Literature written after 1660 is markedly more modern in style and spirit than much that was written only a few years earlier. This modernity, as also a depression of the poetic imagination that went with it, is to be explained in part by the remarkable advance of science in the seventeenth century and the dominance of the scientific attitude throughout the eighteenth. The change in literature reflects that larger shift in thought which raised the seventeenth century as the frontier between the modern world and all the preceding ages. That probing of the physical world by sensory observation and experiment, by mathematical measurement and inductive reasoning, the process that we now shortly label as science, had been effectively established by the bold activities of men like Galileo the astronomer and Kepler the mathematician. This first eager age of science culminated in England in the work of Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) with his demonstration of the laws of gravitation and motion by which the planets move in their orderly courses.
These early achievements in science were not the work of specialists alone; they were, moreover, intelligible to most educated men and philosophical thought generally was soon involved with the new materialist view of the universe. The clear legal mind of Francis Bacon (1561-1626) promulgated the method of inductive reasoning, and the versatile Frenchman Descartes (1596-1650) applied it to metaphysics in an attempt to prove the existence of God and the soul. The schism between science and traditional Christian humanism, a gulf so wide open in our own day, was for much of this period still capable of being bridged by men whose education fitted them to reconcile the old learning and the new. The revolutionary new branch of knowledge was still known as 'philosophy', or more specifically, 'natural philosophy', one part of the integrated discipline of all learning.
There were, of course, big changes in the attitude to older beliefs. Without rejecting the Christian faith or the refinements of classical culture, these men broke finally with the authority of Aristotle and medieval Scholasticism, subjecting all beliefs and all knowledge to a rational examination based on the evidence of fact as supplied by the senses. For Galileo, Descartes, Hobbes, the only real truth was that discoverable by inductive and mathematical methods. On this view the universe appeared as a great machine and the principles on which it worked were taken as a demonstration of the ultimate rationality of creation; all was capable of explanation.
There were obvious advantages in the new attitude. A great burden of fear and superstition was lifted off the minds of men. Hobbes, it was justly claimed, had put 'Fancies, Ghosts, and every empty Shade' to shameful flight. Men had now more confidence in their own unaided and unrestricted intellect, and with increased understanding of the ways of Nature felt better able to control and dominate their environment; though some, it is equally true, felt that man's importance lessened when measured against the newly discovered systems of Nature, so vast and intricate after the comfortably delimited Ptolemaic cosmogony and the macrocosm of older thought. On the whole, however, self-confidence, eagerness about the world of wonders opened up before them, and a belief in human progress, now thought to be nearing a splendid culmination, were the predominant effects of scientific thought throughout the eighteenth century. Its upholders worked in a plain daylight world of fact and reason, and anything lurking in the shadows, too insubstantial to be snared by observation and dragged out into the light by rational processes, was derided and dismissed as fanciful.
It was a climate unfavourable to religion and poetry. Bacon, Locke, and Newton, while wishing to preserve religion (though inevitably it was trimmed to natural theology and deism), had no use and little respect for poetry. Poetry, said Newton,
'was a kind of ingenious nonsense'; at the best it was a pleasing cheat, supplying 'pleasant pictures and agreeable visions',
as Locke admitted without intending greatly to praise it. The imagination was distrusted and its value depreciated, an attitude reinforced by the disgust with zeal and enthusiasm that the religious disputes of the seventeenth century had provoked. From such disquiets the eighteenth century was thankful to have escaped. The effect on prose was salutary, forcing order and distinctness upon it and extending its usefulness as a medium both of common intercourse and learned discussion. Poetry, on the other hand, was circumscribed and poets were on probation. Strangeness, mystery, 'metaphysical' exuberance, were dropped, and the poet often fell into line with the prose writer as a sensible instructor who, though perhaps less reliable, could temper his instruction with pleasing adornments. At the same time it was not a bad thing that poetry had to take on a new precision and apply it in the study of man. A new and often rigid distinction between thought and feeling, reason and imagination, fact and fiction, prevailed throughout the eighteenth century and it was more favourable to prose than to poetry.
