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something of all the beauties and wonder of it. Italy, which had called so many of our poets, called him. Once more his kindly father let him do as he would. He gave him money, provided him with a servant, and sent him forth on his travels. For more than a year Milton wandered, chiefly among the sunny cities of Italy. He meant to stray still further to Sicily and Greece, but news from home called him back, “The sad news of Civil War.” “I thought it base,” he said, “that while my fellow-countrymen were fighting at home for liberty, I should be traveling abroad at ease.”

When Milton returned home he did not go back to Horton, but set up house in London. Here he began to teach his two nephews, his sister’s children, who were boys of nine and ten. Their father had died, their mother married again, and Milton not only taught the boys, but took them to live with him. He found pleasure, it would seem, in teaching, for soon his little class grew, and he began to teach other boys, the sons of friends.

Milton was a good master, but a severe one. The boys were kept long hours at their lessons, and we are told that in a year’s time they could read a Latin author at sight, and within three years they went through the best Latin and Greek poets. But “as he was severe on one hand, so he was most familiar and free in his conversation to those to whom most sour in his way of education.” He himself showed the example of “hard study and spare diet,”** for besides teaching the boys he worked and wrote steadily, study being ever the “grand affair of his life.”** Only now and again he went to see “young sparks” of his acquaintance, “and now and then to keep a gawdy-day.”** It is scarce to be imagined that a gawdy-day in which John Milton took part could have been very riotous.


Then after Milton had been leading this severe quiet life for about four years, a strange thing happened. One day he set off on a journey. He told no one why he went. Every one thought it was but a pleasure jaunt. He was away about a month, then “home he returns a married man that went out a bachelor.”* We can imagine how surprised the little boys would be to find that their grave teacher of thirty-four had brought home a wife, a wife, too, who was little more than a girl a few years older than themselves. And as it was a surprise to them it is still a surprise to all who read and write about Milton’s life to this day. With the new wife came several of her friends, and so the quiet house was made gay with feasting and merriment for a few days; for strange to say, Milton, the stern Puritan, had married a Royalist lady, the daughter of a cavalier. After these few merry days the gay friends left, and the young bride remained behind with her grave and learned husband, in her new quiet home. But to poor little Mary Milton, used to a great house and much merry coming and going, the life she now led seemed dull beyond bearing. She was not clever; indeed, she was rather stupid, so after having led a “philosophical life” for about a month, she begged to be allowed to go back to her mother.


Milton let he go on the understanding that she should return to him in a month or two. But the time appointed came and went without any sign of a returning wife. Milton wrote to her and got no answer. Several times he wrote, and still no answer. Then he sent a messenger. But the messenger returned without an answer, or at least without a pleasing one. He had indeed been “dismissed with some sort of contempt.”

It would seem the cavalier family regretted having given a daughter in marriage to the Puritan poet. The poet, on his side, now resolved to cast out forever from his heart and home his truant wife. He set himself harder than before to the task of writing and teaching. He hid his aching heart and hurt pride as best he might beneath a calm and stern bearing. But life had changed for him. Up to this time all had gone as he wished. Ever since, when a boy of twelve, he had sat till midnight over his books with a patient waiting-maid beside him, those around had smoothed his path in life for him. His will had been law until a girl of seventeen defied him.

Time went on, the King’s cause was all but hopeless. Many a cavalier had lost all in his defense, among them those of Mary Milton’s family. Driven from their home, knowing hardly where to turn for shelter, they bethought them of Mary’s slighted husband. He was on the winning side, and a man of growing importance. Beneath his roof Mary at least would be safe.

The poor little runaway wife, we may believe, was afraid to face her angry husband. But helped both by his friends and her own a meeting was arranged. Milton had a friend to whose house he often went, and in this house his wife was hid one day when the poet came to pay a visit. While Milton waited for his friend he was surprised, for when the door opened there came from the adjoining room, not his friend, but “one whom he thought to have never seen more.” Mary his wife came to him, and sinking upon her knees before him begged to be forgiven. Long after, in his great poem, Milton seems to describe the scene when he makes Adam cry out to Eve after the Fall, “Out of my sight, thou serpent! That name best befits thee.”

“But Eve,
Not so repulsed, with tears that ceased not flowing, And tresses all disordered, at his feet Fell humble, and, embracing them, besought His peace; and thus proceeded in her plaint: ‘Forsake me not thus, Adam! Witness, Heaven, What love sincere, and reverence in my heart I bear thee, and unweeting have offended, Unhappily deceived! Thy suppliant
I beg, and clasp thy knees. Bereave me not, Whereon I live, thy gentle looks, thy aid, Thy counsel in this uttermost distress, My only strength and stay. Forlorn of thee, Whither shall I betake me? where subsist? While yet we live, scarce one short hour perhaps, Between us two let there be peace.’
. . . . . . .
She ended weeping; and her lowly plight, Immovable till peace obtained from fault Acknowledged and deplored, in Adam wrought Commiseration. Soon his heart relented Towards her, his life so late and sole delight, Now at his feet submissive in distress, Creature so fair his reconcilement seeking, His counsel, whom she had displeased, his aid; As one disarmed, his anger all he lost, And thus with peaceful words upraised her soon.”

Milton thus took back to his home his wandering wife and not her only, but also her father, mother, and homeless brothers and sisters. So although he had moved to a larger house, it was now full to overflowing, for besides all this Royalist family he had living with him his pupils and his own old father.


AND now for twenty years the pen of Milton was used, not for poetry, but for prose. The poet became a politician. Victory was still uncertain, and Milton poured out book after book in support of the Puritan cause. These books are full of wrath and scorn and all the bitter passion of the time. They have hardly a place in true literature, so we may pass them over glad that Milton found it possible to spend his bitterness in prose and leave his poetry what it is.

One only of his prose works is still remembered and still read for its splendid English. That is Areopagitica, a passionate appeal for a free press. Milton desired that a man should have not only freedom of thought, but freedom to write down and print and publish these thoughts. But the rulers of England, ever since printing had been introduced, had thought otherwise, and by law no book could be printed until it had been licensed, and no man might set up a printing press without permission from Government. To Milton this was tyranny. “As good almost kill a man as kill a good book,” he said, and again “Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to my conscience above all liberties.” He held the licensing law in contempt, and to show his contempt he published Areopagitica without a license and without giving the printer’s or bookseller’s name. It was not the first time Milton had done this, and his enemies tried to use it against him to bring him into trouble. But he had become by this time too important a man, and nothing came of it.

Time went on, the bitter struggle between King and people came to an end. The people triumphed, and the King laid his head upon the block. Britain was without ruler other than Parliament. It was then, one March day in 1649, that a few grave-faced, somber- clad men knocked at the door of Milton’s house. We can imagine them tramping into the poet’s low-roofed study, their heavy shoes resounding on the bare floor, their sad faces shaded with their tall black hats. And there, in sing-song voices, they tell the astonished man that they come from Parliament to ask him to be Secretary for Foreign Tongues.

Milton was astonished, but he accepted the post. And now his life became a very busy one. It had been decided that all letters to foreign powers should be written in Latin, but many Governments wrote to England in their own languages. Milton had to translate these letters, answer them in Latin, and also write little books or pamphlets in answer to those which were written against the Government.

It was while he was busy with this, while he was pouring out bitter abuse upon his enemies or upon the enemies of his party, that his great misfortune fell upon him. He became blind. He had had many warnings. He had been told to be careful of his eyes, for the sight of one had long been gone. But in spite of all warnings he still worked on, and at length became quite blind.

His enemies jeered at him, and said it was a judgment upon him for his wicked writing. But never for a moment did Milton’s spirit quail. He had always been sure of himself, sure of his mission in life, sufficient for himself. And now that the horror of darkness shut him off from others, shut him still more into himself, his heart did not fail him. Blind at forty-three, he wrote:–

“When I consider how my light is spent, Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, And that one talent which is death to hide, Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present My true account, lest He, returning, chide; ‘Doth God exact day labour, light denied?’ I fondly ask: but Patience, to prevent That murmur, soon replies, ‘God doth not need Either man’s work, or His own gifts; who best Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best: His state Is kingly; thousands at His bidding speed, And post o’er land and ocean without rest; They also serve who only stand and wait.'”

Milton meant to take up this new burden patiently, but at forty- three, with all the vigor of life still stirring in him, he could not meekly fold his hands to stand and wait. Indeed, his greatest work was still to come. Blind though he was, he did not give up his post of Latin Secretary. He still remained Chief Secretary, and others worked under him, among them Andrew Marvell, the poet. He still gave all his brain and learning to the service of his country, while others supplied his lacking eyesight. But now in the same year Fate dealt him another blow. His wife died. Perhaps there had never been any great love or understanding between these two, for Milton’s understanding of all women was unhappy. But now, when he had most need of a woman’s kindly help and sympathy, she went from him leaving to his blind care three motherless girls, the eldest of whom was only six years old.

We know little of Milton’s home life during the next years. But it cannot have been a happy one. His children ran wild. He tried to teach them in some sort. He was dependent now on others to read to him, and he made his daughters take their share of this. He succeeded in teaching them to read in several languages, but they understood not a word of what they read, so it was no wonder that they looked upon it as a wearisome task. They grew up with neither love for nor understanding of their stern blind father. To them he was not the great poet whose name should be one of the triumphs of English Literature. He was merely a severe father and hard taskmaster.

