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VI

SUMMARY

OUR hasty glance at the literary history of America during the seventeenth century has revealed some facts worth remembering. In 1630, when Boston was founded, the mature inhabitants of America, like their brethren in England, were native Elizabethans. In 1700 this race had long been in its grave. In densely populated England, meanwhile, historical pressure social, political, and economic alike—had wrought such changes in the national character as are marked by the contrast between the figures of Elizabeth and of King William III. The dominant type of native Englishmen had altered: national experience was steadily accumulating. In America there had been no such external pressure; and though the immigrant Puritans had long been no more, and though isolation was making the inhabitants of New England more and more provincial, they had preserved to an incalculable degree the spontaneous, enthusiastic, versatile character of their immigrant ancestors. In literature seventeenth-century England had expressed itself in at least three great and distinct moods, of which the dominant figures were Shakspere, Milton, and Dryden. Though America had meanwhile produced hardly any pure letters, it had continued, long after Elizabethan temper had faded from the native literature of England, to keep alive with little alteration those minor phases of Elizabethan thought and feeling which had expressed the temper of the ancestral Puritans. In history and in literature alike, the story of seventeenth-century America is a story of unique national inexperience.

BOOK II

THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

BOOK II

THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

I

ENGLISH HISTORY FROM 1700 TO 1800

WHEN the eighteenth century began, the reign of William III. was about as near its close as that of Elizabeth was a hun

dred years before. In 1702 William was succeeded by Queen Anne. In 1714 George I. followed her, founding the dynasty which still holds the throne. George II. succeeded him in 1727; and in 1760 came George III., whose reign extended till 1820. The names of these sovereigns instantly suggest certain familiar facts, of which the chief is that during the first half of the century the succession remained somewhat in doubt. It was only in 1745, when the reign of George II. was more than half finished, that the last fighting with Stuart pretenders occurred on British soil. On British soil, but not on English: there has been no actual warfare in England since in 1685 the battle of Sedgmoor suppressed the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion against James II. These obvious facts indicate historical circumstances which have had profound effect on English character.

Continental nations are now and again disposed to call the English a nation of shopkeepers; and certainly during the past two centuries the commercial prosperity of England has exceeded that of most other countries. An imperative condition of such prosperity is peace and domestic order. Good business demands an efficient police, and in general a state of

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