« ZurückWeiter »
These volumes are designed to furnish the reader with a comprehensive and readable sketch of Society and Literature in the reign of Charles the Second. They will be found to deal with its diarists and poets, its dramatists and actors, its courtiers and musicians, its theologians and essayists, not, indeed, with any attempt at exhaustive criticism, but with a view to present their salient characteristics, and, at the same time, to indicate and illustrate the fertile intellectual activity of the period. It has been no part of my plan to intrude upon the province of the historian, and therefore these pages contain few references to statesmen or soldiers, diplomatists or politicians—the men who make history-or to historical events, except in one or two instances) as regards their social aspects. Something, however, is said about the Court of Charles the Second; about the Beauties and the Wits to whom it owes its dubious reputation. I am conscious that in this branch of my subject a writer must necessarily “skate upon thin ice;” but I have been careful, I hope, to respect the just susceptibilities of the reader, and to introduce no particulars with which the most fastidious can reasonably find fault. Originally it was my object to have included within my survey the social condition of the English people generally, and of the squire and the citizen, the parish priest and the peasant particularly—to have offered some illustrations of manners and customs and of domestic life; but a serious illness compelled me to forego this intention, and, so far, my book is incomplete. But I trust it contains in itself enough to interest and entertain the reader, and to render it acceptable as an introduction to the study of a very remarkable period of our national life. It is the result of the labour of many months; and the occasional critical expressions which it embodies are at least the product of independent judgment and careful examination, though, as I have hinted, they do not pretend to be exhaustive.
A work of this kind, however limited in scope or unpretending in execution, must necessarily be based upon a large number of authorities. But from many, perhaps, only a suggestion has been caught or an illustration borrowed, and it is not possible to make these the subject of particular reference.
To others I have been more liberally indebted, and I hope I have included them in the following list :-SAMUEL PEPYS, Diary, edit. by Bright; John EVELYN, Memoirs, comprising his Diary, from 1641 to 1706, ed. by Bray; Sir J. RERESBY, Travels and Memoirs ; GERARD LANGBAINE, Account of the English Dramatic Poets ; BAKER, Biographia Dramatica, ed. by Reed and Jones; Downes, Roscius Anglicanus; COLLEY CIBBER, Apology for His Own Life, ed. 1740; JEREMY COLLIER, Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage ; Life of Betterton ; PETER CUNNINGHAM, Nell Gwynn ; Dr. DORAN, Their Majesties' Servants; P. GENESTE, Account of the English Stage, 1660-1820, ed. ten vols., 1832 ; JESSE, Memoirs of the Court of England during the Reigns of the Stuarts ; Count HAMILTON, Memoirs of Count de Grammont; Mrs. Jameson, Beauties of the Court of Charles II.; Dr. BURNEY, History of Music, 4to ed.; HAWKINS, History of Music; Life of Purcell ; HENRI TAINE, History of English Literature ; Dr. Johnson, Lives of the Poets ; T. ARNOLD, The English Poets ; Sir WALTER Scott, Life of Dryden and Biographies of Novelists;
G. SAINTSBURY, Dryden's Works, with Life and Notes; Professor Masson, Life of John Milton; B. H. R. CAPEFIGUE, La Duchesse de Portsmouth ; CLARENDON; LINGARD ; MACAULAY ; J. R. GREEN; HERRICK, Poetical Works, edit. by Maitland; ABRAHAM COWLEY, Works, ed. 1707; SAMUEL BUTLER, Hudibras, edit. by GRAY; Sir THOMAS BROWNE, Works, edit. by S. WILKIN; Principal TULLOCH, History of Rational Theology; Dr. Henry MORE, Philosophical Writings, 4th edit., 1712; Rev. J. HUNT, History of Religious Thought ; Bishop BURNETT, History of My Own Time ; Life of Jeremy Taylor, by KEBLE ; Life of Bishop Ken, by a Layman; RICHARD BAXTER, Narrative of the Most Memorable Passage of my Life and Times ; Life of William Penn, by HEPWORTH Dixon; &c., &c.
W. H. D. A.