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he always handles his author as though he were familiar with him and loved him. Whether it be the Greek Anthology, or Petronius, or a Christian Father, he regards the book with a delicate appreciation which comes of pure passion for literature in itself. His taste is all-embracing, and he has an extraordinary aptitude for applying it to the matter, however far away, which, for the moment, is occupying his mind. Thus, you may often call his references, or his analogies, far fetched: but, when you look more closely into the texture of his argument, you will see how fitly as well as how adroitly he has woven them in. This breadth of sympathy made Mason call him 'the Shakespeare of English prose.' The description is an extremely happy one. He is rhetorical like a dramatist. He abounds in arresting phrases, in haunting verbal felicities. He can be magnificent, and he can be most deeply pathetic. And, perhaps above all, his language is astoundingly popular and modern. To compare his prose with Milton's is to find one's self in a world of freedom as contrasted with the four walls of the scholar's study.
You cannot read Jeremy Taylor without feeling that, in spite of his preciosity, he is, in intention, before all things intensely practical; to this aim even his delight in expression and allusion yields again and again. You come continually on passages, for example, like that in which, after a list of diseases and a mention of Maecenas, he writes thus:
It was a cruel mercy in Tamerlane, who commanded all the leprous persons to be put to death, as we knock some beasts quickly on their head, to put them quickly out of pain, and lest they should live miserably: the poor men would rather have endured another leprosy, and have more willingly taken two diseases than one death. Therefore Caesar wondered that the old crazed soldier begged leave he might kill himself, and asked him, 'dost thou think then to be more alive than now thou art?' We do not die suddenly, but we descend to death by steps and slow passages; and therefore men, so long as they are sick, are unwilling to proceed and go forward in the finishing that sad employment. Between a disease and death there are many degrees, and all those are like the reserves of evil things, the declining of every one of which is justly reckoned among those good things, which alleviate the sickness and make it tolerable. Never account that sickness intolerable, in which thou hadst rather remain than die: and yet if thou hadst rather die than suffer it, the worst of it that can be said is this, that this sickness is worse than death; that is, it is worse than that which is the best of all evils, and the end of all troubles; and then you have said no great harm against it1.
Taylor, it is true, had a variety of style. It is possible to trace 'periods' in his literary manner, as it is to distinguish
1 Holy Dying, chap. m.
the tone in which he dealt with different topics. He was a controversialist and historian in The Sacred order and offices of Episcopacy (1642); an advocate of toleration in The Liberty of Prophesying (1647); purely a spiritual teacher in The Great Exemplar (a life of Christ, 1649), Holy Living (1650), Holy Dying (1651) and The Worthy Communicant (1660); an opponent of Rome in many treatises, a defender of Anglicanism in others; but, in all, he was a man of wide outlook, of temperate mind and of warm heart. Why Taylor has always been popular, has been, indeed, the Bunyan of the English church, is that he obviously felt all he said, and was stirred by the very passion which he sought to infuse into others. His work is not regular, his style is hardly chastened; yet his feeling is restrained within limits which not a few writers of his time transgressed to their peril. He is intense in feeling, up to the very verge of legitimate expression; he hardly ever oversteps it. His style is the servant, not the master, of the conviction or the passion which breathes in every page that he writes.
When we survey the period of English prose of which Jeremy Taylor is the brightest ornament, we are struck by the fact that the divines of Charles I's day were conspicuously English. Spanish influence had passed by; French had hardly yet come, as it came thirty years later; Latin and Greek were still potent, but chiefly because they had taught men to write English. English they were, and, though some of those of whom we have spoken had died before 'the troubles,' and the voices of almost all were temporarily silenced during the years after Charles's death, their influence was powerful in the next generation-a generation enthusiastic for both church and king.
JOHN BUNYAN. ANDREW MARVELL
THE great civil war of the seventeenth century, while revolutionising English constitutional government, effected, also, an important break in the historical continuity of English literature. The years between 1640 and 1660, being years of prolonged and intense conflict, constitute, in the main, a distinct and well defined interval between the writers of the days of Elizabeth and James and those of the restoration. Above all other periods in our history, it was the age of the pamphleteer, of the writer who is concerned rather with the urgent needs of the hour than with the purpose of creating or developing the higher forms of literature. His aim was to reach the public mind directly and at once, and so shape the national policy at critical moments in the nation's life. What literature there might be of more permanent sort was the intellectual product of a generation which had either disappeared or was fast disappearing. Even Milton, recognised, as he is, as the great poet of the restoration, may, more properly, be said to belong to an earlier time. For the educative forces which shaped him, and the creative impulse which finally determined his path to fame, had exercised their influence upon him before ever the war began. All that is most characteristic of his genius belongs to the time when books were written to be read by scholars, and when classical learning gave form and pressure to English style. Very much the same thing may be said of Andrew Marvell. For, while his literary reputation rests mainly, if not exclusively, on poems not published till 1681, or three years after his death, they were actually composed, with few exceptions, during the early years of his manhood. They were the product of a time when Donne's poetry, with its elaborate conceits and recondite analogies, was the fashion of the hour, and Donne himself the accepted poet of the younger men of the time,
the leader by whose style and manner they were consciously, or unconsciously, influenced.
