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of superficial gallantry shown in Herbert and Sir Kenelm, we find carried onward in this generation to a sort of perfection of empty courtliness by such autobiographers as Count de Grammont. Grammont was the beau ideal of both the French and the English court of this period; and his narrative of his life is quite the most noted work of its character which our world possesses.
In Grammont then and his story of his loves and follies, his gambling and his duels, we may see most plainly the cavalier of the period, the spirit that upheld such kings as Charles I of Britain and Louis XIV of France. The other side of the advancing human spirit, the Puritanism which overthrew King Charles, we may gather from those other autobiographers already named.
William Lilly, for example, makes a most interesting study as a typical Britisher of the period. While his fellow countrymen were fighting each other for King or for Parliament, Lilly was looking out for his own comfort, making astrological predictions, and selling them to whoever believed in him sufficiently to buy. The Puritans were victorious in the Civil War and in 1649 beheaded King Charles and established the stern severity of Cromwell's regime. Their religious strictness does not however seem to have interfered with Lilly's trade. Indeed he developed in Cromwell's time into the most noted of astrologists and was so widely consulted and so seriously believed that, when in 1660 the cavaliers returned to power with King Charles II, they punished Lilly for the aid he had given their opponents and for not having predicted to them with equal accuracy both their disasters and their final success. Lilly with equal seriousness, and perhaps quite as much belief as they in his own powers, offered to prophesy for the new rulers as honestly as he had for the old.
The readiness of the mass of the Englishmen of the time to support either government is equally shown in the narrative of Samuel Pepys. He was a clerk in government employ under the Puritan rule; but in the confusion that followed on Cromwell's death he readily lent his tiny aid to the restoring of King Charles II. He so secured for himself a promotion under the new government, and finally rose to be a wealthy, prominent and highly respected citizen. Pepys' Diary, in
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which he so amusingly and unconsciously reveals himself, was begun by him in 1660 just before the restoration of King Charles. The book holds a unique place among autobiographies because Pepys wrote it only for himself, in a secret shorthand which has since been deciphered. Hence its revelations are sometimes as amazingly frank as they are unintentional. The intentional and conscious autobiographer is forever addressing an audience. He tells them just what he sees fit. Pepys' secret and very personal notes are often most unfit. How his vain little ghost must forever writhe in shame if it can realize the many generations which have since laughed at him and his unintentional confessions. Yet even while we laugh at Pepys, we love him. Perhaps few of us would fare so well as he, if we had to submit to a similar process of being unsparingly revealed.
Of wholly differing temper are Fox and Bunyan. They present to us the Puritan element as sharply and vigorously as Grammont does the cavalier, or as Lilly and Pepys present the uninterested masses between Both Fox and Bunyan are as deeply religious as was Saint Teresa; and both, like her, approach religion from the ecstatic side, they are seers of visions, they believe themselves inspired by a divine light.
Of the two, Fox is far more interesting spiritually, and Bunyan as an intellectual phenomenon. Fox, a shepherd lad meditating among his sheep, sinks into deep religious despondency and at length goes forth a-journeying, to learn the faith of other men. He sees his fellow Englishmen everywhere giving too little heed to religion; and he becomes ecstatically convinced that he is the chosen instrument to arouse them to a spiritual life. In profound and beautiful earnestness, and in peasant simplicity, he molds himself a doctrine out of Christianity, a doctrine of absolute non-resistance, of a refusal to bow or bend before any authority except that of God, yet with a fierce love for his fellows that would save them by stern reproof, and with a resolve always to wait for action until an inspiration came to him, a command to act, which he ascribed unhesitatingly to the deity. One can well understand how with these strange waitings, these sudden violent words, this persistent refusal to bare his head before any dignitary, and then the further refusal to defend himself
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against the physical assaults that followed, Fox found himself in endless trouble with the rude audiences he addressed. Again and again he was shot at, or beaten and left for dead. But his patience and his courage never failed him. He preached up and down the length of England, until before his death he had not only founded the Quaker sect but had made of them a numerous and influential body. Twice at least the great Oliver Cromwell met Fox, and listened to his preaching. They were well met and well matched that iron pair; and each declared that he found much of value in the other's faith and words.
