Restoration and Eighteenth-Century British Literature
10 May 2000
I. Identifications and short essays. In your blue book, identify all of the following passages, telling me the author and the title of the work from which it is drawn. Then choose any three of the passages and write a short essay (1-2 paragraphs) for each passage, placing it in the context of the work from which it is drawn and showing how it exemplifies concepts and themes that we have discussed in class. Donıt just reiterate the passage; rather, use it as the basis of a short essay analyzing themes, formal features, and ideas that are characteristic of the author and the period. (5 points for each ID; 10 points for each short essay; total 60 points).
1. The kind of anniversary sermons, to which a great part of what I write refers, if men are not shamed out of their present course, in commemorating the fact, will cheat many out of the principles, and deprive them of the benefits of the Revolution they commemorate. I confess to you, Sir, I never liked this continual talk of resistance and revolution, or the practice of making the extreme medicine of the constitution its daily bread.
2. What you would have of us we do not know:
We oft' take up the Corn that you do mow;
We cut the Pease, and always ready are
In every Work to take our Proper Share;
And from the Time that Harvest doth begin,
Until the Corn be cut and carried in,
Our Toil and Labour's daily so extreme,
That we have hardly ever Time to dream.
3. To say the truth, if the historian will confine himself to what really happened, and utterly reject any circumstance which, though never so well attested, he must be well assured is false, he will sometimes fall into the marvellous, but never into the incredible. It is by falling into fiction, therefore, that we generally offend against this rule, of deserting probability, which the historian seldom, if ever, quits till he forsakes his character and commences a writer of romance.
4. As words are but th' external marks to tell
The fair ideas in the mind that dwell;
And only are of things the outward sign,
And not the things themselves they but define;
So exclamations, tender tones, fond tears,
And all the graceful drapery feeling wears;
These are her garb, not her, they but express
Her form, her semblance, her appropriate dress;
And these fair marks, reluctant I relate,
These lovely symbols may be counterfeit.
5. But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o' Mice an' Men
Gang aft a-gley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promised joy!
6. I wept very bitterly for some time; and began to think that I must have done something to displease the Lord, that he thus punished me so severely. This filled me with painful reflections on my past conduct. I recollected that, on the morning of our arrival at Deptford, I had very rashly sworn that as soon as we reached London, I would spend the day in rambling and sport. My conscience smote me for this unguarded expression: I felt that the Lord was able to disappoint me in all things, and immediately considered my present situation as a judgment of Heaven, on account of my presumption in swearing.
II. Essay. If Tom Jones and Sophia Western had been real people, they would have been about 75 years old in 1800, a time when people tend to take stock of their lives and the times in which they lived. In this essay, I'd like you to imagine yourself as either Tom or Sophia. Write a journal entry in which your chosen identity thinks back on British writing over the last century and a half or so. You'll want to be faithful to the character you choose to imitate as you imagine how they would think about both literature published since1749, (when that unscrupulous rascal Henry Fielding published a "history" of their youthful adventures) and the British texts that they read as children, the works published in the Restoration period from 1660 to 1700. You must talk about at least three texts in some detail, and at least one of them must be from the period before 1700. (40 points)