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party which was presently to maintain that the original Reformation had not gone nearly far enough, and that a new reformation was needed.
Elements of dissension were thus present in Church and country. But for various reasons they were for a time held in check. Early in Elizabeth's reign the struggle with Rome and with Rome's powerful ally, Spain-a struggle in which the very existence of England was imperilled-bred an intense feeling of patriotism., and Englishmen of different parties, sinking private contentions, found themselves standing shoulder to shoulder in a common cause. Public events thus did much to second the efforts of Elizabeth and her counsellors to deepen and develop the sense of national unity. The queen herself, it is true, was strongly hostile to Puritanism, and sought by every means in her power to prevent its progress. In this she failed. But at the close of her reign the spirit of reasonableness and tolerance was abroad in the Church; there was a temporary lull in internecine strife ; conditions, as it seemed, gave hope of lasting peace.
This hope was rudely dashed at the very beginning of the next reign. A quarrel on Church questions came to a head between the Puritans and James I. before that foolish and contemptible monarch had been twelve months on the throne. Then Convocation, supporting the king, demanded universal conformity with the mode of religious worship as by law established, and, on their refusal, some three hundred clergymen were expelled from their livings. From this time onward James, and after him his son and successor Charles I., made persistent and resolute efforts to stamp out the Puritan spirit; and year after year, in spite of these efforts or would it not be more correct to say, largely on account of them ?—that spirit continued to spread in the House of Commons and through the middle classes of English society. Into the various controversies which arose concerning theological tenets, Church discipline, and forms of worship we need not here enter. But stress must be laid upon two important points. In the first place, the moral ideals of Puritanism were greatly strengthened and its national significance intensified by the fast-growing flippancy and licentiousness of the Court and the aristocracy. In the second place, theological and ecclesiastical questions were now closely entangled with questions of secular government, and the result was that Puritanism became political. Its vivid sense of the power of God and the supremacy of His law made it intolerant of undue claims on the part of any earthly ruler ; while the attempts of the Stuarts to flout the Commons and the people and to make good their monstrous principle of “ the right divine of kings to govern wrong"-the duplicity and tyranny of Charles—the repressive policy of Archbishop Laud and his determined efforts to enforce his will by persecution-combined to drive many who had little or no sympathy with its ecclesiastical theories or its theology into union with it in its opposition to a despotic king and a dictatorial Church. So the Puritan party emerged at a time of serious crisis as the upholders of our Constitution and the great bulwark of our jeopardised liberties. For what they then did for the England of their own day and of ours we owe them a debt of gratitude the magnitude of which it would not be easy to exaggerate.
That the spirit of Puritanism was necessarily productive of vast and far-reaching changes in the temper of English society is on the face of it evident. It is by reference to it, indeed, that we can largely explain the enormous difference which separates the England of the middle of the reign of Elizabeth from the England which saw the meeting of the Long Parliament. It meant, among other things which we must not here stop to consider, the evolution of a noble but stern and hard type of character ; preoccupation with the most narrowly religious aspects of man's conduct, aims, and destiny ; and, in consequence, the general repudiation of the claims of art, science, humane culture, and whatever else helps to beautify, uplift, and give value to our secular life. Thus, amid much that was so excellent in the way of strength, uprightness, and integrity, the growth of Puritanism was inevitably accompanied by a widespread tendency towards fanaticism, moroseness, and gloom. God-fearing, high-principled, courageous and earnest the Puritan was ; but he was austere, exacting, and uncharitable. We admire his great qualities; but we are still painfully aware that these were too often cultivated
at the expense of that flexibility, catholicity, and many-sidedness of interest which are needed to make human nature not only engaging but complete. His one absorbing concern was the salvation of his soul, and as this was a matter of infinite difficulty, it called for all his thought and all his effort, for constant watching, incessant prayers, daily and nightly wrestlings with God. To one whose mind was thus fixed upon eternal realities all earthly things were vain and fleeting shows, or, rather, they were the snares and traps of the Evil One intent upon his spiritual ruin. Puritanism was thus fatal to art, and all but fatal to literature, and even such literature as it did inspire bore the unmistakable impress of its limitations no less than of its strength. Shakespeare's drama deals in the spirit of the largest tolerance with the complex tragedy and comedy of human life, with little reference to anything that may lie beyond it in the sphere of the unseen. Bunyan's “ Pilgrim's Progress" directs the Christian through the trials and temptations of this world in his passage towards the Celestial City. Milton's “ Paradise Lost" sets out to “ justify the ways of God to men.'
It is a fact of the utmost importance to the student of literary history that, as John Addington Symonds pointed out, England, alone of European nations, received the influences of both Renaissance and Reformation simultaneously.” These two great movements arose out of the same general impulses ; strictly speaking, indeed, the Reformation was only one aspect of the Renaissance. Their co-operation had much to do with the essential greatness of our Elizabethan literature, in which, as in no other body of literature belonging to the same period, a passionate love of beauty is combined with religious fervour and a strenuous moral idealism. Yet, despite their common origin, it was inevitable that, as time went on, the spirit of the Renaissance and the spirit of the Reformation should come into conflict. This conflict opened as soon as, on the one hand, religion began to separate itself from humane culture, and, on the other hand, humane culture began to ignore the claims of religion ; with the corresponding growth of Puritanism and of fashionable license, the breach widened ; by the time we reach the reign of Charles I. the rupture is complete.
In the foregoing paragraphs, as I need hardly say, no attempt has been made to trace the history of Puritanism in detail, or to give a full account of the consequences resulting from its development as the chief force in English life and thought during the second quarter of the seventeenth century. My slight sketch is intended only to prepare the way for the study of the great poet whose writings we are now to take up together. Milton has been described as “ not only the highest, but the completest type of Puritanism." How far, and with what qualifications, this description is to be accepted, will become apparent as we go on with our work. But let us at the outset note that his life extended