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degree the story of his own experiences. At least, one cannot think of it otherwise. But the nearest approach to an actual autobiography is found in his Grace Abounding. In this remarkable work we have one of the most startling revelations of a tortured soul given over to the contemplation of its eternal destruction. At least that is the way it seemed to poor John Bunyan as he agonized over his sins and saw in all the world about him none other in so sad a state as himself. Supposing himself given over to wickedness, he nevertheless reveals a purity of thought and a sensitiveness of conscience which might well be the emulation of a saint.
From such a state there could be only one outcome. The torture of these illusions was followed by a reaction which released him from his convictions of sin into Grace Abounding and henceforth he walked abroad as one who has fought the one great fight and won. Such a man as Bunyan could arrive at such a conclusion only through a physical struggle. Religion was with him a realistic existence. The powers of evil were real antagonists and the spiritual victory was no less concrete. The charm of Bunyan lies in his sincerity and simplicity, his passionate surrender to elemental emotions and, finally, the triumph of his strong spiritual sense which not the coarseness of the times nor the gloomy years of Bedford jail could weaken. What vitality lies behind the exalted vision of Pilgrim's Progress. What a literary style it exhibits. A Saxon vocabulary; simple and idiomatic construction; “often picturesque and poetical and everywhere like a nursery tale level to the meanest capacity.”
I wonder if the people of to-day read Bunyan at all. I wonder if any considerable number know the charm of Pilgrim's Progress, or have any acquaintance with the personality of its author. To open his books is to turn back three hundred years and there to find a strong, simple, quaint personality. With him one enters the portals of a rare old garden where the choicest flowers of poetry and the purest spiritual thought bloom. One who sojourns with him awhile in that atmosphere will come back to modern life with sustaining thoughts and a new insight into the complexities of life. Others please the fancy, but Bunyan touches the heart and in his own life story furnishes the realistic background for his wonderful allegory.
(INTRODUCTORY NOTE) Probably we must include William Lilly in the catalogue of knaves, and must accept his autobiography as being to some extent misleading, Yet we do this unwillingly; for it would seem that the renowned astrologer was as much deceived as deceiving. Superstitious rather than sacrilegious, he believed, at least to some extent, in his own science and his own forecastings of the future.
At all events, his narrative of his own life is of vivid interest. To our day it seems amazing indeed that a man of such type could have risen to such importance in his age. Perhaps Lilly's own story exaggerates his influence and his acquaintance with the leaders of the Puritan Commonwealth in Great Britain. Yet there is no question that his prophecies were widely accepted, that he received a pension from the Puritan government for his services, and that on the breakdown of the Puritan rule in 1660 Lilly was imprisoned in the effort to compel him to reveal the secrets of his party. He was again arrested on suspicion of knowing something of the great London fire of 1666. In short there was a manifest tendency in the King's party to believe something at least of Lilly's power to foretell events, and to punish him for not using it to greater advantage in protecting the country.
One of the most manifest examples of this half faith was the permission given the astrologer to dig in Westminster Abbey, the most sacred shrine of England, for a buried treasure. But he tells of this unsuccessful search and many another oddity in his book. Surely he was more duped than duper.
In literature, Lilly issued annually for nearly forty years his Merlinus Anglicus Junior or the “Younger British Merlin,” a record of astrological predictions for the year. He also published several brief works on astrology and found a good sale for them. And after his death, the autobiography here presented to the reader was published by his friends. To it were added several epitaphs, elegies and other admiring comments by men who obviously believed in Lilly's boasted powers.
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THE LIFE OF WILLIAM LILLY, STUDENT IN
ASTROLOGY Written by himself in the 66th Year of his Age, at Hersham,
in the Parish of Walton-upon-Thames, in the County of
Surry. Propria Manu. I was born in the county of Leicester, in an obscure town, in the north-west borders thereof, called Diseworth, seven miles south of the town of Derby, one mile from Castle-Donnington, a town of great rudeness, wherein it is not remembered that any of the farmers thereof did ever educate any of their sons to learning, only my grandfather sent his younger son to Cambridge, whose name was Robert Lilly, and died Vicar of Cambden in Gloucestershire, about 1640.
The town of Diseworth did formerly belong unto the Lord Seagrave, for there is one record in the hands of my cousin Melborn Williamson, which mentions one acre of land abutting north upon the gates of the Lord Seagrave; and there is one close, called Hall-close, wherein the ruins of some ancient buildings appear, and particularly where the dove-house stood; and there is also the ruins of decayed fish-ponds and other outhouses. This town came at length to be the inheritance of Margaret, Countess of Richmond, mother of Henry VII., which Margaret gave this town and lordship of Diseworth unto Christ's College in Cambridge, the Master and Fellows whereof have ever since, and at present, enjoy and possess it.