Bunyan was possessed of a less highstrung hero-soul, though he too was a strong and earnest man. The Protestant impulse of individualism and intellectualism which was spreading slowly downward to the very foundations of English life reached Bunyan also, reached to this swearing, tippling, thieving tinker. Perhaps he was never quite so wicked as he says he was; for the impulse of the sinner, whether repentant or unrepentant, is ever to darken the picture of his former wickedness. Yet Bunyan was clearly very low of class indeed, when the impulse came to him to reform. He became a wandering preacher like Fox-indeed he once argued against Fox in spiritual debate but in the end Bunyan wrote far more than he preached. So uneducated was he, so simply trustful that he felt assured that each vision that came to him was an actual occurrence. His autobiography with its earnest accounts of personal encounters with angels and of wrestlings with devils has been called the work of a madman. Yet Bunyan was never insane; he was only swept away by the intensity of his ecstasy.
When we try to see how this British religious movement, which so transformed and transmuted all the visible forms and shapes of life to simple men like Fox and Bunyan, how it affected more educated men, we have no complete autobiography to guide us. We have however some notable autobiographic fragments from the two men who stand at the very forefront of intellectual Britain in their century, John Milton the poet, and Sir Isaac Newton the scientist.
John Milton was perhaps the greatest man, as he was assuredly the most learned, who allied himself with the Puritan party in its great revolt. He became its intellectual defender, wielding for it the pen as effectively as Cromwell wielded the sword. He is the highest type of the intellectually religious mind. The grave analysis of himself in his letters, of his rights and duties in this life, is a work in its way as solemn and as splendid as his gorgeous epic of Paradise Lost.
Newton comes to us as of somewhat later date than Milton. Too young to take part in the great Puritan revolt, he only rises to full intellectual manhood toward the close of the century. His life thus fell in more quiet days and along more peaceful lines. We must group him here with Samuel Pepys, whom he succeeded as President of the British Royal Society. Yet, though Newton had thus fallen on an age of reaction from the religious intensity of the Puritan days, he was nevertheless in his way as religious as Milton. It would be well if modern scientists would read and ever remember the personal words of Newton included in this volume. This mightiest of thinkers, this man whom critics would probably unite in naming as the most successful and most renowned of all scientists, this crowning glory of the human intellect waslet us repeat the fact-a deeply religious man. He himself saw in all his discoveries only so many added proofs that all the vast mechanism around him must have a Divine Mind to create it and to continue it. The fact that we can now name the mighty formulæ of gravitation by which the universes move, in no way makes their movement any less an act of godhood.
There is still one other autobiography to be included in our volume, the memoirs of Sophia, the Princess of Hanover. She was not directly a part of the broad movements of either the French or the English life of the age. She belonged to one of the many little German states which had by this time established almost a complete independence of the central empire. The outcome of the religious tumult in Germany had been the terrible “Thirty Years' War” which ended in 1648 and left Germany exhausted, barbarized and almost depopulated. Each little state had become Catholic or Protestant as pleased itself or its prince. Hanover was among the largest of these petty states, and Sophia, as the wife of its ruler, has much to show us of the German life and thought of her time. She shows us also the court of Louis XIV of France which she
German statome age. She has of either
visited, and gives us glimpses of England, where her descendants were later to succeed to the throne and become its present line of sovereigns.
Thus Sophia takes us back, much as the Count de Grammont had done, to see the age not, as we have been regarding it, from the intense, impassioned religious standpoint of its people, but from the viewpoint of its own aristocrats. Theirs is an idle and somewhat satiric view. There had been a time in earlier centuries when these aristocrats were really leading their world, when they held place by right of their greater intelligence and power and even righteousness. But that spirit had disappeared by the seventeenth century. The aristocracy had become essentially conservative, a military class holding back the brakes of progress, mere chance riders in the saddle, no longer watchful for civilization's sake as to where the vast movement was rushing onward, but only anxious as to where it was carrying them. Clever and well-meaning though the Princess Sophia was personally; the people of her class had become less important to humanity. Intellect began to exceed military power. The Miltons and the Newtons were now become the real leaders of mankind.