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[167] ‘with hard outlines, colorless, and with no surrounding atmosphere.’ That he did, nevertheless, write verses, so creditable as to justify a judicious modern critic in their citation and approval, can perhaps be accounted for only as one of the phenomena of that subtle and transforming influence to which even his stern nature was unconsciously yielding. Baxter was in love.

Never did the blind god try his archery on a more unpromising subject. Baxter was nearly fifty years of age, and looked still older. His life had been one long fast and penance. Even in youth he had never known a schoolboy's love for cousin or playmate. He had resolutely closed up his heart against emotions which he regarded as the allurements of time and sense. He had made a merit of celibacy, and written and published against the entanglement of godly ministers in matrimonial engagements and family cares. It is questionable whether he now understood his own case, or attributed to its right cause the peculiar interest which he felt in Margaret Charlton. Left to himself, it is more than probable that he might never have discovered the true nature of that interest, or conjectured that anything whatever of earthly passion or sublunary emotion had mingled with his spiritual Platonism. Commissioned and set apart to preach repentance to dying men, penniless and homeless, worn with bodily pain and mental toil, and treading, as he believed, on the very margin of his grave, what had he to do with love? What power had he to inspire that tender sentiment, the appropriate offspring only of youth, and health, and beauty?

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Richard Baxter (2)
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