« PreviousContinue »
Obfervations on the Language of the People commonly called Gypfies. By Mr. "Marsden,
(192) Extrači from Mr. Strute's Elay on the Origin and Progress of the Art of Engraving,
(194) MISCELLANEOUS PAPER S. Rise and Progress of the first Commemoration of Handel, of Penetration and Forefight,
.  An impartial Inquiry into the Reasonableness of Suicide, Fragic Story of a Portuguese Gentleman who died by the Rack,
 Dr. Johnson and Lord Monboddo,
(215) Dr. Johnson's AfTertions concerning the Scottish Clergy, Specimen of Dr. Johnson's Conversation,
(2 91 Dr. Yo?rfon's Visit to the Duke of Argyle,
 Story of Amelia Nevil,
| 2227 Hiftory of Melitina,
 of Scs of Rcfolutions for Old Agen
1232) POETRY. 97e Village Freeholder,
 What Kind of Composition a Newlpaper is, and the Amusement it affords,  Song of Exultation,
 Allures to Friendship,
 On Mrs. Montazu,
(242) Sonnet to Laura,
 Sonnet to the Autbar's Wife,
 Address to the Pupil of Eloquence, Ode on his Majesty's Birth-Day,
 Hitchin Convent. A Tale,
(247) The Mulberry. Tree. A Tale.
[250) The Cottage and Cottagers,
 Confilatory Ode,
1252) Oric to Peter Pindar, To Cynthia, Peter Pindar's most wholesome Advice to Landscape Painters,  The South Sea Islanders compasionated, but chirfly Omai,
12561 Diteliation of Slavery,
1217) Sicilian Earthquakes, Domestic i ife in the Country,
12591 Morning, or the Complaint. An American Eclozur,
1 2631 Evening, or the Fugitive. An American Eclogue, Fixiuris on quitting an Academic Life,
"2;o) DOMESTIC LITERATURE, For the rear 1785.
[272) FOREIGN LITERATURE, For the Year 1785.
- بابابابابا بابایاسای بالالالالالالالالالالالالالا
SHORT V IE W
STATE OF KNOWL EDGE, LITERATURE, AND TASTE,
IN GREAT BRITAIN,
From the ACCESSION of King Henry the Fourth, to the Ac
CESSION of King Henry the Seventh.
TN our last Number, we had the pleasure of recording I some considerable improvements with regard to the state of knowledge, literature, and taste, in Great Britain. Wickliffe had boldly advanced to an uncommon enlargement of thinking in religious matters, and Chaucer had displayed a vein of poetry rich and new in this country. From such beginnings important consequences might have been expected; and the writings of these eminent men must have had no sinall effect on the minds of many india viduals. The opinions of Wickliffe appear to have been embraced by a larger number of persons than dared to avow them; and the admirers of Chaucer could not avoid having their understandings and their taste improved by a perufal of his various works.
Still, however, the progress of knowledge was far inferior to what, from auspices so favourable to the cultivation and refinement of the human faculties, might ration1785.
ally have been predicted. In fact, the period we are now treating of, is one of the most disgraceful, with respect to the subject before us, that can be found in the history of England. It affords but few literary facts and characters on which we can expatiate with much satisfaction. Several circumstances contributed to the neglect of learning; the chief of which undoubtedly was the confusion of the times, arising from the civil wars that were occasioned by the long contests between the two rival houses of York and Lancaster. In the perpetual tumult and din of arms, and amidst the desolations that were spread through the kingdom, little opportunity was afforded for the pursuits of science, and the culture of the polite arts. Ignorance and barbarity obtained new triumphs over the minds of our countrymen.
