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I. WHATEVER the period that may be chosen as the starting-point in the study of literature, and especially of modern literature, it is necessary to go back to find out the origin of the theories and the formulas then existing, to see what influences were at work, and to learn the general current of the thought of the time. Even if these lectures began with Chaucer, it is obvious that we should have to study Chaucer's indebtedness to Italian models and to mediæval literature before we could fully comprehend his precise position; and in beginning with the writers of the Restoration period, while we shall have to study briefly those authors who went before as well as some of those who lived in other countries, we have as a sort of excuse for choosing this as a starting-point that with these writers what we feel to be modern literature begins.

Of course, this is not a scientific division. By no stretch of language can Shakspere or Ben Jonson be numbered among ancient authors: all that I mean is


this, that Addison and Pope are the first writers of whom we feel that they are, so to speak, our fellow-citizens rather than remote beings whom we admire for their intellectual gifts. As Vernon Lee puts it, in speaking of the Italian writers of the last century: "It is in dealing with them that we first find that we have to do no longer with our remote ancestors living in castellated houses, travelling on horseback, fighting in the streets, and carousing at banquets, but with the grandfathers of our grandfathers, steady, formal, hypocritical people, paying visits in coaches, going to operas, giving dinner-parties, and litigating and slandering rather than assassinating and poisoning."*

This feeling is due to many causes. The fact that civilization was then firmly settled gave a different tone to literature. Earlier, the joyous pride in the possession of national life, which was strongly felt in the time of Elizabeth, on account of the awakening of that age to the consciousness of new powers; the great discoveries in physical science; the opening of unknown lands; the revelation of the beauties of classical literature; the unaccustomed religious freedom- all these things inspired the writers of what we call the Elizabethan period with a sort of primal fire and energy which make them seem remote from our cooler, critical days.

They appeared even more remote to our ancestors at the time of Queen Anne. Then the pride of national life had faded into political rancor, and the early enthusiasm for science had been succeeded by a period of patient research and examination of detail. The Royal Society was founded in 1662, and it had formed a nucleus for the reception and dissemination of new discoveries. What had been widespread superstitions gave way before new

* "Studies of the Eighteenth Century in Italy," p. 10.

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