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[167] ‘Shepherd's Calendar’ he was certainly a Puritan, and probably so by conviction rather than from any social influences or thought of personal interests. There is a verse, it is true, in the second of the two detached cantos of ‘Mutability,’

Like that ungracious crew which feigns demurest grace,

which is supposed to glance at the straiter religionists, and from which it has been inferred that he drew away from them as he grew older. It is very likely that years and widened experience of men may have produced in him their natural result of tolerant wisdom which revolts at the hasty destructiveness of inconsiderate zeal. But with the more generous side of Puritanism I think he sympathized to the last. His rebukes of clerical worldliness are in the Puritan tone, and as severe a one as any is in ‘Mother Hubberd's Tale,’ published in 1591.1 There is an iconoclastic relish in his account of Sir Guyon's demolishing the Bower of Bliss that makes us think he would not have regretted the plundered abbeys as perhaps Shakespeare did when he speaks of the winter woods as ‘bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang’:

But all those pleasant bowers and palace brave
Guyon broke down with rigor pitiless,
Ne ought their goodly workmanship might save
Them from the tempest of his wrathfulness,
But that their bliss he turned to balefulness;

1 Ben Jonson told Drummond ‘that in that paper Sir W. Raleigh had of the allegories of his Faery Queen, by the Blatant Beast the Puritans were understood.’ But this is certainly wrong. There were very different shades of Puritanism, according to individual temperament. That of Winthrop and Higginson had a mellowness of which Endicott and Standish were incapable. The gradual change of Milton's opinions was similar to that which I suppose in Spenser. The passage in Mother Hubberd may have been aimed at the Protestant clergy of Ireland (for he says much the same thing in his ‘View of the State of Ireland’), but it is general in its terms.

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