The early history of the Royal Society of London for the Improving of Natural Knowledge illustrates the inclusiveness of the new philosophy. Beginning in Oxford in the middle of the seventeenth century as an informal association of like-minded individuals, the Society received public recognition with its royal charter in 1662 and became at once the centre for scientific studies. The first members were men of diverse talents and interests, but all united by the common bond of a classical education and an implicit acceptance of humanist culture, as much as by their interest in the new enquiries. They included, besides many dilettanti noblemen, persons as distinguished as the Honourable Robert Boyle, John Evelyn, Samuel Pepys, Sir William Petty, John Ray, and Christopher Wren. One of the first books issued with the support of the Society was Evelyn's Sylva (1664), an elegant and charming discourse on forestry. Along with his other writings on horticulture, it was designed for 'the benefit and diversion of gentlemen and persons of quality', who had throughout the century shown an increasingly practical interest in the arts of planting and gardening. There were poets in the Society too, notably Denham, Dryden, and Waller; and Cowley, the most admired of poets in his time, hastened on the Society's schemes with his Proposition for the Advancement of Experimental Philosophy in 1661, and honoured it with an ode.
The Society was careful not to give any countenance to the atheistical tendencies of the new philosophy, and at first tried even to maintain a distinction between its own predilection for experimental science and the mechanistic philosophy of Descartes. For this reason Hobbes was kept out of the Society, and clergymen and bishops enrolled among its Fellows without any scruples of conscience. Its first History (1667) was, in fact, written by a future Bishop of Rochester, Thomas Sprat. His view, and it was fairly representative, was that this 'learned and inquisitive age' could move forward most freely in its pursuit of true knowledge by not attempting to meddle with the spiritual and supernatural part of Christianity. Instead, the Society would direct men's energies away from futile religious disputes to the fruitful enquiries of natural philosophy. Reason, after all, was the best support religion could have.
Sprat also gives us more distinctly than any other writer of the time the new attitude to literature. Poetry could be of no assistance in scientific enquiries; on the contrary, its deceitful fables, apt enough for primitive ages, must now be banished with the fairies. Poetry was commanded to cease its correspondence with the slavish passions and, in style, to retrench 'this abundance of Phrase, this trick of Metaphors, this volubility of Tongue'. Reason must be its rule, and science could supply it with better matter and imagery than the outworn lore of the Ancients.
With poetry, however, promoters of the new learning like Sprat were not much concerned. Prose was their instrument and they were early determined to discipline it for their needs. They required a clear and unequivocal instrument of expression, and to this end the Society set up a committee in 1664-5 to examine and 'improve' the English language. At a time when the vernacular prose had undergone a century of exuberant development, it was trimmed and redirected by these new demands and given a new importance in intellectual commerce by the decision of the Royal Society to make full use of their native English for recording their experiments and conclusions, matters that had previously been as often expressed in Latin, the international language of learning. Already in 1663, it was reported, (1) French scholars were learning English in their eagerness to read the scientific works of Boyle before the Latin translations were ready. Thus science was in some measure paying back the debt that England owed to French culture after the Restoration.
In this new prose no flourish was to be permitted to obscure reason and plain sense. The Society, therefore, to quote from Sprat, was most rigorous in applying the only remedy for past extravagances:
...and that has been, a constant Resolution, to reject all the amplifications, digressions, and swellings of style: to return back to the primitive purity, and shortness, when men delivered so many things, almost in an equal number of words. They have extracted from all their members, a close, naked, natural way of speaking; positive expressions; clear senses; a native easiness; bringing all things as near the Mathematical plainness, as they can: and preferring the language of Artizans, Countrymen, and Merchants, before that of Wits, or Scholars. —History of the Royal Society, p. 113)
The decision was not entirely novel; the plainer new prose had been maturing throughout the century and its seeds are to be found earlier in Bacon, Jonson, and Hobbes. Science, of course, was not the only influence shaping it, though it has been demonstrated that the prose of writers such as Joseph Glanvill and Abraham Cowley, and many of the preachers, changed markedly as they became more interested in the new science. (2) The style of Dryden, the master of Restoration prose, harmonized with the new requirements from the start, his Essay of Dramatic Poesy (1667) appearing in the same year as Sprat's History, having been written even earlier. That individuality was not abolished along with 'the luxury and redundance of speech' is evidenced by the vigour of Dryden's prose. It reads like the distinguished and easy talk of a clear, independent, and inquisitive mind, sensitive to the tastes and prejudices of his audience, whose judgement he directs without dictation.