Four years after his first wife died Milton married again. This lady he never saw, but she was gentle and kind, and he loved her. For fifteen months she wrought peace and order in his home, then she too died, leaving her husband more lonely than before. He mourned her loss in poetic words. He dreamed she came to him one night:–

“Came vested all in white, pure as her mind; Her face was veil’d; yet to my fancied sight Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin’d So clear, as in no face with more delight. But O, as to embrace me she inclin’d,
I wak’d; she fled; and day brought back my night.”

With this sonnet (for those lines are part of the last sonnet Milton ever wrote) it would seem as if a new period began with Milton, his second period of poetry writing. Who knows but that it was the sharp sorrow of his loss which sent him back to poetry. For throughout Milton’s life we can see that it was always something outside himself which made him write poetry. He did not sing like the birds because he must, but because he was asked to sing by some person, or made to sing by some circumstance.

However that may be, it was now that Milton began his greatest work, Paradise Lost. Twenty years before the thought had come to him that he would write a grand epic. We have scarcely spoken of an epic since that first of all our epics, the Story of Beowulf. And although others had written epics, Milton is to be remembered as the writer of the great English epic. At first he thought of taking Arthur for his hero, but as more and more he saw what a mass of fable had gathered round Arthur, as more and more he saw how plain a hero Arthur seemed, stripped of that fable, his mind turned from the subject. And when, at last, after twenty years of almost unbroken silence as a poet, he once more let his organ voice be heard, it was not a man he spoke of, but Man. He told the story which Caedmon a thousand years before had told of the war in heaven, of the temptation and fall of man, and of how Adam and Eve were driven out of the happy garden.

“Of man’s first disobedience, and the fruit Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste Brought death into the world, and all our woe, With loss of Eden, till one greater Man Restore us, and regain the blissful seat, Sing, Heavenly Muse.”

You will remember, or if you look back to Chapter XIII you can read again about the old poet Caedmon and what he wrote. It was in 1655 that Junius published the so-called Caedmon Manuscript, and Milton, who was so great a student, no doubt heard of it and found some one to read it to him. And perhaps these poems helped to decide him in his choice, although many years before he had thought of writing on the subject.

Perhaps when you are older it may interest you to read the poems of Milton and the poems of Caedmon together. Then you will see how far ahead of the old poet Milton is in smooth beauty of verse, how far behind him sometimes in tender knowledge of man and woman. But I do not think you can hope to read Paradise Lost with true pleasure yet a while. It is a long poem in blank verse, much of it will seem dull to you, and you will find it hard to be interested in Adam and Eve. For Milton set himself a task of enormous difficulty when he tried to interest common men and women in people who were without sin, who knew not good nor evil. Yet if conceit, if self-assurance, if the want of the larger charity which helps us to understand another’s faults, are sins, then Adam sinned long before he left Milton’s Paradise. In fact, Adam is often a bore, and at times he proves himself no gentleman in the highest and best meaning of the word.

But in spite of Adam, in spite of everything that can be said against it, Paradise Lost remains a splendid poem. Never, perhaps, has the English language been used more nobly, never has blank verse taken on such stately measure. Milton does not make pictures for us, like some poets, like Spenser, for instance; he sings to us. He sings to us, not like the gay minstrel with his lute, but in stately measured tones, which remind us most of solemn organ chords. His voice comes to us, too, out of a poet’s country through which, if we would find our way, we must put our hand in his and let him guide us while he sings. And only when we come to love “the best words in the best order” can we truly enjoy Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Milton fails at times to interest us in Adam, but he does interest us in the Bad Angel Satan, and it has been said over and over again that Satan is his true hero. And with such a man as Milton this was hardly to be wondered at. All his life had been a cry for liberty–liberty even when it bordered on rebellion. And so he could not fail to make his arch rebel grand, and even in his last degradation we somehow pity him, while feeling that he is almost too high for pity. Listen to Satan’s cry of sorrow and defiance when he finds himself cast out from Heaven:–

“‘Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,’ Said then the lost Archangel, ‘this the seat That we must change for heaven?–this mournful gloom For that celestial light? Be it so, since he Who now is sovran can dispose and bid
What shall be right; farthest from his is best, Whom reason hath equalled, force hath made supreme Above his equals. Farewell, happy fields, Where joy for ever dwells! Hail, horrors! hail, Infernal world! and thou, profoundest Hell Receive thy new possessor–one who brings A mind not to be changed by place or time, The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven. What matter where, if I be still the same, And what I should be, all but less than he Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least We shall be free the Almighty hath not built Here for his envy, will not drive us hence; Here we may reign secure; and, in my choice, To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.'”

Then in contrast to this outburst of regal defiance, read the last beautiful lines of the poem and see in what softened mood of submission Milton pictures our first parents as they leave the Happy Garden:–

“In either hand the hastening Angel caught Our lingering parents, and to the eastern gate Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast To the subjected plain–then disappeared. They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld Of Paradise, so late their happy seat, Waved over by that flaming brand; the gate With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms. Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon; The world was all before them, where to choose Their place of rest, and Providence their guide. They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow, Through Eden took their solitary way.”

Milton worked slowly at this grand poem. Being blind he had now to depend on others to write out what poetry he made in his own mind, so it was written “in a parcel of ten, twenty, or thirty verses at a time by whatever hand came next.” We are told that when he was dictating sometimes he sat leaning back sideways in an easy-chair, with his leg flung over the arm. Sometimes he dictated from his bed, and if in the middle of the night lines came to him, whatever time it was he would ring for one of his daughters to write them down for him, lest the thought should be lost ere morning.

We are told, too, that he wrote very little in summer. For he said himself that it was in winter and spring that his poetic fancy seemed to come best to him, and that what he wrote at other times did not please him. “So that in all the years he was about this poem, he may be said to have spent but half his time therein.”*


But now, while Milton’s mind was full of splendid images, while in spite of the discomfort and lonliness of his misruled home, he was adding line to line of splendid sounding English, great changes came over the land.

Oliver Cromwell died. To him succeeded his son Richard. But his weak hands could not hold the scepter. He could not bind together a rebel people as great Oliver had done. In a few months he gave up the task, and little more than a year later the people who had wept at the death of the great Protector, were madly rejoicing at the return of a despot.

With a Stuart king upon the throne, there was no safety for the rebel poet who had used all the power of his wit and learning against the Royal cause. Pity for his blindness might not save him. So listening to the warnings of his friends, he fled into hiding somewhere in the city of London, “a place of retirement and abscondence.”

But after a time the danger passed, and Milton crept forth from his hiding-place. It was perhaps pity for his blind helplessness, perhaps contempt for his powerlessness, that saved him, who can tell? His books were burned by the common hangman, and he found himself in prison for a short time, but he was soon released. While others were dying for their cause, the blind poet whose trumpet call had been Liberty! Liberty! was contemptuously allowed to live.

Now indeed had Milton fallen on dark and evil days. He had escaped with his life and was free. But all that he had worked for during the past twenty years he saw shattered as at one blow. He saw his friends suffering imprisonment and death, himself forsaken and beggared. He found no sympathy at home. His daughters, who had not loved their father in his days of wealth and ease, loved him still less in poverty. They sold his books, cheated him with the housekeeping money, and in every way added to his unhappiness. At length, as a way out of the misery and confusion of his home, Milton married for the third time.

The new wife was a placid, kindly woman. She managed the house, managed too the wild, unruly girls as no one had managed them before. She saw the folly of keeping them, wholly untamed and half-educated as they were, at home, and persuaded her husband to let them learn something by which they might earn a living. So they went out into the world “to learn some curious and ingenious sorts of manufacture, that are proper for women to learn, particularly embroideries in gold and silver.”

Thus for the last few years of his life Milton was surrounded by peace and content such as he had never before known. All through life he had never had any one to love him deeply except his father and his mother, whose love for him was perhaps not all wise. Those who had loved him in part had feared him too, and the fear outdid the love. But now in the evening of his days, if no perfect love came to him, he found at least kindly understanding. His wife admired him and cared for him. She had a fair face and pretty voice, and it is pleasant to picture the gray-haired poet sitting at his organ playing while his wife sings. He cannot see the sun gleam and play in her golden hair, or the quick color come and go in her fair face, but at least he can take joy in the sound of her sweet fresh voice.

It was soon after this third marriage that Paradise Lost was finished and published. And even in those wild Restoration days, when laughter and pleasure alone were sought, men acknowledged the beauty and grandeur of this grave poem. “This man cuts us all out, and the ancients too,” said Dryden, another and younger poet.

People now came to visit the author of Paradise Lost, as before they had come to visit great Cromwell’s secretary. We have a pleasant picture of him sitting in his garden at the door of his house on sunny days to enjoy the fresh air, for of the many houses in which Milton lived not one was without a garden. There, even when the sun did not shine, wrapt in a great coat of coarse gray cloth, he received his visitors. Or when the weather was colder he sat in an upstairs room hung with rusty green. He wore no sword, as it was the fashion in those days to do, and his clothes were black. His long, light gray hair fell in waves round his pale but not colorless face, and the sad gray eyes with which he seemed to look upon his visitors were still clear and beautiful.

Life had now come for Milton to a peaceful evening time, but his work was not yet finished. He had two great poems still to write.

One was Paradise Regained. In this he shows how man’s lost happiness was found again in Christ. Here is a second temptation, the temptation in the wilderness, but this time Satan is defeated, Christ is victorious.

