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in his own nature: "There is surely a piece of divinity in us something that was before the heavens and owes no homage unto the sun." This mystical exaltation is united with a quiet, contemplative melancholy. He surveys the world as from a height; he sees the past in a long retrospect, and he speculates upon the endless procession of generations. He meditates on death and on the life after death, and even the burial rites of various nations and the visible signs of mortality have an interest for him. The discovery of some ancient sepulchral urns containing human bones, in a field in Norfolk, stirs his imagination, and furnishes him with a theme for his Hydriotaphia, or Urn Burial, one of the most eloquent and characteristic of his works. The thought of "these dead bones" hid a yard underground in their "thin walls of clay," and quietly resting "under the drums and tramplings of three conquests," is the inspiration of one of the noblest passages of English prose. The Urn Burial was published in 1658, the year of the death of Oliver Cromwell. But if from one aspect Browne seems remote and withdrawn from the agitations of his time, from another he is as truly the spokesman of its lofty spirituality and melancholy contemplation. He wrote when the vigorous, mundane activity of the Elizabethan era had been succeeded by a more mature and meditative mood. This solemn tone, like the stillness of an autumn twilight after a day of action, pervades some of the noblest spirits of his age. It was in Raleigh when he wrote his History of the World; it was in Donne, when, after his fevered and passionate youth, he preached and meditated on death and the hereafter. Indeed, there are passages in Donne's sermons which might well have been written by Browne.
Isaak Walton (1593-1683), a London linen-draper, found in country scenes and by the borders of a quiet stream, inspiration of a widely different character. Walton's quiet, unworldly mood, his simple pleasure in Nature and in country sports, shine through his books and make him one of the most restful and companionable of writers. His Lives, short, sympathetic sketches of Donne, Hooker, Herbert, and other notable men, are in many respects models of brief biography. His Complete Angler (1653) is the first of a long series of charming books in English literature written in praise of the quiet sport of fishing. It is a wholesome book, full of wise thoughts and innocent enjoyment, and has long held a secure place among the masterpieces of English prose.
Milton as a Prose Writer. Finally, we must not forget that Milton, whose work has been already considered, holds one of the highest places among the prose-writers of this time. Milton's prose works deal mostly with the theological and political controversies of his day. They were addressed primarily to the men of his own generation; written to gain some immediate end. Yet in some of his prose there is permanent interest and power. He waged battle for freedom of thought in Church and State, and declared that "while he who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, . . . he who destroys a good book kills reason itself." Milton's greatness, his passion for truth and liberty, his comprehensive scholarship, his sonorous, majestic, and musical style, his instinct for the memorable phrase, triumph over anything that is temporary in his subject and purpose, and make a work addressed to his own age the delight and admiration of later times.
"Was there ever yet anything written by mere man that was wished longer by its readers, excepting Don Quixote, Robinson Crusoe and The Pilgrim's Progress?" — Dr. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
Raleigh, Browne, Burton, Milton, and many other great prose-writers of the seventeenth century, were children of the Revival of Learning. It is true that they were imbued with the religious, serious, or meditative spirit prevalent in their own time, but they had been trained up and steeped in those classical studies which had come in with the Renaissance, and their works were the outcome of the new culture.
Bunyan's spiritual inheritance was a mighty but a restricted one. He "never went to school to Aristotle and Plato;" he had no share in that world of classical culture, of art and beauty, which had enriched the lives of so many of the greatest Elizabethans. He was not the child of the New Learning, but of the Reformation; the child of that long period of religious struggle and experience, which began when the plain, unliterary people of England-the shop-keepers, artisans, and plowmencould first read the Bible for themselves. Unlike Milton, Bunyan sprang from and belonged to the great mass of the people. His father was of "that rank which is meanest and most despised of all the families of the land." It is the obscurity of his station, the commonplace character of his surroundings, that make him, more truly than the cultured Milton, the representative of the great body of Puritans, of the earnest, simpleranded men and women who had no library but the Bglish Bible, and to whom religion was a vital and absorbing reality.
His Life. John Bunyan was born on the outskirts of Elstow, a village about a mile from Bedford, in 1628. His father was a brazier, or tinker, a patcher of old cans or kettles, and Bunyan was bred to the same humble calling. He was given some elementary instruction, but he afterwards forgot most of the little he had ever learned. When he was in his seventeenth year he
Village of Elstow, where Bunyan was born
served for a short time in the Parliamentary army (1644-1647). But at the close of the Civil War, after this experience of the world outside his village, he returned to Elstow, married a woman as poor as himself, and began a life apparently destined to be undisturbed, monotonous, and respectable.
Bunyan was a sturdy, big-boned, florid-faced, English. tinker, every inch a man; yet there was something in him that set him apart from his neighbors. In the midst of those peaceful, commonplace surroundings, he
was tortured by a sense of his own wickedness, by doubts, by temptations to utter terrible blasphemies, by despair. Living, to all outward appearance, the most ordinary of lives, Bunyan's soul became the battle-field of that fierce conflict which he has himself described in Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. To understand Bunyan, or Pilgrim's Progress, his greatest book, we must realize that in those years of inward torment, Bunyanpoor, narrow-minded, perplexed, but magnificently and utterly in earnest was making his own painful pilgrimage from the City of Destruction to a City of Peace.
At last he found it. In 1653 he joined a little community of dissenters, and after a time began to preach. After the Restoration he was arrested for preaching in unlicensed conventicles, or meetings, and was thrown into the Bedford gaol. He refused to make the promise to give up preaching which would have given him liberty. "If you let me out to-day," he said, "I will preach again to-morrow." He remained in the gaol for eleven years, supporting himself by making "long-tagged thread laces," preaching to his fellow-prisoners, and writing Grace Abounding and several other books. In 1672 the Declaration of Indulgence was passed, an act granting religious liberty both to Roman Catholics and Nonconformists, and Bunyan was released. But three years later, on the repeal of this act, Bunyan, who had resumed his preaching, was again imprisoned. It was during this second imprisonment, which lasted three years, that he began to write Pilgrim's Progress. The first part of this marvelous book was published in 1678.
Bunyan wrote many other books after this; the second part of Pilgrim's Progress, The Life and Death of Mr. Badman, and The Holy War, the last of which Macaulay declared to be, Pilgrim's Progress alone excepted, "the