beauty, because he did not mistrust its Puritanic narrowness provoked did not significance. Parson Herrick's song To rest with the light laugh of the Cavalier. the Virgins furnishes the key to the Cava. It deepened. The sensuous tenderness lier's view of life and reveals the secret of and touching grace of some of the Cavathe Cavalier's art ; but the face of a Puri- lier poets, while representing an inadetan like Cheynell (tbat member of the quate view of life, were only dwelling on Westminster Assembly who at Chilling- buman needs with an easy emphasis which worth’s burial cursed the dead body over Puritanism was rendering necessary by its the open grave) would have turned green denial of them. But when the Puritans with disgust could he have heard a Chris- deepened the emphasis on their side and tian divine trilling

sought to enforce their crude conception

of seriousness with the fetters of a social Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old time is still a-flying.

despotism, they drove seriousness out of

the minds of their opponents. A divorce This is the Cavalier's protest against the

was introduced into the harmony of existincomplete, gaunt, and deformed ideal of

ence and the soul's life held up as distinct the Puritan.

from and opposed to that of the body. Where the rose reigns and locks with oint Contempt was thrown upon the world and ment shine,

the flesh, and things beautiful were reLet rigid Cato read these lines of mine.

garded either with callousness or with We observe its limitation, its want and hatred. Life was sought to be made enwaste, its frivolity and insipidity, its ele- tirely spiritual, and the spiritual life was vation of coquetry and flirting into man's clothed in such a grotesque garb that chief end, its regardlessness of exalted poetry was forced from spiritual things motive except when the war-note sounds, into a more intimate alliance with the and then a thrill of bravery leaps into other side of life. A soul was held to be words eloquent of the ideal soldier: identical with Puritanism and was thought

to be a discreditable possession. When I could not love thee, dear, so much, Loved I not honor more.

the Puritanism, therefore, broke down,

what usurped its place was this other side It is possible that too much as well as of the truth driven to an opposite extoo little may be made of the good things treme, distorted, and converted into what of life. If the kingdoms of the earth and was as truly a caricature of mirth as the the glory of them were to the Puritan the Puritan ideal was a caricature of solemnity. allurements of Satan, the Cavalier was The nation had had enough and to spare only too ready to build up therein a heaven of seriousness and now it plunged into of his own. Neither saw the full meaning riot and revelry. When the drama was of the vision of life. The l'uritan recoiled once more free to make way, it spoke from its glory and its bounty as from through such organs as Nell Gwynne and something that imperilled his eternal wel- Mrs. Behn, and rather plumed itself than fare ; the Cavalier with his limitations was otherwise upon its identity with mere unfit to realize its deeper purposes. If the worldliness and mere flesh. It was not Puritan wanted sunshine, the Cavalier only that the Puritans were themselves inwanted shadow. If the Cavalier lived too capable of poetry, although that also is much like the butterfly, the Puritan lived true. All the social and spiritual infinences too much like the worm. With their of the tyranny which they instituted are limited


the Cavaliers had never as faithfully reflected in the contenporary looked seriously upon death; they felt and succeeding poetry as they are in the none of the tragedy of life, but lived on politics and court life of the Restoration, in the sunbeam of royal favor or under the as they are in its philosophy so hard and smiles of their mistresses like a cluster of material, in its theology so cold and beautiful, musical, merry insects.

rationalistic, in its religion so formal and We are not to quarrel with the old worldly, in its theatre, its public manners, Puritan or the new because he deems that its private life. life has more serious concerns than gather- Here then is the Puritan solution of ing rosebuds. It is no very strong creed the human problem. Psycologically it is to carry one through life and face the made to consist in a divorce between destinies with. But the antagonisin which spirit and sense, and historically this di


vorce is founded upon a religious ground. literature the Puritans have given us on It was their religion which made the Puri- the Sabbath question ; tans discard all the poetic constituents of

O day most calm, most brightlife, split sense away from spirit, relegate The week were dark but for thy light. this world and this body to the companionship of the devil, and seek their Again, there is Crashaw, who though he human consumination through the develop- passed through no spiritual stress makes ment of spirit alone. This implies a radi.

us feel the fresh rapture of love with cal mistake in their philosophy of life which he binds earth to heaven. He is quite apart from the extravagant details rendered all the more human by the through which their spiritual developinent haunting need that brought him along the aimed at realizing itself ; and it is the way trodden by St. Theresa to touch the inore rignificant when we consider the robes of the Mater Dolorosa. There is extent to which the religious sentiment Henry Vaughan, whose poem, The Rehas always been combined with the poetic, treat, preludes that of Wordsworth upon and religion in all its forms has not only the heaven that lies about us in our inallied itself with poetry but depended fancy : upon creative art for its emotivnal suste- Happy those early hours when I

