« VorigeDoorgaan »
chicken in his hand, which, after he himself has purchased at market, he carries home for dinner.' Here, too, came Mrs Howard, who was made Countess of Suffolk; the beautiful Miss Chudleigh, whom Thackeray describes as 'slipping away from one husband and on the look-out for another'; and the highly respectable Mrs Pendarvis,' whom we know better as Mrs Delany, who writes to Swift on April 22, 1736, 'I left the Bath last Sunday se'night very full and gay.' She thinks Bath a more comfortable place to live in than London. 'All the entertainments of the place' (she says) •lie in a small compass; and you are at your liberty to partake of them, or let them alone, just as it suits your humour. This town (London) is grown to such an enormous size that above half the day must be spent in the streets, going from one place to another. I like it every year less and less.'
In 1754 Nash seems to have fallen upon evil days; and, under the pretext of a subscription for a · History of Bath and Tunbridge,' a sum of money was raised for him, which tided him over several years. On February 17, 1760, the Corporation tardily recognised his services to Bath by granting him a pension of ten guineas a month. Nash had no great liking for doctors in their professional capacity. Physicians,' he said, “are excellent companions over a bottle, but odious under a phial.' A well-known story, fathered upon many, is told of him. Dr Cheney pointed out the advantage of having followed his prescription. •Followed your prescription!' exclaimed Nash ungratefully. •If I had, I should have broken my neck, for I flung it out of the two pair of stairs window.' Nash was for curing all disease by the waters. On Cheney advocating a vegetable diet, You
• old fool,' said the Beau. Do you think the Almighty sent Nebuchadnezzar to grass for his health ?' Nash was very fond of his supper. Cheney told him jestingly that he behaved like other brutes, and lay down as soon as he had filled his belly. Very true,' retorted Nash ; 'and this prescription I had from your neighbour's cow, who is a better physician than you and a superior judge of plants, notwithstanding you have written so learnedly on the vegetable diet. As a rule, he was moderate both in eating and drinking. His usual fare was a couple of
glasses of wine, and a plain dish or two with plenty of potatoes, which he called the English pine-apple. He was so fond of them that he used to eat them as food after dinner. But, with all his abstemiousness, he was a martyr to gout. The moment he found a foot attacked with it,' says Thicknesse, he sat with both feet in buckets of hot Bath water, and by that means put off the violence of the pain and often the disorder itself.'
He lived, however, to be over eighty-six years of age, and died in his house in Saw Close on February 12, 1761, as a memorial on the house testifies to this day. The Corporation accorded him a public funeral. After lying in state four days, he was buried, the procession being headed by charity girls walking two and two, followed by the boys. As they marched they sang a hymn. Then came the city band and Nash's own musicians playing the Dead March in Saul.' Three clergymen preceded the coffin, its black velvet pall supported by the six senior Aldermen of the City. The Masters of the Assembly Rooms were the chief mourners, followed by members of the Corporation, the beadles of the Hospital, and the poor patients who had always found in him a benefactor. Even the tops of houses were covered with spectators. Sorrow sat upon every face, and even children lisped—we quote the Corporation Minutebook—that their sovereign was no more.
Art. 3.-THE ELIZABETHAN AGE IN RECENT LITE
1. L'Histoire Littéraire du Peuple Anglais. Par J. J. Jus
serand. Two vols. Paris : Firmin-Didot, 1894, 1904. English translation. Three vols. London: Fisher
Unwin, 1906-9. 2. The French Renaissance in England. By Sidney Lee.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910. 3. Geschichte der englischen Literatur. By Richard Wülker.
Two vols. Leipzig : Meyer, 1906-7. 4. The Cambridge History of English Literature. Edited
by A. W. Ward and A. R. Waller. Vols V-VII. Cam
bridge: University Press, 1910-11. LITERARY History is a relatively late-born scion of the great family of historical studies.