In the church of this town there is but one monument, and that is a white marble stone, now almost broken to pieces, which was placed there by Robert Lilly, my grandfather, in memory of Jane his wife, the daughter of Mr. Poole of Dalby, in the same county, a family now quite extinguished.
This town of Diseworth is divided into three parishes; one part belongs under Lockington, in which part standeth my father's house, over-against the west end of the steeple, in which I was born: some other farms are in the parish of Bredon, the rest in the parish of Diseworth.
In this town, but in the parish of Lockington, was I born, the first day of May 1602.
My father's name was William Lilly, son of Robert, the son of Robert, the son of Rowland, &c. My mother was Alice,
the daughter of Edward Barham, of Fiskerton Mills, in Nottinghamshire, two miles from Newark upon Trent: this Edward Barham was born in Norwich, and well remembered the rebellion of Kett the Tanner, in the days of Edward VI.
Our family have continued many ages in this town as yeomen; besides the farm my father and his ancestors lived in, both my father and grandfather had much free land, and many houses in the town, not belonging to the college, as the farm wherein they were all born doth, and is now at this present of the value of forty pounds per annum, and in possession of my brother's son; but the freehold land and houses, formerly purchased by my ancestors, were all sold by my grandfather and father; so that now our family depend wholly upon a college lease. Of my infancy I can speak little, only I do remember that in the fourth year of my age I had the measles.
I was, during my minority, put to learn at such schools, and of such masters, as the rudeness of the place and country afforded; my mother intending I should be a scholar from my infancy, seeing my father's backslidings in the world, and no hopes by plain husbandry to recruit a decayed estate; therefore upon Trinity Tuesday, 1613, my father had me to Ashby de la Zouch, to be instructed by one Mr. John Brinsley; one, in those times, of great abilities for instruction of youth in the Latin and Greek tongues; he was very severe in his life and conversation, and did breed up many scholars for the universities : in religion he was a strict Puritan, not conformable wholly to the ceremonies of the Church of England. In this town of Ashby de la Zouch, for many years together, Mr. Arthur Hildersham exercised his ministry at my being there; and all the while I continued at Ashby, he was silenced. This is that famous Hildersham, who left behind him a commentary on the fifty-first psalm; as also many sermons upon the fourth of John, both which are printed; he was an excellent textuary, of exemplary life, pleasant in discourse, a strong enemy to the Brownists, and dissented not from the Church of England in any article of faith, but only about wearing the surplice, baptizing with the cross, and kneeling at the sacrament; most of the people in town were directed by his judgment, and so continued, and yet do continue pres
byterianly affected; for when the Lord of Loughborough in 1642, 1643, 1644, and 1645, had his garrison in that town, if by chance at any time any troops of horse had lodged within the town, though they came late at night to their quarters; yet would one or other of the town presently give Sir John Gell of Derby notice, so that ere next morning most of his Majesty's troops were seized in their lodgings, which moved the Lord of Loughborough merrily to say, there was not a noise made in Ashby, but it was presently carried to Derby.
In the fourteenth year of my age, by a fellow scholar of swarth, black complexion, I had like to have my right eye beaten out as we were at play; the same year, about Michaelmas, I got a surfeit, and thereupon a fever, by eating beechnuts.
In the sixteenth year of my age I was exceedingly troubled in my dreams concerning my salvation and damnation, and also concerning the safety and destruction of the souls of my father and mother; in the nights I frequently wept, prayed and mourned, for fear my sins might offend God.
In the seventeenth year of my age my mother died.
In the eighteenth year of my age my master Brinsley was enforced from keeping school, being persecuted by the Bishop's officers; he came to London, and then lectured in London, where he afterwards died. In this year, by reason of my father's poverty, I was also enforced to leave school, and so came to my father's house, where I lived in much penury for one year, and taught school one quarter of a year, until God's providence provided better for me.
For the two last years of my being at school, I was of the highest form in the school, and chiefest of that form; I could then speak Latin as well as English; could make extempore verses upon any theme; all kinds of verses, hexameter, pentameter, phaleuciacs, iambics, sapphics, &c., so that if any scholars from remote schools came to dispute, I was ringleader to dispute with them; I could cap verses, &c. If any minister came to examine us, I was brought forth against him, nor would I argue with him unless in the Latin tongue, which I found few of them could well speak without breaking Priscian's head; which, if once they did, I would complain to my master, Non bene intelligit linguam Latinam, nec prorsus