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whose paternal residence was on the plain, a sufficient cause of hostility in the code of these young Grotiuses. My father had been a leading Mountaineer, and would still maintain the general superiority, in skill and hardihood, of the Above Boys (his own faction) over the Below Boys (so were they called), of which party his contemporary had been a chieftain. Many and hot were the skirmishes on this topic—the only one upon which the old gentleman was ever brought out-and bad blood bred, even sometimes almost to the recommencement (so I expected) of actual hostilities. But my father, who scorned to insist upon advantages, generally contrived to turn the conversation upon some adroit bycommendation of the old Minster; in the general preference of which, before all other cathedrals in the island, the dweller on the hill and the plain-born could meet on a conciliating level and lay down their less important differences.
Once only I saw the old gentleman really ruffled, and I remembered with anguish the thought that came over me: "Perhaps he will never come here again.” He had been pressed to take another plate of the viand, which I have already mentioned as the indispensable concomitant of his visits. He had refused with a resistance amounting to rigor, when my aunt, an old Lincolnian, but who had something of this in common with my cousin Bridget that she would sometimes press civility out of season, uttered the following memorable application: “Do take another slice, Mr. Billet, for you do not get pudding every day.” The old gentleman said nothing at the time, but he took occasion in the course of the evening, when some argument had intervened between them, to utter with an emphasis which chilled the company, and which chills me now as I write it: "Woman, you are superannuated.” John Billet did not survive long after the digesting of this affront; but he survived long enough to assure me that peace was actually restored! and, if I remember aright, another pudding was discreetly substituted in the place of that which had occasioned the offense. He died at the Mint (anno 1781) where he had long held, what he accounted, a comfortable independence; and with five pounds, fourteen shillings, and a penny, which were found in his escritoire after his decease, left the world, blessing God that he had enough to bury him, and that he had never been obliged to any man for a sixpence. This was-a Poor Relation. MILTON AND THE PURITANS 1
A mere essay should be nothing to a person who at the ripe age of seven was compiling a “Compendium of Universal Knowledge—perhaps one of the first of the “Outlines” that grow so plentifully to-day. This is said to be only one of many startling exploits of young Thomas Babington Macaulay. He was born in 1800 in Leicestershire. His father ran true to his Scotch ancestry, both in thrift and in belligerency, being both a successful merchant and the editor of an abolitionist paper. Thomas was graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1822, and was elected Fellow in 1824. He grew to manhood under the influence of a group of intellectual independents of which his father was one and of which Wilberforce, Babington, and Hannah More were moving spirits. His first public speech was made at an abolitionist meeting in 1824. For the next twenty-five years his voice was heard in Parliament or from the platform in defense of every liberal movement. His essay on Milton, from which "Milton and the Puritans” is taken, was written for the Edinburgh Review in 1825. This was the first of a series of brilliant essays that appeared in the Review during the nineteen years following. Macaulay was a champion of the parliamentary Reform of 1832, a Whig, and a firm believer in party government.
He was an ardent exponent of orderly evolution in government and an uncompromising opponent of radical movements. He stood firmly for toleration in church and state and made himself equally unpopular with the established church party and dissenters. His four volumes upon The History of England from the Accession of James II were instantly popular; a fifth volume was published after his death. He is essentially an orator, and his temperament is that of the advocate rather than of the judge; his style is orotund and fluent, his sentences frequently periodic, though not long. Whether the case for which he speaks be a strong one or one in need of a champion, it loses nothing through Macaulay's statement of it. He died at the age of fifty-nine.
We would speak first of the Puritans, the most remarkable body of men, perhaps, which the world has ever produced. The odious and ridiculous parts of their char1 From Milton, first published in the Edinburgh Review, 1825. acter lie on the surface. He that runs may read them; nor have there been wanting attentive and malicious observers to point them out. For many years after the Restoration they were the theme of unmeasured invective and derision. They were exposed to the utmost licentiousness of the press and of the stage at the time when the press and the stage were most licentious. They were not men of letters; they were as a body unpopular; they could not defend themselves; and the public would not take them under its protection. They were therefore abandoned, without reserve, to the tender mercies of the satirists and dramatists.
The ostentatious simplicity of their dress, their sour aspect, their nasal twang, their stiff posture, their long graces, their Hebrew names, the Scriptural phrases which they introduced on every occasion, their contempt of human learning, their detestation of polite amusements, were indeed fair game for the laughers. But it is not from the laughers alone that the philosophy of history is to be learnt. And he who approaches this subject should carefully guard against the influence of that potent ridicule which has already misled so many excellent writers.
"Ecco il fonte del riso, ed ecco il rio
Those who roused the people to resistance, who directed their measures through a long series of eventful years, who formed, out of the most unpromising materials, the finest army that Europe had ever seen, who trampled down king, church, and aristocracy, who, in the short intervals of domestic sedition and rebellion, made the name of England terrible to every nation on
the face of the earth, were no vulgar fanatics. Most of their absurdities were mere external badges, like the signs of freemasonry, or the dresses of friars. We regret that these badges were not more attractive. We regret that a body to whose courage and talents mankind has owed inestimable obligations had not the lofty elegance which distinguished some of the adherents of Charles the First, or the easy good breeding for which the court of Charles the Second was celebrated. But, if we must make our choice, we shall, like Bassanio in the play, turn from the specious caskets which contain only the Death's head and the Fool's head and fix on the plain leaden chest which conceals the treasure.
The Puritans were men whose minds had derived a peculiar character from the daily contemplation of superior beings and eternal interests. Not content with acknowledging, in general terms, an overruling Providence, they habitually ascribed every event to the will of the Great Being, for whose power nothing was too vast, for whose inspection nothing was too minute. To know him, to serve him, to enjoy him, was with them the great end of existence. They rejected with contempt the ceremonious homage which other sects substituted for the pure worship of the soul. Instead of catching occasional glimpses of the Deity through an obscuring veil, they aspired to gaze full on his intolerable brightness and to commune with him face to face. Hence originated their contempt for terrestrial distinctiðns. The difference between the greatest and the meanest of mankind seemed to vanish when compared with the boundless interval which separated the whole race from him on whom their own eyes were constantly fixed. They recognized no title to superiority but his favor; and, confident of that favor, they despised all the accom