In spite of many brilliant achievements it has hardly, even now, attained in England either the esteem or the fixity of method which political history, after many stormy struggles, enjoys. This is partly due to the rarity of that fine blend of the scientific and the poetic temper without which the history of literature in any true sense cannot be written, and partly to the abundance of cheap substitutes for one or both. Three distinct tasks, at least, confront the literary historian ; and their execution calls for widely different tools. He has, first, to be a literary critic, to evaluate the individual literary work. Secondly, he has to be a biographer, to appreciate and define the personality of the writer. And these indispensable studies are only ancillary to the third and most exacting task, that of detecting the interrelations and affinities among the individual authors and books, of exhibiting the intricate web of influences and filiation which makes it possible to discern common character in the literature of an epoch and continuity in the literature of a people. The history of literary history is in great part the record of the development of new methods, instruments of research, and points of view, bearing upon this last class of problem. It was a series of brilliant and immensely suggestive, if specious, solutions of them which launched it, as a serious study, upon its course.
At the close of the great generation which witnessed the gradual wakening of the historical temper in Western Europe, the generation which opened with Montesquieu and ended with Gibbon, literary history was still a nascent, nay, an embryonic, growth. Bacon, in his memorable survey of the varieties, actual and possible, of human learning, had put his finger on the place where literary history should have been, and found it vacant. For a century afterwards no attempt was made to fill it. Poets and wits mingled with soldiers and statesmen in the motley multitude of Fuller's Worthies; gossiping anecdotes of the literary world, brief lives of dramatists and notices of plays, were strung together by Aubrey and Langhorne. But the project of an English literary history seems first to have been entertained by the severest critic, among his contemporaries, of the English literary past-by Pope. The brilliant and incisive critical epigrams of his Epistle to Augustus, and the audacities of chronology which he there permitted himself for the better 'imitation' of Horace, may serve to indicate where the strength and weakness of his History, had it been carried out, would have lain. Immeasurably more to be regretted is the abandonment of a similar project, a generation later, by Gray. Crescimbeni had some years earlier produced his · Istoria della volgare Poesia' (1698); and Tiraboschi was already planning his vast History of the entire Italian Literature. If any Englishman of the eighteenth century was qualified for similar achievements, it was Gray. But his friend Thomas Warton had conceived a similar plan; and, indolence doubtless assisting generosity, Gray resigned the enterprise. His notes, put at Warton's disposal, thus became the nucleus of the huge unorganised mass of antiquarian erudition which its author called the History of English Poetry.'
Warton's notions of literary history were indeed crude enough. But he had, together with an ardour of exploration not too common in that age of easy-going scholarship, a sense, vague and incomplete no doubt, of the worth, for his own time and for the future, of the buried literary past which he did so much to make accessible.
He was the doughtiest if not the most gifted of the early English Romantics, one who, comfortable eighteenth-century Oxford professor as he was, had heard the elfin-horns of Romance faintly afar, and lustily challenged the citadel
of classicism in their name. Some of the prepossessions which in Herder were soon to become illuminating and constructive ideas seem to be unconsciously at work in him. When he introduces Dante, for instance, to explain Buckhurst, he is instinctively approaching one of the great synthetic conceptions of the next generation, that of comparative literature. But there is no trace in him of a second conceptionwithout which the first would have exercised little of its fertilising power--that which recognises in the literature of a people an organic growth, undergoing, like other living things, a continuous evolution, rooted in the national life, and serving as an explicit sign or index of the national mind. When literature was thus understood, comparative literature became a comparison, in Herder's phrase, of the 'voices of the peoples,' and thus a study to which nothing in the national life was irrelevant.
This first daring synthesis of literary facts was doubtless to be largely qualified in the future. But its value in inspiring and shaping the young science and art of literary history is beyond question. It was not reached at once.
Lessing, fighting single-handed to win his countrymen from their literary servitude to France, first formulated the ideal of a national literature. Winckelmann brought order into the chaos of antique art by discovering the evolution of style. Herder revealed to a century for which 'poetry' was solely a fine art, the endless wealth of the folk-poems of all ages and peoples, in which it is, as he said, the very voice of nature. Goethe, with a critical sense far more supple than Herder's, drew the poetry of mature as well as that of primitive ages into the purview of comparative literature, and grasped with a delicacy of insight only rivalled by that of Sainte-Beuve the subtle interaction between individual genius and its social and literary milieu. Of this process his own early development was a signal example, and he described it with a power and breadth which make Dichtung und Wahrheit' one of the greatest of literary histories as well as of autobiographies. The romantic school, led by Wilhelm and Friedrich Schlegel, carried out these synthetic conceptions to yet more daring extremes. Wilhelm's famous lectures on the history of the drama, given at Vienna in 1808, made the first luminous survey of Vol. 216.-No. 431,