The most eminent of English scientists in this period before Newton was the Honourable Robert Boyle (1627-1691). Recognized in his day as 'one of the Deepest and Most indefatigable searchers of Nature',(3) he provides the most representative view of the accommodation at this time between the old thought and the new. A devout theologian and an eager scientist, he seemed quite unaware of any possible clash between Christian tenets and the mechanistic philosophy. Likewise, as a tireless experimenter and a creative thinker in science, he was 'the sceptical chemist' who demolished the lingering medieval belief in the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water, and the three principles of salt, sulphur, and mercury; and yet he was also a professed alchemist, clinging to a belief in the possibility of the transmutation of matter. In rejecting the vague theories of 'the hermetick Philosophers' and the Schoolmen he appealed for lucid expressions and factual arguments, even if in his own prose the wish to divert and recreate his readers as well as excite them was defeated by his wearisome manner. Though he aims, like Dryden, to write as a cultured man would talk, his style is hurried and careless, and his sentences rattle on without form or elegance.
The excitement that we miss in the prose of Dryden almost as much as in Boyle is to be found in Thomas Burnet's Theory of the Earth (1684-1690), written first in Latin and then in English. Addison compared Burnet with Cicero for eloquence, and it is in the magnificently sonorous prose of an older generation that he presents his imaginative view of the earth as an awesome ruin. The methods of science are used to justify the older theology. In his travels Burnet had been startled by the Alps, 'those wild, vast and undigested heaps of stones and earth', and became convinced that Nature was in chaos. This he attributes to man's sin, and with an almost Miltonic cast of imagination unfolds his striking quasi-scientific explanations of the processes by which God's anger has wrought catastrophic changes in an originally smooth and perfect globe.
Burnet's prose remains something of a curiosity for this period, though affinities may perhaps be traced later in William Law and Edmund Burke. The main trend in style was otherwise. Clear statements and settled sentence forms with a simple vocabulary (though more extensive in its simplicity than formerly) became the rule. Thereby English was at last provided with a plain, direct, and workaday prose that offered the right tools for writers so different in their trade as Defoe, Addison, Swift, and Goldsmith, in addition to all the host of lesser men who wanted to write clearly and correctly without aiming at literary distinction.
Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica was published in 1687 and immediately put science in the top ranks of learning. John Locke's Essay concerning Human Understanding followed in 1690 and applied the scientific method to the empirical study of the human mind, suggesting that mind is a form of matter, that human knowledge is strictly limited, and that knowledge comes initially only through the senses, innate ideas being an impossibility. Together, Newton and Locke were to dominate eighteenth-century thought and find their echo, often indistinctly, in much of the literature of the period. Newton was praised almost without exception. (4) Addison and Thomson were whole-hearted in their admiration of both the man and his discoveries. To Addison he was 'the Miracle of the present Age', and it was Addison who, in the popular homilies of the Spectator, gave the lead to a succession of popularizers of science in filtering the ideas of Newton and Locke for the understanding of an inquisitive public, insisting always on the wisdom and piety to be gathered from them. On Newton's death in 1727 Pope devised for his tomb in Westminster Abbey the witty epitaph:
Nature and Nature's Laws lay hid in Night:
God said, Let Newton be! and all was Light.
But that is not the whole story. During these same years at the opening of the eighteenth century a sharp and scornful challenge to the new science came from men of letters. In some part the objection arose from a fear of the irreligious tendency of the modem philosophy, an attitude complicated by the eagerness with which the Puritans and Dissenters had taken up these studies and sought to impose them as a reform upon the Universities. (5) A conflict with, religion was not, however, in England as distinct from France, the most serious issue in this period, partly because of the impeccable piety of men like Boyle and Newton, and even more because of the conviction with which the teaching of 'physico-theology' was received. Initiated in part by the Cambridge Platonists, this hybrid study was established mainly by John Ray (1627-1705), the greatest of English naturalists, in The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of Creation (1691) and was carried on in the Boyle Lectures for 1713 by the Reverend William Derham (1657-1735). Ray's book was a serious and informed survey of scientific knowledge, often making original contributions, and in it he laid down the foundations of all future biological studies (botany and zoology having hitherto lagged behind the physical sciences), thus preparing the ground for the work of eighteenth-century naturalists such as Gilbert White. Derham's published lectures were a more popular compendium. In vindicating and stimulating scientific enquiry, both writers were concerned above all to provide through science a 'Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of an infinitely wise and powerful Creator',(6) who had not, as Burnet contended, given Nature over to the corruption of sin but still worked actively through 'some intelligent plastick Nature' to maintain his perfect design and purpose. The views of the physico-theologists happily suited the ordinary needs of the age and stilled much of the religious doubt that science was suggesting. They were commended, and their teaching promulgated even beyond the end of the century, by clergymen and moralists as diverse as Addison, Wesley, Johnson, and Paley.
