Watts represents one terminal point in the waning of the Renaissance. With his roots in the 17th century, he reflects what in part he created, thought identifiably part of the English Enlightenment and verse identifiably part of English classicism. The achievement was considerable; but it was also short-lived. Neither classicism nor the Enlightenment were capable of replacing the Renaissance as the central and normative tradition in English culture. The lyric had been metamorphosed into the hymn, thanks largely to Watts’s own work; and Enlightenment thought, hidebound to the tame sterilities of the deistic controversy, reflects in large perspective the image of Watts chewing the indigestible Trinitarian cud. Neither classicism nor the Enlightenment, as traditions, do more than stagnate once they have been given a modestly definitive expression in Pope’s Essay on Man.
KeywordsSocial Structure 17th Century Cultural Revolution Terminal Point Modern Philosophy
- 1.S. T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, ed. Arthur Symons ( London: J. M. Dent, 1906 p. 76. (Chapter 9).Google Scholar