The second poem was Samson Agonistes, which tells the tragic story of Samson in his blindness. And no one reading it can fail to see that it is the story too of Milton in his blindness. It is Milton himself who speaks when he makes Samson exclaim:–

“O loss of sight, of thee I most complain! Blind among enemies: O worse than chains, Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age!
Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct, And all her various objects of delight Annulled, which might in part my grief have eased. Inferior to the vilest now become
Of man or worm: the vilest here excel me, They creep, yet see; I, dark in light, exposed To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong, Within doors, or without, still as a fool, In power of others, never in my own;– O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse
Without all hope of day!”

This was Milton’s last poem. He lived still four years longer and still wrote. But his singing days were over, and what he now wrote was in prose. His life’s work was done, and one dark November evening in 1674 he peacefully died.

“Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart: Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea: Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free, So didst thou travel on life’s common way.”*



THE second great Puritan writer of England was John Bunyan. He was born in 1628, more than twenty years after Milton. His father was a tinker. A tinker! The word makes us think of ragged, weather-worn men and women who wander about the countryside. They carry bundles of old umbrellas, and sometimes a battered kettle or two. They live, who knows how? they sleep, who knows where? Sometimes in our walks we come across a charred round patch upon the grass in some quiet nook by the roadside, and we know the tinkers have been there, and can imagine all sorts of stories about them. Or sometimes, better still, we find them really there by the roadside boiling a mysterious three- legged black kettle over a fire of sticks.

But John Bunyan’s father was not this kind of tinker. He did not wander about the countryside, but lived at the little village of Elstow, about a mile from the town of Bedford, as his father had before him. He was a poor and honest workman who mended his neighbors’ kettles and pans, and did his best to keep his family in decent comfort.

One thing which shows this is that little John was sent to school. In those days learning, even learning to read and write, was not the just due of every one. It was only for the well-to- do. “But yet,” says Bunyan himself, “notwithstanding the meanness and inconsiderableness of my parents, it pleased God to put it into their hearts to put me to school, to learn me both to read and write.”

Bunyan was born when the struggle between King and people was beginning to be felt, and was a great boy of fourteen when at last the armies of King and Parliament met on the battlefield of Edgehill. To many this struggle was a struggle for freedom in religion. From end to end of our island the question of religion was the burning question of the day. Religion had wrought itself into the lives of people. In those days of few books the Bible was the one book which might be found in almost every house. The people carried it in their hands, and its words were ever on their lips. But the religion which came to be the religion of more than half the people of England was a stern one. They forgot the Testament of Love, they remembered only the Testament of Wrath. They made the narrow way narrower, and they believed that any who strayed from it would be punished terribly and eternally. It was into this stern world that little John Bunyan was born, and just as a stern religious struggle was going on in England so a stern religious struggle went on within his little heart. He heard people round him talk of sins and death, of a dreadful day of judgment, of wrath to come. These things laid hold of his childish mind and he began to believe that in the sight of God he must be a desperate sinner. Dreadful dreams came to him at night. He dreamed that the Evil One was trying to carry him off to a darksome place there to be “bound down with the chains and bonds of darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.” Such dreams made night terrible to him.

Bunyan tells us that he swore and told lies and that he was the ringleader in all the wickedness of the village. But perhaps he was not so bad as he would have us believe, for he was always very severe in his judgments of himself. Perhaps he was not worse than many other boys who did not feel that they had sinned beyond all forgiveness. And in spite of his awful thoughts and terrifying dreams Bunyan still went on being a naughty boy; he still told lies and swore.

At length he left school and became a tinker like his father. But all England was being drawn into war, and so Bunyan, when about seventeen, became a soldier.

Strange to say we do not know upon which side he fought. Some people think that because his father belonged to the Church of England that he must have fought on the King’s side. But that is nothing to go by, for many people belonged to that Church for old custom’s sake who had no opinions one way or another, and who took no side until forced by the war to do so. It seems much more likely that Bunyan, so Puritan in all his ways of thought, should fight for the Puritan side. But we do not know. He was not long a soldier, we do not know quite how long, it was perhaps only a few months. But during these few months his life was saved by, what seemed to him afterwards to have been a miracle.

“When I was a soldier,” he says, “I, with others, were drawn out to go to such a place to besiege it. But when I was just ready to go one of the company desired to go in my room. To which, when I had consented, he took my place. And coming to the siege, as he stood sentinel, he was shot in the head with a musket bullet, and died.

“Here, as I said, were judgments and mercy, but neither of them did awaken my soul to righteousness. Wherefore I sinned still, and grew more and more rebellious against God.”

So whether Bunyan served in the Royal army, where he might have heard oaths, or in the Parliamentarian, where he might have heard godly songs and prayers, he still went on his way as before.

Some time after Bunyan left the army, and while he was still very young, he married. Both he and his wife were, he says, “as poor as poor might be, not having so much household stuff as a dish or a spoon betwixt us both. Yet this she 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.”

These two books Bunyan read with his wife, picking up again the art of reading, which he had been taught at school, and which he had since almost forgotten. He began now to go a great deal to church, and one of his chief pleasures was helping to ring the bells. To him the services were a joy. He loved the singing, the altar with its candles, the rich robes, the white surplices, and everything that made the service beautiful. Yet the terrible struggle between good and evil in his soul went on. He seemed to hear voices in the air, good voices and bad voices, voices that accused him, voices that tempted. He was a most miserable man, and seemed to himself to be one of the most wicked, and yet perhaps the worst thing he could accuse himself of doing was playing games on Sunday, and pleasing himself by bell-ringing. He gave up his bell-ringing because it was a temptation to vanity. “Yet my mind hankered, therefore I would go to the steeple house and look on, though I durst not ring.” One by one he gave up all the things he loved, things that even if we think them wrong do not seem to us to merit everlasting punishment. But at last the long struggle ended and his tortured mind found rest in the love of Christ.

Bunyan himself tells us the story of this long fight in a book called Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. As we read we cannot help but see that Bunyan was never a very wicked man, but merely a man with a very tender conscience. Things which seemed to other men trifles were to him deadly sins; and although he was so stern to himself, to others he shows a fatherly tenderness which makes us feel that this rough tinker was no narrow Puritan, but a broad-minded, large-hearted Christian. And now that Bunyan had found peace he became a Baptist, and joined the church of a man whom he calls “the holy Mr. Gifford.” Gifford had been an officer in the Royal army. He had been wild and drunken, but repenting of his evil ways had become a preacher. Now, until he died some years later, he was Bunyan’s fast friend.

In the same year as Bunyan lost his friend his wife too died, and he was left alone with four children, two of them little girls, one of whom was blind. She was, because of that, all the more dear to him. “She lay nearer to my heart than all beside,” he says.

And now Bunyan’s friends found out his great gift of speech. They begged him to preach, but he was so humble and modest that at first he refused. At length, however, he was over-persuaded. He began his career as a minister and soon became famous. People came from long distances to hear him, and he preached not only in Elstow and Bedford but in all the country round. He preached, not only in churches, but in barns and in fields, by the roadside or in the market-place, anywhere, in fact, where he could gather an audience.

It was while Cromwell ruled that Bunyan began this ministry. But in spite of all the battles that had been fought for religious freedom, there was as yet no real religious freedom in England. Each part, as it became powerful, tried to tyrannize over every other party, and no one was allowed to preach without a license. The Presbyterians were now in power; Bunyan was a Baptist, and some of the Presbyterians would gladly have silenced him. Yet during Cromwell’s lifetime he went his way in peace. Then the Restoration came. A few months later Bunyan was arrested for preaching without a license. Those who now ruled “were angry with the tinker because he strove to mend souls as well as kettles and pans.”* Before he was taken prisoner Bunyan was warned of his danger, and if he had “been minded to have played the coward” he might have escaped. But he would not try to save himself. “If I should now run to make an escape,” he said, “it will be a very ill savour in the country. For what will my weak and newly-converted brethren think of it but that I was not so strong in deed as I was in word.”

*Henry Deane.

So Bunyan was taken prisoner. Even then he might have been at once set free would he have promised not to preach. But to all persuasions he replied, “I durst not leave off that work which God has called me to.”

Thus Bunyan’s long imprisonment of twelve years began. He had married again by this time, and the parting with his wife and children was hard for him, and harder still for the young wife left behind “all smayed at the news.” But although she was dismayed she was brave of heart, and she at once set about eagerly doing all she could to free her husband. She went to London, she ventured into the House of Lords, and there pleaded for him. Touched by her earnestness and her helplessness the Lords treated her kindly. But they told her they could do nothing for her and that she must plead her case before the ordinary judges.

So back to Bedford she went, and with beating heart and trembling limbs sought out the judges. Again she was kindly received, but again her petition was of no avail. The law was the law. Bunyan had broken the law and must suffer. He would not promise to cease from preaching, she would as little promise for him. “My lord,” she said, “he dares not leave off preaching as long as he can speak.”

So it was all useless labor, neither side could or would give way one inch. Bursting into tears the poor young wife turned away. But she wept “not so much because they were so hard-hearted against me and my husband, but to think what a sad account such poor creatures will have to give at the coming of the Lord, when they shall then answer for all things whatsoever they have done in the body, whether it be good, or whether it be bad.”

Seeing there was no help for it, Bunyan set himself bravely to endure his imprisonment. And, in truth, this was not very severe. Strangely enough he was allowed to preach to his fellow- prisoners, he was even at one time allowed to go to church. But the great thing for us is that he wrote books. Already, before his imprisonment, he had written several books, and now he wrote that for which he is most famous, the Pilgrim’s Progress.

