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And lofty pride bare its aspiring head
[Enter Old Wilmnt.]
Agnes. And who shall know it?
0. Wil. There is a kind of pride, a decent dignity
Agnes. Shows sovereign madness, and a scorn of sense !
0. Wil. To chase a shadow, when the setting sun
Agnes. Nor live, I hope.
0. Wil. Ha! take heed: Perhaps thou dost but try me; yet take heed. There's nought so monstrous but the mind of man In some conditions may be brought to approve; Theft, sacrilege, treason, and parricide, When flattering opportunity enticed, And desperation drove, have been committed By those who once would start to hear them named.
Agnes. And add to these detested suicide, Which, by a crime much less, we may avoid.
0. Wil. The inhospitable murder of our guest? How couldst thou form a thought so very tempting, So advantageous, so secure, and easy; And yet so cruel, and so full of horror ?
Agnes. 'Tis less impiety, less against nature,
0. Wil. It is no matter, whether this or that
Agnes. You're too severe : reason may justly plead For her own preservation.
0. Wil. Rest contented :
Agnes. Then nought remains
0. Wil. True, his strength,
Agnes. By what means ?
0. Wi. Why, what a fiend!
Agnes. Barbarous man!
0. Wil. Dry thy tears :
Agnes. The sash.
0. Wil. No.
The Conscious Lovers, a drama belonging to this period, was written by Sir Richard Steele, and combines moral instruction with amusement; but in all other respects it is a languid, if not an insipid performance. The Distressed Mother was translated from Racine, by Ambrose Philips, and was highly successful. The · Zara' of Voltaire was, about the same time, adapted w the English stage, by Aaron Hill, who wrote also some original dramas; none of which, however, require particular notice.
Lecture the Twenty-Flinth.
ISAAK WALTON EDMUND CALAMY - SIR WILLIAM DUGDALE - BULSTRODI
WHITELOCKE-THOMAS FULLER-EDWARD HYDE, EARL OF CLARENDON-SIR MATTHEW HALE-JAMES HARRINGTON.
THE productions of the early part of this period, in the
department of prose, possess much of the nervous force and originality of the preceding era, and, at the same time, approximate to that elegance in the choice and arrangement of words, which, in English composition, has since been attained. The principal writers in philosophical and political dissertation, besides Milton and Cowley, whom we have already noticed under the department of poetry, are Sidney, Temple, Thomas Burnet, and Locke; in history, Lord Clarendon, and Bishop Burnet; in divinity, Calamy, Baxter, Barrow, Tillotson, South, Stillingfleet, Sherlock, and Barclay; in miscellaneous literature, Walton, Fuller, L'Estrange, and Brown; and in physical science, Boyle, Barrow, Newton, and some others, whose works, however, were chiefly written in Latin. Bunyan, the celebrated author of Pilgrim's Progress,' belongs also to this era, but can not be ranged in either of the previous classes.
Toward the close of this period, a much higher polish and greater degree of refinement was attained in prose writing, than had previously been known ; but the attainment, it must be confessed, was made at the expense of its energy and strength. A new species of literature also, at this time, originated, which consisted in short essays on men and manners, published periodically, and commenting on the events of private life, and the dispositions of ordinary men. The idea had never before been entertained, either in England or in any other country, of a work in which the writer should undertake to meet the public several times each week with a brief paper, either discussing some feature of society, or relating some lively tale, allegory, or anecdote. The credit of commencing this new branch of literature is due to Sir Richard Steele, a gentleman of English parentage, but born in Ireland, while his father acted as secretary to the Duke of Ormond, lord
lieutenant of that kingdom. Of this we shall have occasion to speak more particularly in its appropriate place. In the following remarks upon the prose writers of the age upon which we are now about to enter, we shall not attempt to observe any other classification than that which the order of time suggests.
IZAAK WALTon, one of the most interesting and popular writers of this age, was an English worthy of the simple antique cast, who retained, in the heart of London, and in the midst of close and successful application to business, an unworldly simplicity of character, and an inextinguishable fondness for country scenes, pastimes, and recreations. He possessed also a power of natural description and lively dialogue, that has rarely been surpassed. The slight tincture of superstitious credulity and innocent eccentricity which pervades his works, gives them a finer zest, and more original flavor, without detracting from their higher power to soothe, instruct, and delight.
Walton was born in the town of Strafford, in the month of August, 1593. Of his family, his early years, and his education, we have no memorials. According to Anthony Wood, he acquired a competency, by following, in London, the occupation of a linen-draper, at first in a shop in Cornhill, seven feet and a half long, and five wide, and afterward in Fleet street, where he had one half of a shop, the other half being occupied by a hosier. He had a more pleasant and spacious study, however, in the fields and rivers in the neighborhood of London, 'in such days and times as he laid aside business, and went a-fishing with honest Nat and R. Roe.'
In 1632, Walton married Anne, the daughter of Thomas Ken, of Farnival's Inn, and sister of Dr. Ken, bishop of Bath and Wells. This respectable connection introduced him to the acquaintance of the eminent men and dignitaries of the church, at whose houses he passed much of his time in his latter years, especially after the death of his wife, “a woman of remarkable prudence, and of the primitive piety. Walton retired from business in the fifty-first year of his age, and lived forty years afterwards in uninterrupted leisure. He died at Winchester, on the fifteenth of December, 1683, while residing with his son-in-law, Dr. Hawkins, prebendary of Winchester cathedral.
Walton's first literary production was the Life of Dr. Donne, prefixed to a collection of the doctor's sermons, published in 1640. It was his original design not to write this work, but merely to collect the materials for Sir Henry Wotton, who was to execute the task. But Sir Henry's death intervening, Izaak reviewed his forsaken collections, and resolved that the world should see the best plain picture of the author's life that his artless pencil, guided by the hand of truth, could present.' The memoir is circumstantial, and one of the most deeply interesting biographies in the language. He next wrote, with equal felicity, the Life of Sir Henry Wotton. Walton's principal production, The Complete Angler, or Contemplative Man's Recreation, appeared in 1653, and such was its popularity, that four other edi