But previously to these contests, knowledge and literature had begun to decline. Henry the Fourth, at his accesion to the crown, was understood to be friendly to the sentiments of Wickliffe. But the conscience of this monarch, like that of most other princes, was not of that obstinate kind which refused to bend itself to political views. When he considered the state of parties, he was convinced that nothing could fo effeétually strengthen his claims as the support of the clergy; and, therefore, he determined to comply with the requisitions of the great ecclesiastics, however hostile these requisitions might be to the cause of reformation. The severest treatment of the advocates for religious improvements was the price of the church's favour; and it was a price to the payment of which Henry the Fourth readily submitted. · Through the influence of Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, whose character was deformed by superstition and cruelty, a law was obtained against the Lollards, by which the bishops were authorised to imprison all persons furpected of heresy, and to try then in the spiritual court. If these disciples of Wickliffe proved either obllinate or relapsed heretics, the ecclesiastical judge was to call the Theriff of the county, or the chief civil officer of the town, to be presens when the sentence of cokemnation was pro
nounced ; nounced; upon which the condemned person was immediately to be delivered to the fecular magistrate, who was to cause hiin to be burnt to death, in foine elevated place, in the sight of all the people. This statute, which is so reproachful to the principles and manners of the times, was not merely an act of denunciation, but was instantly carried into effect. Upon the strength of it, fir William Sawtre, rector of St. Olwyth, London, was brought to trial before the convocation of the province of Canterbury, ar St. Paul's, and received sentence of condemnation. It was an honour to himself, but a disgrace to his country, that he was the first person in England who was burned to death for the adoption of sentiinents the truth of which is now admitted by every liberal mind. To another clergyman, William Thorp, whose learning alone would have entitled him to a place in this work, archbishop Arundel did not Carry his cruelty quite so far. He committed him, how. ever, to a loathsome prison, the horrors of which probably Shortened, as well as embittered his days.
Henry the Fifth, brightly as his name shines on other accounts, was in the same disgraceful situation with chat of his father. Indeed, the scheme he had formed with regard to the conquest of France, laid him under a greater necellity of courting the clergy than Henry the Fourth had ever experienced; and the bishops knew how to avail theinselves of a crisis which could be converted to the farther establishment of their own power, and to the suppresion of a free enquiry into the doctrines of Chriftianity. Secure in the protection of the crown, perfecution now took a bolder flight, and made an attack upon sir John Oldcastle, lord Cobham, the most illustrious of the followers of Wickliffe. This nobleman, not to mention his other eminent qualities, was distinguished by the vigour and extent of his in. tellectual powers. To his natural parts he joined all the acquisitions of knowledge and learning which the times he lived in could administer. In religion he attained to a dių. nity of sentiment which would not be a dishonour to the preient age. The man who could say, that his faith was, “ That God will alk no more of a Christian in this life a 2
ciples were ons. Bohemion of relia en adva
than to obey the precepts of his blessed law ;” and that " if any prelate of the church requireth more, or any other kind of obedience, he contemneth Christ, exalteth himself above God, and becometh plainly antichrist,”-the man who could say this in the beginning of the fifteenth century, must have been enlightened far beyond the generality of his contemporaries. His conduct in ayowing his opinions was equally open and manly; and he maintained thein at the stake, to which, after several years of severe harrassment and persecution, he was at length brought by the bigotry and malice of his enemies.
While the abettors of Wickliffe's tenets were depressed and cruelly treated at home, it is fome honour to our country, that the doctrines which had been advanced by him contributed to the diffusion of religious knowledge among foreign nations. Bohemia was the kingdom where his principles were the most zealously and extensively adopted, and where they were productive of effects which make no inconsiderable figure in the public history of Germany,
Amidst the ardour of the prelates for the suppression of novel opinions, and for impeding the progress of reformation, it might have been expected that their own favourite study, that of scholastic theology, would have been vigorously pursued. This species of divinity was, indeed, cultivated to a certain degree; but it did not appear with the splendour which it had assumed in former ages. No such luminaries were produced as had heretofore obtained the most pompous titles : there were no persons who attained the appellations of irrefragable, angelic, or seraphic doctors, The bishops chiefly concerned themselves in supporting the general pretensions of the church, or in fraining canons for the maintenance of their separate interests. As to the dirputes which were carried on between the regular and secu. lar clergy, they are of too little consequence to be mentioned in a history of literature.
There was one prelate whose inind was enlarged above the common standard of his brcthren, but whore fortitude was not equal to his knowledge. This was Pococke, bitop of Chichester, who, when examined before archbisop