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CHAPTER XIII.

JOHN LYLY.

1. The Publication of ‘Euphues '-Its Two Parts–Outline of the Story.

II. It forms a Series of Short Treatises-Love--Conduct-Education

--A Book for Women. III. Its Popularity—The Spread of Euphuism-What we Mean by that Word.-IV. Qualities of Medieval Taste - Allegory - Symbolism - The Bestiaries-Qualities of Early —

— Humanism-Scholastic Subtleties—Petrarchistic Diction-Bad Taste in Italy-Influence of Italian Literature—The Affectation of the Sixteenth Century-Definition of Euphuism-Illustrations.-V. Lyly becomes a Courtier–His Want of Success—The Simplicity of his Dramatic Prose- The Beauty of the Lyrics—The Novelty of his Court-Comedies.-VI. Eight Pieces ascribed to Lyly-Six Played before Elizabeth— The Allegories of their Classic Fables — Endinion'

Its Critique.–VII. “Midas'--Political Allusions — “Sapho and Phao'_' Elizabeth and Leicester'- Details of this Comedy.–VIII. * Alexander and Campaspe'-Touch upon Greek Story-DiogenesA Dialogue on Love-The Lyrics.-IX. «Gallathea'--Its Relation to “As You Like It'_ Love's Metamorphosis'- Its Relation to Jonson

- Mother Bombie'-'The Woman in the Moon.'-X. Lyly as a Master of his Age-Influence on Shakspere--His Inventions.

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In the year 1579 a book appeared in London which was destined to make an epoch in English literary history, and to win for its author fame and fashion alınost unparalleled among his contemporaries. This book bore the title of Euphues, the Anatomy of Wit.' It was written by John Lyly, a member of Magdalen College, Oxford, Master of Arts, then in his twentyseventh year.

In the spring following, a sequel, called • Euphues, his England,' issued from the press. The two parts formed one work, conceived and executed after the Italian style of moral dissertation and romantic story. “Euphues’ is, in fact, a collection of essays, tales, letters, and meditative disquisitions, “sowed,' to use the author's own words, here and there like strawberries, not in heaps like hops.' In planning this book Lyly had a clearly didactic intention. It was his purpose to set forth opinions regarding the formation of character by training and experience; to criticise social conduct; to express his views upon love and friendship, religion and philosophy; to discuss the then so favourite topic of foreign travel ; and to convey this miscellaneous instruction in a form agreeable to his readers.

The story, with which Lyly interwove his weightier discourses, may be briefly told. The book opens with a minute description of the hero's character and person. Euphues, who is meant to embody the qualities denoted by his Greek name, is an Athenian youth of good fortune, comely presence, and quick parts, somewhat too much given to pleasure. He comes to Naples, where he makes acquaintance with an old man named Eubulus, and a young man called Philautus. Eubulus gives him abundance of good counsel, both as regards the conduct of his life in general and the special dangers he will have to meet in Naples. Euphues receives it kindly, but prefers to buy wisdom by experience, arguing that it ill beseems a young man to rule himself by the precepts of the aged, before he has tasted of life for himself. With Philautus he strikes up a romantic friendship. This new comrade brings him into the society of Lucilla, a Neapolitan lady, to whom Philautus is already paying his addresses with her father's sanc

STORY OF EUPHUES.'

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tion. In their first interview, Lucilla and Euphues fall in love, each with the other. Euphues tries to conceal his passion from his friend by pretending to admire another woman, Livia ; but, in the absence of Philautus, he declares his love to Lucilla, and receives the confession of hers in return. Lucilla, when urged by her father to accept her former suitor, openly avows her new fancy for Euphues. This leads to a rupture between the two friends. But it soon appears that the fickle fair has thrown over Euphues for a fresh adorer, named Curio. Euphues falls into a fever of fury, shame, and disappointed passion. He and Philautus shake hands again, consoling themselves with the reflection that friendship is more stable and more durable than love. Then they separate-Euphues returns to study moral and physical philosophy at Athens ; 'Philautus remains to cure himself, as best he can, at Naples. Euphues, in his own university, applies himself with zeal to serious learning, and is soon so strengthened against passion that he writesía cooling card for Philautus and all fond lovers. This he sends his friend, together with a discourse upon the education of young men, a refutation of atheism, and other products of his fruitful brain-in short, epistolary essays. These terminate the first part of the book. In the second, Lyly brings Euphues and Philautus to England. He describes the discourse they held on shipboard, to keep off seasickness and ennui ; their landing, and their visit to Fidus, an old bee-master of Kent. Fidus has a longwinded love story, tale within tale, of his own to tell. After hearing this the friends reach London, where Philautus falls in and out of love two or three times, and at last is married to a lady whom he calls his Violet. Euphues leaves him happily settled in England, and concludes with a neatly worded panegyric of Elizabeth and her Court, entitled 'Euphues' Glass for Europe.'

II.

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Such is the slender thread of narrative on which Lyly strung his multitudinous reflections—some commonplace, some wise, some whimsical, some quaint, but all relating to the inexhaustibly attractive themes of love and conduct. The story lacks definite outline and strong colouring, but it was of a kind which won acceptance in that age. The popularity of Greene's novels and Sidney's · Arcadia 'is not less inexplicable to a modern reader than the fascination exercised by

Euphues. The thought-except, perhaps, in one tractate upon education, entitled 'Euphues and his Ephæbus’—is rarely pregnant or profound. Yet Lyly's facile handling of grave topics, his casuistry of motives and criticism of life, exactly suited the audience he had in view. He tells us that he meant his · Euphues ’ for gentlewomen in their hours of recreation. 'I am content that your dogs lie in your laps, so “ Euphues” may be in your hands; that when you shall be weary in reading of the one, you may be ready to sport with the other.' And again :

Euphues” had rather lie shut in a lady's casket than open in a scholar's study.' In days when there were no circulating libraries and magazines, ‘Euphues' passed for pleasant and instructive reading. The ladies, for whom it was written, had

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LITERARY AIM OF EUPHUES.'

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few books except romances of the Round Table and the Twelve Peers ; and these, though stimulating to the imagination, failed to exercise the wit and understanding. The loves of Lancelot and Tristram were antiquated and immoral. The doughty deeds of Paladins suited a soldier's rather than a damsel's fancy. Lyly supplied matter light enough to entertain an idle moment, yet sensible and wholesome.

He presented in an English dress the miscellaneous literature of the Italians, combining Alberti's ethical disquisitions with Sannazzaro's narratives, but avoiding the licentiousness which made Painter's translations from the Novellieri an object of just suspicion. Furthermore, he popularised some already celebrated writings of a meritorious but affected Spanish author, and succeeded in presenting all this miscellaneous matter in a piquant form, which passed for originality of style. The love tales of Euphues, Philautus, and Fidus, served for polite fiction. The discourses on marriage, education, politics, and manners, conveyed some such diluted philosophy as ladies of the present day imbibe from magazines and newspapers. The inartistic blending of these divers elements in a prolix, languidly conducted romance, did not offend against the taste of Lyly's age.

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III.

The success of this book was sudden and astounding. Two editions of the first part were exhausted in 1579, a third in 1580, a fourth in 1581. Between that date and 1636 it was nine times reprinted. The second part enjoyed a similar run of luck. How greedily its

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