For poetry is not merely a native Shined in my angel infancy. instinct of our humanity as it is an in- His longingstinct of the bird to sing ; it is besides in a special and peculiar sense an instinct of

That I might once more reach that plain,

Where I have left my glorious trainreligion. In approaching the divine, man has always sought for a rhythmic utterance is the source, almost in the same language, of his spiritual needs and aspirations, and of the later poet's Intimation tha: “ Trailthe voice of prayer has always blended it- ing clouds of glory do we come from God self with the voice of praise, whether in who is our home.” There is Quarles, and words or music. Prophet and bard hold there is Habington, whose Castara, like the suine divine mission, and poetry has Vaughan's first love, became for him a been and is the highest vehicle of approach revelation and embodiment of the divine. to God, the fiery chariot that bears man Having mentioned these, we have menheavenward.

tioned all the religious poets of the period Even in the England of Puritan times, (except Milton, who dwells apart) whom troubled as it was and inauspicious to posterity has thought worthy of remempoetry, there was beyond the strife a cir- brance, but Puritanism, our most intense cle of quiet like that cloistered peace into English form of religion, has produced no which Milton withdrew to write Paradise poetry worthy of the name.

It is idle to Lost, and there we find a cluster of relig- regard Andrew Marvell as a Puritan poet, ious poets interpreting the needs of the though he did for Puritanism what it spiritual life with an inspiration that even would never do for itself, — wrote for it now has power to sweeten and to soothe.

one fine song. Religion enters into his The plainest requirements of the human

verse only in an undertone that might as soul are idealized under the light they properly proceed from a Brahmin as from bring, and its vaguest yearnings are made a Puritan. to assume a bodily and realistic com- There is at least one volume extant of plexion. There is George Sandys whom genuine Puritan verse, George Wither's Lord Falkland praised. There is George Hallelujah, and in this writer's conversion Herbert whose wistful trust and mingled we have summary illustration of the relalonging and resignation touch the uni- tions of Puritan to poet. Remarkable, as versal chord, who can tell in a single a young man, for his ardent and impulsive couplet the entire secret of Christian peace nature, a gallant as well as a satirist, and

as ready to sing the praises of beauty as Methought I heard one calling “ Child !''

to scourge abuses, he threw himself into And I replied, “ My Lord !!

the political contlict, and preserving in his

later years the enthusiasm of bis youth, he And whose single poem On Sunday, put on the whole armor of Puritanism as which he sung to his lute the Sunday be- he cast off the old garments of worldlifore he died, is worth the whole library of In 1841 he published his Hallelu

when he says,


jah, dedicating to “the Representative Wither's appeal to Parliament intro, Bodies of these Kingdorns” this “Sweet duces an element indissolubly associated perfume of pious praises compounded ac- with Puritan fervor, that inherent tendencording to the art of the spiritual apothc- cy to propagandism which ended in the cary to further performance of thankful organized coercion, political, social, and devotions." His preface is peculiarly religious, of the Commonwealth. The characteristic. He not only laments the Puritan could not rest in his own fervid “muddle of dirt " with which his early faith : he was impelled to assume the prepoems had defiled him, but in view of the rogative of interference ; and because in

profane songs now delighted in to the his eyes, as they were in Chrysostom's, dishonor of our language and our relig- all secular shows were a joy to Satan, beion," he petitions that Parliament, by its cause he himself believed that the brightwisdoin and piety, will provide for the ness of Greek life could be lovable only suppression of such, and will by senatorial to “ owls educated in the Cimmerian darkedict enjoin the use of the Hallelujah in- ness of Anti-Christ,” when his bour came, stead. It is difficult to decide which is he said emphatically that such things must the more ludicrous— Wither holding up not be. This interdictory attitude toward bis Hallelujah and groaning over the alien elements becomes the important item lyrics of his youth, or Wither petitioning of account when we consider the influence Parliament that Herrick should be inter- of Puritanism upon English life and literdicted and the Hallelujah legalized. He ature. But the Puritan faith may also be is now chiefly remembered for one song ; considered by itself and tested on its own Shall I wasting in despair

merits. When we adduce the Puritan Die because a woman's fair ?

earnestness and fervor, sustained with such Think of his remorse on reading over

loyalty as theirs, and amid such difficulties again this lyric, and of the fataity that opinions. At its best it constituted a sub

as they encountered, there can be no two claimed parliamentary approval for lines such as the following upon a house-heat- limity of life sufficient to have raised them

to the highest range of spiritual greatness, ing! What would Burns not have made of the subject !