More effective opposition to science in the first half of this period came from those wits and scholars who found much of the work of the Royal Society intellectually contemptible and culturally subversive. In an age much given to ridicule it provided a fertile subject for burlesque and satire. In the first place the virtuosi, or gentlemen scientists, were derided for pedantry and lack of practical usefulness in their studies. Their self-regarding seriousness seemed grotesquely disproportionate to the trivial and vulgar objects of some of their enquiries, 'useless experiments upon Flies, Maggots, Eels in Vinegar, and the Blue upon Plumbs', as Shadwell described them in his play The Virtuoso (1676). These were unusual subjects for learned study, and those who embraced them were marked down as gullible triflers and enemies of true learning. This was the attitude taken up by Samuel Butler in The Elephant in the Moon, and it recurs in the essays of Addison and Steele, and in the elaborate burlesques written by Dr William King, The Transactioneer (1700) and Useful Transactions in Philosophy (1709). These last may have provided some suggestions for the papers of the Scriblerus Club (1713), in which Swift, Arbuthnot, Pope, and a few others joined in their leisure hours to make fun of the excesses of the new learning. King may even have provided the suggestion for Swift's Academy of Lagado in Gulliver's Travels, where the author's disgust with many of the projects of the virtuosi culminates in that wild nightmare of ridicule. Several of Swift's works demonstrate how closely he had read many of the scientific writings of his day, and Gulliver's Travels is shot through and through with allusions to them. The technological benefits of science were slow in appearing, and it was Swift again who summed up a very general attitude about the apparent uselessness of scientific enquiry when he applauded the Brobdingnagians because with them the study of mathematics
'is wholly applied to what may be useful in Life; to the Improvement of Agriculture and all mechanical Arts; so that', he comments, 'among us it would be little esteemed'.
These men of letters, moreover, were perturbed by the way many scientists were using the English language. On the whole, the style of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in the eighteenth century was in this respect a poor return for the hopes Sprat had entertained when he wrote his manifesto. In attempting a factual plainness and conciseness, many writers had avoided the old sins of eloquence only to fall into the opposite errors of a stilted bareness, a conventional phraseology, and a low poverty of expression. The jargon of science was already proliferating, and men of taste found it entirely disgusting.
It was in such matters that the rift between science and the humanities first openly appeared. Behind it all was something more than an itch for carping or the exhilaration of a witty burlesque. Men educated in the older tradition of learning were genuinely repelled by the growing pedantry of the times ('dullness' was their comprehensive term for it), and Pope's Dunciad is the greatest literary monument to their concern. In that poem, it may be recalled, the lesser breed of scientists, 'A tribe, with weeds and shells fantastic crowned', (7) find their dishonourable niche. The rejection of the complacent claims of the natural philosophers and their optimistic belief in human progress gave an urgent interest to the controversy about the comparative merits of Ancients and Moderns, set going in England by Sir William Temple's essay, On Ancient and Modem Learning (1690). The deeper extension of the contest is seen in the work of Swift and Pope when they seek to expose the pretensions of scientific optimism by making a rational study of the nature of man and recalling attention to the science of morality; for a science Locke claimed it to be, more exact than natural philosophy and more proper to mankind. (8) Pope's own philosophy in An Essay on Man (1733-1734), balf-baked as it may be, was a restatement of traditional concepts to harmonize with the Newtonian evidence for a rational and orderly universe. If that leads him to the glib deism of his Universal Prayer and the belief that 'Whatever is, is RIGHT', he also makes it a cause for rebuking the pride that man's new sense of his own importance has generated. Though in the 'Vast chain of Being' man is immeasurably raised above the lowest creatures now revealed by the microscope, he is still, Pope duly reminds him, infinitely below the wisdom and goodness of God.