It is a book so well known and so well loved that I think I need say little about it. In the form of a dream Bunyan tells, as you know, the story of Christian who set out on his long and difficult pilgrimage from the City of Destruction to the City of the Blest. He tells of all Christian’s trials and adventures on the way, of how he encounters giants and lion, of how he fights with a great demon, and of how at length he arrives at his journey’s end in safety. A great writer has said, “There is no book in our literature on which we would so readily stake the fame of the old unpolluted English language, no book which shows so well how rich that language is in its own proper wealth, and how little it has been improved by all that it has borrowed.”*


For the power of imagination this writer places Bunyan by the side of Milton. Although there were many clever men in England towards the end of the seventeenth century, there were only two minds which had great powers of imagination. “One of those minds produced the Paradise Lost, the other the Pilgrim’s Progress.” That is very great praise, and yet although Milton and Bunyan are thus placed side by side no two writers are more widely apart. Milton’s writing is full of the proofs of his leaning, his English is fine and stately, but it is full of words made from Latin words. As an early writer on him said “Milton’s language is English, but it is Milton’s English.”*


On the other hand, Bunyan’s writing is most simple. He uses strong, plain, purely English words. There is hardly one word in all his writing which a man who knows his Bible cannot easily understand. And it was from the Bible that Bunyan gathered nearly all his learning. He knew it from end to end, and the poetry and grandeur of its language filled his soul. But he read other books, too, among them, we feel sure, the Faery Queen. Some day you may like to compare the adventures of the Red Cross Knight with the adventures of Christian. And perhaps in all the Faery Queen you will find nothing so real and exciting as Christian’s fight with Apollyon. Apollyon comes from a Greek word meaning the destroyer. This is how Bunyan tells of the fight:–

“But now in this Valley of Humiliation poor Christian was hard put to it. For he had gone but a little way before he espied a Foul Fiend coming over the field to meet him. His name is Apollyon. Then did Christian begin to be afraid and to cast in his mind whether to go back or to stand his ground. But he considered again, that he had no armour for his back, and therefore thought that to turn the back to him might give him greater advantage, with ease, to pierce him with his darts. Therefore he resolved to venture and stand his ground. For, he thought, had I no more in mine eye than the saving of my life, ‘twould be the best way to stand.

“So he went on, and Apollyon met him. Now the Monster was hideous to behold. He was clothed with scales like a fish, and they are his pride. He had wings like a dragon, feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke. And his mouth was as the mouth of a lion. When he came up to Christian he beheld him with a disdainful countenance, and thus began to question him.

“APOLLYON. When came you? and whither are you bound?

“CHRISTIAN. I am come from the City of Destruction, which is the place of all evil, and am going to the City of Zion.”

After this Apollyon argued with Christian, trying to persuade him to give up his pilgrimage and return to his evil ways. But Christian would listen to nothing that Apollyon could say.

“Then Apollyon straddled quite over the whole breadth of the Way and said, ‘I am void of fear in this matter. Prepare thyself to die, for I swear by my Infernal Den that thou shalt go no further. Here will I spill thy soul!’

“And with that he threw a flaming dart at his heart. But Christian had a shield in his hand, with which he caught it, and so prevented the danger of that.

“Then did Christian draw, for he saw it was time to bestir him, and Apollyon as fast made at him, throwing darts as thick as hail, by the which, notwithstanding all that Christian could do to avoid it, Apollyon wounded him in his head, his hand, and foot. This made Christian give a little back. Apollyon therefore followed his work amain, and Christian again took courage and resisted as manfully as he could. This sore combat lasted for above half a day, even till Christian was almost quite spent. For you must know that Christian, by reason of his wounds, must needs grow weaker and weaker.

“Then Apollyon espying his opportunity began to gather up close to Christian, and wrestling with him gave him a dreadful fall. And with that Christian’s sword flew out of his hand. Then said Apollyon, ‘I am sure of thee now.’ And with that he had almost pressed him to death so that Christian began to despair of life. But, as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching his last blow, thereby to make a full end of this good man, Christian nimbly reached out his hand for his sword and caught it, saying, ‘Rejoice not against me, O mine Enemy! when I fall I shall arise!’ and with that gave him a deadly thrust which made him give back, as one that had received his mortal wound.

“Christian perceiving that made at him again, saying ‘Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.’ And with that Apollyon spread forth his dragon’s wings and sped him away, and Christian saw him no more.”

Bunyan wrote a second part or sequel to the Pilgrim’s Progress, in which he tells of the adventures of Christian’s wife and children on their way to Zion. But the story does not interest us as the story of Christian does. Because we love Christian we are glad to know that his wife and children escaped destruction, but except that they belong to him we do not really care about them.

Bunyan wrote several other books. The best known are The Holy War and Grace Abounding. The Holy War might be called a Paradise Lost and Regained in homely prose. It tells much the same story, the story of the struggle between Good and Evil for the possession of man’s soul.

In Grace Abounding Bunyan tells of his own struggle with evil, and it is from that book that we learn much of what we know of his life.

He also wrote the Life and Death of Mr. Badman. Instead of telling how a good man struggles with evil and at last wins rest, it tells of how a bad man yields always to evil and comes at last to a sad end. It is not a pretty story, and is one, I think, which you will not care to read.

Bunyan, too, wrote a good deal of rime, but for the most part it can hardly be called poetry. It is for his prose that we remember him. Yet who would willingly part with the song of the shepherd-boy in the second part of the Pilgrim’s Progress:–

“He that is down needs fear no fall; He that is low, no pride:
He that is humble, ever shall
Have God to be his guide.

I am content with what I have,
Little be it or much:
And, Lord, contentment still I crave, Because thou savest such.

Fullness to such a burden is
That go on pilgrimage:
Here little, and hereafter bliss, Is best from age to age.”

When Bunyan had been in prison for six years he was set free, but as he at once began to preach he was immediately seized and reimprisoned. He remained shut up for six years longer. Then King Charles II passed an Act called the Declaration of Indulgence. By this Act all the severe laws against those who did not conform to the Church of England were done away with, and, in consequence, Bunyan was set free. Charles passed this Act, not because he was sorry for the Nonconformists–as all who would not conform to the Church of England were called–but because he wished to free the Roman Catholics, and he could not do that without freeing the Nonconformists too. Two years later Bunyan was again imprisoned because “in contempt of his Majesty’s good laws he preached or teached in other manner than according to the Liturgy or practice of the Church of England.” But this time his imprisonment lasted only six months. And I must tell you that many people now think that it was during this later short imprisonment that Bunyan wrote the Pilgrim’s Progress, and not during the earlier and longer.

The rest of Bunyan’s life passed peacefully and happily. But we know few details of it, for “he seems to have been too busy to keep any records of his busy life.”* We know at least that it was busy. He was now a licensed preacher, and if the people had flocked to hear him before his imprisonment they flocked in far greater numbers now. Even learned men came to hear him. “I marvel,” said King Charles to one, “that a learned man such as you can sit and listen to an unlearned tinker.”


“May it please your Majesty,” replied he, “I would gladly give up all my learning if I could preach like that tinker.”

Bunyan became the head of the Baptist Church. Near and far he traveled, preaching and teaching, honored and beloved wherever he went. And his word had such power, his commands had such weight, that people playfully called him Bishop Bunyan. Yet he was “not puffed up in prosperity, nor shaken in adversity, always holding the golden mean.”*

*Charles Doe.

Death found Bunyan still busy, still kindly. A young man who lived at Reading had offended his father so greatly that the father cast him off. In his trouble the young man came to Bunyan. He at once mounted his horse and rode off to Reading. There he saw the angry father, and persuaded him to make peace with his repentant son.

Glad at his success, Bunyan rode on to London, where he meant to preach. But the weather was bad, the roads were heavy with mud, he was overtaken by a storm of rain, and ere he could find shelter he was soaked to the skin. He arrived at length at a friend’s house wet and weary and shaking with fever. He went to bed never to rise again. The time had come when, like Christian, he must cross the river which all must cross “where there is no bridge to go over and the river very deep.” But Bunyan, like Christian, was held up by Hope. He well knew the words, “When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee.” And so he crossed over.

And may we not believe that Bunyan, when he reached the other side, heard again, as he had once before heard in his immortal dream, “all the bells in the city ring again with joy,” and that it was said unto him, “Enter ye into the joy of our Lord”?



“THE life of Dryden may be said to comprehend a history of the literature of England, and its changes, during nearly half a century.” With these words Sir Walter Scott, himself a great writer, began his life of John Dryden. Yet although Dryden stands for so much in the story of our literature, as a man we know little of him. As a writer his influence on the age in which he lived was tremendous. As a man he is more shadowy than almost any other greater writer. We seem to know Chaucer, and Spenser, and Milton, and even Shakespeare a little, but to know Dryden in himself seems impossible. We can only know him through his works, and through his age. And in him we find the expression of his age.

With Milton ended the great romantic school of poetry. He was indeed as one born out of time, a lonely giant. He died and left no follower. With Dryden began a new school of poetry, which was to be the type of English poetry for a hundred and fifty years to come. This is called the classical school, and the rime which the classical poets used is called the heroic couplet. It is a long ten-syllabled line, and rimes in couplets, as, for instance:–

“He sought the storms; but, for a calm unfit, Would stem too nigh the sands, to boast his wit, Great wits are sure to madness near allied, And thin partitions do their bounds divide.”*

*Absalom and Achitophel.