if they could have possessed the sincerity

and the seriousness without the dog'ma. Among those points of neighborhood

But these were related as cause and effect. Which our forefathers did allow,

They attained to this sincerity and seriThat custom in esteem bath stood Which we do put in practice now:

ousness simply because they had that view For when their friends new dwellings had,

of life which their creed inculcated. Them thus they welcome thither made. Tested by its own merits the earnest

ness of the Puritan is not the greatest posOr again, Upon a Ride in the Country :

sible ; it is not even equal to the earnestWith what great speed, with how much

ness of the best Christianity. We might

compare it with the earnestness of mediaOn this Thy creature am I borne,

val Catholicisın; with the full and sweet Which at my will and how I'please

fervor with which Anselm bound humanity Doth forward go and back return !

to the feet of God; or with the compasOne can hardly credit them to come from sionate idealism of St. Francis ; or even

Yet there are hundreds with the languors of the De Imitatione, such in the volume-upon walking to whose half Puritanic refrain of vanitas church and walking from church, upon vanitatum communicates the secret of parents having children and parents hope- spiritual consolation in its wistful pleadful of children ; songs to sing when we put ing for sympathy ; and thus comparing off our apparel, and songs to sing when we should find in the Puritan's earnestness we cannot sleep ; verses upon all manner a note of something harsh and even outof subjects, written for all manner of side the range of kind hunuanity. We people, from man in general and woman sbould find the spirit of nediæval Cathol. in general, to the widower or widow de- icism rise as far above the spirit of Puriprived of a troublesome yoke-fellow-all tan preaching as the Pilgrim's Progress in all a bundle of poverty-stricken dog- falls below the Divina Commedia and the gerel. The poet's art was ruined by his vision of Beatrice. But even as a Protes. change of faith.

tant movement, recoiling as it did into an NEW SERIES. – Vol. LI., No. 6.



the same pen.

extreme hatred of Popery, Puritanism has lightly say that the Puritans were the the incompleteness of all violent reactions right men for the right place, without first and its ideal appears fragmentary when set reflecting how far the need for their existbeside the Protestantism of Hooker, and ence was a necessity of their own creation. Chillingworth, and Jeremy Taylor. The The radical mistake of the Puritan view religion of these. Anglicans included within and of every view of life which tends their range of vision wide spheres of thitherward lay in their divorce between human endeavor while they sought a spirit and sense. The difference between glimpse of the divine ; that of the Puri. this and other religious views familiar to tan is only a fevered isolation.

English minds is a difference of degree Or we might compare the Puritan seri. rather than of kind. The mistake is a ousness with other English seriousness of radical one ; in Puritanism the error is the same epoch. Soon after the English only intensified. All the fluctuating forms Reformation was settled and while Puri- of this error are only repetitions of the error tanism was just rising into strength, made by the anchorites of the early Catholic Spenser published his Shepherd's Calendar church and uplifted in monumental absurdand began to write the Fairy Queen. Aity on the pillar of Simeon. The poetịc little later, when Nicholas Bound was ideal is “ to see life clearly and to see it formulating the Puritan characteristic whole." One who rendered to poetry his dogma of the Sabbath, Shakespeare was most profound devotion as a faith has so writing All's Well that Ends Well, and expressed it ; and the utterance of poetry was already engaged upon Hamlet. Later must possess moreover

