A History of English Literature

(Marvins-Underground-K-12) #1

dividing the supernatural truths of biblical revelation from the truths of nature.
After the Advancement of Learning he proposed in his Latin Novum Organum (1620)
a ‘new instrument’ for human understanding: ‘not of a sect or doctrine, but of
human utility and power’, words which strikingly define the priorities of the modern
world. But King James did not invest in research, nor found a College of Science, as
further proposed in The New Atlantis (1627).
For all the repute of his other works, only Bacon’s Essays have been much read
since. The spectator who liked Hamlet but had not realized it was so full of quotations
stumbled on a clue to much Renaissance writing: its love of nuggets. Its favourite
book was Erasmus’s Adagia (1500), a collection of classical sayings with witty
commentary. Adages and proverbs, decorations on the sponge-cakes of the 1580s,
stuff the plum-puddings of the 1590s, the decade of gists, piths and aphorisms.


Charles the Martyr, from Eikon Basilike

Basilike: The Pourctraicture of his Sacred
Majestie in his Solitudes and Sufferings
(1649). The text was put together from the
king’s notes. Having put off the earthly
crown, he takes the crown of thorns, looking
up to the heavenly crown which awaits him.
Latin labels explain the emblems. The book
reads ‘My Hope is in Thy Word.’

Prose to 1642
Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester
(1555–1626) XCVI Sermons(1629).
Sir Francis Bacon(1561–1626) Essays
(1597, 1612, 1625), Advancement of
Learning(1605), Novum Organum(1620),
History of Henry VII(1622), De Augmentis
Scientiarum(1623), The New Atlantis

Robert Burton(1577–1640) The Anatomy
of Melancholy(1621, revd 1624, 1628,
1632, 1638, 1651).
Sir Thomas Browne(1605–1682) Religio
Medici(c.1635; pub. 1642), Pseudodoxia
Epidemica: or, Enquiries into Very Many
Received Tenents, and Commonly Presumed
Truths(1646, revd 1650, 1658, 1672);
Hydriotaphia, Urne Buriall(1658).
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