Dryden did not invent the heroic couplet, but it was he who first made it famous. “It was he,” says Scott, “who first showed that the English language was capable of uniting smoothness and strength.” But when you come to read Dryden’s poems you may perhaps feel that in gaining the smoothness of Art they have lost something of the beauty of Nature. The perfect lines with their regular sounding rimes almost weary us at length, and we are glad to turn to the rougher beauty of some earlier poet.

But before speaking more of what Dryden did let me tell you a little of what we know of his life.

John Dryden was the son of a Northamptonshire gentleman who had a small estate and a large family, for John was the eldest of fourteen children. The family was a Puritan one, although in 1631, when John was born, the Civil War had not yet begun.

When John Dryden left school he went, like nearly all the poets, to Cambridge. Of what he did at college we know very little. He may have been wild, for more than once he got into trouble, and once he was “rebuked on the head” for speaking scornfully of some nobleman. He was seven years at Cambridge, but he looked back on these years with no joy. He had no love for his University, and even wrote:–

“Oxford to him a dearer name shall be, Than his own Mother University.”

Already at college Dryden had begun to write poetry, but his poem on the death of Cromwell is perhaps the first that is worth remembering:–

“Swift and relentless through the land he past, Like that bold Greek, who did the East subdue; And made to battles of such heroic haste As if on wings of victory he flew.

He fought secure of fortune as of fame, Till by new maps the island might be shown Of conquests, which he strewed where’er he came, This as the galaxy with stars is sown.

Nor was he like those stars which only shine, When to pale mariners they storms portend, He had a calmer influence, and his mien Did love and majesty together blend.

Nor died he when his ebbing fame went less, But when fresh laurels courted him to live: He seemed but to prevent some new success, As if above what triumphs earth could give.

His ashes in a peaceful urn shall rest; His name a great example stands, to show, How strangely high endeavours may be blessed, Where piety and valour jointly go.”

So wrote Dryden. But after the death of Cromwell came the Restoration. Dryden had been able to admire Cromwell, but although he came of a Puritan family he could never have been a Puritan at heart. What we learn of him in his writings show us that. He was not of the stern stuff which makes martyrs and heroes. There was no reason why he should suffer for a cause in which he did not whole-heartedly believe. So Dryden turned Royalist, and the very next poem he wrote was On the Happy Restoration and Return of His Majesty Charles the Second.

“How easy ’tis when destiny proves kind, With full spread sails to run before the wind!”*

*Astroe Redux.

So Dryden ran before the wind.

About three years after the Restoration Dryden married an earl’s daughter, Lady Elizabeth Howard. We know very little about their life together, but they had three children of whom they were very fond.

With the Restoration came the re-opening of the theaters, and for fourteen years Dryden was known as a dramatic poet. There is little need to tell you anything about his plays, for you would not like to read them. During the reign of Puritanism in England the people had been forbidden even innocent pleasures. The Maypole dances had been banished, games and laughter were frowned upon. Now that these too stern laws had been taken away, people plunged madly into pleasure: laughter became coarse, merriment became riotous. Puritan England had lost the sense of where innocent pleasure ends and wickedness begins. In another way Restoration England did the same. The people of the Restoration saw fun and laughter in plays which seem to us now simply vulgar and coarse as well as dull. The coarseness, too, is not the coarseness of an ignorant people who know no better, but rather of a people who do know better and who yet prefer to be coarse. I do not mean to say that there are no well-drawn characters, no beautiful lines, in Dryden’s plays for that would not be true. Many of them are clever, the songs in them are often beautiful, but nearly all are unpleasant to read. The taste of the Restoration times condemned Dryden to write in a way unworthy of himself for money. “Neither money nor honour–that in two words was the position of writers after the Restoration.”*

*Beljame, Le Public et les Hommes de Lettres in Angleterre.

“And Dryden, in immortal strain,
Had raised the table-round again
But that a ribald King and Court
Bade him toil on to make them sport, Demanding for their niggard pay,
Fit for their souls, a loser lay.”*

*Walter Scott, Marmion.

Had Dryden written nothing but plays we should not remember him as one of our great poets. Yet it was during this time of play- writing that Dryden was made Poet Laureate and Historiographer Royal with the salary of 200 pounds a year and a butt of sack. It was after he became Poet Laureate that Dryden began to write his satires, the poems for which he is most famous. Although a satire is a poem which holds wickedness up to scorn, sometimes it was used, not against the wicked and the foolish, but against those who merely differed from the writer in politics or religion or any other way of life or thought. Such was Dryden’s best satire–thought by some people the best in the English language. It is called Absalom and Achitophel. To understand it we must know and understand the history of the times. Here in the guise of the old Bible story Dryden seeks to hold Lord Shaftesbury up to scorn because he tried to have a law passed which would prevent the King’s brother James from succeeding to the throne, and which would instead place the Duke of Monmouth there. When the poem was published Shaftesbury was in the Tower awaiting his trial for high treason. The poem had a great effect, but Shaftesbury was nevertheless set free.

In spite of the fine sounding lines you will perhaps never care to read Absalom and Achitophel save as a footnote to history. But Dryden’s was the age of satire. Those he wrote called forth others. He was surrounded and followed by many imitators, and it is well to remember Dryden as the greatest of them all. His satires were so powerful, too, that the people against whom they were directed felt them keenly, and no wonder. “There are passages in Dryden’s satires in which every couplet has not only the force but the sound of a slap in the face,” says a recent writer.*


Among the younger writers Dryden took the place Ben Jonson used hold. He kinged it in the coffee-house, then the fashionable place at which the wits gathered, as Jonson had in the tavern. He was given the most honored seat, in summer by the window, in winter by the fire. And although he was not a great talker like Jonson, the young wits crowded around him, eager for the honor of a word or a pinch from the great man’s snuff-box.

Besides his plays and satires Dryden wrote a poem in support of the English Church called Religio Laici. Then a few years later, when Charles II died and James II came to the throne, Dryden turned Roman Catholic and wrote a poem called The Hind and the Panther in praise of the Church of Rome.

But the reign of James II was short. The “Glorious Revolution” came, and with a Protestant King and Queen upon the throne, the Catholic Poet Laureate lost his post and pension and all his other appointments. Dryden was now nearly sixty; and although he had made what was then a good deal of money by his plays and other poems he had spent it freely, and always seemed in need. Now he had to face want and poverty. But he faced them bravely. Dryden all his life had been a flatterer; he had always sailed with the wind. Now, whether he could not or would not, he changed no more, he flattered no more. A kind friend, it is said, still continued to pay him the two hundred pounds he had received as Poet Laureate, and he now wrote more plays which brought him money. Then, thus late in life, he began the work which for you at present will have the greatest interest. Dryden was a great poet, but he could create nothing, he had to have given him ideas upon which to work. Now he began translations from Latin poets, and for those who cannot read them in the original they are still a great pleasure and delight.

True, Dryden did not translate literally, that is word for word. He paraphrased rather, and in doing so he Drydenized the originals, often adding whole lines of his own. Among his translations was Virgil’s Aeneid, which long before, you remember, Surrey had begun in blank verse. But blank verse was not what the age in which Dryden lived desired, and he knew it. So he wrote in rimed couplets. Long before this he had turned Milton’s Paradise Lost into rimed couplets, making it into an opera, which he called The State of Innocence. An opera is a play set to music, but this opera was never set to music, and never sung or acted. Dryden, we know, admired Milton’s poetry greatly. “This man cuts us all out,” he had said. Yet he thought he could make the poem still better, and asked Milton’s leave to turn it into rime. “Ay, you may tag my verses if you will,” replied the great blind man.

It is interesting to compare the two poems, and when you come to read The State of Innocence you will find that not all the verses are “tagged.” So that in places you can compare Milton’s blank verse with Dryden’s. And although Dryden must have thought he was improving Milton’s poem, he says himself: “Truly I should be sorry, for my own sake, that any one should take the pains to compare them (the poems) together, the original being, undoubtedly, one of the greatest, most noble, and most sublime poems which either this age or nation has produced.”

Dryden begins his poem with the speech of Satan, Lucifer he calls him, on finding himself cast out from heaven:–

“Is this the seat our conqueror has given? And this the climate we must change for heaven? These regions and this realm my wars have got; This mournful empire is the loser’s lot; In liquid burnings, or on dry, to dwell, Is all the sad variety of hell.”

If you turn back to page 401 you can compare this with Milton’s own version.

Besides translating some Latin and a few Greek poems Dryden translated stories from Boccaccio, Chaucer’s old friend, and last of all he translated Chaucer himself into Drydenese. For in Dryden’s day Chaucer’s language had already become so old- fashioned that few people troubled to read him. “It is so obsolete,” says Dryden, “that his sense is scarce to be understood.” “I find some people are offended that I have turned these tales into modern English, because they think them unworthy of my pains, and look on Chaucer as a dry, old-fashioned wit not worthy reviving.”

Again he says: “But there are other judges, who think I ought not to have translated Chaucer into English, out of a quite contrary notion. They suppose there is a certain veneration due to his old language, and that it is little less than profanation and sacrilege to alter it. They are further of opinion that somewhat of his good sense will suffer in this transfusion, and much of the beauty of his thoughts will infallibly be lost, which appear with more grace in their old habit.” I think all of us who can read Chaucer in his own language must agree with these judges. But Dryden goes on to say he does not write for such, but for those who cannot read Chaucer’s English. Are they who can understand Chaucer to deprive the greater part of their countrymen of the same advantage, and hoard him up, as misers do their gold, only to look on it themselves and hinder others from making use of it? he asks.

