Sir William Temple's Essays on Ancient and Modern Learning and on Poetry

By J. E. Spingarn; William Temple | Go to book overview

NOTES

THE essays 'Upon the Ancient and Modern Learning' and 'Of Poetry' were published in the second part of Temple Miscellanea, which appeared in November, 1690. The third edition, containing the author's final revision, has been used as the basis of the present text ( Miscellanea, the Second Part, in Four Essays: I. Upon Ancient and Modern Learning. II. Upon the Gardens of Epicurus. III. Upon Heroick Virtue. IV. Upon Poetry. By Sir William Temple, Baronet. Juvat antiquos accedere Fontes. The Third Edition, Corrected and Augmented by the Author, London, 1692.). Temple posthumous 'Defence of the Essay upon Antient and Modern Learning', published by Swift in Miscellanea, The Third Part, 1701, should also be consulted by the student.

The first, and in fact both, of the essays were provoked by the so-called controversy of Ancients and Moderns, which had been precipitated, or rather given a new turn, by Charles Perrault, who read a poem on the superiority of the moderns, Le Siècle de Louis le Grand, at a meeting of the French Academy on January 27, 1687; and in the following year Fontenelle published his Digression sur les Anciens et les Modernes, and Perrault the first volume of his elaborate defence, the Parallèle des Anciens et des Modernes. In the controversy that ensued, Boileau, Dacier, and others espoused the cause of the ancients against Perrault and Fontenelle. Temple's essay focussed English attention on the controversy, and resulted not only in a general discussion, in which William Wotton, Rymer, and others took. part, but more especially in a bitter quarrel on the authenticity of the Letters of Phalaris, which Temple had mentioned as an illustration of the literary superiority of the ancients (cf. note to 34. 30 sq.). Rigault Histoire de la Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes, 1856, is still the best account of the whole matter, for England as well as for France: cf. Brunetière, Évolution des Genres, ch. iv; Spingarn, Critical Essays of theSeventeenth Century

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Sir William Temple's Essays on Ancient and Modern Learning and on Poetry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Introductory Note iii
  • I. an Essay Upon the Ancient and Modern Learning 2
  • Ii. of Poetry 43
  • Notes 80
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