It is ironical that Newton, who had himself so little regard for poetry, was the one scientist whose work the poets appropriated with delight and admiration. The reason is obvious. In an age when inner revelation (as necessary to poetry as to religion) was generally distrusted, it was some relief for poets to be able to turn to the physical evidence of God in Nature. Newton's revelation of a limitless but systematic universe, where God in Nature appeared by all the evidence the greatest of artists, gave a much needed stimulus to the repressed poetic imagination by providing poets, with something vast and sublime to contemplate. In their response to Newtonian theory, eighteenth-century poets were unconsciously striving to fill the gap in the creative imagination left by the exhaustion of classical and Christian mythology. In similar manner the prevalence of personification in eighteenth-century poetry may be explained as a less successful attempt to keep up some human warmth among the depersonalizing forces of science: Thomson's handling of Newton's theories frequently suggests that he imagined the natural elements as having a conscious will and purpose in performing their part in the great scheme of universal Nature. Furthermore, it was Newton's Opticks (1704) that helped to bring descriptive power back to English poetry by giving a new fascination to the play of light and colour in the landscape and a metaphysical interest in what has been called a 'symbolism of the spectrum'. (9) Description was added to moral and philosophical discourse in poetry, though the intention remained didactic rather than a joyous surrender to the purely aesthetic delight of the natural world.
In this attempted rehabilitation of the imagination Addison once more gave the lead with his notable series of essays on 'The Pleasures of the Imagination' (1712) in the Spectator (Nos. 411-421), and again his argument is a popular blend of Newton and Locke. Sight was regarded as the most important of the senses, the one to which all the discoveries of philosophy, or science, were due, and sight, Addison begins his discourse, is the 'Sense which furnishes the Imagination with its Ideas'. But when we read on, it is difficult not to be disappointed by the limited conception of imagination that he holds. It is no more than the awareness of visible objects, present or absent, along with the secondary ideas that they call up in the mind, and the whole argument is applied to show that Art is inferior to Nature, and the imagination limited and defective because on an empirical view it is inadequate to follow where Reason and the understanding lead. This is by no means the view of Francis Hutcheson in his Inquiry concerning Beauty, Order, etc. (1725), where he insists that the poet has a finer perception of the objects of natural beauty than the man of science; but Addison's is the more representative view for his age.
How closely Newton and the astronomers were read, how eagerly accepted, is apparent from the poetry of Blackmore, Thomson, Mallet, Young, Savage, Akenside, and others. All of them make interesting adaptations of Newton's theories and, missing the Miltonic sublimity at which in some measure they aim, fall back on grandiose invocations of divine glory and goodness, and admonitions to man to conform to the dictates of natural piety and reason. At the same time they exhibit in varying degrees a new awareness of the beauty of Nature made manifest in light and colour. Akenside, a medical man, besides giving a blank-verse account of The Pleasures of Imagination (1744), wrote also a Hymn to Science; but of all these poets James Thomson (1700-48) was the most responsive to the advance of science. He had a good layman knowledge of its findings, and the scientific matter which permeates his poetry was carefully brought up to date in successive revisions of The Seasons. The philosophy of Nature, so learnedly documented in his poetry, leads him back to a rosy and even indolent view of life, in which the beauty of Creation and the beneficence of the great Creator are seen as one harmonious whole.