This is very good reasoning, and all that can be said against it is that when Dryden has done with Chaucer, although he tells the same tales, they are no longer Chaucer’s but Dryden’s. The spirit is changed. But that you will be able to feel only when you grow older and are able to read the two and balance them one against the other. Dryden translated only a few of the Canterbury Tales, and the one he liked best was the knight’s tale of Palamon and Arcite. He published it in a book which he called Fables, and it is, I think, as a narrative or story-telling poet in these fables, and in his translations, that he keeps most interest for the young people of to-day.

You have by this time, I hope, read the story of Palamon and Arcite at least in Tales from Chaucer, and here I will give you a few lines first from Dryden and then from Chaucer, so that you can judge for yourselves of the difference. In them the poets describe Emelia as she appeared on that May morning when Palamon first looked forth from his prison and saw her walk in the garden:–

“Thus year by year they pass, and day by day, Till once,–’twas on the morn of cheerful May,– The young Emila, fairer to be seen
Than the fair lily on the flowery green, More flesh than May herself in blossoms new, For with the rosy colour strove her hue, Waked, as her custom was, before the day, To do the observance due to sprightly May; For sprightly May commands our youth to keep The vigils of her night, and breaks their sluggard sleep; Each gentle breast with kindly warmth she moves; Inspires new flames, revives extinguished loves. In this remembrance, Emily, ere day,
Arose, and dressed herself in rich array; Fresh as the month, and as the morning fair, Adown her shoulders fell her length of hair; A ribbon did the braided tresses bind, The rest was loose, and wantoned in the wind: Aurora had but newly chased the night, And purpled o’er the sky with blushing light, When to the garden walk she took her way, To sport and trip along in cool of day, And offer maiden vows in honour of the May. At every turn she made a little stand, And thrust among the thorns her lily hand To draw the rose, and every rose she drew, She shook the stalk, and brushed away the dew; Then party-coloured flowers of white and red She wove, to make a garland for her head. This done, she sang and carolled out so clear, That men and angels might rejoice to hear; Even wondering Philomel forgot to sing, And learned from her to welcome in the Spring.”

That is Dryden’s, and this is how Chaucer tells of the same May morning:–

“This passeth yeer by yeer, and day by day, Till it fel oones in a morwe of May
That Emelie, that farier was to seene Than is the lilie on his stalke grene, And fressher than the May with floures newe– For with the rose colour strof hire hewe, I not which was the fairer of hem two– Er it were day, as was hir wone to do, She was arisen and al redy dight.
For May wol have no sloggardy anight. The seson priketh every gentil herte,
And maketh him out of his sleep to sterte, And seith, ‘Arise and do thin observance’. This makéd Emelye have remembraunce
To don honour to May, and for to rise. I-clothed was she fressh for to devise, Hir yelowe heer was broyded in a tresse, Behinde hir bak, a yerde long I gesse; And in the gardyn at the sunne upriste She walketh up and doun, and as hir liste

She gadereth floures, party white and rede, To make a subtil garland for hir hede, And as an angel hevenly she song.”

In this quotation from Chaucer I have not changed the old spelling into modern as I did in the chapter on Chaucer, so that you may see the difference between the two styles more clearly.

If you can see the difference between these two quotations you can see the difference between the poetry of Dryden’s age and all that went before him. It is the difference between art and nature. Chaucer sings like a bird, Dryden like a trained concert singer who knows that people are listening to him. There is room for both in life. We want and need both.

If you can feel the difference between Chaucer and Dryden you will understand in part what I meant by saying that Dryden was the expression of his time. For in Restoration times the taste was for art rather than for natural beauty. The taste was for what was clever, witty, and polished rather than for the simple, stately grandeur of what was real and true. Poetry was utterly changed. It no longer went to the heart but to the brain. Dryden’s poetry does not make the tears start to our eye or the blood come to our cheek, but it flatters our ear with its smoothness and elegance; it tickles our fancy with its wit.

You will understand still better what the feeling of the times was when I tell you that Dryden, with the help of another poet, re-wrote Shakespeare’s Tempest and made it to suit the fashion of the day. In doing so they utterly spoiled it. As literature it is worthless; as helping us to understand the history of those times it is useful. But although The Tempest, as re-written by Dryden, is bad, one of the best of his plays is founded upon another of Shakespeare’s. This play is called All for Love or the World Well Lost, and is founded upon Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. It is not written in Dryden’s favorite heroic couplet but in blank verse. “In my style,” he says, “I have professed to imitate the divine Shakespeare, which, that I might perform more freely, I have disencumbered myself from rhyme. Not that I condemn my former way, but that this is more proper to my present purpose.” And when you come to read this play you will find that, master as Dryden was of the heroic couplet, he could write, too, when he chose, fine blank verse.

Perhaps the best-known of all Dryden’s shorter poems is the ode called Alexander’s Feast. It was written for a London musical society, which gave a concert each year on St. Cecilia’s day, when an original ode was sung in her honor. Dryden in this ode, which was sung in 1697, pictures Timotheus, the famous Greek musician and poet, singing before Alexander, at a great feast which was held after the conquest of Persia. Alexander listens while

“The lovely Thais, by his side,
Sate like a blooming Eastern Bride, In flower of youth and beauty’s pride. Happy, happy, happy pair!
None but the brave,
None but the brave,
None but the brave deserves the fair!”

As Timotheus sings he stirs at will his hearers’ hearts to love, to pity, or to revenge.

“Timotheus, to his breathing flute
And sounding lyre,
Could swell the soul to rage, or kindle soft desire.”

But those were heathen times. In Christian times came St. Cecilia and she

“Enlarged the former narrow bounds, And added length to solemn sounds,
With nature’s Mother-wit, and arts unknown before. Let old Timotheus yield the prize.
Or both divide the crown:
He raised a mortal to the skies She drew an angel down.”

Dryden was a great poet, and he dominated his own age and the age to come. But besides being a poet he was a great prose-writer. His prose is clear and fine and almost modern. We do not have to follow him through sentences so long that we lose the sense before we come to the end. “He found English of brick and left it marble,” says a late writer, and when we read his prose we almost believe that saying to be true. He was the first of modern critics, that is he was able to judge the works of others surely and well. And many of his criticisms of men were so true that we accept them now even as they were accepted then. Here is what he says of Chaucer in his preface to The Fables:–

“He [Chaucer] must have been a man of a most wonderful comprehensive nature, because as it has been truly observed of him, he has taken into the compass of his Canterbury Tales the various manners and humours (as we now call them) of the whole English nation, in his age. Not a single character has escaped him. All his pilgrims are severally distinguished from each other; and not only in their inclinations, but in their very physiognomies persons. . . . The matter and manner of their tales, and of their telling are so suited to their different educations, humours, and callings, that each of them would be improper in any other mouth. Even the grave and serious characters are distinguished by their several sorts of gravity. Their discourses are such as belong to their age, their calling, and their breeding; such as are becoming to them and to them only. Some of his persons are vicious, and some virtuous; some are unlearned, or (as Chaucer calls them) lewd, and some are learned. Even the ribaldry of the low characters is different: the Reeve, the Miller, and the Cook are several men, and distinguished from each other as much as the mincing Lady- Prioress and the broad-speaking, gap-toothed Wife of Bath. . . . It is sufficient to say, according to the proverb, that here is God’s plenty. We have our forefathers and great-grand-dames all before us, as they were in Chaucer’s days. Their general characters are still remaining in mankind, and even in England, though they are called by other names than those of monks, and friars, and canons, and lady abbesses, and nuns; for mankind is ever the same, and nothing lost out of nature though everything is altered.”

The Fables was the last book Dryden wrote. He was growing to be an old man, and a few months after it was published he became very ill. “John Dryden, Esq., the famous poet, lies a-dying,” said the newspapers on the 30th April, 1700. One May morning he closed his eyes for ever, just as

“Aurora had but newly chased the night, And purpled o’er the sky with blushing light.”


TO almost every house in the land, as regular as the milk man, more regular than the postman, there comes each morning the newspaper boy. To most of us breakfast means, as well as things to eat, mother pouring out the tea and father reading the newspaper. As mother passes father’s tea she says, “Anything in the paper, John?” And how often he answers, “Nothing, nothing whatever.”

Although father says there is nothing in the paper there is a great deal of reading in it, that we can see. And now comes the question, Who writes it all? Who writes this thin, flat book of six or eight great pages which every morning we buy for a penny or a halfpenny? But perhaps you think it does not matter who writes the newspapers, for the newspaper is not literature. Literature means real books with covers–dear possessions to be loved and taken care of, to be read and read again. But a newspaper is hardly read at all when it is crumpled up and used to light the fire. And no one minds, for who could love a newspaper, who cares to treasure it, and read it again and yet again?

We do not want even to read yesterday’s newspapers, for newspapers seem to hold for us only the interest of the day. The very name by which they used to be called, journal, seems to tell us that, for it comes from the French word “jour,” meaning “a day.” Newspapers give us the news of the day for the day. Yet in them we find the history of our own times, and we are constantly kept in mind of how important they are in our everyday life by such phrases as “the freedom of the Press,” “the opinion of the Press,” the Press meaning all the newspapers, journals and magazines and the people who write for them.

So we come back again to our question, Who writes for the newspapers? The answer is, the journalists. A newspaper is not all the work of one man, but of many whose names we seldom know, but who work together so that each morning we may have our paper. And in this chapter I want to tell you about one of our first real journalists, Daniel Defoe. Of course you know of him already, for he wrote Robinson Crusoe, and he is perhaps your favorite author. But before he was an author he was a journalist, and as I say one of our first.

