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ance she united all classes of Englishmen in a common sentiment, and by her statecraft won for her country a distinguished position abroad. In 1588, when the Spanish Armada sailed out of the ports of Spain and Portugal, bent on crushing the power of England, the English people, Catholic and Protestant, stood firm for their country and their queen. With light-hearted confidence - itself proof of England's youth — Drake and his captains finished their game of bowls on Plymouth Hoe, and then sailed out of Plymouth harbor to meet and destroy England's greatest enemy. Their victory was a victory for English patriotism, and was
means of awaking England to a sense of her full possibilities.
Intellectual Growth and the Extension of Education. The nation's intellectual and spiritual growth, however, was even greater in these years than its political or material advance. By the latter, part of the sixteenth century the full significance of the Renaissance had dawned upon the English mind. The spirit of investigation and of independent criticism which, directed upon church matters and the study of the Bible, had brought about the Reformation, was applied likewise to secular subjects, to the study of government, literature, and philosophy. The result was a new independence and spontaneity of thought, and all England felt the moving, quickening impulse. The voyages of discovery and exploration made by the English sailors who followed in the wake of Columbus stirred men's imagination, England's intellectual horizon was enormously extended. Moreover, as a result of the Renaissance, many free grammar schools had been established throughout the country, by which some tincture of the new classical learning had spread to the middle classes.
One historian says that the grammar schools founded in the reigns of Edward VI and of Elizabeth constituted
a system of middle-class education which by the close of the century had changed the very face of England.” One result of this was that now for the first time the middle and lower-middle classes were represented in English literature. Before the great literary outburst in Elizabeth's reign, the literature of England had been almost entirely written by ecclesiastics or by men of the aristocratic class. But now we witness the rise of the people in the Kingdom of Letters; the appearance of the third estate." And it is to these men of the “third estate" that the glory of Elizabethan literature is largely due. Spenser, for instance, was the son of a cloth-weaver; Shakespeare, of a provincial dealer in hides and wool; Marlowe, of a shoemaker. All these, and many others, came from a class which hitherto had had almost no part or place in the making of the representative literature of the nation; and all these men, like many of their followers, began their education at one or the other of the free grammar schools.
Joy and Splendor of Life. — Naturally this sense of national unity and security, and this political, social, and mental growth, resulted in increased prosperity for the nation, and added greatly to the joy and splendor of life. England was extending her commercial and maritime interests. Her trade increased with Flanders, and her merchant ships pushed north and south, east and west. The comforts and luxuries of life became more numerous. And with the ease and wealth that sprang from this growing prosperity came that delight in beauty, that half-pagan pleasure in the splendid adornments of life, which characterized the Italian Renaissance. Life, no longer shut within the heavy masonry