The advance in scientific knowledge went on steadily during the remainder of the eighteenth century, with new discoveries about the nature of gases, the separation of the component elements of matter, experiments with electricity, and the introduction of a system of classification in botany and zoology. None of these advances was as spectacular as the earlier discoveries in astronomy, so that the mental climate of the age was much less sharply affected by them. The effects were to be seen rather in a widening of the public interest in science and in technological improvements in industry. It was still possible for the amateur to make useful contributions in all fields. Public lectures accompanied by scientific demonstrations were a favourite diversion of the time, the Lunar Society was founded at Birmingham in 1766, and though the Royal Society became less the workshop of science than a comfortable club, less distinguished bodies of enthusiasts founded Philosophical Societies in several provincial centres. While the number of popular compendiums of science multiplied and science subjects were given an important place in the curriculum of the Dissenting Academies, the most active educational institutions of the day, the two Universities, were still apathetic, and that partly explains the declining enthusiasm for the new discoveries among creative writers. They were, of course, interested. Dr Johnson intermittently carried out minor chemical experiments (though he valued them only as an enchanting way 'to fill the day with petty business'), and John Wesley studied the effects of electricity on the human body. But writers were no longer excited by new prospects, and in Rasselas (1759) Johnson made a further assault on the optimistic view of human happiness that materialistic philosophies had encouraged. The increasingly cautious attitude was expressed by Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), the Unitarian minister and political philosopher, himself the discoverer of oxygen in 1774 and a notable writer on science, when he declared that
'a taste for science, pleasing and even honourable as it is, is not one of the highest passions of our nature, that the pleasures it furnishes are even but one degree above those of sense'.
The effects of scientific activity are to be observed in other ways, often less directly, in the later writers of the period. The sharpened powers of social observation in the novelists may be taken as one instance. More obviously the influence is reflected in vocabulary and imagery. A large number of technical and scientific words are recorded in Johnson's Dictionary (1755), and many of them, especially colour words, were finding a wider currency. (10) Johnson's writings are diversified with similes drawn from chemistry, optics, scientific instruments, and animal life, and Gibbon records of himself that courses in anatomy and chemistry, together with a taste for books on natural history, contributed to the ideas and images in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-88). Scientific commonplaces are to be found also in the poetry of Cowper (1731-1800), but it is only in Christopher Smart (1722-71) that prosaic objects of science, the air pump and capillary tubes, are mingled with the beauties of Nature in a lyrical adoration of Nature's God. Elsewhere the combination with science, for reasons we have noted, had usually resulted in the subjection of the poetic imagination.
The prevalence of stock poetic diction can, in this connection, be explained as a mistaken attempt to provide for poetry a set vocabulary, as exact and appropriate as that used in scientific writings. (11) Dryden had early abandoned the attempt to employ correct technical terms for description in poetry, though the scientific images remained, as when he drew an analogy between the nature of tragedy and the laws of motion. Others, Pope and Thomson most importantly, tried to substitute more poetic equivalents for scientific jargon, stilted phrases like 'scaly breed' and 'feathered race' being in their day a novel method of designating the particular class of creature by characterizing it with a precisely descriptive epithet. It was a procedure significantly akin to the binominal system of classification that was being developed during the same period in natural history.
The result of the scientific study of Nature had been, after all, to lead poetry away from particular experience and individual insight into abstractions and accepted generalizations. All knowledge is useful to a poet, says Johnson's Imlac in Rasselas, but, he continues,
The business of a poet...is to examine, not the individual, but the species; to remark general properties and large appearances. He does not number the streaks of the tulip, or describe the different shades in the verdure of the forest...
Such a view, and it was prevalent, reflects in literature the overriding concern of eighteenth-century science with those universal laws in which can be comprehended all the diversity of individual phenomena.
The pleasing novelties of descriptive detail that we should expect from scientific observation are more often met with in the prose than in the poetry. This is notable in the travel books. Some of them are accounts of voyages undertaken, like those of Captain James Cook between 1768 and 1779, with a scientific purpose, others being records of tours in the homeland by such naturalists as Thomas Pennant (1726-1798), who, as Johnson said, 'observes more things than anyone else does'. It was likewise the enthusiasm of field naturalists in the eighteenth century that nurtured the belief in the recuperating joys and interest of the English countryside and pointed the way to the intenser harmony between man and Nature in the Romantic poets. There is more delightful description and a finer natural sensibility in the correspondence of Gray (1716-71), who was a keen botanist, than in his poetry, and prior to Wordsworth and Coleridge the most truly poetic response to the life of the plant and animal world is to be found in Gilbert White's Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne (1789).
The revolt of the Romantics at the end of the century, though for Blake it entailed the anathema of Bacon, Descartes, Locke, and Newton, was not a rejection of scientific knowledge but a recovery of the sense of mystery and spirituality in Nature. In the Romantics the philosophy of the five senses was overturned by the recovery of a sixth sense that transcended all, the creative imagination, and that ended the dominance of the rational attitude so far as literature was concerned.