For there was a time when there were no newspapers, nothing for father to read at breakfast-time, and no old newspapers to crumple up and light fires with. The first real printed English newspaper was called the Weekly News. It was published in 1622, while King Charles I was still upon the throne.

But this first paper and others that came after it were very small. The whole paper was not so large as a page of one of our present halfpenny papers. The news was told baldly without any remarks upon it, and when there was not enough news it was the fashion to fill up the space with chapters from the Bible. Sometimes, too, a space was left blank on purpose, so that those who bought the paper in town might write in their own little bit of news before sending it off to country friends.

Defoe was one of the first to change this, to write articles and comments upon the news. Gradually newspapers became plentiful. And when Government by party became the settled form of our Government, each party had its own newspaper and used it to help on its own side and abuse the other.

Milton and Dryden were really journalists; Milton when he wrote his political pamphlets, and Dryden when he wrote Absalom and Achitophel and other poems of that kind. But they were poets first, journalists by accident. Defoe was a journalist first, though by nature ever a story-teller.

Daniel Defoe, born in 1661, was the son of a London butcher names James Foe. Why Daniel, who prided himself on being a true-born Englishman, Frenchified his name by adding a “De” to it we do not know, and he was over forty before he changed plain Foe into Defoe.

Daniel’s father and mother were Puritans, and he was sent to school with the idea that he should become a Nonconformist minister. But Defoe did not become a minister; perhaps he felt he was unsuited for such solemn duty. “The pulpit,” he says later, “is none of my office. It was my disaster first to be set apart for, and then to be set apart from the honor of that sacred employ.”

Defoe never went to college, and because of this many a time in later days his enemies taunted him with being ignorant and unlearned. He felt these taunts bitterly, and again and again answered them in his writings. “I have been in my time pretty well master of five languages,” he says in one place. “I have also, illiterate though I am, made a little progress in science. I have read Euclid’s Elements. . . . I have read logic. . . . I went some length in physics. . . . I thought myself master of geography and to possess sufficient skill in astronomy.” Yet he says I am “no scholar.”

When Defoe left school he went into the office of a merchant hosier. It was while he was in this office that King Charles II died and King James II came to the throne. Almost at once there followed the Duke of Monmouth’s rebellion. The Duke was a Protestant and James was a Catholic. There were many in the land who feared a Catholic King, and who believed too that the Duke had more right to the throne than James, so they joined the rebellion. Among them was Daniel. But the Rebellion came to nothing. In a few weeks the Duke’s army was scattered in flight, and he himself a wretched prisoner in the Tower.

Happier than many of his comrades, Defoe succeeded in escaping death or even punishment. Secretly and safely he returned to London and there quietly again took up his trade of merchant hosier. But he did not lose his interest in the affairs of his country. And when the glorious Revolution came he was one of those who rode out to meet and welcome William the Deliverer.

But perhaps he allowed politics to take up too much of his time and thought, for although he was a good business man he failed and had to hide from those to whom he owed money. But soon we find him setting to work again to mend his fortunes. He became first secretary to and then part owner of a tile and brick factory, and in a few years made enough money to pay off all his old debts.

By this time Defoe had begun to write, and was already known as a clever author. Now some one wrote a book accusing William among many other “crimes” of being a foreigner. Defoe says, “this filled me with a kind of rage”; and he replied with a poem called The True-born Englishman. It became popular at once, thousands of copies being sold in the first few months. Every one read it from the King in his palace to the workman in his hut, and long afterwards Defoe was content to sign his books “By the author of ‘The True-born Englishman.'” It made Defoe known to the King. “This poem,” he said, “was the occasion of my being known to his Majesty.” He was received and employed by him and “above the capacity of my deserving, rewarded.” He was given a small appointment in the Civil Service. All his life after Defoe loved King William and was his staunch friend, using all the power of his clever pen to make the unloved Dutch King better understood of his people. But when King William died and Queen Anne ruled in his stead Defoe fell on evil times.

In those days the quarrels about religion were not yet over. There was a party in the Church which would very willingly have seen the Nonconformists or Dissenters persecuted. Dissenters were like to have an evil time. To show how wrong persecution was, Defoe wrote a little pamphlet which he called The Shortest Way with the Dissenters. He wrote as if he were very angry indeed with the Dissenters. He said they had been far too kindly treated and that if he had his way he would make a law that “whoever was found at a conventicle should be banished the nation and the preacher be hanged. We should soon see an end of the tale–they would all come to Church, and one age would make us all one again.”

Defoe meant this for satire. A satire is, you remember, a work which holds up folly or wickedness to ridicule. He meant to show the High Churchmen how absurd and wicked was their desire to punish the Dissenters for worshiping God in their own way. He meant to make the world laugh at them. But at first the High Churchmen did not see that it was meant to ridicule them. They greeted the author of this pamphlet as a friend and ally. The Dissenters did not see the satire either, and found in the writer a new and most bitter enemy.

But when at last Defoe’s meaning became plain the High Church party was very angry, and resolved to punish him. Defoe fled into hiding. But a reward of fifty pounds was offered for his discovery, and, “rather than others should be ruined by his mistake,” Defoe gave himself up.

For having written “a scandalous and seditious pamphlet” Defoe was condemned to pay a large fine, to stand three times in the pillory, and to be imprisoned during the Queen’s pleasure. Thus quickly did Fortune’s wheel turn round. “I have seen the rough side of the world as well as the smooth,” he said long after. “I have, in less than half a year, tasted the difference between the closet of a King, and the dungeon of Newgate.”

The pillory was a terrible punishment. In a public place, raised on a platform, in full view of the passing crowd, the victim stood. Round his neck was a heavy collar of wood, and in this collar his hands were also confined. Thus he stood helpless, unable to protect himself either from the sun or rain or from the insults of the crowd. For a man in the pillory was a fitting object for laughter and rude jests. To be jeered at, to have mud thrown at him, was part of his punishment.

But for Defoe it was a triumph rather than a punishment. To the common people he was already a hero. So they formed a guard round him to protect him from the mud and rotten eggs his enemies would now thrown. They themselves threw flowers, they wreathed the pillory with roses and with laurel till it seemed a place of honor rather than of disgrace. They sang songs in his praise and drank to his health and wished those who had sent him there stood in his place. Thus through all the long, hot July hours Defoe was upheld and comforted in his disgrace. And to show that his spirit was untouched by his sentence he wrote A Hymn to the Pillory. This was bought and read and shouted in the ears of his enemies by thousands of the people. It was a more daring satire than even The Shortest Way. In the end of it Defoe calls upon the Pillory, “Thou Bugbear of the Law,” to speak and say why he stands there:–

“Tell them, it was, because he was too bold, And told those truths which should not have been told! Extol the justice of the land,
Who punish what they will not understand!

Tell them, he stands exalted there
For speaking what we would not hear: And yet he might have been secure,
Had he said less, or would he have said more!

Tell them the men that placed him here Are scandals to the Times!
Are at a loss to find his guilt,
And can’t commit his crimes!”

But although Defoe’s friends could take the sting out of the terrible hours during which he stood as an object for mockery they could do little else for him. So he went back to prison to remain there during the Queen’s pleasure.

This, of course, meant ruin to him. For himself he could bear it, but he had a wife and children, and to know that they were in poverty and bitter want was his hardest punishment.

From prison Defoe could not manage his factory. He had to let that go, losing with it thousands of pounds. For the second time he saw himself ruined. But he had still left to him his pen and his undaunted courage. So, besides writing many pamphlets in prison, Defoe started a paper called the Review. It appeared at first once, then twice, and at last three times a week. Unlike our papers of to-day, which are written by many hands, Defoe wrote the whole of the Review himself, and continued to do so for years. It contained very little news and many articles, and when we turn these worn and yellowing pages we find much that, interesting in those days, has lost interest for us. But we also find articles which, worded in clear, strong, truly English English, seem to us as fresh and full of life as when they were written more than two hundred years ago. We find as well much that is of keen historical interest, and we gain some idea of the undaunted courage of the author when we remember that the first numbers of the Review at least were penned in a loathsome prison where highwaymen, pirates, cut-throats, and common thieves were his chief companions.


FOR more than a year and a half Defoe remained in prison; then he was set free.

A new Government had come into power. It was pointed out to the Queen that it was a mistake to make an enemy of so clever an author as Defoe. Then he was set at liberty, but on condition that he should use his pen to support the Government. So although Defoe was now free to all seeming, this was really the beginning of bondage. He was no longer free in mind, and by degrees he became a mere hanger-on of Government, selling the support of his pen to whichever party was in power.

We cannot follow him through all the twists and turns of his politics, nor through all his ups and downs in life, nor mention all the two hundred and fifty books and pamphlets that he wrote. It was an adventurous life he led, full of dark and shadowy passages which we cannot understand and so perhaps cannot pardon. But whether he sold his pen or no we are bound to confess that Defoe’s desire was towards the good, towards peace, union, and justice.

One thing he fought for with all his buoyant strength was the Union between England and Scotland. It had been the desire of William III ere he died, it had now become the still stronger desire of Queen Anne and her ministers. So Defoe took “a long winter, a chargeable, and, as it proved, hazardous journey” to Scotland. There he threw himself into the struggle, doing all he could for the Union. He has left for us a history of that struggle,* which perhaps better than any other makes us realize the unrest of the Scottish people, the anger, the fear, the indecision, with which they were filled. “People went up and down wondering and amazed, expecting every day strange events, afraid of peace, afraid of war. Many knew not which way to fix their resolution. They could not be clear for the Union, yet they saw death at the door in its breaking off–death to their liberty, to their religion, and to their country.” Better than any other he gives a picture of the “infinite struggles, clamor, railing, and tumult of party.” Let me give, in his own words, a description of a riot in the streets of Edinburgh:–

*History of the Union of Great Britain.

