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yet much might be said were this the place for it - of the lyrical quality which frequently accompanies even the cynical gallantry and coxcombry of Suckling, Sedley, and Rochester. If poems such as many of theirs and of Dryden's be excluded from the category of the lyric on the score of artificiality or insincerity, they must assuredly be restored to their place for the power of music in them.
The poems in this book have been selected, not only from the works of the individual poets represented, but from contemporary poetical miscellanies and from the incidental lyrical verse contained in dramas, romances, and other works of the time. Care has been taken to make the text as correct as possible by a collation with authoritative sources; and, wherever necessary, the sources of preferred readings will be found mentioned in the Notes. In the Introduction an attempt has been made to trace the course of English lyrical poetry during the period, to explain its relations to the previous age, and to trace the influences which determined its development and its final change of character. It is hoped that the Notes and Indexes may furnish the reader with such help as he may reasonably demand, and encourage the student to a deeper study of a rich and interesting period in one of its most distinctive forms of artistic expression.
In conclusion, I wish to record my recognition of a few amongst many favors. My acknowledgments are due here, as ever, to Dr. Horace Howard Furness for the loan of books and for much kind encouragement; to Dr. Clarence G. Child, especially amongst my colleagues, for valuable suggestions and many services; and above all to Professor Kittredge, one of the general editors of this series, whose wide learning and untiring care have been generously bestowed to better this book.
JUNE 16, 1899.
FELIX E. SCHELLING.
THE ENGLISH LYRIC OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.1
IN the Introduction to A Book of Elizabethan Lyrics I have said that "not the least merit of Elizabethan literature, defining both words strictly, is its soundness and its health; its very lapses from decorum are those of childhood, and its extravagances those of youth and heated blood, both as far as possible removed from the cold cynicism, the doubt of man and God, that crept into England in the train of King James, and came in time to chill and benumb the pulses of the nation.”2
This statement I believe to be strictly and literally true, though it may here need some explanation. There was both crime and wickedness in Elizabeth's day; there was virtue and nobility of life in the days of James. But a cleavage between art and morals had come about early in the seventeenth century, if indeed not before; the Renaissance, now somewhat spent and losing in freshness and virility, threw off its former alliance with the rude but wholesome ethical spirit which animated the drama during the lifetime of
1 The reader is referred to the earlier paragraphs of the Introduction to the editor's A Book of Elizabethan Lyrics for a general discussion of the nature and limitations of the term lyric.
2 p. xxxvii.
Shakespeare, and contracted from a broad humanitarian love of art as an imitation of the whole range of human action and emotion into the narrower, if choicer, spirit of the dilettante, whose taste in trifles is perfect, whose joy is not a little in the skill and cleverness of the artist, whose range for art, in a word, is contracted within the limits of good society. On the other hand, the moral aspect of the world was not lost, although it seemed all but lost to literature for a time. Any statement that the complex of moral, religious, and political agencies which is loosely called Puritanism was an unmixed evil to literature is wide of the truth. The marvellously rich devotional poetry of the period, a poetry which knew no sect and existed the common possession of Romanist, Churchman, and Dissenter, is alone sufficient refutation of such an opinion. Still that spirit which translated the joys of the world into vanities and denounced the most innocent show of human emotion as the lust of the flesh and the temptation of the devil withdrew itself apart and lived alone in later forms of Puritanism, which became stern and austere, unmollified by grace and unsweetened with charity.
Nothing could better illustrate the essential relation which exists in art between truth and that typical presentation of nature which we somewhat inaccurately call beauty, than the history of English poetry in the seventeenth century, especially the history of the lyric, always that form of poetry most sensitive to the subtler influences of an age. Moreover, whatever fastidious literary taste may prefer, the student of literature must beware of generalizations formed on anything short of a consideration of all the literary phenomena at hand. Perversions of art have their lesson for the historian of literature, and must be considered if the picture is to be true. Thus we must recognize, not only the rhetorical and "metaphysical" excesses of lesser and later Donnians, but