it.
Section 9. I. All the rest of Europe put together had less effect upon the minds of English writers. The struggles of oppressed nationalities like Poland roused poetry to fitful sympathy or pity as in Cowper and Campbell. The enthusiasm of patriots like Paoli gave momentary fervour to certain literary circles through such books as Boswell's concerning the Corsican general. The moral gaucheries and intellectual advancement and sympathies of Catherine of Russia gave an occasional romantic thought or illustration to English imagination. Frederick's victories and the expulsion of the Jesuits from Portugal and Spain might have stimulated history to philosophical thought. But it was France that was the centre of European stimulus.
2. From other countries it was their old literature and art and thought that still awakened echoes in England. Mickle translated the Lusiad of Camoens, feeling doubtless that the epic of the great past of Portugese enterprise in the East would interest England with her growing Indian empire. It was the Spain of the Elizabethan era that still interested Englishmen; and Smollett and others had to translate again for the eighteenth century her ever-green Don Quixote ; whilst her old picaresque novels, chiefly, it is to be said, through the French imitation Gil Blas, moulded English fiction in the hands of Fielding and Smollett; Tom Jones and Jonathan Wild, Roderick Random and Ferdinand Count Fathom have all the meandering art and life-likeness of Lazarillo de Tormes and the hero of Le Sage's book. So it was the great past of Italy that gave new stimulus; the discovery of Pompeii in 1750 made ancient Rome a perennial source of living interest to English travel and thought; the specimens of Greek art found in the excavations gave new birth to sculpture and architecture and even painting. And English painters began to visit Italy and study her great collections of pictures as the true school of art. Contemporary Italy influenced England chiefly through science and the drama. Galvani and Volta gave new developments to electricity and two new words to the English language. Metastasio, Goldoni, and Alfieri, chiefly through France, had some influence on English comedy in the hands of Goldsmith and Sheridan. But it was the opera through which Italy most effected the English stage. Musical operettas and farces became the order of the day in London and gave a distinct form for a time to English drama.
3. But the country that was now to approach France in influence upon England was Germany. Before the close of last century it began to be evident that this Teutonic people was about to mould certain sections of English thought and art. Her great era of literature, philosophy, and music had begun by the middle of the century. Bodmer and Gottsched had entered on their duel concerning classical and romantic literature and Klopstock had published his Messiah. Bach and Handel had accomplished their greatest triumphs in music. Winckelmann and Lessing had studied classical art and tried to find its true spirit. And Kant had already begun to reflect upon Hume's scepticism and think out his new theory of the world and human knowledge. But the great period of German literature and music and philosophy covers rather the last quarter of last century and the first quarter of this, and their influence on English literature belongs rather to the nineteenth century.
4. Yet we have the ballads of Bürger and the early plays of Goethe affecting the mind of Scott so much that he publishes translations from them. But it was the unwholesome sentimentalism of Goethe's Werther and Kotzebue's plays that most attracted the new English audience. Translations of the latter were frequent and were put upon