“The rabble by shouting and noise having increased their numbers to several thousands, they began with Sir Patrick Johnston, who was one of the treaters, and the year before had been Lord Provost. First they assaulted his lodging with stones and sticks, and curses not a few. But his windows being too high they came up the stairs to his door, and fell to work at it with sledges or great hammers. And had they broke it open in their first fury, he had, without doubt, been torn to pieces without mercy; and this only because he was a treater in the Commission to England, for, before that, no man was so well beloved as he, over the whole city.

“His lady, in the utmost despair with this fright, came to the window, with two candles in her hand, that she might be known; and cried out, for God’s sake to call the guards. An honest Apothecary in the town, who knew her voice, and saw the distress she was in, and to whom the family, under God, is obliged for their deliverance, ran immediately down to the town guard. But they would not stir without the Lord Provost’s order. But that being soon obtained, one Captain Richardson, who commanded, taking about thirty men with him, marched bravely up to them; and making his way with great resolution through the crowd, they flying, but throwing stones and hallooing at him, and his men. He seized the foot of the stair case; and then boldly went up, cleared the stair, and took six of the rabble in the very act, and so delivered the gentleman and his family.

“But this did not put a stop to the general tumult, though it delivered this particular family. For the rabble, by this time, were prodigiously increased, and went roving up and down the town, breaking the windows of the Members of Parliament and insulting them in their coaches in the streets. They put out all the lights that they might not be discovered. And the author of this had one great stone thrown at him for but looking out of a window. For they suffered nobody to look out, especially with any lights, lest they should know faces, and inform against them afterwards.

“By this time it was about eight or nine o’clock at night, and now they were absolute masters of the city. And it was reported they were going to shut up all the ports.* The Lord Commissioner being informed of that, sent a party of the foot guards, and took possession of the Netherbow, which is a gate in the middle of the High Street, as Temple Bar between the City of London and the Court.

*Gates in the City Wall.

“The city was now in a terrible fright, and everybody was under concern for their friends. The rabble went raving about the streets till midnight, frequently beating drums, raising more people. When my Lord Commissioner being informed, there were a thousand of the seamen and rabble come up from Leith; and apprehending if it were suffered to go on, it might come to a dangerous head, and be out of his power to suppress, he sent for the Lord Provost, and demanded that the guards should march into the city.

“The Lord Provost, after some difficulty, yielded; though it was alleged, that it was what never was known in Edinburgh before. About one o’clock in the morning a battalion of the guards entered the town, marched up to the Parliament Close, and took post in all the avenues of the city, which prevented the resolutions taken to insult the houses of the rest of the treaters. The rabble were entirely reduced by this, and gradually dispersed, and so the tumult ended.”

Although Defoe did all he could to bring the Union about he felt for and with the poor distracted people. He saw that amid the strife of parties, proud, ignorant, mistaken, it may be, the people were still swayed by love of country, love of freedom.

Even after the Union was accomplished Defoe remained in Scotland. He still wrote his Review every week, and filled it so full of Union matters that his readers began to think he could speak of nothing else and that he was grown dull. In his Review he wrote:–

“Nothing but Union, Union, says one now that wants diversion; I am quite tired of it, and we hope, ’tis as good as over now. Prithee, good Mr. Review, let’s have now and then a touch of something else to make us merry.” But Defoe assures his readers he means to go on writing about the Union until he can see some prospect of calm among the men who are trying to make dispeace. “Then I shall be the first that shall cease calling upon them to Peace.”

The years went on, Defoe always living a stormy life amid the clash of party politics, always writing, writing. More than once his noisy, journalistic pen brought him to prison. But he was never a prisoner long, never long silenced. Yet although Defoe wrote so much and lived at a time when England was full of witty writers he was outside the charmed circle of wits who pretended not to know of his existence. “One of these authors,” says another writer, “(the fellow that was pilloried, I have forgotten his name), is indeed so grave, sententious, dogmatical a rogue that there is no enduring him.”*

*Johnathan Swift.

At length when Defoe was nearly sixty years old he wrote the book which has brought him world-wide and enduring fame. Need I tell you of that book? Surely not. For who does not know Robinson Crusoe, or, as the first title ran, “The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner, who lived eight-and-twenty years all alone in an uninhabited Island on the Coast of America near the Mouth of the great River Oroonoque, having been cast on shore by shipwreck, wherein all the men perished but himself. With an account how he was at last strangely delivered by Pirates. Written by himself.” In those days, you see, they were not afraid of long titles. The book, too, is long. “Yet,” as another great writer says,* “was there ever anything written by mere man that was wished longer by its readers, except Don Quixote, Robinson Crusoe, and the Pilgrim’s Progress?”

*Samuel Johnson.

The book was a tremendous success. It pleased the men and women and children of two hundred years ago as much as it pleases them to-day. Within a few months four editions had been sold. Since then, till now, there has never been a time when Robinson Crusoe has not been read. The editions of it have been countless. It has been edited and re-edited, it has been translated and abridged, turned into shorthand and into poetry, and published in every form imaginable, and at every price, from one penny to many pounds.

Defoe got the idea of his story from the adventures of a Scots sailor named Alexander Selkirk. This sailor quarreled with his captain, and was set ashore upon an uninhabited island where he remained alone for more than four years. At the end of that time he was rescued by a passing ship and brought home to England. Out of this slender tale Defoe made his fascinating story so full of adventure.

What holds us in the story is its seeming truth. As we read it we forget altogether that it is only a story, we feel sure that Crusoe really lived, that all his adventures really happened. And if you ever read any more of Defoe’s books you will find that this feeling runs through them all. Defoe was, in fact, a born story-teller–like Sir John Mandeville. With an amazing show of truth he was continually deceiving people. “He was a great, a truly great liar, perhaps the greatest liar that ever lived.”*

*William Minto.

Finding that Robinson Crusoe was such a success, Defoe began to write other stories. He wrote of thieves, pirates and rogues. These stories have the same show of truth as Robinson Crusoe. Defoe, no doubt, got the ideas for them from the stories of the rogues with whom he mixed in prison. But they have nearly all been forgotten, for although they are clever the heroes and heroines are coarse and the story of their adventures is unpleasant reading. Yet as history, showing us the state of the people in the days of Queen Anne and of George I, they are useful.

Defoe was now well off. He had built himself a handsome house surrounded by a pleasant garden. He had carriages and horses and lived in good style with his wife and beautiful daughters. There seemed to be no reason why he should not live happily and at ease for the rest of his life. But suddenly one day, for some unknown reason, he fled from his comfortable home into hiding. Why he did this no one can tell. For two years he lived a homeless, skulking fugitive. Then in 1731 he died, if not in poverty at least in loneliness and distress of mind.


Robinson Crusoe, abridged by John Lang. Robinson Crusoe, retold by Edith Robarts, illustrated by J. Hassall, R. I. Robinson Crusoe (Everyman’s Library).


WE all know what it is to feel hurt and angry, to feel that we are misunderstood, that no one loves us. At such times it may be we want to hurt ourselves so that in some mysterious way we may hurt those who do not love us. We long to die so that they may be sorry. But these feelings do not come often and they soon pass. We cry ourselves to sleep perhaps and wake up to find the evil thoughts are gone. We forget all about them, or if we remember them we remember to smile at our own foolishness, for we know that after all we are understood, we are loved. And when we grow old enough to look back upon those times, although we may remember the pain of them, we can see that sometimes they came from our own fault, it was not that we were misunderstood so much as that we were misunderstanding. Yet whether it be our own fault or not, when such times do come, the world seems very dark and life seems full of pain. Then think of what a whole life filled with these evil thoughts must be. Think of a whole life made terrible with bitter feelings. That would be misery indeed.

Yet when we read the sad story of the life of Jonathan Swift who has in Gulliver’s Travels given to countless children, and grown- up people too, countless hours of pleasure, we are forced to believe that so he passed a great part of his life. Swift was misunderstood and misunderstanding. It was not that he had no love given to him, for all his life through he found women to love him. But it was his unhappiness that he took that love only to turn it to bitterness in his heart, that he took that love so as to leave a stain on him and it ever after. He had friendship too. But in the hands stretched out to help him in his need he saw only insult. In the kindness that was given to him he saw only a grudging charity, and yet he was angry with the world and with man that he did not receive more.

In the life of Jonathan Swift there are things which puzzle even the wisest. Children would find those things still harder to understand, so I will not try to explain them, but will tell you a little that you will readily follow about the life of this lonely man with the biting pen and aching heart.

Jonathan Swift’s father and mother were very poor, so poor indeed that their friends said it was folly for them to marry. And when after about two years of married life the husband died, he left his young wife burdened with debts and with a little baby girl to keep. It was not until a few months after his father’s death that Jonathan was born.

His mother was a brave-hearted, cheerful woman, and although her little son came to her in the midst of such sorrow she no doubt loved him, and his nurse loved him too. Little Jonathan’s father and mother were English, but because he was born in Dublin, and because he spent a great deal of his life there, he has sometimes been looked upon as an Irishman.

Jonathan’s nurse was also an Englishwoman, and when he was about a year old she was called home to England to a dying friend. She