" the accent of still when Puritanisın like the Blatant high seriousness born of absolute sincerBeast had spewed a hundred devouring ity." This was to some extent the ideal and irreconcilable sects, each with its of the Hebrew bards. It was the ideal of formula that could measure the universe Athens, the ideal of Shakespeare, of and the soul of man, and all of them Goethe. It implies that view of life united only by their common antipathy to which has regard for the entire harmony what is rational and what is beautiful, of man's being, which without dissevering Lord Falkland_was bolding those social spirit from sense seeks to combine the gatherings at Tew which amid the strife complex and discordant elements of exand heat of that age were like fountains of istence in a way that will render necessary water in dry places. When the Puritans the absolute sacrifice of no integral part. had issued victorious and were striving to The Puritan ideal is the religious ideal bind the intellect of England in bands of intensified to a white heat. It seeks to iron, when they were endeavoring their reach the divine by debasing the human, utmost to bring the country to a state of to make the tree shoot higher by cutting spiritual destitution that would bave ren- off the branches. While the highest effort dered her unfit to produce a literature at of poetry is never either purely sensuous all, Jeremy Taylor, true Elizabethan and or purely spiritual but that strong health poet in all but the verse, let his imagina- which grows out of their fusion, Puritantion bloom into a renewed luxuriance of ism throws degrading epithets at the senthe Renascence in his Holy Living and suous nature and seeks victory by sacrifice Holy Dying, and in his Liberty of Proph- and suppression. The result instead of esying vindicated the authority of reason being healthy is morbid. Even at its best against Presbyterial Calvinism. If we Puritanism, and every such faith, is morconsider the age in which the Puritans bid. The spirit of man will not endure lived, the age of Spenser and Shakespeare, this divorce. The physical organism canof Lord Falkland and Jereny Taylor, and not be peeled off. No agony of asceticism recollect that it was the aim of Puritan- or of religion can ever purge away the ism to crush at once the Renascence and sensuous nature. The highest life is as the Anglican Revival of which these men much a life of the seen as it is of the unwere the genuine issue ; if we consider seen universe, and whether he be fanatic further the start which England had made or philosopher it is only by a mutilation in Elizabeth's time, and observe how the of his being that a inan can reach the poetic bravery of Elizabethan life was Beautiful Gates if he perpetrates this didashed and its beauty soiled as Puritan vorce between spirit and sense. Mind and influence became strong, we shall not body, faith and reason, thought and pas. sion, soul, intellect, and senses are one fixes them jewelled in the human firmalife and not several, and the divorce which ment. Or it transforms and recombines any such theory, be it religious or philo- the wayward materials of human life, and sophical, introduces into the life of man, is purifying them of every element of death, one which nature herself never instituted, presents them in immortal transfiguration. and one for which nature always takes her

-Fleet the years, revenge.

And still the poet's page holds Helena The question then with which religion

At gaze from topmost Troy. faces the problem is, “ What will become of me when I die ?”! The other form is But its power and its assurance of ascenthat which underlies poetry, “What is the dency rest always upon its truthfulness to highest meaning of this life for man ?” human nature and the world in which we All true literature is, as Matthew Arnold live. It knows that we cannot rid oursaid, a criticism of life ; and this is what selves of this world nor of any part of poetry does more than other literature, far ourselves ; and seeking as it does instincmore than Puritanism or any phase of re- tively the most beautiful and the most ligion akin to it; it regards the problem healthful life, it knows also that this life of life in the only way in which it will is found where no such riddance is atnow endure to be regarded. It recognizes tempted. It is ethical indeed, in the sense the darkness and knows the hopelessness in which all true art is ethical, but such of groping in it by the help of fitful falso ethical quality is found in the presentation gleams struck from “the everlasting of results conspicuous for no marked and flint." It looks upon the hieroglyphic, positive didacticism rather than in dictaand acknowledges its impotence to inter- tion of the process by which health is atpret. It turns to the light, and finding tained. Poetry never preaches. It recogthat man's destiny is concerned more with nizes the undying need that consciously or health here than salvation hereafter, it unconsciously dwells in the heart of every seeks to unravel the finite ends of those one of us, the need to be human. To threads that stretch into the infinite, and meet this need it idealizes and harmonizes to weave them into an harmonious woof the humanity that is our favorite heritage, blended with shining colors of “the light and ignoring the feebler distinctions that that never was on sea or land." Or it have regard for only a partial section of catches those best swift moments of our being, it presents us with the satisfyevanescent emotion, “passions caught i' ing fulness of a human and earthly ideal. the midway swim of sea,” or those noblest - Macmillan's Magazine. and brightest flashes of human action, and



“The unarmed multitude, desirous to es- nature were the goods they carried. And cape from the oppression of the rich and

when his gentlemen objected that this powerful, set up kings, that equality might reign, and that great and small should be sab. familiar intercourse with the people was an ject to the same law."

offence to the Royal dignity, he replied :

“I seek to know the value of a farthing, So Cicero explains the origin of Royalty and how much toil it costs these poor folk (De Officiis, Lib. II. c. xii.), and in truth to earn it, that they may be burdened with all great kings of every time and country only such taxes as they are able to bear.” have considered that their chief duty was No man was more faithful to this Royal to care for the interests of the poor, the tradition than Napoleon III. The relief humble, the outcast. When our Henry of those who were a prey to bodily or IV. travelled through the country he uscd mental distress was the constant preoccu. to stop and speak to the people, and to pation of his reign ; it was the thought inquire of the wayfarers whence they which gave it unity, and which constitutes came, whither they went, and of what its undying grandeur. To induce him to

« VorigeDoorgaan »