Taking into account, then, the effect of this hiatus in the literary continuity of the seventeenth century, it is not surprising that, in the succeeding period, we come upon writers who belong to no special class or school, and whose literary genealogy cannot be traced. Three names suggest themselves as furnishing illustrations of the kind: John Bunyan, who, with his vivid descriptions of character, his quaint turns of thought and his racy English style, stands alone; Daniel Defoe, with his unrivalled power of clothing with an air of reality the creations of his imagination; and Jonathan Swift, whose style defies description or classification, and, as he puts the case himself, 'whose English was his own.' John Bunyan, in creative genius the most gifted of the three, was, in educational advantages, the least favoured. Born in 1628, in the Bedfordshire village of Elstow, the son of an artisan, a brasier by trade, he was put to school, he tells us, to learn both to read and write 'according to the rate of other poor men's children'; but, to his shame, he says, he has 'to confess he soon lost that little he learnt, even almost utterly.' Probably, if he had been bent on continuing the modest acquirements of the village school, he would have had small opportunity, for work at his father's forge began early, and literature was as scanty as leisure. Most likely, he was describing the kind of book within his own reach in those days when, in after years, he represents one of his characters as saying, 'Give me a ballad, a news-book, George on horseback, or Bevis of Southampton; give me some book that teaches curious arts, that tells old fables.' And, even if books of a higher class of literature had been within his reach, opportunity for study scarcely could have been; for, during the civil war, the army regulation age was from sixteen to sixty, and in the very month in which Bunyan completed his sixteenth year he was drafted into service as a soldier in the parliamentary army. As we now know from the recently discovered muster-rolls of the garrison, he was on military duty at Newport Pagnell from November 1644 to June 1647. He was here under the command of Sir Samuel Luke, parliamentary scout master general, the puritan knight whom Butler, in his well known satire, lampooned as Sir Hudibras. And it is curious to notice, by the way, that Bunyan, the writer of puritan books, and Butler, the merciless satirist of puritan types, were both of them, at one and the same time, in the service of the same worthy of Cople Woodend-the
one as a soldier in the garrison and the other as tutor or secretary in his household.
On his release from military service in 1647, Bunyan returned to his native village, and married a year or two later. It is in connection with this event in his life that he first refers to any influence which books may have had over him. His wife, he tells us,
had for her part The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven and The Practice of Piety which her father had left her when he died. In these two books I should sometimes read with her, wherein I also found some things that were somewhat pleasing to me.
A year or two later, he came under a more potent influence. One day he happened to fall into the company of a poor man who
did talk pleasantly of the Scriptures. Wherefore, falling into some love and liking to what he said, I betook me to my Bible and began to take great pleasure in reading; but especially with the historical part thereof. For as for Paul's Epistles, and such like Scriptures, I could not away with them.
As yet, he had not entered upon that deep religious experience, those intense struggles of soul, which he has vividly depicted in his Grace Abounding; but, when that time came to him, he turned again to his Bible with more living purpose-the book to which, more than any other, his literary style was indebted for its English clearness and force. 'I began,' he says, 'to look into it with new eyes and read as I never did before. I was never out of the Bible either by reading or meditation.' So far as his native genius was shaped and directed by external influence, it is here we come upon that influence.
'Bunyan's English,' writes J. R. Green, 'is the simplest and homeliest English that has ever been used by any great English writer, but it is the English of the Bible. He had lived in the Bible till its words became his own.'
Such was the main, and, so far as we know, the only influence of a literary sort under which Bunyan ever came, until he appeared before the world as an author. This was in 1656, when he was twenty-eight years of age, and then only in response to what he felt to be the call of duty. This first venture was brought about in a somewhat unexpected way. When his intense and memorable conflict of soul had passed into a more peaceful phase, he joined, in 1653, the fellowship of a Christian church recently formed in Bedford outside the national system. A year or two later, these people prevailed upon him to exercise his gifts among them, and, in this way, he came gradually into active service as a preacher